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High-end Android sliders ready to roll from Motorola, HTC

Jul 26, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

A photo of a T-Mobile-destined, Android-based HTC “G1 Blaze” phone has popped up on Engadget, and Droid Life has unveiled Motorola's Droid 2, due for a Verizon launch next month. Meanwhile, Verizon's Droid X delay has been extended, some minor screen and security problems have emerged, and the phone has been rooted but not fully conquered, according to reports.

A high-end HTC smartphone that was previously rumored to be called the HTC Vision is now likely to be called the G1 Blaze, says Engadget, which posted an alleged photo of the device below. Like the original Android phone, the G1, the G1 Blaze will be offered by T-Mobile, although whether it will appear in Europe or the U.S. is still unclear, says the story. Neither is it clear when the phone will ship, although it would seem to be due fairly soon.

The G1 Blaze from HTC and T-Mobile
Source: Engadget

The G1 Blaze offers a slider QWERTY keyboard — a first for an HTC Android phone — and provides a 1GHz processor and a 3.7-inch WVGA screen, says Engadget. Earlier, this month, the site reported that the device, then referred to as the HTC Vision, would run Android 2.1 with the Sense UI layer.

Droid 2 coming soon, says report

Back in early June, prior to the formal announcement by Verizon Wireless of the Motorola Droid X, a slightly lower-powered QWERTY slider phone called the Droid 2 was also rumored to be on the way. The Droix X is now shipping, at least for those lucky devotees who stood in line on the first day before they phones sold out, but there's still been no official word on the Droid 2.

Motorola's Droid 2
Source: Droid Life

Now, Droid Life is running an photo of a phone alleged to be the Droid 2, and says the phone will ship on Verizon in August with the latest Android 2.2 ("Froyo") operating system next month for around $200.

As with the Droid X, the Droid 2 runs on a 1GHz processor, says the story. However, it will offer a smaller 3.7-inch screen, as well as less memory (an 8GB card), and a lower-resolution five-megapixel camera, says Droid Life.

Aside from the faster processor, all these specs appear to be the same as those of the original, 550MHz Droid. The keyboard quality is said to be vastly superior to that of the Droid, however. Unfortunately, the Droid 2 also appears to have the same modified version of MotoBlur UI skin that has earned poor marks on the otherwise widely praised Droid X, says the story. 

Droid X delayed as screen flicker and privacy flaws emerge

After the day-one sell-out of the Droid X (pictured at right), Verizon said that the phone would once again be available on July 23. Make that Aug. 3, according to a Clint Boulton report in eWEEK's Google-Watch last week. Meanwhile, HTC continues to suffer from what appear to be more severe delays of its own on its Evo 4G and Droid Incredible phones, although time will tell if Verizon's problems are just as dire.

Judging from Verizon's disappointing second quarter earnings report last week, the carrier will need to quickly get its Droid X act together before other high-end smartphones gain the attention of potential Android customers. According to a separate eWEEK report by Michelle Maisto on Friday, Verizon said that Android was a bright spot in an otherwise mediocre quarter. The company generated $26.8 billion in revenue during the quarter, but saw its profits slide by $198 million, says the story.

Despite the downturn, Verizon's "Droid franchise" has been "a great success," Chief Financial Officer John Killian was quoted as saying. Killian also reported that more Android devices were coming to Verizon, presumably this year.

Meanwhile, in a separate eWEEK report by Maisto, Motorola and Verizon have admitted there was a problem with Droid X devices suffering from flickering screens — albeit with only 0.1 percent of the devices. According to the companies, the issue has now been resolved, and affected units can be easily repaired.

Another minor problem with the Droid X was reported on by BoyGeniusReport, this time concerning privacy. The phone's MotoBlur UI layer shows text messages and call history logs via its contacts history function, even if those items have been deleted, says the story. Apparently, Verizon told the site that the problem is a MotoBlur interface issue, suggesting that Motorola is working on it.

Droid X rooted, but not conquered

The Droid X security problem appears fixable, and the screen issue is apparently fixed. However, the inclusion of an eFuse security chip that prohibits users from loading custom ROMs onto the device still has modders and other Android tech types fuming.

Now, Android hacker Stephen Bird has discovered a way to gain root access on the phone, reports Ars Technica — although it still does not overcome the eFuse lockout.

The exploit lets users modify the contents of the file system and use certain third-party software like screenshot and tethering tools that only work on rooted devices, says the story. Step-by-step instructions for gaining Droid X root access have been posted (with considerable caveats and warnings) on the AllDroid forum site.

Bird took an exploit for the Motorola Milestone that was recently published by developer Sebastian Krahmer, and ported it to the Droid X, says ArsTechnica. The technique is said to exploit an Android flaw that is similar to a privilege escalation vulnerability Krahmer found in "udev" last year. Droid X owners can use the Android debugging tool to run the exploit on their device, says the story.

Despite the rooting of the Droid X, the phone's eFuse bootloader encryption has yet to be cracked, so there is still no way to install custom ROM images such as a replacement for MotoBlur. However, notes the story, root access may simplify the process of identifying and exploiting weaknesses in the bootloader lock, which could lead to a full Droid X hack.


The Engadget report on the HTC G1 Blaze phone may be found here, and the Droid Life story on the Droid 2 should be here.

The GoogleWatch item about Verizon's second Droid X delay may be found here, and the eWEEK report on Verizon's second-quarter earnings should be here.

The eWEEK report on the Droid X screen flicker problems may be found here, and the BoyGeniusRepoert story on the phone's privacy flaw may be found here.

The ArsTechnica report on the rooting of the Droid X should be here, and the AllDroid instructions on the exploit should be here.

And for those who still can't get enough of the Droid X, eWEEK has also posted a slide show on the phone, here.

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