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

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Thanks to its Android(s goog) 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(s nok) 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(s msft) 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 (s 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.

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.

11 Responses to “Android This Week: Samsung’s Galaxy; HTC Evo 3D joins Optimus 3D; better keyboard”

  1. I installed the new version of Swype yesterday, and it’s heads and tails above the previous version. The installation/upgrade was also very straightforward, as opposed to a clean installation of the previous version.

    • Most phones are made almost entirely of plastic at this point. The only real advantage that the iPhone has, at this point, is tight control over the design and manufacturing of their components, and a hell of a chassis design. More and more phones are going to aluminum frames, but that usually just adds cost to the phone. Personally, I’d rather have extra features included, like better screens, cameras, software, etc, rather than an aluminum batter cover.

      Further, I have an HTC Thunderbolt, which has an aluminum chassis, with a plastic (aluminum-like) front cover, plastic battery cover, and an aluminum kickstand. The plastic all over the phone still looks exactly like it did when I bought the phone back in March, but the aluminum kickstand has a coating that’s wearing off and getting lots of scratches in my pocket.

  2. Arnold

    Given the crap that Nokia has been putting their name on over the past few years the market was open for a quality competitor to take its share of the smart phone market away.

    • prethought

      There were many tablets before the iPad popularized the platform. I’m sure once developers find uses other than games you’ll warm up to it.

    • Karth-Vader

      Because 3D T.V.’s and phones have been out SOOOO terribly long right? That’s like saying “I’m not to impressed by those new color televisions I keep hearing about, I’ll still with my good ole black and white.”