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6 Other Android Products: Not Just Smartphones

iPhones are generally much smoother, faster, and have significantly better longevity compared to Android smartphones. They can outperform flagship Android devices thanks to Apple-manufactured hardware and system software.

6 Other Android Products: Not Just Smartphones

The first mobile device that incorporated both communication and computing features was the Blackberry, which was introduced in 2002.5 After the Blackberry was brought to market, other handheld mobile devices were introduced. Perhaps most notably, in January 2007, Apple launched the first-generation iPhone.5 Subsequently, smartphones that run the Google Android operating system were introduced in October 2008.5 Because of the intuitive touch-screen user interfaces and advanced features and capabilities that the iPhone and Android smartphones offer, ownership of mobile devices has increased rapidly.12 In April 2010, Apple introduced a new innovation, the iPad tablet computer, which because of ease of use, portability, and a comparatively large screen was yet another transformative computing tool.5 The iPad ignited the tablet computer market.9 Tablets that run the Google Android operating system (Samsung Galaxy and others) were launched later that year, making the use of these mobile devices even more widespread.5

In eight of these countries, gender differences in internet use are either nonexistent (in the case of Colombia, the Philippines, Venezuela and Vietnam) or modest (in the case of Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico and South Africa). These differences are most prominent in India, Kenya and Tunisia, although majorities of both men and women in Tunisia and Kenya go online. In India, 46% of men and just 29% of women use the internet. To some extent, these gender gaps in internet use coincide with differences in smartphone use, as men in both countries are more likely to use smartphones than women.

Android is a mobile operating system based on a modified version of the Linux kernel and other open-source software, designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Android is developed by a consortium of developers known as the Open Handset Alliance, though its most widely used version is primarily developed by Google. It was unveiled in November 2007, with the first commercial Android device, the HTC Dream, being launched in September 2008.

Speculation about Google's intention to enter the mobile communications market continued to build through December 2006.[25] An early prototype had a close resemblance to a BlackBerry phone, with no touchscreen and a physical QWERTY keyboard, but the arrival of 2007's Apple iPhone meant that Android "had to go back to the drawing board".[26][27] Google later changed its Android specification documents to state that "Touchscreens will be supported", although "the Product was designed with the presence of discrete physical buttons as an assumption, therefore a touchscreen cannot completely replace physical buttons".[28] By 2008, both Nokia and BlackBerry announced touch-based smartphones to rival the iPhone 3G, and Android's focus eventually switched to just touchscreens. The first commercially available smartphone running Android was the HTC Dream, also known as T-Mobile G1, announced on September 23, 2008.[29][30]

In May 2019, the operating system became entangled in the trade war between China and the United States involving Huawei, which, like many other tech firms, had become dependent on access to the Android platform.[69][70] In the summer of 2019, Huawei announced it would create an alternative operating system to Android[71] known as Harmony OS,[72] and has filed for intellectual property rights across major global markets.[73][74] Under such sanctions Huawei has long-term plans to replace Android in 2022 with the new operating system, as Harmony OS was originally designed for internet of things devices, rather than for smartphones and tablets.[75]

Android devices incorporate many optional hardware components, including still or video cameras, GPS, orientation sensors, dedicated gaming controls, accelerometers, gyroscopes, barometers, magnetometers, proximity sensors, pressure sensors, thermometers, and touchscreens. Some hardware components are not required, but became standard in certain classes of devices, such as smartphones, and additional requirements apply if they are present. Some other hardware was initially required, but those requirements have been relaxed or eliminated altogether. For example, as Android was developed initially as a phone OS, hardware such as microphones were required, while over time the phone function became optional.[118] Android used to require an autofocus camera, which was relaxed to a fixed-focus camera[118] if present at all, since the camera was dropped as a requirement entirely when Android started to be used on set-top boxes.

The documents revealed a further effort by the intelligence agencies to intercept Google Maps searches and queries submitted from Android and other smartphones to collect location information in bulk.[251] The NSA and GCHQ insist their activities comply with all relevant domestic and international laws, although the Guardian stated "the latest disclosures could also add to mounting public concern about how the technology sector collects and uses information, especially for those outside the US, who enjoy fewer privacy protections than Americans."[251]

While Android phones in the Western world almost always include Google's proprietary code (such as Google Play) in the otherwise open-source operating system, Google's proprietary code and trademark is increasingly not used in emerging markets; "The growth of AOSP Android devices goes way beyond just China [..] ABI Research claims that 65 million devices shipped globally with open-source Android in the second quarter of [2014], up from 54 million in the first quarter"; depending on country, percent of phones estimated to be based only on AOSP source code, forgoing the Android trademark: Thailand (44%), Philippines (38%), Indonesia (31%), India (21%), Malaysia (24%), Mexico (18%), Brazil (9%).[381]

If you find the Galaxy S22 Ultra's $1,200 price just a tad too high, the Galaxy S22 Plus offers a lot of what made that phone great at a penny under $1,000. You won't get the S-Pen stylus, nor the 10x Periscope zoom lens, but you still have a beautiful 120Hz OLED screen, an excellent 50MP main camera with a respectable sensor size, a good 12MP ultra-wide lens that can grab sweeping landscape shots; and an excellent 3x telephoto zoom lens. In other words, this is a phone that can still capture some very top-notch images, even if it can't grab those insane zoom shots of its more Ultra sibling.

Every Android flagship offers a 120Hz refresh rate these days, but OxygenOS' (and ColorOS') animations just zip around noticeably faster and smoother than, say, Samsung's OneUI, which sees dropped frames from time to time. Google's Pixel UI has pretty smooth animations, and a case can be made for that software taking this spot, but OxygenOS is just a bit more customizable, with a better Always-On Display and more useful shortcut gestures.

Another common use for smartphones is health and wellness tracking. The Health app for iOS, for instance, can keep track of sleep behavior, nutrition, body measurements, vital signs, mental health exercises and more.

Mobile payment is another widespread use for smartphones. Wallet features allow users to save credit card information on their phones to use when purchasing items at retail stores. Apps such as Apple Pay also enable users to pay other iOS users directly from their phones.

LCDs are beginning to be outpaced by other display technologies, but still have a place in the smartphone market. Now, LCDs can be commonly found in budget to mid-tier smartphones- as the OLED is a bit more costly.

Some front-facing cameras tend to be pushed up to the top of a screen with a notch. The notch will commonly hold the front-facing camera, speaker and other sensors which can be used for features like face unlock. The common trend in smartphones today has been eliminating bezels and the notch to leave as much room for the display as possible. To do this, phone companies have been slowly and steadily implementing new smartphone designs to find the best implementation. Some smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, will have a centered hole-punch cutout for a single front-facing camera. The Galaxy S10 and S10+ will have a hole-punch cutout for its camera and cameras respectively, located in the upper right corner of the display.

We review a lot of tech here at Android Authority but phones have always been our bread and butter. Hundreds of hours go into reviewing, testing, and comparing the best of the best from all segments of the mobile market. Our team of seasoned reviewers and writers know the tech we write about better than anyone. But as the year draws to a close our team crowns our pick for the best phone of the year, based on not just performance but also value for money and other intangibles like long-term support.

At just $599, we called the Pixel 6 one of the easiest-to-recommend phones of the year in our review. Google is finally taking making smartphones seriously and the Pixel 6 is a breath of fresh air. It packs much of the flagship experience of the Pixel 6 Pro but shaves off just the right parts to get the price down. We think the Pixel 6 is the best phone for most people in 2021.

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