The race for second place in Android

android_army_by_synetcon-d3hk6vnAndroid has a comfortable lead in the smartphone market with iOS in second place and BlackBerry 10 battling Windows Phone 8 for third. Around 70 percent of all the smartphones sold worldwide in the last three months of 2012 were running Android according to Gartner. Samsung accounted for 42.5 percent of all those Android sales. The next biggest manufacturer, Huawei, claimed just 6 percent. The main battle in 2013 will be for second place in Android and there are plenty of big name manufacturers gearing up for the fight. Let’s take a look at their prospects.

Huawei

The chances are good that you’ll have heard something about this growing Chinese manufacturer responsible for producing a wide range of telecommunications and networking equipment. If you’ve got a YouView box from TalkTalk then Huawei made it, and the company also produces a lot of household routers. It has been working on extending its success with Android smartphones beyond its homeland. At CES this year we saw the Ascend D2 and the Ascend Mate, a powerful quad-core flagship phone with a 5-inch 1080p display and a 6.1-inch phablet device. You’ll find a range of budget Android devices already on the market from Huawei, but this year the company is looking to launch an assault on the premium end of the market.

HTC

HTC was once the poster boy for the Android platform, but the Taiwanese company has fallen on hard times in recent months. The new HTC One is intended to change that. It sports a 4.7-inch 1080p screen, a 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and an UltraPixel camera. Essentials like GPS, NFC and Bluetooth are naturally included alongside a smattering of HTC features designed to differentiate the device from other Android offerings. The Sense user interface is joined by BlinkFeed which is a personalized stream of news and social media and HTC Zoe which lets you capture a short video and select the best frames to merge for a perfect photo.

Sony

Having shed the Ericsson brand, Sony has paved the way for a renewed push into the mobile market. The company is reportedly targeting that third place spot behind Samsung and Apple, but it will have to beat the Chinese contenders Huawei and ZTE to claim it, not to mention the rest of our list. So far in 2013 Sony has led the field with the Xperia Z flagship Android smartphone offering a 5-inch 1080p display, a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, and a 13.1 megapixel camera. Along with the super svelte Xperia Z Tablet, Sony has been making waves and both devices are water resistant so that shouldn’t be a problem. It’s possible Sony will also look to gain share at the budget end of the market with some cheaper releases later in the year.

LG

Having been chosen to manufacture the Google Nexus 4, life’s good at LG. The company recently revealed its flagship smartphone/tablet hybrid, the LG Optimus Pro G. It has a 5.5-inch 1080p display, a quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, and a 13-megapixel camera. The company also announced the affordable 4G LTE Optimus F7 and F5 smartphones and updates to its entry-level L series. That looks like a full-on assault targeting every segment of the Android market. The Nexus 4 and LG’s new premium range are creating a new found reputation for quality, but LG hasn’t abandoned its traditional budget smartphone roots.

Motorola

Despite the Google acquisition of Motorola Mobility and the release of new models in the Droid Razr range Motorola has been trailing the competition recently. The company has focused on consumer pain points by developing a range of Kevlar toughened smartphones with long battery life, but the real excitement this year is focused on the mysterious X Phone. The new flagship will reputedly be Motorola’s first device to come out of a close collaboration with Google. The early hype suggests it will be something special and it could be the first device to feature the next version of Android (version 5 which is nicknamed Key Lime Pie). It’s not due to land until the summer, but it could put Motorola back in the game.

ZTE

Another huge Chinese manufacturer that has made some inroads with budget smartphones is ZTE. Like Huawei, ZTE is looking to enter the premium end of the market and the recently announced ZTE Grand Memo is the opening salvo of the year. It’s another hybrid device with a 5.7-inch 720p display, a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, and a 13-megapixel camera. We expect to see more premium smartphones in the coming months to bolster ZTE’s existing budget range. Aggressive pricing could secure that second spot for ZTE.

With Samsung in such a commanding position and about to unveil the Galaxy S4 we can’t see any serious challenge to its Android leadership, but any of these companies could finish the year as a runner-up. Which company is your pick for that second place in Android?

Image via synetcon at Deviant Art.

Connect with

About Simon Hill

Simon is an experienced tech writer with a background in games development. He has been covering the world of mobile technology for several years now and writes for a variety of popular websites.