Phandroid » Handsets Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Mon, 01 Sep 2014 17:00:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Best Android Phones [September 2014] Mon, 01 Sep 2014 13:00:41 +0000 best-phones-hero

As summer winds down we are once again ranking our favorite Android phones. Some familiar names made our list, but which handset came out on top? Will the fall’s big announcements shake things up in the coming weeks? Read on to find out.

Previously: AugustJuly | June | May | April | March | February

5. Sony Xperia Z2

Sony Xperia Z2 Damaged_1

When a phone spends six weeks at the bottom of the ocean and somehow emerges with only cosmetic damage it makes it pretty hard to leave it off of our best phones list. Alright, we weren’t planning on dropping the Z2 from the rankings, ocean floor adventures or not, but it is a testament to this phone’s strong design. It looks great, it’s waterproof, and it packs the hardware (HD display, quad-core processing, etc.) to match up with any other device on this list.

4. Nexus 5

Nexus 5 shortcuts DSC05736

If you want to own a smartphone that will be among the first to see the Android L update, the Nexus 5 remains the best option currently on the market. While we anticipate some new Nexus hardware from Google and its partners, the N5 remains a solid workhorse device, and you can’t really complain about the $350 price tag, either. If you’re savvy, this one has been going on sale plenty lately and could see a price drop in the coming months during the lead up to the rumored Nexus 6.

3. Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5 hand DSC05788

While the whole Ice Bucket Challenge thing might have been in poor taste, we won’t hold it against the Galaxy S5. This handset remains perhaps the most popular Android smartphone in the court of public opinion and is a great buy for those looking for top-notch hardware in a universally supported device. It also boasts a few features other smartphones have slacked on, including a fingerprint scanner and hear rate sensor.

2. HTC One M8


The One M8 features great design and the hardware to compliment it, so much so that HTC decided to double-down and release a Windows Phone version of the device. We’ll stick with the original, Android-infused version, though, with its sleek Sense software UltraPixel camera, and more.

1. LG G3


We love the LG G3, but don’t take our word for it. The phone is on track to be LG’s first ever handset to break the 10 million units sold mark. There’s good reason for it, to. The G3’s focus on simplicity brings its sheer power to the forefront and highlights features like a Quad HD display, laser autofocus, and much more.

Honorable Mentions

HTC One Remix 8

We don’t have room for ever phone in our top five. Here are the devices that barely missed the cut.

  1. Xiaomi Mi4 — Xiaomi isn’t a household name, but they have caught our attention with their latest Mi4, a powerful handset at a reasonable price.
  2. OnePlus One — OnePlus hasn’t made the brightest marketing decisions, but there is a reason that folks are clamoring simply for the chance to receive an invite to buy this elusive smartphone.
  3. Oppo Find 7a — On par with the OnePlus One, the Find 7a is another option for folks seeking an affordable off-contract buy.
  4. Moto X — The X remains one of the world’s only “customizable” smartphones with factory options like woodgrain and more, but the rumored X+1 threatens its spot on our list.
  5. HTC One Remix — This Verizon exclusive is a mini version of the HTC One M8, but it impresses almost as much as its big brother.

Phones to Look Forward To

Perhaps the phone you are looking for hasn’t been released yet. In that case, here are a couple newly announced devices that have yet to make it to store shelves (but should soon).

Sharp Aquos Crystal


A Sprint exclusive announced a few weeks back, the Aquos Crystal makes up for mid-range specs with it’s nearly bezel-free display and sub-$250 off-contract pricing. It won’t compete head-to-head with the flagship devices from other manufacturers, but it looks pretty damn nice (just check out our hands-on) and could be a tempting option for Sprint subscribers. A release should be imminent, though an official date remains unknown.

LG G Stylus


If you didn’t guess already based on the name, the LG G Stylus indeed comes with a stylus and on the surface looks like it is positioned as a Galaxy Note 4 competitor. That’s only partially true, as the G Stylus dials back the specs quite a bit. What it lacks in power we expect it to make up for in pricing, however.

Rumor Mill

Several long-standing rumors will be satisfied in a mere matter of days, and we can’t wait. Here are the upcoming but unannounced phones everyone has been buzzing about.

