Android Stuff: India hits 1 billion smartphone users

smartphone user india Pabak Sarkar

The Indian smartphone market made a 0.7 percent increase from September to October, vaulting the nation over the 1 billion user threshold to 1.03 billion users. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India just released this information yesterday, making India the second country in the world to reach this milestone.

Anyone care to take a guess at what that first country was? Anyone? Anyone?

Sundar Pichai Google for IndiaSee also: Sundar Pichai talks new internet initiatives for India1

India’s population, which triples that of the United States, has created a ravenous market for the smartphone industry. Whereas the US really only has four major carriers, a proportional twelve battle over subscribers and contract holders in India. This fierce competition combines with other factors to make India’s phone bills some of the least expensive in the world. It’s no surprise that smartphone manufacturers and service providers in every time zone are turning an interested eye to this smartphone-hungry nation.

India Smartphone Adoption


Although the US remains a major market for flagship and high-end devices, mid-range and entry-level manufacturers are having far more success in the continent of Asia. Bulk sales and mass usership speak for themselves. After all, India has had more smartphone users than the US since – are you ready for this? – 2008. In the ~8 years between then and now, US smartphone usage has increased only by about 100 million users. In the same time frame, India has seen a number of new smartphone subscribers that surpasses the total population of the United States. Almost times two.

So for all you Westerners thinking your market is the center of the smartphone world… You might want to reconsider your worldview.

What are your thoughts regarding India’s explosive growth in smartphone adoption? Let us know in the comments below!

(Oh, and it was China, obviously. China hit a billion users all the way back in 2012. Didn’t want to leave you hanging.)

Next: Best cheap Android phones


Android Stuff: Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has the third best smartphone camera according to DxOMark

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While it’s no secret that the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has a pretty stellar camera, its quality has now been made official. DxOMark has declared that everyone’s ‘phavorite phablet’ has the third best smartphone camera currently on the market.

DxOMark is something of a touchstone resource for image quality comparisons.  Their analysis of camera quality of devices across the board is widely regarded as both thorough and unbiased. They’ve given the Galaxy Note 5’s camera a score of 86, ranking just below the tied-for-first camera cappos: the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and the Sony Xperia Z5. The pair eked out the win by a hair’s breadth with an 87 each.


What makes the Galaxy Note 5’s camera so outstanding? DxOMark points to the 16 MP rear shooter’s ability to maintain balanced contrast and exposure regardless of whether or not lighting conditions are ideal. The Note 5 has a built-in feature that detects when high-light situations would result in overexposure and activates its HDR mode to ensure that details are retained in both shadows and highlights. They do note that some whites come out a little bit “yellow/pink” in low lighting conditions, however.

Galaxy Note 5 Camera Detail

In terms of detail retention in general, the Note 5 scores very high marks, delivering some of the finest clarity that DxOMark has seen in smartphones to-date. The only area in which the camera flags a bit is in large, single-color areas – like the sky. Shots with broad areas without color variation do come out with a bit of noise in them. However, in lower lighting conditions, detail isn’t compromised at all.

Galaxy Note 5 Camera Detail Low Light

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 looks like it’s got some staying power to continue to be competitive through 2016 and beyond. Although it doesn’t often feel like a spec’ed out power device, it has proven to have not only provide smooth and reliable performance on a gorgeous 5.7-inch AMOLED display, but it also boasts the kind of software and design elements that make interacting with it a very natural experience. And if you’re looking for a smartphone to make a run at replacing your digital camera, look no further.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Review

Are you a Galaxy Note 5 owner? What has your experience been with its camera quality so far? Is your reaction in-line with DxOMark’s analysis, or did the quality leave something to be desired? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Next: Best unlocked Android phones (December 2015)




Android Stuff: Lucky user receives test build update on Huawei Watch, brings audio and speaker support

huawei watch review aa (26 of 33)

Back in November Google announced that Android Wear was gaining support for cellular connectivity, as well as support for speakers and phone calls. These three features were supposed to be the big selling points for LG’s Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, which unfortunately never made it to market due to hardware issues. This meant we never really got the chance to play around with these features and to see how they worked on the Android Wear platform.

