So a few quick comments about the Bloodbath fourth-tier players (the very dark horses not in the Top 10)
Blackberry came out with its newest flagship. It is priced at 599 US dollars without subsidy (a little below iPhone) and features a 4.5 inch x 4.5 inch square screen in a 'classic Blackberry' style physical QWERTY button-phone and touch screen. The square screen will be a bit odd for some things especially pictures and videos but for a website you get the width of something similar to a 3.5 inch screen in landscape mode - pretty wide - but with far more space below so you do less scrolling. Its still not anywhere near as wide as a 'normal' 4.5 inch wide screen (and far less than the 5 inch or larger phablets) but at least Blackberry is fighting back and this is one type of compromise. You do get the excellent Blackberry keyboard.
My comment.. what Blackberry really should do - remember screen size trumps everything - is to also release a slider/folder handset that has the wide phsycial QWERTY keyboard hidden under the slider/folder touch-screen like Nokia Communicator models used to have or say the Danger or Nokia E7 for example. That is the way to solve a good QWERTY keyboard and an honest large touch-screen. But this square-screen Blackberry is at least an interesting play and I hope it sells well enough to keep our Canadian brothers alive for a year more...
Then lets move from one past giant smartphone maker who is now a tiny fish to another former giant mobile phone global maker who is also now a tiny fish: Panasonic. The Japanese electronics giant has introduced aother in those occasional devices that says its a camera first and mobile phone second. The Panasonic Lumix CM1 (with Leica branded optics) looks a bit like the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom with a large round protruding part on the back, from which emerges the lens consctruction. So far so good. Except for some bizarre reason this lens construction is single-focus lens (only wide angle, no zoom!!!). WTF? So you expect someone to pay 900 Euros (1,150 US dollars) for this camera that also includes an Android smartphone functionality and you have that camera equipment all built in but there is no optical zoom at all? And even the flash - at this price unit - is only LED flash? Sorry Panasonic, this is a dud in really big terms. If you want a similar odd-shaped device in your pocket that has a retractable camera unit - then you buy the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom obviously that has the same 20mp size sensor but 10x optical zoom and real Xenon flash which costs 2/3 of this price. If you really only want a wide-angle camera on your phone, then you buy the Nokia Lumia 1020 with a similar wide angle lens - with Carl Zeriss optics - but 41mp sensor and you get far more detail into your landscapes or group-photos, plus again you get real Xenon flash not LED flash, and the price is less than half of what Panasonic wants you to pay.
Hey can I make a shout-out to the nice folks at Samsung. Why isn't the Galaxy K Zoom sold in all markets? What is wrong with you guys? Its the best cameraphone on the planet right now so why aren't you celebrating it in every market, especially as Apple didn't bother to upgrade its camera sensor in the iPhone 6 models? And for the Samsung R&D folks, please PLEASE put a tripod screw onto the bottom of the next version of the K Zoom, please pretty please. That 10x zoom really can use a steady mount and now the silly 'grabber' claws that let us affix a cameraphone to a tripod are very flimsy... please give us the tripod-screw, it won't take much of the space of the phone but very many of us who buy the K Zoom really love photography and many of us will have a tripod or monopod (or both).
So then Jolla? Jolla launches now in India next. They have given suggested price there to be Rs 28,000 to 30,000. Jolla is the Finnish start-up handset maker which is now the only Finnish handset maker left haha, and their OS is called Sailfish (an Linux-based evolution of the software projects at Nokia that were called Maemo and MeeGo).
Talking about India, Samsung has now indicated that India will be the first launch market for Tizen. The timing is November. No word even on which model they will launch and I am growing increasingly skeptical of the whole prospects of Tizen. This is yet another change to where and when Tizen first sales will happen on a smartphone (Samsung has given us one camera and two smart watches runing Tizen but very alarmingly for Tizen developers, after those two watches, Samsung then backpeddaled and annoucned that future Galaxy Gear smartwatches would go back to running Android). So don't hold your breath, this may turn out yet another in Tizen's endless series of delays and disappointments.
Then on Xiaomi, the newest brand to crash into the Top 10, Xiaomi is now selling in India and the local retailer there can't keep up with demand.
So thats some of the major developments going on in smartphones by the smaller makers. More news and updates from the Bloodbath wars as we get them.