Moto X+1 & DROID Turbo

Moto X active notifications

The long-rumored Moto X+1 should finally go official as part of an event Motorola has planned for September 4th, finally bringing us answers to all of our burning questions as they pertain to the handset. Will the phone feature 3D recognition and optical zoom? Will it feature even more customization options than its predecessor? We may also get answers in regards to the recently rumored Motorola DROID Turbo for Verizon, but we aren’t holding our breath.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

note 4 teaser screen grab 2

IFA 2014 will host one of its biggest launches on September 3rd, when we expect to see the Galaxy Note 4 in all of its glory. Samsung has been steadily teasing this one for the past several weeks, and aside from the typical upgrades we are also expecting new and improved fingerprint scanning capabilities. Will this one have us forgetting about the Galaxy S5?

Nexus 6


The Nexus 6 feels like the Android world’s white whale, only in this case it’s more of an orca. Yes, we’ve been talking for months about when we might catch a glimpse of this Nexus 5 followup, codenamed ‘Shamu,’ but we’re still waiting. At least the leaks keep coming, including a full rundown of specs that claim this Motorola-made handset will feature a Snapdragon 805 SoC, 3GB RAM, and a 13MP camera.

Amazon Best Sellers

As always, we’ve perused Amazon’s list of best selling smartphones for yet even more options. If the phone wasn’t already on our list but has been selling like hot cakes on Amazon, you will find it listed below (often at insane price markdowns).

  1. Amazon Fire Phone
  2. LG G2
  3. Samsung Galaxy S4
  4. Samsung Galaxy S3
  5. Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
  6. Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
  7. HTC One M7
  8. Samsung Galaxy Mega
  9. Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  10. Samsung Galaxy Note II

What Say You?

Do you have a bone to pick with our current phone rankings? While September’s big announcements are sure to shake things up, let us know how you would rank things as they sit now. Sound off in the comments below!

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The new Moto X shows up in Verizon Wireless computer system, could launch with Moto Maker Sun, 31 Aug 2014 20:34:41 +0000 Moto X1 evleaks

As Motorola’s September 4th event in Chicago fast approaches, we’re bound to find another leak or two surrounding the successors to the Moto X and the Moto G. We’ve already seen the Verizon variants of the new Moto X (Moto X+1) pictured above sporting an all black case and a white and bamboo combination. Today’s tip we received adds a little more credibility to the above images, at least from an outside shell standpoint.


Our source has provided us with this screenshot from Verizon’s computer system which clearly shows ‘the new Moto X’ coming in black, white/bamboo, and two Moto Maker variants coming in at 16GB and 32GB. As it stands now, the current Moto X is available in 16GB through Verizon Wireless as well as 16GB and 32GB versions purchased through Moto Maker. However, this wasn’t always the case. When the original Moto X launched last summer, the Moto Maker option was sadly a carrier exclusive for roughly the first three months. According to the above image, Moto Maker might just be available on Verizon Wireless from the beginning. Let’s hope that Verizon doesn’t have an exclusive this time around, no one likes carrier exclusives.

As for the name, our source says he keeps seeing ‘the new Moto X’ referenced on cases, rebate forms, and other internal documents instead of Moto X+1. Will the new Moto X launch under this name or will we still see Moto X+1 as the device’s moniker? It’s still too early to tell and things could change at the last minute. Either way, our own Kevin Krause will be attending Motorola’s event in just a few days and he’ll keep us all in the loop.

Who’s ready to customize their new Moto X through Motor Maker?

Thanks Mr. D!

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How will the iPhone 6 compare in size to the HTC One M8, Galaxy S5, and Galaxy Alpha? [VIDEOS] Fri, 29 Aug 2014 22:37:15 +0000 Apple iPhone 6 vs HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 Alpha

In case you’ve been living under a rock (or simply haven’t been keeping up with Apple news), it’s looking like the iPhone 6 will officially be unveiled in 2 weeks. Although “iPhone 6″ was never actually mentioned, Apple did begin sending out invites for a September 9th event in Cupertino where the tag line was “Wish we could say more.” Oh, you don’t need to. We know what you’re up to.

