Android This Week: Samsung’s Galaxy; HTC Evo 3D joins Optimus 3D; better keyboard

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Thanks to its Android strategy, Samsung is quickly rising through the ranks and is soon expected to be the top smartphone seller in the world. The company will surpass Nokia to claim the no. 1 spot as early as this quarter due to a long-term plan that began with the Samsung Galaxy last June. Other Android device makers have reaped benefits too, but Samsung’s approach has been calculated and methodical.

Instead of building a wide range of Android devices, Samsung focused on one, the Galaxy S, and then tweaked it for different carriers and regions, saving on research & development, as well as manufacturing costs. The company also designs and builds its own processors, flash memory and displays, helping to eliminate reliance on component providers. Samsung also has its own media ecosystem for books, music and videos, plus it created a backup plan to Android: Phones running the company’s Bada operating system outsold Windows Phone 7 devices in the first quarter of this year.

Other Android phone makers are trying to replicate Samsung’s approach, but supplement it with new features that differentiate. Smartphones with 3-D video capabilities are appearing, helped in part by more capable chips, graphic processors and display technologies. But consumers don’t want to wear 3-D glasses to view this content and two handsets aim to deliver a glasses-free vision.

The LG Optimus 3D and HTC Evo 3D both use a stereoscopic display to show both pictures and videos in 3-D without glasses. LG demonstrated its 3-D Android phone in February and now says it’s rolling out in Europe. Here in the U.S., consumers will see the HTC Evo 3D on June 24. The phone, for Sprint’s 3G / WiMAX network, will cost $199 after contract, comes with Android 2.3.3, HTC Sense 3.0, and a pair of 5 megapixel cameras for capturing pictures or 720p video in 3-D. I took an early look at a review unit to demonstrate how the 3-D functionality works, which surprisingly, was impressive.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulTnVm0KDLc]

Also impressive to many is the Swype keyboard for Android, which now claims 50 million downloads. The unique input system allows you to trace your letters, making for quick text entry with just a single hand. Swype debuted the next version of its keyboard, 3.0, in a public beta this week and it just may have me switching keyboards on my smartphone. The new version includes a tap word prediction function and support for displays up to 960 x 540 resolution. Swype is adding support for Honeycomb tablets as well, allowing for the keyboard to be resized or moved on the larger display of a slate.

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