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Android Circuit: Galaxy S6 Edge Is Best Handset, Moto X Play Review, Your $10,000 Premium Smartphone

Forbes logo Forbes 28-09-2015 Ewan Spence, Contributor

Taking a look back at seven days of news across the Android world, this week’s Android Circuit includes the latest leaks of the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, the Samsung Galaxy S6 winning ‘Smartphone Of The Year’, a review of the Moto X Play, details on Samsung’s payment plan for Galaxy handsets, the world’s most expensive Android smartphone, the launch of the Pebble Time Round, Google’s updates to the Clock and Gmail apps, and how Starbucks is changing how you order coffee.

Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android in the last week (and you can find the weekly Apple news digest here).

The New Nexus Names Leak Out

Ahead of Google’s expected announcement on Monday, leaks around the packaging and devices have revealed the names of the 2015 versions of the five-inch and six-inch screened devices. Android Police looks at the new details.

Oddly, one of the last things we knew about the new LG and Huawei Nexus phones were their actual names. A rumor last week suggested that LG’s 5.2-inch follow-up to the 2013 Nexus 5 would be called the Nexus 5X, and that Huawei’s 5.7-inch flagship would go by Nexus 6P. Android Police can now confirm the rumors with these exclusive images of the retail packaging for both phones.

Forbes Tech will keep you up to date with the details from the event next week.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (image: Ewan Spence)© Provided by Forbes Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (image: Ewan Spence)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Named Best Smartphone Of 2015

UK technology magazine T3 hosted its prestigious gadget awards for 2015 this week, and the flagship award of ‘Best Smartphone of The Year’ has been won by Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge:

Samsung came back with a bang back in March and showed us the Galaxy S6 Edge. Almost the same phone as the Galaxy S6 – one that features a cracking processor and some amazing other features – but with curved screens on both the edges.

Before then we’d not seen anything like it and it truly blew us out of the water. That screen is something else and it’s still one of the best handsets on the market when it comes to camera and pure power.

Personally I think the curved edge hasn’t been used to create enough of a new experience, it’s just a nice gimmick. That’s not stopped the Edge becoming the hot handset of the summer. 

NEW YORK, NY – JULY 28: Adrienne Hayes, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, introduces the new Moto X Play and Moto X Style (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Motorola Mobility)© Provided by Forbes NEW YORK, NY – JULY 28: Adrienne Hayes, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, introduces the new Moto X Play and Moto X Style (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Motorola Mobility)

Moto X Play Software Stands Out

Nirave Gondhia has spent the last two weeks with Motorola’s Moto X Play, the mid-range variant of Moto family’s 2015 handsets. There are some compromises in the hardware, but Motorola’s implementation of Android one of his high points:

While design certainly isn’t Motorola’s strongest suit, the company can point to its software as a crowning example of how you should make a smartphone. As we’ve seen from Motorola in previous years, the Moto X Play adopts the mantra that “less is more”.

The handset has an almost stock-like interface with a few key additions that make the handset a Motorola. Like other devices in the range, it comes with the Moto App, which acts as a central home from which to control the various smart features that Motorola have built into the handset. As with the new Moto G, you can set particular shortcuts to quickly access the front or rear cameras using motion control but one (very welcome) change is the quick flick to launch the torch is nowhere to be seen.

Samsung’s Upgrade Program For Galaxy Buyers

Forbes’ Aaron Tilley looks at Samsung’s latest scheme to help consumers purchase an unlocked Galaxy smartphone outside of a carrier’s two-year contract. A lease program will allow a handset to be purchased with payments spread over a number of months (likely twenty-four months). Initially only available in the US, it all sounds rather familiar…

The South Korean electronics giant is planning to launch a program for leasing its Galaxy phones in the U.S. market, similar to the one Apple announced just weeks ago, according to an industry executive with knowledge of Samsung’s plans. Samsung may be launching this leasing program in the next several months, although that timeline may accelerate, the executive said.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (image: Samsung PR)© Provided by Forbes Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (image: Samsung PR)

Is This The World’s Most Expensive Android Smartphone?

I wonder if Vertu has a payments plan? The latest Android smartphone from the exclusive luxury retailer - the Vertu New Signature Touch - comes with a 5.2-inch 1080p screen, the SnapDragon 810 chipset, 64 GB of on-board storage, 4 GB of RAM, and a 3160 mAh battery.