There’s been enough leaks in recent months that we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the event. Perform a simple search on YouTube for “iPhone 6″ and look at how many people got their hands on alleged dummy units of the bigger, softer 4.7-inch iPhone 6. But with such a big jump in screen size (and still roughly the same bezel ratio), you may be asking yourself how the upcoming phone stacks up against Android’s greatest in terms of overall size.

Luckily, with dummy units being so easy to come by these days (security is a bit more lax at Apple lately), we found a few videos that compare the upcoming i6 against Android heavyweights like the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, and Samsung’s most recent answer to the iPhone 6: the recently announced Samsung Galaxy iPhone Alpha.

After taking a look at the videos, we were a bit surprised to find that, despite having a much smaller 4.7-inch display, overall the iPhone 6 is pretty large. This was mostly in part to that extra hunk of bezel along the bottom of the phone where Apple’s Touch ID home button sits.

The iPhone 6 was only a little smaller than the HTC One M8 (which could have come out a lot differently had HTC only ditched their useless black bar bezel along the bottom) almost the same height as the Galaxy S5 (although a little more narrow), and nearly identical to the Samsung Galaxy Alpha.

We can only hope that with the iPhone 6 said to come in 2 sizes — 4.7-inch model and a 5.5-inch version — Android OEMs will finally catch on and realize 1-size doesn’t fit all and that consumers need at least 2 size choices when shopping for a high-end smartphone. But given the fact that Android has had 4.7-inch screen sizes for years now, we’re sure many OEMs see smaller devices as a “step back.” Hey, at least Sony is on the right track with the rumored Xperia Z3 Compact. Gotta speak with your wallet, folks.

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Sprint finally makes the HTC One E8 official, available today for $100 with a 2-year agreement Fri, 29 Aug 2014 19:46:09 +0000 HTC One E8 small

After prematurely publishing a video to their YouTube account nearly 2 weeks ago, Sprint is ready to stop beating around the bush and make the HTC One E8 official. The nation’s 3rd largest carrier has officially announced that the One E8 will be coming to their network later this year and provides the same One experience you’ve come to expect from devices like the One M8, only in a fresh new polycarbonate design. Yum.

The HTC One E8 features hardware specs eerily similar to the HTC One M8 only with one exceptions. HTC has dumped the 4MP UltraPixel camera in their flagship phone for a regular ‘ol 13MP shooter. While we haven’t seen any picture samples just yet, we’re sure that on paper, the higher number count will make a few of you happy, although we’ll reserve judgment until we can see a few comparisons.

Other One E8 specs include a 5-inch 1080p display, 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, and a 2,600mAh battery — all running on Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Other key features include:

Motion Launch:  Allows you to access your phone with just one swipe. Simply lift your phone to answer a call – no device unlocking needed.

Wi-Fi Calling: An included service that lets you use voice and messaging services over existing home, office and public Wi-Fi networks.

HTC Sense™ 6.0

3G/4G mobile hotspot, supporting up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices.

HD Voice enabled: Sprint HD Voice expands the normal voice call from a four-octave range to seven octaves to deliver crystal clear voice calls while helping to reduce unwanted background noise.

Sprint Spark enabled: Sprint Spark provides the capacity to greatly improve the performance of video and other bandwidth-intensive applications while opening the way for futuristic applications.

Sprint reminds us that HD Voice is now available nationwide and while Sprint Spark’s enhanced LTE service is currently available in 27 markets across the US, they plan to blanket 100 million customers by years end.

The HTC One E8 is available right now for $100 with a 2-year contract from either or through their telesales department in either “Polar White” or “Misty Gray.” Well qualified buyers can even put the phone on Easy Pay, paying off the phone over 2 years with monthly payments of  $20.84 (or $500 outright).

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Report: Sprint to offer their very first Sony phone soon; Xperia Z3? Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:03:33 +0000 Sony-Building-Logo-600x450

Take a quick stroll through Sprint’s history of phones and you’ll find that the company has never offered a single Sony Android smartphone. Ever. Shocking, isn’t it? That could change soon, though, as Reuters reports Sprint and Softbank will look to offer their first smartphone from Sony later this year. The exact wording was that this would be a “flagship smartphone,” and nothing sounds more flagship-y than Sony’s Xperia Z3 set to be unveiled at IFA next week.

