Summary:

After no hardware announcements from Google I/O, this week was filled with several. Intel’s Atom looks like very likely to power the next large Galaxy Tab, while the HTC One is going with a stock option. I also look at Sony’s Xperia ZL.

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Completely opposite from the prior week, there was plenty of Android hardware news over the past seven days. We’ve been hearing rumors and seeing benchmarks of a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 slate running on an Intel Atom chip and this week brought more unofficial confirmations. This will mark a big win for Intel as it hasn’t yet got Atom into a top-tier Android tablet yet.

The current Atom chip should pack plenty of horsepower for Android purposes, although I’ll be interested to see the graphics capability. Gamers won’t be happy if their 10-inch tablet can’t play the latest Android games at high detail and frame rates. However, during an Android tablet demonstration at Intel’s CES booth in 2012, I saw no reason to be concerned. We’ll have to see how this new configuration works out; look for the device to be officially announced on June 20 at a Samsung press event in London.

HTC One Nexus ExperienceJust six days after that, fans of the HTC One can buy a new model, sort of. On June 26, Google will begin to sell the “Nexus User Experience” version of the HTC One. The 32 GB, unlocked device will cost $599 without contract and works on GSM networks. HTC announced the phone this week and follows in the footsteps of Samsung. When the new HTC One arrives in the Google Play store, it will be joined by a $649 “Google Edition” of the Samsung Galaxy S4. Both devices will run a plain version of Android, just like Google’s Nexus line of devices.

Although Google doesn’t sell it, Sony’s Xperia ZL is another unlocked Android phone available in the U.S., directly from Sony. This Android 4.1.2 handset launched months ago but only recently arrived here for sale. I received a review unit late in the week and spent the better part of a day looking over the hardware, software and features.

Xperia ZL Timescapes 2My first impressions here are generally positive: A superb 1080p 5-inch display that takes up nearly the entire front face of the handset. The phone uses last year’s 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro chip so it’s about a half-step behind the current flagship phones, but it’s certainly no slow poke.

Sony has added a number of third-party apps, which I’m not a fan off and I’m also having a hard time with the front-facing camera. The video quality isn’t the problem, it’s the placement: On the bottom right corner of the phone, where it’s too easy to cover when holding the device.

I’ll take a closer look at the Xperia ZL over the coming week, so stay tuned for updates and a full review.

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