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Max Cherney
Max Cherney
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Android Smartphone Developments At CES 2013

There weren't many smartphone announcements at CES 2013, but most of them were for Android phones and here they are, including one phablet. Pantech, Sony and Huawei all announced phones — some exclusively for the Chinese market — and Intel released a CPU and reference platform optimized for Android and also designed for low cost in emerging markets.

There hasn't been much action on the smartphone front at CES 2013 in Las Vegas. Most of the Android devices have been in refrigerators, cars and other such devices, not phones and tablets. But there were a few Android phone announcements.

The highlights:

  • Pantech announced the Discover phone, which they market as a less-expensive alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S3
  • Huawei showed 2 Android phones, including the more interesting Ascend Mate, with a display large enough to qualify as a phablet.
  • Sony's Xperia Z has a slick design, including water-resistance.
  • Intel is getting into the mobile phone processor market with a chip and reference design targeting Android phones for emerging markets.

Next: Pantech Discover (AT&T)

Pantech Discover

Touted by Pantech as a $50 alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S3, this 4.8" LTE smartphone called Discover sounds like a bargain. It runs Android 4.0 — as does the Galaxy — and sports a dual core 1.5GHz CPU. The company did not discuss how much RAM the device would have, or who makes the processors. The Galaxy S3 has a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Krait and 1GB RAM.

The Discover comes standard with 16GB of on-board storage and a 2,100 mAh battery that AT&T claims is good for 10 hours. It also supports NFC. The Galaxy has a 2,100mAh battery and claims 11 hours of 3G talk time.

At CES Pantech decided to market the phone as a cheap alternative to the Galaxy. The Verge reported that the company handed out (obviously fake) $150 bills along with the rest of the marketing materials. The $50 version of the smartphone requires a two-year contract with AT&T.

The phone weighs about 135 grams (approx. 4.8 oz), and is 9.1mm (.3-inch) thick, just slightly thicker and heavier than the Galaxy S3's 133g, and 8.6mm thickness. The Discover outclasses the Galaxy in terms of the rear camera offering a 12.6 megapixels versus the Galaxy S3's 8. The front cameras are nearly identical, with the Discover at 2 megapixels and the Galaxy at 1.9.

AT&T says it will be available beginning today (January 11, 2013).

Next: Huawei Ascend Mate

Huawei Ascend Mate

Huawei, a company you've probably never heard of, but which generated over $32 billion in revenue last year, unveiled two Android phones at CES this year.

The first, and more interesting of the pair is the Ascend Mate. The company claims that the device includes the largest screen on a phone in the world. At 6.1" it very well might be. (The Samsung Galaxy Note II, by comparison, features a 5.55" display.) But as large as the dispaly is, it's disappointing. It won't display full 1080p — the display is 1280x720, i.e. 720p. 720p is still HD, but with a larger screen we expected the higher resolution, because at that point it may be possible to notice a difference.

The rest of the hardware sounds decent enough. A 1.5GHz Hi-Silicon quad-core processor powers the device. The company claims the 4050 mAh battery provides, "... up to two days of ordinary usage on a single charge." They also claim that the charging system charges the device 30 percent more quickly, although they don't specify to which device they're comparing it.

The operating system is Android 4.1. In addition, it features an eight megapixel rear-facing camera, and a one-megapixel front-facing camera.

Unfortunately the company will release the phone in China only, and hasn't announced other markets at this point. But, with such a big screen we're curious to get our hands on one.

The other phone, the Ascend D2, is also China-only.

Next: Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z

Sony's new smartphone offerings for Android, the Xperia Z and the similar Xperia ZL, sound impressive. The Xperia Z boasts a 5" screen that displays 1920x1080 — full HD — and a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 quad-core chip with 2GB of RAM running Android 4.1. The company also says the phone will come standard with a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera. It also has 16GB of built in storage and supports NFC.

At 7.9mm (.31 inch) the body is 0.3mm thicker than an iPhone 5 and weighs about 146g (5.15 oz), making it slightly heavier than the iPhone.

What caught our eye was the water resistance technology. Sony says an owner can submerge the phone for up to 30 minutes in about three feet of water. That means you can drop it in the toilet. [EDITOR'S NOTE: BYTE DOES NOT RECOMMEND THAT YOU DROP YOUR PHONE IN THE TOILET!]

Even with the waterproofing, it doesn't sound like Sony made any compromises. The Micro USB, MicroSD, and SIM card openings are all under panels and flap doors.

The Xperia ZL, Sony's other offering is a different form factor. The smartphone isn't as tall or as wide as the Z, but it is a bit thicker at 9.8mm. The ZL also isn't waterproof.

Next: Intel Does Android

It's not a new phone (yet) and it won't likely be in any phones you can buy in the USA, but Intel is getting into the Android phone market. Not with an actual phone, but with a CPU targeted at low-cost Android phones in emerging markets.

They call it the Atom Z2420 w/XMM 6265 chip, code-named Lexington. Intel has designed a reference platform and claims the following specs for it:

  • Runs Google’s Android
  • The 1.2 GHz Atom processor Z2420 with hyperthreading has up to 1.2GHz
  • Dual sim cards
  • Intel XMM 6265 HSPA+ modem
  • HD video encoding and decoding (1080p 30fps)
  • 1.3MP front-facing cameras, 5MP rear-facing cameras
  • Camera support with seven-frame burst mode, and SGX540 graphics.
  • FM radio to get media contents without using your data plan
  • Equipped with microSD card slot to easily expands your storage(now a 32GB SD card onlycost around $30)
  • Intel Wireless Display for playback on TVs or devices

Acer, Lava International and Safaricom will support the chip.

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