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Summary:

The Moto G is turning into the little budget engine that could, helping Motorola grab 6 percent market share in the U.K. Intel is wisely thinking of 64-bit Android to better compete against ARM chips while the HTC One M8 impresses at first blush.

android-this-week

After years of focusing on flagships for growth, the budget Android market is showing strong signs of life. Perhaps the best example of that is the Moto G, a no-contract handset selling for $179 that provides a better than expected experience and feature set. How much impact can such a phone have? Quite it bit if you look at the U.K. for a recent example.

Moto G home screen

Thanks to the Moto G, Motorola has gone from virtually no share there to 6 percent of the overall market in just half a year according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. That kind of growth is impressive a phone at any price range. While hundreds of millions already have smartphones, there’s a big market for the billions that don’t, which is why companies that can offer value handsets with solid performance have huge sales potential.

It’s not likely that many budget phones will run a 64-bit version of Android soon, however. Intel is trying to advance the platform for its chips, releasing a 64-bit kernel for Android this week, according CNet. Apple’s iOS 7 has already been re-written to support 64-bit computing and the company’s A7 chip is obviously capable of running the software. Android has no such support yet although I expect that to change — or hear news of progress on this front — in June at Google’s I/O developer event.

Clearly, Intel isn’t waiting for Google. Instead, the chip maker is pushing the software boundary on its own, likely because it must keep up with Google’s ARM chip partners such as Qualcomm, Samsung, and Nvidia to name a few. By throwing resources at Android’s software development, Intel stands a better chance to power more smartphones in the future.

A recent Android phone that Intel isn’t powering is the HTC One M8. Like its main competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S5, the new HTC flagship uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset. I recently spent a little time with review unit of the HTC One M8 and so far, I’m impressed overall.

HTC One M8 in hand

The phone is superbly built with premium materials and is a smidge bigger than it’s predecessor. Wireless performance is excellent both on Wi-Fi and Verizon’s LTE network. HTC’s Sense software is less overpowering than in the past and the phone runs the latest version of Android (4.4.2).

A few new features are definitely welcome, such as the ability to tap the display twice to wake the handset. Stay tuned for a full review, including thoughts on the Ultrapixel camera, which has impressed me at times but has also left me wanting more on occasion.

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  1. Put this on at&t and I’ll buy it.

  2. What makes you think that ARM, Intel, Qualcomm, Google and other silicon partners don’t already have many engineers quietly working, together, on all aspects of 64-bit Android; media layer, skia, Dalvik/ART, Kernel, etc? 32-bit user space on top of 64-bit kernel Android has been demo’d by both Intel and ARM long ago but that isn’t a fully baked or pressworthy solution. I suspect they already 64-bit user space running at least a few apps on ARMv8 (64-bit) internally but it is still in development. If you think Intel has some sort of lead on ARM’s partners in the Android64 space, you’ll be surprised this summer.

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