The-Friday-Debate aa

Evan Forester

On this edition of the Friday Debate, we discuss underdogs. Everyone loves a good underdog story, and the world of tech regularly offers examples of companies that were dismissed as failures, only to prove ultimately naysayers wrong. So, who’s your favorite Android underdog? What company deserves to be on top but isn’t for some reason? Who would you want to see replace Samsung as king of the hill?

Join us in the discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments!

Joseph Hindy

This is a good question because there really isn’t an OEM that I don’t like and it’s hard to determine what an underdog is. HTC has lost a lot of market share in recent years, but are they not still a big dog in the world of Android? I would say they are. Same with LG, Motorola, and Sony. They don’t have the clout that Samsung has, but that doesn’t mean that they’re underdogs right?

Personally, I’ve always liked Xiaomi because they challenge what we know about smartphones. In China, they were able to become quickly popular by building quality handsets and selling them at cost to promote their brand. I think this is a genius idea and it makes me wonder why the Nexus brand hasn’t taken off, given it has the same business model (sell cheap, make money off your platform instead of off hardware). In China, at least, Xiaomi has been boxing it out with the big dogs for over a year now and still holds its ground. That’s impressive.

Word around the rumor mill is that Xiaomi will be expanding out of China eventually and when that happens they’ll be the true definition of an underdog. A new OEM, challenging the preconceived notions that all great smartphones need to cost $700-$1000. I would love to see a Xiaomi phone make it to Europe and the US, available on the biggest carriers while still going for the $200-$300 their devices go for off contract. Mostly out of personal curiosity. Also, this would introduce a new OEM skin to Android (MIUI) on a grander scale. This gives people even more options and even though stock Android is great, options are better!

Robert Triggs

Well there’s definitely a case to be made that most manufacturers are a little hard done by Samsung’s huge market dominance. I wouldn’t mind seeing everyone with a little bit more market share, just to keep Samsung on its toes and provide a little more competition to benefit the consumer.

But if there’s one company that I think definitely deserves a larger share of the Android market then it would have to be LG. As well as manufacturing the brilliant Nexus 4, the company has consistently put out decent hardware in both the top and middle tiers of the smartphone market, just look at the new LG G2.

LG isn’t just a company that produces handsets with top of the line specs, its pricing is also usually a tad cheaper than the other Android manufactures. They’re probably the company offering the best value for consumers right now. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is sold in the UK for around £650, whilst the newer and higher spec LG G2 can be bought for SIM free for just £590.

I’d also like to see Nexus devices in general take up a larger share of the smartphone and tablet markets. Google’s default Android experience is definitely something that more consumers should experience, compared with the bloated software suites of Samsung and other manufacturers.

Simon Hill

Samsung’s domination isn’t good for anyone except Samsung. I’ve always liked Sony products and its mobile offerings have improved a lot lately. Since the Ericsson name was dropped, the new Xperia range look and feel more like Sony products. The Xperia Z led the new flagship charge and the Z1 is a nice update.

I still have some lingering goodwill for HTC as well because the Desire was my first Android phone. The HTC One deserved to do better, but even with great reviews it couldn’t compete with the Galaxy S4 and that’s probably more to do with marketing spend than the quality of the smartphones.

For a real underdog I’d like to see Fairphone do well. It’s about time someone exposed the widespread use of conflict minerals and made it clear that you can manufacture a decent smartphone without exploiting your suppliers or manufacturers.

Bogdan Petrovan

Though Sony is hardly a “small guy”, when compared to Samsung, pretty much every Android maker seems an underdog. Like Simon, I have a soft spot for them, for reasons I can’t really pinpoint. I guess I just like their designs and their hardware, and I yearn for a great comeback story.

An OEM that I think people (and especially people in the media) are too dismissive of is LG. I guess that’s a problem of brand image, but, really, LG has been doing some great stuff in the past year and deserve more credit than they get.

A true underdog? Probably Oppo, a company that relatively few people know about now, but I think more will in the future. Oppo has been doing a lot of things right with its devices and the CyanogenMod partnership means the software part is pretty much covered. I hope they make it big.

What do YOU think?

Join us in the comments and vote in our poll.

[poll id=”388″]

Bogdan Petrovan

Bogdan is the European Managing Editor of Android Authority. He loves tech, travel, and fantasy. He wishes he had more time for two of those things. Bogdan’s phone is a Nexus 6P.