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SoftBank's summer 2012 Android lineup: better signal, faster downloads

SoftBank's summer 2012 Android lineup: better signal, faster downloads


At its summer launch event in Tokyo, Japanese carrier Softbank announced a trio of Android phones, including Sharp's Aquos Phone Xx 106SH and Aquos Phone 102SHII, and Fujitsu's Arrows A 101F.

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softbank summer lineup 2012
softbank summer lineup 2012

The radiation-detecting Pantone 5 isn't the only new device SoftBank unveiled today. It will be pitting a total of four new Android phones against much bigger lineups from competitors AU and Docomo this summer. All of the phones announced today run on SoftBank's newly-awarded "platinum" 900MHz band, which SoftBank will be introducing with a new advertising campaign in an effort to shake its reputation for poor signal strength.

The key word is 'network'

SoftBank has been offering fast Wi-Fi hotspots for a while, but Sharp's Aquos Phone Xx 106SH and Fujitsu’s Arrows A 101F (mentioned below) are the first two devices offering 42Mbps download speeds on SoftBank’s HSPA+ network, a twofold increase over last season’s fastest phones. The 106SH is essentially the same as the Aquos Phone Serie we saw at AU’s launch event a few weeks ago, down to the Android 4.0 OS, Feel_UX skin, and 1.5GHz dual-core processor. The 106SH is a little bit (half a millimeter) thinner though, and has a slightly larger 4.7-inch 720p AMOLED screen, compared to the 4.6-inch 720p LCD on the Serie.

The other phone capable of 42Mbps downloads — Fujitsu’s Arrows A 101F — lacks the Tegra 3 processor of its cousin on AU and Docomo, but otherwise offers the same list of features including the 13-megapixel camera, fingerprint scanner, and water- and dust-proofing. The 101F is Fujitsu’s first phone for SoftBank, so it was a little surprising to see the company go with a 4.3-inch qHD AMOLED screen; a measurable drop from the 4.7-inch 720p AMOLED on the ISW13F. The thinner 9.9mm case felt more tightly designed and less hollow than its cousin's, however.

SoftBank's summer 2012 Android lineup


Lastly, Sharp’s 102SH II is the only new device we’ve seen this season launching with Android 2.3, although SoftBank says an update to Ice Cream Sandwich is planned for later in the summer. Its 4.5-inch 720p LCD display is a tenth of an inch smaller than the Serie's, but otherwise the two designs are very similar, both including the typical suite of Japanese hardware features, like Infrared, FeliCa, and a 1seg TV tuner. Overall, SoftBank's summer event was more about the changes to its network than new devices, but the company hopes its newest offerings, as few as they may be, can tide it over until Apple launches its new iPhone — SoftBank's bread and butter.