Taking a look back at seven days of news across the Android world, this week’s Android Circuit highlights a number of stories including a long-term review of the Galaxy S6 Edge, the iPhone 6 Plus Killer is launched in China, Lollipop reaches for a ten percent share, LG’s Urbane smartwatch, phablet fans switching to Apple, A/B testing for Android developers, I/O sessions and topics, and what does the ‘M’ stand for in Android M?
Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android in the last week (and you can read the weekly Apple news digest here).
Long-Term Thoughts On The Galaxy S6 Edge
During April I’ve been extensively reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, and the ‘long-term’ review of the handset was posted earlier this week. The design that has led to the curved screen is competent, but it lacks the software to back it up.
From a hardware point of view, I’ve very few issues with the S6 Edge. The only negative point for the screen is that in strong sunlight the curved edge is a magnet for reflections, which means that it is easy to lose an entire vertical strip of information on the edge of the display. It’s not a huge problem in Scotland, but it is worth noting that outdoor angles may be a little more restrictive than the flat-screened competition…
It’s in the software that the S6 Edge concept is just that… a concept. With such a radical concept (at least it is for Samsung), and its experience with the Galaxy Note Edge phablet launched last year, I would have expected the South Korean company to come up with more innovation and practical uses of the edge of the device. What’s on show feels like an almost token effort, with little though about the practical impact the edge interface could bring.
The S6 Edge has a huge amount of potential, and I hope that it will be unlocked in a future software update. In the meantime, it is still one of the most polished Android handsets on the market.
The iPhone 6 Plus Killer Is Here
The battle to be the world’s number one smartphone manufacturer will be fought mainly in the BRIC countries, so the launch of Xiaomi’s challenger to the iPhone 6 Plus is an important one for the Shenzhen-based manufacturer. Sporting some of the biggest specifications possible on a modern phablet, the device goes on sale on May 12th:
Well it’s later in the year, and the Mi Note Pro’s retail arrival is imminent. Xiaomi’s strategy of fitting high-end specs to a competitive price continues in the Note Pro. This phablet comes with a 5.7 inch QHD screen, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of built-in storage, a thirteen megapixel stabilised camera, LTE cat 9, and dual-SIM support.
It also uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 system on chip. Qualcomm’s 64-bit chipset has not had the easiest of introductions during 2015 thanks to Apple forcing its hand to rush the chipset into production to keep pace in the spec war that Android manufacturers love to market with.
More details on the launch and the strategy can be found here.
Approaching One In Ten Lollipops
The fifth major version of Android, carrying the moniker of Lollipop, is closing in on a ten percent share of the market faster than I expected. Figures released by Google show that the adoption of 5.0 and 5.1 is standing at 9.7% of the Android handsets which logged into the Google Play store at the end of April:
Ten percent is a mental milestone which will likely be passed this month. Going into double digits should also see developers pay more attention to 5.x, and offers the opportunity of a reasonable base of models to focus on Android 5.x compatibility only.
Urbane Style On Your Wrist
LG’s high-end Android Wear powered smartwatch, the LG Urbane, has been reviewed by David Ruddock over on Android Police. Costing $350, this is another smartwatch where the value is not in the functionality, but in the fashion and the form:
The Watch Urbane is far more classically influenced – the difference really did surprise me once I saw it in person. The rose gold version, in particular, has a bit of a vintage feel to it for me. While the size and girth make it unmistakable as anything but modern, I can’t shake that, sans real gauges, this looks like it could easily be a real watch. LG seems well aware of this, and has removed all of the more abstract watch faces it introduced on the G Watch and G Watch R from the Urbane. Apart from those which are included as part of Android Wear, all of the Urbane’s watch faces are analog style.
Using Android Wear as the OS gives LG a wide range of applications and compatibility in its smartwatch. That allows LG to focus on the marketing and styling, confident that the functionality will be there for the end users.