With that said, the new version of Android Wear that brings speaker support might not be too far off, according to one lucky user on Reddit. According to the posting, Huawei has sent out an updated build of Wear to Huawei Watch owners enrolled in a special user test group that brings full audio and speaker support. The user’s Huawei Watch received an update to Android Wear build 1.4.0, running atop Android 6.0.1. The user says his device’s speaker is now functional, and he can place and receive phone calls directly from his watch.

The Redditor also confirmed that users are able to select ringtones directly from the watch, enable text-to-speech (which the user claimed was quite annoying), and even play Google Play Music from the watch itself.

We’re not sure when Huawei plans to roll this update out to all Huawei Watch units, but at least we know now that the company is actively testing the next big update. We’ll be sure to update you as we learn more.

moto 360 ifa aa (1 of 18)Next: Best Android Wear watches56


Android Stuff: Square Enix is bringing Final Fantasy IX to Android

Square Enix has been working to bring just about every Final Fantasy game to mobile devices for the past couple years, and it has just announced its next re-release that’s coming to mobile. Final Fantasy IX, one of the best Final Fantasy games of all time, is coming to Android, iOS and PC sometime in 2016. While there’s no specific release date nailed down as of yet, we’re just excited that the game developer has decided to bring this iconic title to Android.

We’re not entirely sure how much Square Enix plans to change in this mobile-friendly version, but we can conclude, at least from the trailer attached above, that we’ll be seeing some improved graphics and smoother animations. Square Enix is promising “high-definition graphics, newly added achievements, auto-save, high speed mode and several game boosting features.” There are no details regarding any of these new achievements or ‘game boosting features’ so far, so we’ll need to wait for more information in the new year.

media_cloud_bigRelated: Final Fantasy 7 hits iOS, Android could be next43

The game’s trailer doesn’t show much more than cutscenes, though the battle system seems to have received a few visual tweaks.

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 11.08.09 AM (2)

As stated before, no exact release date has been given, but we’ll update you once we learn more. What’s your favorite Final Fantasy game? Are you excited to finally play IX on mobile? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Square Enix on Google Play

Next: 70 best Android games


Android Stuff: Deal: Getflix easily unlocks geo-restricted streaming services (88% off)


Ever wanted to use geo-restricted streaming services outside the USA? It can be a bit of a hassle. Companies like Netflix and Hulu (among many others) can’t be accessed everywhere, and the most common way to bypass this is by using a VPN.

The truth is that most VPN services are confusing, hard to set up and a bit expensive, though. Not to mention the fact that people don’t always want to reroute all their internet activity. Especially considering using these virtual private networks can slow your internet down.

How do you get around this? Those who simply want to stream some movies can now go with Getflix, which happens to be 88% off from the AA Deals Store right now.


Getflix will unlock over 100 video channels for your viewing pleasure. It will reroute only your streaming data, leaving the rest of your device untouched and using the regular network.

The best part is that it will cost you only $39 to get a lifetime subscription! I have paid that amount of money for 2 months of VPN services in the past, so this is really a steal. And they do have apps for all major platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS X, consoles and smart TVs, so most of you are covered.

Want in on the deal? Hit the button right below to sign up.

Buy Getflix lifetime subscription


Android Stuff: 2015 in review: 10 defining moments in the world of Android

Looking back at 2015, we’ve had a hell of a year. Not only have we seen quite a few impressive phones introduced over the last twelve months, but there has also been a number of big surprises, changes, and innovations in the world of Android this year, some of which could set the tone for 2016 and beyond.

With that in mind, we are taking a look at just 10 “defining moments” of 2015 that not only shook up the Android world this year but could have lasting effects going forward.

1) Samsung’s plastic days are over

Samsung's latest flagships all sport the formidable Mali-T760 GPU

For years, Samsung was criticized for its overuse of what many called cheap plastic. Despite a few attempts to change up the design in minor ways, it wasn’t until this year that Samsung finally gave users a massive update to its design language with the unibody glass and metal Galaxy S6. Since then, we’ve seen the same design makes its way over to the Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Plus.

