The glorious return of the Android underdogs

Something funny is happening here in the land of Android.

At the time that you think the big and strong dogs of Android devices will dominate the dojo and leave little room for anyone else to enter, a bunch of small, sketchy startups are catching the attention of the crowd Android enthusiasts as they prepare to enter the arena.

By all common logic, these companies must be on a virtual suicide mission. Most market share analyzes show that Samsung is consistently trailing the lion’s share of Android phone purchases, even as other big-name Android phone competitors are jostling for a piece of the relative hardware-buying pie (which is often the case). flag, is the surest thing Not apple flavor).

Unfortunately, even Google itself is facing a slow and seemingly arduous process of getting its self-made Pixel phones from niche products to the masses. The familiar name commands a meaningful portion of the market – making them devices that are otherwise within the sights of casual, non-glutty cardholders. And that is Google we’re talking about, because cry out loud.

However, as we said, two ambitious companies are preparing to do the impossible – start breaking into Android hardware and deliver devices that they promise will be truly different from the status quo. .

[Love Android? Get fresh Googley insight in your inbox with my Android Intelligence newsletter. Three things to know and three things to try every Friday!]

Of course we have to wait and see if they succeed. But with absolute zero uncertainty, I can assure you this: The fact that they are all try is a huge win for us as enthusiasts of exciting technology – and their pending presence in the crowded Android market is a pretty spectacular one.

Familiar faces, familiar bites

The companies mentioned here may be new to the Android phone-making game, but the real mammals behind them are anything but the inexperienced.

The first and most fascinating thing for me personally as a first time phone maker is called Osom. As we said, they’re talking about their first Android product – a nice-looking little device simply called the Osom OV1.

Osom Phone - Android Osom

Behold: Osom’s phone. (And yes, it’s pronounced like “great”.)

OV1 was originally slated to release sometime in February, but that date was pushed back to this summer and more recently fourth quarter – with the latest delay seemingly driven by a desire to ship phones with newer, yet unavailable Qualcomm processors.

In terms of appearance, if the phone looks familiar, it should: Osom OV1 is essentially the successor to Essential PH-1, an Android fan-favorite phone launched in 2017 amid grand plans for the entire ecosystem of smart home products surrounding it. Despite that device’s distinctive design and unusually impressive approach to timely software support, the company behind it ultimately had to comply – and no additional devices or official tracking which is released.

Essential Phone - Andy Rubin Necessary

The essential phone doesn’t last long in this world. Rest in peace, sweet prince.

Osom is (pardon the pun) nature It starts where Essential left off, with many of the same teams behind it – though there’s one key exception: On the surface, at least, Essential Phone revolves around Android founder Andy Rubin, who has a connection. with a product that gave the company instant credibility and put it instantly on the map. But Rubin’s reputation today is not what it used to be, put it gently — and so does Osom, the team he’s assembled is branching out on its own and beyond that pollution association.

So what makes Osom OV1 so interesting? Why should anyone care? Well, a few reasons:

  1. Based on it all jokes, the phone is shaping up to be as gorgeous and premium as possible – with a “zirconium ceramic” back, titanium for the camera housing and physical buttons, and a stainless steel frame. Now, does any of that change anything about how the device actually works? Of course not. But it will certainly make it stand out from the crowd and attract certain types of tech hominid.
  2. According to its creators, the phone will move away from the popular Android model of using Google’s core Android software mainly for the sake of change and will instead follow in Essential’s footsteps by offering experience akin to stock, with a focus on both optimal user experience and fast and reliable software updates.
  3. All the basics aside, the Osom OV1 will set itself apart with a strong focus on privacy, with never-before-seen enhancements that are said to offer more control over how share accurate data in different situations.

Oh, and the Osom team has said their device will sell for under a thousand dollars – an important factor as most top-end phones currently climb to the 4-figure mark.

And that’s just part one of this next-gen Android lousy story.

Lots of tips on Nothing

Launching other upcoming Android hardware is similarly new but also familiar. It’s called, quite interestingly, Is not — and it’s a mysteriously shrouded project orchestrated by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei.

Nothing makes a pair of headphones yet – which, um, okay – but now, unofficial report says the company has quietly introduced a prototype of the new mobile device with plans for a public launch in April.

What makes the Nothing phone worth buying is something we don’t know yet. Details about the device are still extremely scarce.

But Pei managed to build a die-hard Android fan base with his early efforts at OnePlus. Some of OnePlus’ first high-end phones have been carefully catered to the tech-loving community, with a streamlined approach to software – a sort of “stock-plus” philosophy that’s not entirely different from the others. what Osom is doing – along with exceptional hardware and an almost shockingly affordable price tag, especially in the early days.

OnePlus has since pivoted in pursuit of a more mainstream appeal (and made – and then wandering – some questionable decision with its products to get there). And to be fair, those efforts looks ~ looks It’s paying off: The company’s sales jumped 524% year-over-year in 2021, according to an analysis.

So yes: If anyone knows how to squeeze their way into an overcrowded market and manage to make money, Pei is sure to be like that person.

Now look: We’re talking 100% theoretical, unreleased products here. I can’t tell you for sure if they’re worth your hard earned money at this point or if they can hold their ground as the current top options in the Android hardware ecosystem. or not.

What I maybe let you know, though, diversity has always been one of Android’s greatest assets. Unlike Apple’s ecosystem, where it’s very much like a one-size-fits-all, love it or leave it alone, Android has always offered a wide range of different device styles and options.

However, in recent years – with HTC and LG failing and failing, Motorola sucking straightand once promising startups like Essential, Nextbit and OnePlus either fold or focus on very different goals than those that made them popular – reality The degree of choice that makes sense among those of us looking for an exceptional top-quality experience on Android has become surprisingly thin.

Suffice it to say, switching back to a situation where we have really compelling options – choices that have a different but similarly excellent overall user experience – would be a big deal. big leap for us who appreciate Android and appreciate having fun options. And really, regardless of whether you end up buying an Osom phone or a Nothing phone, having those companies push the boundaries of what’s possible in a high-end Android device can only be a good thing. when increasing competition and forcing people across the entire ecosystem to stay on their toes.

And one more thing: While there a small % of the overall smartphone market might seem like a peanut to a company like Google, 1% of that giant meat pie is actually a pretty astronomical number by most corporate standards. The group is not big.

Consider: Somewhere in the region 1.4 billion smartphones were sold worldwide by 2021, according to nerds at Gartner. One percent of that would be 14 million won.

That’s 14 million unit sales representing just 1% of the total smartphone market. That means even a small part of one percent – say, 0.25% – would still be a whopping 3.5 million products shipped.

It doesn’t take much for Osom and Nothing to build sustainable and healthy businesses. Even if they are mostly just a blip on the radar in the broader smartphone market, they can kill it by their own measures of success. And, more importantly, they can enrich our options in a significant way that brings the early days of Android back to mind.

Android underdogs are back, honey. And believe it: No matter what kind of phone you’re on, their second arrival is something to celebrate.

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc. The glorious return of the Android underdogs

Fry Electronics Team

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