Telling Androids apart: what makes Android handsets different?

Telling Androids Apart

With the Android operating system pretty much having taken over the smartphone world, manufacturers are finding it more and more challenging to make their mobile phones stand out from the rest.

So what makes a Samsung Galaxy S3, say, any different from a HTC One X? And how have the likes of Sony, HTC, Samsung and LG adapted to devices’ growing resemblance to one another?

See a list of Android phones

The similarities

Android has become one of the most popular operating systems for mobile phone manufacturers mainly because it’s open for the individual company to apply to their own brand devices. This is different from Apple’s iOs, which can only be applied to official Apple products.

As a result, most smartphones on the market are run by Android, meaning that all Android devices share the same:

  •  Access to the Google Play Store
  •   Apps like Navigate, Gmail, Google+, YouTube and Google Chrome.
  • An interface consisting of various home screens which can be customisable

So what is making today’s handsets stand out from one another?


HTC has identified the importance of standing out in a crowd swimming with Androids, and has released its latest handset with the HTC One BlinkFeed.

HTC BlinkFeed essentially turns the traditional static home screen into a live home screen featuring dynamic posts which update in real time. If you are interested in football and technology, for example, simply select these news stories to appear on your own personal BlinkFeed.

And for users who prefer to see the traditional Android home screen, HTC hasn’t taken this away; simply swipe to the left to display all of your favourite apps and widgets.

Sony Xperia Z

Sony has also found it difficult to compete against the likes of Samsung in the tumultuous mobile phone market in recent years, and despite upping its camera quality to stand out from the rest, the American electronics company has changed tact to make its flagship model, the Sony Xperia Z, shine.

Instead of changing the look of the phone’s interface, the Sony Xperia Z has opted for a physical change to make it better than the rest. The device is not only incredibly stylish, with a glossy tempered glass body, but is also entirely water and dust proof.

And while this might not be a feature that you would benefit from on a daily basis, if any of you have experienced the shameful process of fishing your phone out of the toilet bowl, it could be a real lifesaver!

Samsung Galaxy S4

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is already one of the most popular smartphones of 2013 and it hasn’t even been released yet! And while Samsung might not have gone out of its way in making their newest flagship model look remarkably different from its predecessor, it has ensured that the device stands out from other Androids because of its additional patented features.

 Features such as Smart Scroll and Smart Pause are additions that only exist on the Galaxy S4, and make the device stand a foot above the rest. Smart Scroll is essentially patented technology that automatically scrolls down the page when it detects that your eyes have reached the bottom of the phone’s screen. Smart Pause uses the same technology and instantly pauses a video that you are watching when your eyes glance away from the screen for a prolonged period of time.

But are these features just gimmicks?

While it’s more important than ever to make Androids stand out from one another, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain whether these added features are making handsets individual, or if they are just gimmicks; features that are simply added as a marketing tool?

HTC has put a lot of development into the HTC One’s multitude of additional features, including HTC Sense TV, BlinkFeed and HTC Zoe, and because of this, I would argue that the HTC is a real game changer in the world of Androids.

However, I feel that the Sony Xperia Z’s dust and waterproof capabilities are features which, while making the phone unique, don’t enhance the day-to-day experience for the user.  Much in the same vain, the Samsung Galaxy S4’s Smart Scroll technology is also a bit of a gimmick, though in the case of Samsung, standing out from the rest is less of a make-or-break issue than with smaller, less successful manufacturers. The lure of the Samsung Galaxy S4 would probably still have been as strong regardless of whether it contained these new features, especially as Samsung has long been considered the main player in the Android world. 

Do you thing that all Android devices are the same? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Alternatively, to post a comment below. 

Written by Charlotte Kertrestel

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