Events have unfolded and rumors have broken -- entirely coincidentally, I'm sure -- in a way such that the upcoming Galaxy S 4 from Samsung has never been far from the front pages. The device is unquestionably the most anticipated Android phone ever, and the appearance this week of apparent photographs pulled from Picasa accomplished the task of keeping the Galaxy S 4 squarely in the forefront of the Android world's attention span.
Credit: Picasa, via the Los Angeles Times
The apparent Samsung Galaxy S 4 is shown on the left, beside the popular Samsung Galaxy S 3.
The date displayed on the apparent Galaxy S 4's home screen has provoked speculation that the device will be released on April 22 -- rumors had previously centered on the upcoming Mobile World Congress, to be held at the end of February. But now everyone seems to agree that Samsung would throw its own launch party for such a big-deal new product.
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HTC playing second fiddle to Samsung is hardly a new phenomenon, and it's therefore not a surprise to see that the Taiwanese company is apparently pushing to get its latest flagship -- the M7 -- onto the market well before rival Samsung's Galaxy S 4 can steal all the headlines. The latest suggestions indicate that the M7 will be rolled out about a week before MWC, and Android Police got their hands on an apparent picture of the device earlier in the week.
Credit: Android Police
The M7 itself isn't looking like a world-beater -- rumors so far seem to suggest that it'll be essentially a slightly smaller Droid DNA with more internal storage and a nicer camera. However, unlike the Verizon-only DNA, it's being reported now that the M7 will be available on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. If true, that ends HTC's streak of putting out impressive but carrier-exclusive handsets and could easily raise the company's profile in the North American market.
But what of Motorola, asked almost nobody? (I kid, I kid.) No, seriously, the now-Google-owned hardware maker is the subject of rumors that even the Android blogosphere apparently finds pretty risible this week, with an anonymous source telling Droid Life that Google's planning to announce a non-Nexus "Motorola X Phone" at the company's I/O conference in May. It will apparently be available, unlocked and off-contract for prices "similar to Nexus" in the Play store, or you can buy a locked, contract-subsidized version on Verizon for $300, if you're a square. It's also powered by the whisper of wind in the trees, as described in an ancient Aramaic poem, and its screen resolution is that of the moon and stars. I may just be making that part up.
Droid Life, as I alluded to above, was careful to present these wild rumors as exactly that, and highlighted several reasons why this "X Phone" is probably bogus, though most of them centered on the fact that it sounds way, way too good to be true. Undoubtedly Google will have some showboating to do at Google I/O, but it's unlikely to look quite like this.
I alluded in the post-CES edition of this column to the fact that Huawei and ZTE made big Android-shaped splashes at that tech show, though I also pointed out that this was partially due to a paucity of Android news from more established companies.
It looks like I should probably eat at least a few of my words where Huawei is concerned, however -- the Chinese firm surprised many, not least myself, by taking third place in IDC's global quarterly ranking of smartphone vendors. ZTE -- another company based on the Chinese mainland -- took fifth place, behind Sony, Huawei, Apple and Samsung, which IDC says set both quarterly and yearly records for smartphone sales.