The new design language isn’t without its own set of controversies, however. The unibody glass and metal design didn’t just throw away the use of plastic, it also scrapped long-time Samsung staples such as microSD support, removable batteries, and removable back covers.

Samsung has actually upped the sex appeal, but at the risk of alienating some of its long-time fans

Over the years, Samsung has become a favorite not only among casual smartphone users looking for an Apple alternative, but also as a power user’s dream due to the ability to expand the memory for storing movies, pictures, extra apps, and more. The idea of swapping out a battery to keep going for days without the need for charge was also a welcome advantage for these type of power users. With the new design language, Samsung has actually upped the sex appeal and made their phones a much more compelling choice for everyday consumers, but at the risk of alienating its long-time fans that were drawn in by power user friendly features.

The good news is that almost everyone has come to terms with Samsung’s big change and early rumors for the Galaxy S7 suggest they’ll continue down a similar direction, though there is the possibility microSD could make a return.

Looking forward: Galaxy S7 rumor roundup

2) Nexus program debuts two phones, one from China

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Back in 2014 there were whispers that Google had enough of the Nexus program and was axing it in favor of a more commercialized Android Silver initiative that would feature more aggressive marketing, better carrier participation, and would also make it easier for more OEMs to get involved. With Android Silver, there would be tons of stock-like Android phones available that all fell under a basic set of guidelines. The rumors were met with mixed reception, with Nexus fans particularly voicing out disgust over the possibility of the Nexus program ending. As we all know, it never happened, and instead we were given the Nexus 6.

While the Nexus program continued, it was very different from what we had seen the two years prior. Gone was the idea of a budget-friendly Nexus that sacrificed certain features to keep pricing down in order to give developers and stock enthusiasts a wallet friendly smartphone that was open to ROMs, rooting, and other tinkering. Instead, the Nexus 6 offered specs, and even build quality, that was relatively comparable to its flagship competition, with a more expensive price tag to match.

The Nexus 6 introduced the idea of a premium Nexus and forever changed the Nexus program, but 2015 has seen just as big, if not bigger, of an evolution for the program. First of all, the Nexus tablet line seemingly has ended — though it’s certainly possible it could be revived in 2016. Second, 2015 is the first year we were given two Nexus phones. This time around, we are given the option of either a more affordable, smaller, near-midrange device with the Nexus 5x, or a high-end (yet still relatively affordable) flagship with the Nexus 6p.

The third big change to the Nexus program, which probably best echoes the evolution we’re seeing in mobile, is the introduction of Huawei to the Nexus team. Huawei is not only a new player, it has the distinction of being the first Chinese company to work with Google in such a capacity.

3) Huawei and other Chinese players start pushing hard at the western markets

Huawei Mate 8 AA-

Google embracing Huawei into the Nexus fold shows just how important China and Chinese companies are becoming to the mobile space. China represents a huge expansion opportunity not only for companies like Google, but also handset makers such as Samsung, LG, Apple, and others. But beyond this, Chinese OEMs are also stepping up their game, producing devices that rival phones from major competitors outside of China, and yet often have price tags that are considerably more competitive. And these companies are eager to make their way to new markets as well.

In 2015, we have seen Huawei make important steps towards western expansion

In 2015, we have seen Huawei make important steps towards western expansion, introducing devices like the Huawei P8 Lite and the Huawei SnapTo for the US market, as well as working with Google to bring the Huawei Nexus 6p to the global market. The Nexus 6p was particularly important for Huawei because it helped legitimize the brand in the west. All these changes show that Huawei is hungry for the western market, and it’s already all but confirmed that their next steps involve bringing the Honor brand to the states and introducing flagships like the Mate 8 to the US as well.

It’s not just Huawei though. 2015 saw Xiaomi make baby steps toward the US by introducing an accessory store. Sure, it’s not as ambitious as actually releasing its phones to the US, but it sets the company up for such a move in 2016 (and/or beyond.) Other notable players that have been working hard to gain more credibility in the western market include OnePlus, Oppo, and ZTE. There are also many companies laying the groundwork for an entry in 2016, including LeTV, which is set to make an appearance at CES next week.

