So those references I've been making to a generally low level of activity among major Android players in the days leading up to the iPhone 5's launch now look a bit silly - mea culpa.
NEW RELEASES: First look: Motorola's new Droid RAZR lineup
Along with a couple new carrier-exclusive releases from Samsung - including the mid-range QWERTY-equipped Galaxy S Relay 4G from T-Mobile and entry-level Galaxy Stellar, which will be available from Verizon for free with a contract - Motorola rolled out two major updates to the Droid RAZR line on Wednesday, as well as the new RAZR M.
In an Android smartphone world where big hand-stretchers like the Galaxy S III are quickly becoming the norm, Motorola's success in cramming a competitively-sized display into a much more pocket-friendly device deserves kudos. That, along with a post-rebate price of $99 with a new Verizon contract, could see the RAZR M carve out a meaningful mid-market niche.
Moreover, the UK version of the RAZR M will replace the 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor with a new Intel Atom model, according to Pocket-Lint. The official announcement of this is slated for Sept. 18, a date which had already been talked up for a major Intel-Motorola announcement. Hopefully there will be less audience participation singing at this one:
Amazon, though it failed to deliver the rumored smartphone on Thursday, nevertheless struck back aggressively at Google's Nexus 7 with the release of a revamped Kindle Fire, slicing the price to just $159 and introducing a new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD at the old $199 price. The 8.9-inch version of the new HD, however, was arguably the star of the show, showing off a 1920x1200 display for as little as $299 for a Wi-Fi only version.
I wasn't wowed by the 4G edition, however - I get that it's cheaper than an iPad 3 ($499), and the $50 annual (not monthly) fee for data sounds fantastic - but then you realize that it's capped at 250MB per month, which is enough for probably one episode of Parks and Recreation. Since I have a hard time limiting myself to one episode of Parks and Recreation, suffice it to say this wouldn't work for me.
The oft-rumored 5-inch HTC phablet (I've accepted this word, and feel bad about it) has apparently been sighted in Verizon's internal management system, according to Engadget. Information from GLBenchmark and DigiTimes indicates that the unnamed 5-incher could have a 1920x1080-pixel screen - which is more or less unprecedented for a device that size. No word as yet on pricing and availability, of course, but HTC is planning a major PR event for Sept. 19. (It should be noted that the Los Angeles Times says this event will see the company roll out Windows Phone 8 devices, with no mention of Androids, but nothing's set in stone.)
From the "ugh, bloatware" department - Verizon is planning to integrate an entire homescreen's worth of Amazon apps, including Kindle, Shopping, MP3, IMDb, Zappos and Audible, into all future Android device releases. Only Nexus devices will be spared, apparently.
If these apps follow the usual bloatware pattern of being impossible to remove, that's a major retrograde step for Verizon, which could have done a lot more to increase customer satisfaction by opting for a clean, flexible user environment.
Jelly Bean (4.1) updates - Internal Sprint documents published by Phandroid and Engadget seem to indicate that the company's Nexus S 4G and Galaxy Nexus devices are due for an upgrade to Jelly Bean any minute.
If this does happen within the next 24 hours or so, it'll be particularly frustrating for Verizon Galaxy Nexus users, who - despite signs that an update may be close - remain stuck on Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0.4).
Samsung says it's sold 20 million Galaxy S IIIs in the device's first 100 days on the market. That's about 1.4 million per week, 200,000 per day, or 8,333 in an hour.
Email Jon Gold at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.
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