Hottest Android news and rumors for the week ending Dec. 14

Despite the fact that the Android handset market is a cruel and unforgiving place, most of the major players haven't been overly aggressive toward each other, at least in public. The rare direct swipe at a competitor tends to be reserved for That Other Smartphone. Samsung in particular has been getting into this lately:

Could that all be changing, though? It's possible. Motorola took an unusually overt shot at a company not named after fruit this week, implying Samsung's phones don't download data as quickly as theirs do. I'm not sure where they got their "49% faster" figure, but hey, it's a statistic in an ad -- who really takes that kind of thing seriously?

It's not a big deal in and of itself, of course -- I doubt it'll do much to dislodge Samsung from its place atop the world of Android hardware -- but it's interesting that it's Motorola, not HTC or LG, that was the one to go after the South Korean giant. Given that Motorola is owned by none other than Google itself, the move (superficially, at least) creates an odd situation in which the operating system company is publicly criticizing its biggest hardware partner. I don't remember seeing many Microsoft ads talking about how crappy Dell's PCs were, back in the day. Weird stuff.

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Definitely coming out at CES: ZTE is going to debut its new Grand S on Jan. 8 in Las Vegas at the show. An official announcement posted to the CES website says it'll be the thinnest 5-inch "FHD" (assuming this means "full HD") smartphone in the world, and it will be built from ceramic.

Definitely NOT coming out at CES: The Galaxy S IV, according to a report from CNET. This tallies with the widespread rumors that Samsung's Next Big Thing is scheduled for release later in the quarter.

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Of course, Next Big Thing is a relative term in the Android handset world, where form factors get bigger seemingly every month. Anonymous sources apparently told South Korean news source Asiae that LG could launch the Optimus G2 in the first half of 2013. The report says the G2 could boast a 5.5-inch screen at 1080p resolution.

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Bigger still could be the Samsung Galaxy Note III, which the Korea Times says will have a 6.3-inch (!) display, which, to be frank, is getting into "I feel silly holding this thing up to my head to talk" territory.

(Hat tip: Slashgear)

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It kind of looks like Intel's testing a new SoC for Android devices, based on FCC information turned up by Engadget. The data show the Red Ridge device running Android 4.0 and packing Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC, and it's listed as a production unit, which means a release could come sooner rather than later.

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A totally reworked version of Facebook is now available for Android. Per a note from developer Frank Qixing Du, the new Facebook app runs completely on Android-native code, rather than hybridizing it with HTML5. This, he said, should lead to major performance increases.

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Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

Tags MotorolaNetworkingAndroidZTEwirelessDellsamsunghtcGoogleconsumer electronicsMicrosoftGoogle Androidsmartphonessoftware

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