4) Blackberry enters the Android game

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Blackberry’s meteoric rise and fall in the mobile world is a story of a company that initially had great ideas which helped catapult it further in the mobile world, but ultimately is the story of a company that failed to react to the changing tech landscape. While Blackberry still has its loyal fans, their numbers have continued to shrink. Then out of nowhere came the first rumors of an Android-powered Blackberry handset, going under the codename Venice. Initially, many people were skeptical about the legitimacy of this rumor.

Fast-forward to the latter half of 2015, and the Blackberry Priv is now available in most major markets. Embracing a Snapdragon 808, a QHD display, a curved display, and other high-end specs, the Priv is a flagship-level device that also harkens back to a bygone age by giving us a sliding keyboard. The ideas behind the Priv are admirable and the device is admittedly very nice looking, but software bugs and other issues have ensured that the Priv has been met with fairly mixed reception.

The Priv may or may not be remembered as a critical success for the company, but the significance of its debut will forever remain. 2015 will be the year that Blackberry made a bold move into new territory, thrusting it into a very competitive space that arguably only Samsung has found major fiscal success in. The stage is clearly set for an even bigger push into Android in 2016, if Blackberry can survive that long.

5) Google creates its own tablet, Nexus tablet nowhere to be seen

Pixel C-13

As we already mentioned, 2015 was completely absent of Nexus-branded tablets, but that didn’t mean Google had no tablet ambitions for the year. Instead, the company introduced the Pixel C, a Google-made tablet that runs stock Android and seemingly shares similar DNA to the Nexus program, but with even more direct control by Google itself. The Pixel C is a somewhat controversial device, with some claiming it just doesn’t do enough to set itself apart in the mobile space, especially due to lacking features like split screen apps and other productivity-geared features. The optional keyboard has also received some criticism, with many saying that the Pixel C attempts to be the Microsoft Surface of the Android world but doesn’t quite get it right.

Of course, there’s also plenty of defenders of the product, and our official review stated that, despite a few minor flaws, the Pixel C was a solid Android tablet and one of the best available. Regardless of your feeling for or against the Pixel C, its existence is still very important.

The Pixel C branding obviously was Google’s way of distancing itself from the Nexus program, but why? It could be that they wanted to avoid association with the lackluster Nexus 9. It could be that they are ending the Nexus program, at least for tablets. It’s also a logical conclusion that Google knew that the Pixel C, with its larger screen and hybrid design, was a big gamble for the company, and if it failed, they didn’t want this to further affect the reputation of its Nexus tablet branding.

We have to wonder if the Pixel C is just the beginning of more Google-made hardware in 2016? Could we see a Pixel phone in the coming year?

6) Budget phones reach a whole new level

ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser-7

In many ways 2014 was the “year of the budget phone”, thanks to OnePlus and the OnePlus One, but 2015 has continued this push towards premium products at less-than-premium pricing. Some of the most notable examples include the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3, the Asus Zenfone 2 family, and, on the higher-end of the spectrum, the Moto X Pure Edition. It’s also worth mentioning that both the Nexus 5x and Nexus 6p are priced relatively low for what they bring to the table.

Of course, there are still holdouts. Samsung continues to focus on premium pricing, and LG finds itself somewhere in the middle. HTC also has kept pricing high. Will any of these players bow to the changing market in 2016, especially as Chinese players start nipping at their heels? Only time will tell for sure.

blu-life-one-x-vs-moto-g (1)See also: Best cheap Android phones (December 2015)308

7) HTC stopped being the benchmark for “premium”


At least going back as far as the HTC One (M7), HTC has been the king of premium in the Android space, and one of the few players that competes on the same level as Apple, aesthetically speaking. That’s why many felt that the HTC One M9 was a major disappointment. Though its specs were fairly decent, the phone lacked wow factor both in the hardware front and in design. In fact, the design of the HTC One M9 was nearly identical to the M8. The One M8 was actually pretty similar to the original One, but at least the company worked hard to further refine its design. With the One M9, HTC seemed to say that their design language was perfect as it is, and a lot of folks didn’t agree.

Since then, HTC has made a reasonably big change in design language with the HTC One A9, which seems to take inspiration from Apple’s iPhone series, though that point is contested by some, who say it is similarly a further evolution of the original HTC One’s design. Whether the A9 is a positive step or a backward one, depends on who you ask.

