Android this week: Moto X gets smarter and colorful; Galaxy S5 on video; Desire 310 shown

android-this-week

Motorola’s Moto X handset is ever-changing for the better; a rare attribute. This week saw the phone get both improved software and new hardware choices in the form of nine new colors. They’re not just any old colors though. Motorola has coordinated the hues with colleges, just in time for the March Madness basketball tournament.

motomaker arizona

Motorola set up a new “collegiate collection” on the Moto Maker site with 40 university color schemes pre-configured. Buyers can also add clear cases with the school logo as an option. And students that have an .edu email address can get a new Moto X off-contract for $339 instead of $399.

On the software side, the Moto X Touchless Controls gained a new trick. By speaking “OK Google, what’s up?” you can hear your unread notifications aloud, making the phone even more useful in a hands-free situation.

You can’t do that with the new Samsung Galaxy S5 but that handset has plenty of its own tricks. And this week, Samsung debuted an official video showing off those tricks. Some of these include the fast auto-focus imaging with a new camera interface, the fingerprint sensor that unlocks the phone, and how to use the Galaxy S5 to monitor your heart rate.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/-XseHZyvGtg]

I’m looking forward to testing a Galaxy S5 after seeing the video, mainly because the overall experience looks improved over the prior model. I found the Galaxy S4 software to be overly complicated for most people as Samsung included so many features that could easily overwhelm.

Another phone that looks easy to use is the HTC Desire 310, a budget-friendly Android handset that runs on a MediaTek processor. To keep costs down, HTC chose an 854 x 480 display, 1 GB of memory, 4 GB of internal storage and a 5 megapixel camera. The phone debuts in Taiwan next month.

Desire 310

We could see it arrive in the U.S. as HTC has said it would be focusing more on the mid-range smartphone market where there’s still growth to be had. And in the U.S. that rings true: Consumers earning $30,000 or less accounted for 31 percent of smartphone sales in 2013; a jump from 21 percent the prior year in the U.S.

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