The report didn’t specify whether the launch would be exclusive for Sprint which leaves hope that it could eventually make its way to other carriers. We wouldn’t bet on that, though, considering Sony doesn’t have a history of being able to get their smartphones onto multiple US carriers at a time like HTC, LG, Samsung and Motorola have been able to.

We’re certainly hoping that this is the first step to penetrating the US market with a more aggressive strategy, though, and that Sony could eventually reach the heights of their aforementioned competitors. The consumer electronics industry hasn’t exactly been friendly to Sony over the years with their struggling television and PC business havign drained them of a ton of money. They’ve gone as far as having to sell or spin-off some of those divisions and scale their business down.

Their smartphone business wasn’t in as immediate danger as those dollar-sucking entities (we imagine it’s much less expensive to develop, research and manufacture smartphones than TVs and computers), however it isn’t exactly strong enough alone to keep Sony in the black. Let’s hope this is a good first step toward changing that.

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OnePlus looking to get off the invite system by October, but is that too late? Fri, 29 Aug 2014 12:43:17 +0000 OnePlus One DSC06079

When OnePlus originally launched the OnePlus One, they mentioned they’d need to sell phones via an invite-only system over a traditional pre-sale / first come, first serve setup. Many people forgave them for this considering they were still a very new company and likely had no other choice than to resort to unorthodox tactics.

Many contests (controversial and otherwise) have already given tens of thousands of folks the opportunity to buy one, but there are still a ton of would-be buyers left in the dark. So when is it all going to end? Thankfully, we have a new answer — OnePlus hopes to wash their hands of this invite stuff at some point in October. That much was confirmed in an Ask Me Anything session over at the Android subreddit.

Unfortunately that doesn’t mean stock is going to be readily available at that point. Shortages will still be prominent. The only difference is you’ll be able to pre-purchase the device without an invite. You’re still subject to the first come, first serve rodeo, which means you could be pre-ordering a phone that you might not see for a couple of weeks to a month. In fact, some might argue that this is even less savory than the invite system — at least when you have an invite you know there’s a phone waiting for you.

It’s unfortunate that OnePlus is taking so long to wean off the invites. Some might wonder if October is much too late. IFA Berlin kicks off next week, and we’ll be seeing exciting new smartphones from Motorola, Samsung, Sony and other major players announced (many of which are due for worldwide launch the very next month). Granted, none of them are likely to be as powerful as the OnePlus One for a $300 price point, but at least folks would be able to buy those phones as soon as they’re available.

Only time can tell if OnePlus ended up missing their first boat, but for now all anyone can do if they truly have their hearts set to buy this phone is to more actively pursue invites or just wait for the circus to be over with. Let us know if you’ll still be looking to buy one of these things by the time October makes its way to the forefront of the calendar.

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Verizon makes the Motorola Luge official, get the rebranded RAZR M for $200 off-contract Thu, 28 Aug 2014 21:11:10 +0000 Motorola Luge Verizon

After we saw some leaked images of the Motorola Luge packaging back on Monday, it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to find Verizon finally making the device official (however quietly). Now available from Verizon for $300 straight up, or $200 with prepaid service, the “Luge by Motorola” is essentially 2012′s Motorola DROID RAZR M to the tee.

Because selling people a dusty old product probably wouldn’t sit too well with consumers, Verizon has simply rebranded the RAZR M with a new name to lure in all new buyers. As for a quick refresher, you can find the Motorola Luge packing the following cutting edge features:

Motorola Luge

  • 4.3-inch qHD display (with Gorilla Glass)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 1.5GHz dual-core
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB internal / micro SD expansion
  • 8MP camera
  • 2,000mAh battery
  • NFC
  • Android 4.4 KitKat

Interestingly enough, the Motorola DROID RAZR M is still offered on Verizon prepay. Same phone, different color, no discount. You know, should you be looking for the white model. Link for the Luge by Motorola provided below.


