By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
NEW YORK – Apple smartphones gained sales share in the U.S. at a faster rate than Android or Windows phones in the three months ending May, a Kantar Worldpanel ComTech survey found.
But Android and Windows supporters hope to turn that around in the coming months with the launch of multiple new smartphones.
Many of the new smartphones are promoted as water- and dust-resistant, and they include more ruggedized phones as well as phones with screen sizes up to 6.4 inches and with chassis depths down to 0.24 inches to differentiate them from their iOS competitors.
The phones include:
• the Xperia Z Ultra, a premium Sony Android LTE smartphone said to offer the world’s largest FullHD display, at 6.4 inches;
• Huawei’s Ascend P6 Android phone, promoted as the world’s thinnest smartphone;
• Sprint’s first two Windows Phone 8 OS phones, the HTC 8XT at $99 and Samsung Ativ S Neo at $149;
• NEC’s first U.S. phone in years, offering Android and a rugged design;
• Verizon’s first ruggedized 4G LTE phone, an Android model made by Casio;
• Sony’s premium water-resistant Xperia Z smartphone, launched amid great fanfare at International CES and now coming to the U.S. for the first time;
• ZTE’s Imperial Android 4.1 phone for first-time smartphone users, available through U.S. Cellular; and
• LG’s Optimus F7, part of the flagship Optimus series of Android phones and coming to prepaid provider Boost Mobile.
The products enter a market in which Android sales share is growing more slowly than Apple iOS or Windows share.
Although Android retained its place as the top OS in the U.S., with a 52 percent unit-sales share in the three months ending May, Android’s share grew by only 0.1 percentage points from the year-ago period. In contrast, iOS sales share grew 3.5 percentage points to 41.9 percent, and Windows share grew 0.9 percentage points to 4.6 percent, Kantar found.
BlackBerry share fell 3.9 percentage points to 0.7 percent.
In the U.S., “Apple’s expanded distribution agreement with T-Mobile is helping the iPhone keep Android growth at bay,” said Paul Moore, Kantar’s global director. “T-Mobile is the smallest of the big four U.S. carriers, but it does have the capacity to give iOS a boost, particularly as 28 percent of its customers plan to buy an iPhone when they next upgrade.”
Android and Windows phone suppliers hope the following products will help offset some of the potential gains that TMobile is giving iOS:
Casio’s G’zOne Commando Android smartphone became Verizon’s first LTEequipped ruggedized phone on June 27 when it launched at $99 through direct and indirect channels.
The carrier also offers the 3G version of the Commando smartphone at $49.
The G’zOne features Glove mode, enabling users to manipulate the touchscreen while wearing gloves. It also has barometric pressure readings, compass, sun/moon displays, temperature comparisons, tide views, constellation gazer and virtual trail functions.
Huawei’s Android 4.2.2 Ascend P6 is promoted as the world’s thinnest smartphone with only 0.24 inches (6.18mm) in depth, and it is shipping in China now and Europe in July “with other markets to follow,” Huawei said.
It features 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, 8GB embedded memory, 32GB MicroSD slot, metallic body, 4.7-inch high-definition in-cell display, and a 8-megapixel main BSI camera with f2.0 aperture, 4-centimer macro view and 1080p video capture.
The W-CDMA/GSM phone lacks LTE but features HSPA+21Mbps cellular-data technology. It would likely add LTE if it comes to the U.S.
LG Electronics continued to expand distribution of its Optimus series of smartphones with the June launch of the premium LTEequipped Optimus F7 through no-contract service provider Boost Mobile.
The Optimus F7 rolled out earlier in June through U.S. Cellular with that carrier’s postpaid plans.
For Boost, the F7 is the fourth LTE device that it has rolled out this year.
With Boost service, the F7 will be available June 27 at $299 and operate on Sprint’s 3G and 4G LTE networks.
The Android 4.1 phone features a 4.7-inch True HD IPS display, dual-core 1.5GHz processor, main 8-megapixel BSI camera with 1080p video capture, and QSlide 2.0 multitasking, which lets users overlay up to two application windows on an existing open application and adjust the size and transparency of the windows.
Sony unveiled a premium Android LTE smartphone said to offer the world’s largest FullHD display at 6.4 inches. With a chassis depth of only 0.26 inches (6.5mm), it’s said to be slimmer than any other phone with a FullHD display.
The Android 4.2 phone, billed as the first waterresistant FullHD phone, weighs 7.5 ounces and features tempered-glass front and back and a solid-metal frame. It will be available in black, white or purple.
The water- and dust-resistant Xperia Z Ultra also has what the company called the world’s fastest smartphone processor, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 processor with 2.2GHz quad-core CPU. It’s also the first Xperia-series smartphone with the ability to use a capacitive stylus or metal pen with a tip diameter of more than 1mm.
The Xperia Z Ultra will launch in the third quarter, but the timing of U.S. shipments wasn’t announced.
Sony also unveiled its nextgeneration smart watch, the SmartWatch 2 SW2, which is said to be the world’s first smart watch with nearfield communciations (NFC) connectivity for one-touch pairing to an Android phone. It also adds higher-resolution display, better visibility in sunlight, longer battery life, new UI and standalone watch functionality.
The water-resistant and dust-resistant SmartWatch 2, which ships in September, controls phone functions and Smart- Watch apps. Sony offers more than 200 apps for its smart watches.
Sprint finally jumped on the Windows Phone 8 bandwagon with the planned summertime launches of the HTC 8XT at $99 and Samsung Ativ S Neo at $149.
Precise availability dates and a full feature list for both 4G LTE smartphones weren’t announced at press time.
The HTC 8XT brings dual front-facing speakers for the first time to a Windows phone, Sprint said. HDR recording uses dual microphones and audio processing to record stereo sound.
Other key features include Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 1.4GHz dualcore CPUs, 1080p video capture, 1GB RAM, 8GB ROM, 64GB MicroSD slot, 4.3-inch display, and an 8-megapixel main camera with autofocus, LED flash and 1080p video capture.
Samsung’s Ativ S Neo offer 1.4GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, MicroSD slot, international roaming, 4.8-inch HD display, Wi-Fi and 2,000 mAh lithium-ion removable battery. It also features Ativ Beam, which uses NFC to tap other Windows phones and select Android phones to share photos, music and video.
T-Mobile will debut exclusively in the coming weeks Sony’s flagship water-resistant Xperia Z smartphone, which was launched amid great fanfare at International CES in January. T-Mobile declined to specify an exact shipment date or price but said the water-resistant Android device is expected to be available nationwide at T-Mobile retail stores, select national retailers, dealers and online via T-Mobile.com in the coming weeks. The smartphone will be available in a black finish and a limited-time purple finish.
The device is water- and dust-resistant and can hold up for 30 minutes when submerged in 10 feet of water. It also features quad-core 1.5GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, 5-inch 1080p display with a pixel density of 443 ppi and 13-megapixel main-camera resolution.
ZTE’s Imperial Android 4.1 phone, intended for firsttime smartphone users, became available for 1 cent on June 27 through U.S. Cellular with 4G LTE, 1.2GHz dual-core processor and a 4-inch touchscreen. It’s the 14th LTE device from U.S. Cellular.
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