Android OEM death watch: Sony, HTC, and LG edition
If Android OEMs were just that, original equipment manufacturers, their jobs would be much simpler and easier. But in the modern smartphone world, it’s not enough to just design and build new gadgets to a high spec; you have to power them with your own tailored software, you have to support them with updates and security patches, and you have to price them enticingly, too. Not everyone has been doing a particularly good job of this, and as the ranks of Android OEMs continue to swell, escalating competition might push some familiar names out of the game altogether.
Let’s start with Sony, the most endangered species in the Android realm. Sony only really knows how to make premium devices. Over the course of the past three years, its Xperia Z series has evolved at a breakneck pace, going from Z1 to Z5 to the present XZ, but it’s never changed in character. The typical Xperia flagship phone costs a lot and has the latest specs and an eye-catching design, but it also tends to launch without the latest Android on board, and its great camera is usually hamstrung by bad software. That’s exactly what I experienced with the Xperia XZ at IFA this year: beautiful on the outside, high engineering on the inside, but outdated Android and unconvincing camera software.