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Sony gives us a quick glimpse of upcoming products in latest IFA teaser [VIDEO] Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:53:33 +0000

Sony’s big, fat cat is well out of the bag in terms of what they’re announcing at IFA Berlin next week. We’ve seen countless leaks of the Sony Xperia Z3 and the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. Now Sony is intent on teasing the goods themselves. The company posted a new teaser video to YouTube for the purpose of getting you excited for all that’s to come next week.

sony teaser

The teaser is littered with your typical cryptic imagery and secretive theme, but Sony threw in a quick half-second glimpse (around the 40 second mark) of three shadowy devices. We’re almost certain one of them is the Sony Xperia Z3, and another is bound to be the aforementioned compact tablet that borrows a similar name. There’s a third device pictured that looks like it could be the Xperia Z3 Compact, but we can’t know for sure. Confused yet? You won’t be next week when Sony finally lays it all on the table.

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HTC Desire 510 carrier availability announced for the US and Canada, here’s where you’ll be able to buy one Wed, 27 Aug 2014 22:53:10 +0000 htc desire 510

Announced during the wee hours of last night, the HTC Desire 510 is a sexy little entry level Android that wont break the bank. While the official announcement did a good job at revealing the new handset (which seriously, looks awesome), it was mum on exact availability details like when — and more importantly, where — we can plan on picking one up in the future.

This afternoon, HTC USA took to their Twitter account to reveal exactly where we can pick up the HTC Desire 510 later this year, listing off Sprint, Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile and even Cricket. For this living a little more north, HTC Canada also chimed in, revealing that the handset will be available from Fido Mobile, Rogers, SaskTel, Telus, Videotron, and Virgin Mobile (Canada, of course). For those that need a little refresher on exactly what the HTC Desire 510 offers up, check out some of the basic hardware specs listed below.

HTC Desire 510 specs

  • 4.7-inch FWVGA display
  • Quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410 processor
  • 8GB of internal storage (microSD up to 128GB)
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 5MP rear camera, VGA front camera
  • Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi N, GPS w/ GLONASS
  • 2,100mAh battery
  • 4G LTE
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • 139.9 x 69.8 x 9.99mm, 158g

One of the coolest parts about the HTC Desire 510 is that HTC will also offer a compatible Dot View case made especially for the device. A stylish way to the protect the handset, the Dot View case allows you to see specific notifications and interact with the device even while the case is closed. HTC recently updated the Dot View app on Google Play to allows users to upload their own images, while expanding notification support. Slick.

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LG G3 on track to become LG’s first 10 million sales champion Wed, 27 Aug 2014 18:37:36 +0000 LG-G3-Hero

Don’t call it a comeback, folks. OK, maybe you can. LG has come a long way since the days of the troubled Optimus line and their very early line of Android smartphones, but the LG G2 onward has proven that they are capable of refocusing and getting back to serious business. That fact is soon to be cemented by a major milestone that any company should be proud of.

The LG G3 is on track to become the South Korean company’s first smartphone to reach the 10 million sales mark. Behemoth Samsung has been able to boast those types of numbers numerous times in the past few years with their Note and Galaxy S lineup so it’s nice to see that the personal electronics industry in the country is no longer one-sided.

LG credits much of their success to a philosophy that has them going back to the bare basics in all things they do. Not only does this allow them to focus on good product design and value-added features, but it also helps their different divisions come together to perform as one well-oiled cohesive machine.

If 10 million smartphone sales is the result of that change then we say keep on keepin’ on, LG. Let us know if you’re still enjoying your G3, and read our LG G3 review if you still aren’t sure what the hype is all about.

[via Korea Times]

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Sony Xperia Z3 stripped down to its core ahead of official IFA announcement Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:51:37 +0000 Xperia-Z3-Leak_1-640x480

Sometimes we have trouble getting information about phones well up to their launch date. Others? Well, we tend to see a bit too much. The Sony Xperia Z3 has been leaked time and time again, but that train isn’t slowing down — now we get a look at the device’s guts. There doesn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary under the hood, though we can at least rest easy knowing Sony’s hardware expertise still shines through with a very clean, modular setup.

The photo does reveal the exact battery capacity we can expect to see — 3,100mAh, if its label is accurate. We’re not sure what an outlet like iFixIt might rate this thing in the area of repairability, but it seems modular enough that repairs won’t be a massive headache.


If rumors hold up we should be seeing this thing launch at Sony’s press conference next week at IFA Berlin. We’ll be bringing you all the details as they spill out so be sure to circle back and stay tuned!

