Galaxy S IV design reportedly finalized, along with pint-sized variant

Also, an early exit for Exynos, HTC counts down to MWC, and Nike insults the Android community (kind of)

Time, as it will, continues to tick away on the Samsung Galaxy S IV's upcoming launch, and a report from the South Korean Digital Daily news says that the device's design has been officially finalized, citing an anonymous source.

From what I can understand via Google Translate, the report indicates that it will have a physical home button and won't use the company's S Pen stylus, as had been rumored. Digital Daily predicts a release date near the end of next month.

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All that's more or less in keeping with the current conventional wisdom - it never made a lot of sense that Samsung would add a stylus to the Galaxy S IV when it already sells the Note line and it seems like we've been hearing about late March - early April launch dates for months. And while it's a little bit disappointing to hear that Samsung likely won't do anything too outr├ę with the Galaxy S IV, it makes sense - the phone's screen and powerful internals seem likely to be the main selling points.

Given the apparent likelihood that Google will release a major new version of Android at its I/O developer conference in May, it'll be interesting to see how Samsung's carrier partners handle the update on the new device - a slow upgrade could frustrate enthusiasts and potentially hurt sales momentum.

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The other hot piece of Galaxy S IV gossip this week was the rumor that Samsung will use a Qualcomm SoC in the phone, instead of something from its in-house Exynos line. Given the slightly chilly relationship between the two companies - Qualcomm's CEO took a public swipe at eight-core mobile SoCs just after Samsung released the Exynos 5 Octa - I'm not holding my breath waiting for this to happen.

The apparent source, reported by SamMobile, is a benchmark result, which I'm beginning to think is the mobile rumor equivalent of "a guy at the bar told me." (SamMobile was careful to note that the idea of a Qualcomm chip in a Samsung phone was highly unlikely.)

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Here's some news that the small-handed may want to exchange very accurate high-fives over - the Galaxy S IV will launch with a miniaturized version available, according to Geeky Gadgets Gadgets. I'm taking that with a grain of salt, however - the same report says that the aforementioned Qualcomm-powered Samsung phone benchmark could be the Galaxy S IV mini.

Don't get me wrong, however - a mini version of the Galaxy S IV does make sense, but I question whether Samsung would dilute the impact of its main event by saying "oh, and we have this little one as well." (Particularly if it's as comparatively unimpressive as the Galaxy S III mini was.) It's not impossible, of course, but if I had to guess, I would say the company would wait until later to roll out the mini.

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Elsewhere, HTC has a big clock counting down to 11 a.m. EST on Monday, which I can only assume means they're going to announce an amazing new phone that, due to their awful carrier deals, will only be available on U.S. Cellular. No, seriously, my money's on the M7, which could be HTC's biggest-deal multi-platform device in a long time.

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HP - yes, that HP - is planning to get back into the gadget market with a Tegra 4-powered tablet running on Android sometime this year, according to ReadWrite.

You may remember HP as the guys and gals behind WebOS, but ReadWrite points out that the company has been tangentially involved in the Android world for a couple years now. Personally, I think it's a more beneficial partnership for Google than it is for HP - Android could benefit from HP's experience in the business world - but it's tough to see any immediate pitfalls for either side.

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Oh, Nike. You make ads so expertly, yet you're so bad at PR. The sportswear company axed its plans to make an Android app for its FuelBand tracking bracelet, which has some folks a little peeved in the Android community.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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