Android insanity! Galaxy Note II, Xperia T, and the other hot new launches

Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Xperia T

'Tis the season -- for an insane amount of Android device launches.

With the start of September just days away, we're starting to see the first signs of the annual preholiday tech rush. And for Android fans, that means a dizzying array of announcements, updates, and hot new products to drool over.

Already this week, we've seen big Android news from Samsung, Sony, and LG -- and plenty more is still to come. Heck, it's only August!

Here are the highlights of what we've seen so far and a peek at what's still on tap for the weeks ahead.

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Finally giving us a break from all the Apple vs. Samsung news, Sammy took the wraps off its new Galaxy Note II smartphone at the IFA electronics show in Berlin today. The Galaxy Note II is the successor to the 5.3-in. Galaxy Note phone launched in the U.S. just six months ago (hey, Samsung's never been known for its conservative approach to device releases).

At a glance, the Galaxy Note II looks like a supersized, stylus-toting version of Samsung's Galaxy S III. It has a 5.5-in. 1280 x 720 HD Super AMOLED display with a 1.6GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM under its hood. The new Note has an 8-megapixel camera on its back and a 1.9-megapixel lens on its front. The phone runs a heavily modified version of Android 4.1 with Samsung's custom TouchWiz user interface.

The Note II is said to have a significantly upgraded stylus -- S Pen, as Samsung calls it -- compared to its predecessor. Namely, it's longer, thicker, and more ergonomic (and as an added bonus, it gives you a valid reason to use the phrase "longer, thicker, and more ergonomic").

The Galaxy Note II will be available in 16, 32, and 64GB models. Samsung says the device will launch in "major European, Asian, and Middle East markets" in October and in the U.S. "later in 2012." Thus far, no specific dates, pricing, or carrier details have been announced.

Samsung Galaxy Camera

In a somewhat surprising twist, Samsung is also showing off a new Android-powered camera. Dubbed the Galaxy Camera, the device runs custom Samsung software based on Google's Android 4.1 OS.

To be clear, the Galaxy Camera isn't a phone; it's a camera. But it can run Android apps, accessible via its 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display. The device is powered by a 1.4GHz quad-core processor. It has a 21X optical zoom lens and 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor.

Samsung Galaxy Camera

The Galaxy Camera will be available in 3G/4G and Wi-Fi versions. No specific pricing or availability info has been released.

Sony Xperia T, V, and J

Sony may be a relatively minor player in the Android world right now, but with its latest launches, the company is clearly striving to show it has what it takes to play with the big boys. Leading the pack is the new Sony Xperia T, a flagship phone with a 4.6-in. 1280 x 720 "HD Reality Display," 1.5GHz dual-core processor, and 13-megapixel camera.

The Xperia T runs custom Sony software based on the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS. Sony says the phone will be upgraded to Android 4.1 at some point, though it's remaining vague right now about when that could occur. Also vague are specifics about pricing and availability for the Xperia T; at the moment, Sony is saying only that the phone will launch "globally over the next few weeks."

The Xperia V, meanwhile, is a smaller version of the phone. It packs many of the same basic specs with a 4.3-in. display. And the Xperia J is the budget model, with a 4-inch display and 5-megapixel camera. Both the X and J phones are scheduled to launch sometime in the fourth quarter, though again, there's no guarantee about if or where -- carrier-wise -- they'll be available in the States.

Sony Xperia Tablet S

Rounding out Sony's Android holiday lineup is the Xperia Tablet S, a new 9.4-in. slate with Sony's signature folded-over-top design.

Sony Xperia Tablet S

The Xperia Tablet S has a couple of interesting features: It's waterproof and supports a Microsoft Surface-style keyboard cover (sold separately for $100). Those elements aside, the tablet runs on a 1.4GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. Its screen is a 1280 x 800 IPS display. The tablet has an 8-megapixel camera on its back and a 1-megapixel lens on its front.

Sony's focusing a lot on software, using its custom UI built around Google's Android 4.0 release (Sony says a Jelly Bean upgrade is in the cards, but once again, there's no definite time frame). The Xperia Tablet S has a host of specialized software features, ranging from apps to control your entire home entertainment system (via the device's IR blaster) to an intriguing "guest mode" that lets you set up multiple profiles for different users.

The Xperia Tablet S is set to ship in the U.S. starting September 7; it'll cost $400 for a 16GB model, $500 for a 32GB model, and $600 for a 64GB edition.

LG Optimus G

LG Optimus G

Last but not least, LG is looking to score with its freshly announced Optimus G phone. The Optimus G has a 4.7-in. "True HD" 1280 x 768 IPS display, a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. Like Sony's new Android devices, the Optimus G has a 13-megapixel main camera; it also has a 1.3-megapixel front-facing shooter for video chat. The phone runs custom LG software based on the Android 4.0 OS.

So when can you get it? Good question. LG says the Optimus G will launch in Japan and Korea in September "followed by other markets worldwide" -- so we'll see how long it takes for this sucker to reach the rest of us, provided it ever does.

Android insanity: Everything else

Whew! So that's where we are now. And we're just getting started: Next Wednesday, Motorola has an event in New York City at which it's expected to reveal a new device or two. Rumors point to the phones being a new "Droid Razr HD" and "Droid Razr M" for Verizon, but only time will tell for sure.

Moto has also scheduled an event for later in September in London. According to the BBC, the company will use that event to launch its first Intel-powered smartphone.

And don't forget that Amazon has something up its sleeves, too, with an event set for next Thursday that's rumored to revolve around a new Kindle e-reader and/or Android-based Kindle Fire tablet.

Android Power Twitter

Beyond that, it's anyone's guess. Odds are we'll see something new from HTC for the holidays -- and then, of course, there's the army of new Nexus phones Google is expected to announce later this year. Some folks are speculating that Sony's Xperia T and LG's Optimus G could be among the devices given pure Android makeovers and new Nexus names.

All combined, the next few months promise to be anything but quiet in the world of Android -- and here in these parts, that's exactly how we like it.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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