Edgar Cervantes looks at the rest of the deal on Android Authority:

This phone is for those with eccentric taste, something Vertu hasn’t forgotten. It is made with fine leather and grade 5  titanium. The Vertu New Signature Touch also comes in 8 versions: Jet Calf, Garnet Calf, Grape Lizard, Pure Jet Lizard, Jet Alligator, Pure Navy Alligator, Clous de Paris Alligator and Pure Jet Red Gold.

These all feature their own personalized engraving. Not to mention those new elegant cases, which come in two unique designs and multiple colors/materials. One is simply a holster, while the other is a wallet case with credit card slots. If you are wondering where the nanoSIM and microSD cards go, they are hidden behind the “dramatic gull-wings” on the back plate.

And the price? If you have to ask it’s probably too much, but don’t expect much change out of $10,000.

Smartwatch start-up Pebble is doing it’s best to be seen as the natural competitor to the Apple Watch, and while Android Wear’s updates are feeling a bit hit and miss, the Palo Alto based company has released the third design of the year. Compatible with Android and iOS, the obvious feature of the Pebble Time Round is highlighted in the name, but Pebble has done more than just create a circular watch face… it’s also focused on a more feminine smartwatch, which means a much smaller and thinner design. From the blog post launching the watch:

At 7.5mm thin and weighing just 28 grams, Pebble Time Round is the thinnest and lightest smartwatch in the world.

With a variety of available band sizes, watch finishes, and band options, Pebble Time Round suits more people than ever. Start with a band size—20mm or 14mm—that fits you best. Pick a finish to match your style: Black, Silver, or a special-edition Rose Gold exclusively for the 14mm band size.

Polish off Pebble Time Round’s look with bespoke watchfaces in the Pebble appstore or with a selection of quick-change bands in genuine leather (metal band options come later this year).

The big sacrifice in all of this is battery life… it’s down to around two days. We’ll have a review of the Pebble Time Steel as it approaches retail release in November, but pre-orders are open now at

A Better Way To Tell The Time

One of the advantages Google has with Android is the ability to update the stock applications ‘over the air’ without requiring an OS update. The recent changes to the Clock app use the same mechanism to update as a third-party app in the Play Store. That means it’s worth paying attention to the update of the clock on Android, not just because of what it does, but how it does it. With a big focus on wearables and Android Wear, the clock app on Android becomes an ever more important part of the Android equation. Stephen Hall highlights the code changes:

Besides the ability to gradually increase volume for alarms and timers, the update also brings the ability to choose your favorite timer ringtone, dismiss alarms within the Clock app “preemptively,” and control your timers from a system notification. On the Android Wear side, you’ll get easier alarm management and new interactive notifications.

Flappy Bird on Android Wear (image: Corbin Davenport / YouTube)© Provided by Forbes Flappy Bird on Android Wear (image: Corbin Davenport / YouTube)

Gmail Gets Updated As Well

Google has also updated the Gmail app on Android (along with changes to the desktop/browser interface) to help manage unwanted incoming mail. This includes the ability to block senders which will automatically push their mails into your spam folder so it is never seen. The Android app also brings over the ‘Unsubscribe’ button from the desktop to help manage the deluge of newsletters and digests. Amit Chowdhry looks at the details:

Gmail is also adding an ”unsubscribe” feature to its Android app so you can remove yourself from annoying mailing lists with a couple taps. To unsubscribe from a mailing list using the Gmail Android app, simply go to the email and tap on the “More” button. At the top right corner, you will see a button that says “Unsubscribe.”

A woman walks out of a Starbucks Coffee with a beverage in hand in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)© Provided by Forbes A woman walks out of a Starbucks Coffee with a beverage in hand in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

And Finally…

If you need to save thirty seconds from your daily run to Starbucks for coffee, then the coffee company’s updated Android app may be able to help. After this week’s update, users can pre-order their favourite drink and have it ready for collection. Engadget’s Daniel Cooper:

Starbucks has tweaked its Android app to bake-in both ordering and payments straight from your phone, saving you the drama of having to explain your arcane coffee needs to another human. The feature was originally tested last December in Portland, and was added to the iOS version of the app back in July. The app will work in the US, Canada and in the UK, although the mobile ordering will only work in stores that the company owns — there’s a big venti question mark over if it’ll work in other locations.

Android Circuit’ will round-up the news from the Android world every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future, and of course read the sister column in Apple Loop! Last week’s Android Circuit can be found here, and if you have any news and links you’d like to see featured in Android Circuit, get in touch!

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