[via XperiaBlog]

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HTC Desire 510 official, brings affordable LTE to entry level Wed, 27 Aug 2014 12:37:24 +0000 htc desire 510

HTC has announced another new smartphone in their Desire lineup. The HTC Desire 510 won’t blow the pants off you if you were looking for something that could match the big boys, but an attractive price point for beginner smartphone users should explain following internals:

  • 4.7-inch FWVGA display
  • Quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410 processor
  • 8GB of internal storage (microSD up to 128GB)
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 5 megapixel rear camera, VGA front camera
  • Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi N, GPS w/ GLONASS
  • 2,100mAh battery
  • 4G LTE
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • 139.9 x 69.8 x 9.99mm, 158g

The software experience brings a dash of Sense with BlinkFeed and HTC’s usual visual flair, but don’t expect the full pot of goods as seen on devices like the HTC One M8. all this is meant to be is a very affordable 4G LTE smartphone. The Desire 510 is made from HTC’s favorite material — polycarbonate — and will be available in Terra White and Meridian Grey. Expect it to reach Europe, Asia and “select” carriers in the United States at some point this fall.

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Moto G2 appears in leaked photos, shows off removable back cover, dual-SIM slots, and more Tue, 26 Aug 2014 19:29:38 +0000 Moto G2 leak front back

We’ve heard enough of the Motorola Moto G2 in recent weeks to know that it’s a thing. Whether it was in Motorola’s official promo materials for their Sept. 4th event, or the front housing now available for sale in China — the next generation Moto G is coming whether you’re ready or not. Providing our very first good look at the upcoming phone (well the side profile and back, anyway) is HelloMotoHK, the same Facebook page we’ve seen spill the deets in leaks past.


The phone looks pretty much exactly as you’d expect. Motorola doesn’t seem to be venturing too far from their current design language with their upcoming 2014 handsets and we’re totally cool with that. The photos of this particular handset show the back cover removed, exposing the dual-SIM and a micro SD expansion slots. Really, not many surprises here, but once again we’re seeing that now familiar front facing speaker setup (likely mono audio from the bottom speaker).

Motorola Moto G2 side view leak

We will note how extremely large the phone appears in one of the shots, but without a banana for scale or anything like that, it’s entirely possible the photographer could merely have extremely small phalanges. With myself and Rob Jackson attending the Motorola event next week, we wont have to wait too much longer before we get our grubby hands on the device. Stay tuned.

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Did Amazon really only sell 35,000 Fire Phones? Tue, 26 Aug 2014 15:18:19 +0000 fire phone software

We’ve spent the past few years wondering how Amazon would look to take their first stab at the smartphone market after a successful outing in the tablets scene. That question was answered with the launch of the Amazon Fire Phone (review), a device that they hoped would pack enough “innovative” features to rope folks in. (And, really, we all assume their true end goal is to get more eyes on their content ecosystem.)

So how has it fared in terms of sales? The official numbers haven’t been made public, but recent web traffic data from Chitika could shed a fair bit of light on the Fire Phone’s performance. Hint: it isn’t great. According to them, Amazon Fire Phone accounted for just 0.02% of web traffic since the 20 days of its launch. That puts it just ahead of the Motorola DROID Ultra, a phone that launched around this same time a full year ago.

The Guardian took the liberty of finding the amount of smartphones currently swimming around the United States (about 175 million) and crunched some numbers to determine that Amazon probably hasn’t sold more than 35,000 units. This takes into account indexing figures that would inflate or deflate web usage for a particular phone (such as a situation where there are more Galaxy users than iPhone users, but iPhone users make up more traffic). It’s sad to say that 35,000 appears to be a very generous estimation for Amazon.


Amazon’s best selling list would have you believe their phone is selling like hot cakes compared to Samsung and LG devices, however it doesn’t take into account that you can only find the Fire Phone at one of two places  – AT&T or Amazon’s own site — while the others are available at a multitude of retailers and carriers. It also doesn’t hurt that Amazon can push the Fire Phone as their featured phone however much they want. And trust us, they do.