So if HTC isn’t the benchmark for premium among Android flagships, who is? Ironically, Samsung is now towards the top of this list, not only because of its change to a glass and metal design, but also for its willingness to experiment with innovations like the Edge display. Who would have ever thought that day would come? The good news for HTC fans is that the One M10 will likely finally see a big change in design, though it remains unseen whether it’s worthy of being considered a benchmark for premium design.

8) First high-end Android Wear watch, and the first non-smartphone makers get involved

tag heuer connected

The wearable space heated up a great deal in 2015, with Apple introducing the Apple Watch and Samsung giving us the most compelling Gear watch to date, the Gear S2. Android Wear also saw some big updates to its software, while also introducing new players to the mix. During 2014 and earlier, smartwatches were primarily a game controlled by either startups or big tech companies, but in 2015 we saw traditional watchmakers make their first moves in this space as well.

On the more mid-to-low end range, Fossil introduced the Fossil Q Founder. Tag Heuer also got involved, giving us the Tag Heuer Connected, a $1500 luxury Android Wear smartwatch. In 2016, it’s likely even more watchmakers will come onboard with Android Wear, and perhaps even competing platforms. Will 2016 be another big year for wearables, or will VR, smarthomes, and other cutting-edge tech take its place as the next hotness?

9) Sony gives us a 4K smartphone, sort of

sony xperia z5 premium aa 13

I hesitated on whether or not to add this to the list. After all, the Sony display is only 4K sometimes, and it’s hard to say how defining this has been for 2015 and beyond. After all, there’s still no indication that any major competitors are preparing to follow suit, though its certainly a possibility that at least a few OEMs will jump to 4K sometime in 2016. In the end though, I put this here because it is still an impressive innovation that Sony should be credited for.

While Sony arguably should have focused on other things — renewed design language, better marketing, etc — in order to make a name for itself, jumping from 1080p on its flagships to 4K was a bold move. Sony’s implementation defaults to 1080p in some situations to save battery life and due to the lack of true support for 4K on Android, but at the end of the day, it’s still a marvel to think about how far mobile resolutions have come.

Is there a reason for 4K on a mobile device? Part of me says no, the same part that said no about QHD but now claims to be able to tell a difference from 1080p. Where 4K could really be useful, however, is with VR. With mobile VR slowly gaining traction, 4K seems like an obvious way to go, if battery optimization and technology can improve enough to make running in 4k all the time a conceivable reality.

10) Google has a new parent, Alphabet


On August 10th many of us were blindsided with news that Google was restructuring its entire company under the umbrella of the newly created Alphabet. Google immediately fell under the control of Sundar Pichai, and many of the companies like Nest and Google’s X Labs would become sub-companies of Alphabet, no longer directly under Google’s control.

The impact of the switch to Alphabet still remains unknown. Part of the change is about organization, with Google Alphabet claiming it will allow them to expand into new areas and kickstart innovation.

For Google itself, it means that Sundar’s role will be even more crucial. Sundar’s position with the company has evolved considerably over the years, and in 2016 and beyond, his impact will only get bigger.

Wrap up

Android Authority best black friday deals

Those are just 10 defining moments that stuck with me personally. Admittedly, I probably missed some, and some of these maybe wouldn’t make it onto your personal list.

Some other defining moments that come to mind are the growth of AI features in pictures, Google Now on Tap, and so forth. VR is also expanding rapidly, with Cardboard gaining more ground, Gear VR reaching commercial status, and products like Vive and Oculus Rift marching towards release.

So, these were my thoughts, what are yours? What do you feel are the most defining moments of 2015? Let me know in the comments below.

See also:


Android Stuff: Smartphone growth sees Huawei announce a 35 percent revenue boost


While a number of big smartphone manufacturers have been having another tough year, Huawei looks to have been one of 2015’s big winners. The company has just announced a few details about its full year profits, which have leapt up by 35 percent on the previous year.

