Sunday, June 3, 2012

Android this week: Instagram arrives; Sprint LTE phones soon; Galaxy Note

This week saw Instagram arrive on Android devices after a full 16 months of iPhone exclusivity. The social photo sharing app provides a number of image filters and makes it simple to snap a picture and post  it to a user’s Instagram feed. Clearly, there was much pent-up demand for the software as a reported 2,000 people were signing up through the app every minute.

Two immediate aspects of this launch jumped out at me and both of them were related to the iPhone. First, the application looks more like an iOS app ported to Android; not one that uses the typical or recommended Android interface elements. That’s not necessarily an issue, but it has some Android users grumbling.

Second, iPhone users wasted no time ridiculing Android thanks to the new app. I’ll grant them that the iPhone 4S has a stellar camera, optics and photo software that takes great images, but not every Android handset camera is junk. And even a good handset can yield crappy images in various situations. Even worse, was an attitude of smugness or superiority from the far end of the spectrum as evidenced by this tweet below. The fact is, there are many great mobile device choices that work well for different individuals: Instead of mocking them, we should appreciate that we have choices at all.

Speaking of choice, more than 5 million people in the world have chosen the Samsung Galaxy Note. I received a review unit from AT&T on Friday and handset is growing on me; not literally, which is good, given the 5.3-inch display. At CES, I felt the Note was too wide in my hand but that was with only a few minutes of playtime to film a video of the device. After using it for a single day, I’m starting to appreciate the size.

I’ll have a full review forthcoming, but in the short time I’ve used the Galaxy Note, I’m thinking it could replace both my Galaxy Nexus and my Galaxy Tab 7.7 tablet. Why? It has the features, usability and portability of both in a single device.

That’s just my gut reaction, of course, and not everyone will find the large device to their liking. But those who are asking the question of whether this is a tablet or a phone are asking the wrong question. I’ll soon have a follow up post on what’s the right question to ask when considering if the Galaxy Note is suited for you, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, Sprint users gained the promise of new Android phones for the carrier’s upcoming LTE network: The LG Viper and the Sprint EVO 4G LTE. The EVO model is already building up buzz, mainly because it’s a version of the HTC One; a consolidated product line that HTC hopes to turn around flagging sales.

Look for the EVO 4G LTE this quarter for $199.99 (with contract), running Android 4.0 and latest version of HTC Sense on a 4.7-inch 1280×720 resolution screen. Qualcomm’s 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 will power the handset, which will also use HD Voice for improved audio quality on calls.

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