We don’t want to take these numbers as total gospel just yet, but it wouldn’t be hard to believe Amazon has had trouble selling their smartphone. Their launch was marred by a couple of big blunders that would be enough to stamp the “dead-on-arrival” label onto any smartphone:

  1. It launched at a whopping $200 with a two-year contract. The price isn’t that bad for what you’re getting — Snapdragon 800, 2GB of RAM, 13 megapixel camera and more — but it’s kind of tough to sell people on it when you can get more powerful and feature-filled smartphones for the same price.
  2. It was made available on just one carrier. Long story short: this isn’t the iPhone. The Amazon Fire Phone can’t get away with launching as a carrier exclusive when it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. The iPhone did. And the iPhone was available in more countries than just the United States.

Of course, there are many more variables that factor in (such as a limited apps ecosystem and an operating system that is designed to get you to spend money more than providing a quality smartphone experience), but these seem to be the biggest and most obvious.

Amazon did their best to load the Fire Phone up with features that could justify its bloated price tag, but those features turned out to be little more than gimmicks that don’t add much to the overall experience. We contend Amazon might have been much more successful by looking to undercut the big dogs with a more reasonable price tag as they do on their current crop of tablets.

fire phone display

Amazon also had to sell people on buying into an ecosystem with limited support. The Amazon Appstore has grown quite well since its launch, but developers have made it clear that the Google Play Store is going to be their top priority.

The prospect of an Amazon phone was rather exciting back in 2011 when rumors first began, but in this day and age it seems out of place. The veteran manufacturers of the smartphone industry continue to take steps forward which capture our interests and convince us to want to spend hundreds of dollars to upgrade to new smartphones each year, but Amazon seems to be lagging behind like a startup that hasn’t gotten their feet onto solid ground. Perhaps that’ll change with future iterations and better decisions in how they launch and market the device, but the ship may have already sailed for their first attempt.

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LG G3 Stylus is an Android phone, not an accessory, coming next week Tue, 26 Aug 2014 03:23:15 +0000 lg-g3-stylus-3

LG has been busy: over the weekend they let the world know that the Moto 360 wouldn’t be the only circular Android Wear watch for long and they’ve just now announced the LG G3 Stylus, a variation of their flagship phone that offers an affordable alternative to the up-and-coming Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Some key LG G3 Stylus specs:

  • 1.3 GHz Quad-Core processor
  • 5.5-inch qHD IPS screen with 960 x 540 pixel resolution
  • 8 GB  internal memory with MicroSD slot
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 13MP camera with 1.3MP front camera
  • 3,000mAh battery
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat

LG G3 vs LG G3 Stylus

The G3 Stylus is a variation of the G3 that shares many of the same specs, however, to fit the stylus and offer a competitive price LG toned down some of the most aggressive specs. The screen is still 5.5-inches qHD IPS but has lower resolution, internal memory is cut to 8GB (from 16GB or 32GB), RAM is halved, and the front camera is dropped a megapixel.

These compromises likely have as much to do with pricing as engineering. The LG G3 Stylus is set to launch in Brazil with Asia, the Middle East, and Africa to follow. These are emerging markets where price is a higher priority and where having the most powerful specs may not be such a pressing issue. Furthermore, stylus are in higher demand in these locations, especially Asia.

lg-g3-stylus-2The Stylus

I find the “Stylus” naming convention confusing and unfortunate: when I first read the related press release, I assumed LG was launching an official Stylus to work with their existing LG G3 Android Phone. The “LG G3 Stylus” as an actual name of a device confused me and I’m wondering if it will confuse others. I prefer Samsung’s “Note” name which now suggests Stylus support without outright saying it.

You can of course expect the G3 Stylus software to come with some features that make great use of the pen input, including QuickMemo+ for note taking and Dual Window to view two activities on one screen. Expect LG (and carriers) to preload the device with apps that make further use of the stylus.

Price and availability

The G3 Stylus should be affordably priced considering the knock it takes on specs, not to mention company CEO Dr. Jong-Seok Park’s tease that  it has an “exceptional price that can’t be beat.” We’d expect him to say that regardless of the price, but in this case, we think the price will indeed be aggressive. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until IFA for LG to make a formal announcement regarding these details.

Don’t expect the LG G3 Stylus to come to the states any time soon or at all, And if it does, remember that this is no Galaxy Note 4 competitor, but rather a Galaxy Note 4 alternative for folks who want a big screen and stylus but don’t need the high power and high price of a flagship Android device.

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