Huawei Products 2015:

Huawei has declared that its full year revenue reached 390 billion Yuan, or USD$60.1 billion, and the company noted a “solid increase in profits and cash flow”. The company is a little light on exactly how its profits break down and doesn’t make a habit of releasing quarterly results, but strong smartphone sales appear to have played a major part in its revenue growth.

Back in December, Huawei announced that it had sold 100 million handsets in 2015, an increase of 33 percent over the previous year. The company also seems to have weathered the slowdown in the Chinese smartphone market rather well, partly thanks to the expansion of its Honor brand overseas. The company overtook Xiaomi to become the largest smartphone manufacturer in China this year, while Honor is the second biggest handset brand in Europe.

Huawei-Logo-2015-3See also: Look out Apple and Samsung: Huawei shipped over 100 million phones in 201542

The Honor brand will be entering the US market in 2016, which, along with the Nexus 6P, could give the company another big boost to shipments as we head into another year. There is still a way to go to catch up with the top two, but Huawei has risen to become a major player in the smartphone market this year.


Android Stuff: LG G3 now updating to Marshmallow in Poland

It’s now just a day to 2016 yet for many, many Android users concerned with device updates, their thoughts will remain fixated on the current year: Android 6.0 Marshmallow released back in October. While some devices have already been updated, the vast majority are either ambiguous or else waiting. LG Poland took to Twitter earlier to announce that denizens of said country need not wait any longer: Marshmallow is now updating to the LG G3 in Poland.

Some may recall that, much like with Lollipop last year, LG quickly released the new OS build to G4 users in Poland, a country which often sees itself serving as a test market for this kind of thing. Soon after Korean variants started to get 6.0. The G4 was updated there first as well, and so too does it follow that the G3 is as well.

LG itself has an official site dedicated to detailing the changes brought on by Marshmallow, which can be viewed here.

Those in Poland who have yet to receive the OTA notification pushed to their phone can try to manually prompt it by going to the Settings menu, selecting About Device, then finding the appropriate Software Update tab and checking. It may take some time before the update is formally pushed to all devices.


Android Stuff: Pink Sony Xperia Z5 arriving next month

sony xperia z5 & z5 compact & Z5 premium aa 19

If Sony’s Xperia Z5 color line-up isn’t quite bold enough for your style, then you might be happy to learn that a Pink version of the handset is on the way in late January, at least as far as Taiwan is concerned.

According to local media, the pink variant of the Xperia Z5 will be an exclusive to Chunghwa Telecom in the country. The arrival of the phone will conveniently coincide with the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day.

This isn’t the first time that Sony will have offered an exclusive color option to a retailer, but these partnerships typically tend to expire after a little while and we may see the Pink model appear in different regions too. The Purple Xperia Z3 was available in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the UK back in January 2015, so we may be looking at a similar deal with the Xperia Z5 this time around.

sony-xperia-z5-review-7Read more: Sony Xperia Z5 review114

We don’t have any official details or pictures yet, but the mock ups below should give you a good idea of what a pink Z5 would look like. Is anyone interested?



Android Stuff: Video: Qualcomm shows off Snapdragon Flight smart drone capabilities

Qualcomm and its Snapdragon series of chips may be best known for powering a huge number of smartphones, but the processor giant has recently set its sights on a new market – flying drones. To help showcase that its new Snapdragon Flight platform can do, Qualcomm has released a new video, complete with a rather intense voice over and backing track.

In the video, Qualcomm gives mention to a few useful bits of technology that can be achieved with its Snapdragon Flight development platform. Autonomous flight, motion planning, and obstacle mapping can all be programmed and used via the drone’s built-in sensors and cameras.

For a quick recap, the Snapdragon Flight board is built from a Snapdragon 801 processor, dual-band 2×2 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and GNSS location chips, Quick Charge technology to power up the batteries, and dual camera support with 4K video.

Snapdragon Flight DroneSee also: Qualcomm mobile SoCs take to the skies with Snapdragon Flight3

Speaking of which, Qualcomm also expects that its platform will greatly reduce the cost of offering 4K video capable drones. The company estimates that the cost of a 4K camera drone could fall from $1,200 down to $300 or $400, while battery life could also increase to up to an hour.

Qualcomm will be showing off even more of its Flight platform’s capabilities at CES 2016 next week.