Waiting for Android

When it comes to actual, physical handsets running Android, there's been a lot more talk than action

While Google is busy sweating over Android 1.5, several companies have announced plans for the open source OS this week. But despite a steady stream of announcements, there's still a dearth of handsets. Kogan indefinitely postponed the Agora early this year, and the HTC Magic is only just now getting its slick screen touched in Europe (although by the time you read this, HTC may have announced three additional Android-based handsets).

Manufacturers that have jumped eagerly on the Android bandwagon include Toshiba, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Samsung, LG, Garmin, Lenovo, and Asus. So where exactly are all these phones?

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Leading the roundup of hot tips is one out of the Netherlands: The Web site of a Bluetooth special interest group briefly posted (then quickly removed) intel indicating that HTC is close to releasing another Android handset, the Fiesta. When? Where? Dunno -- details were slim. Aside from it being Bluetooth-capable and available in Asia, Europe, and North America, there isn't much to go on.

Meanwhle, Lenovo's OPhone has been sighted on video. Showing rather familiar icons, the OPhone has some neat tricks, including on-screen widgets and a home screen constructed from 3-D cubes. Yes, it bears more than a passing resemblance to Apple's shining star, but as it's Android-based, it will probably be available only in China. This OPhone could help prevent the iPhone from succeeding in the Chinese market, but that doesn't help Android fans in North America.

Rumors also swirl around Samsung, which is rumored to be working on at least one (delayed) Android handset in the United States this year, as well as three in the European market. Four or more handsets within the next eight months seems like a tall order when we have't seen anything yet, so I'm taking it with a grain of salt. There are some rumblings that we can expect to see a touch screen offering by June, but I'm guessing Samsung will wait for the official release of Android 1.5.

Last but not least is news that Huawei's handset announced at MWC now looks to be heading to T-Mobile late this year. It may be called the G3 and is said to include a 5-megapixel camera, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and Wi-Fi. All this news is exciting, but talk is cheap. Show me the handsets!


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.