When it comes to mobile OS market share, Google's Android is ahead of the competition. In fact, most reports placed Android at more than 80% market share for operating systems throughout 2014.
Much of Android's success lies in its open source nature and its international availability. It is Apple's biggest rival in the US and it is the top OS in many emerging markets.
When you think about Android, the vendors that come to mind are the heavy hitters such as Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and LG. However, there are quite a few up-and-coming vendors that are contributing to Android's success.
Here are the five emerging Android vendors that are making a splash in the mobile market.
Founded in early 2010, Xiaomi quickly grew to become one of the world's largest smartphone manufacturers. The company was founded by Chinese businessman Lei Jun and remains a private company, making it one of the most valuable "startups" in the world. The company sells its phones exclusively online at a low price, operating on a very narrow profit margin.
The crown jewel of the Xiaomi line is the Mi series of smartphones. The company's devices run its MIUI firmware, which adds additional features and themes to the Android OS. Depending on what country the device is purchased in determines whether or not it will come with Google Play Services and Google Apps standard.
OnePlus started generating hype around its OnePlus One phone when it was originally announced as a contract-free phone for around $300. OnePlus phones are available through a rather strange invite system that the company explains on their website. The invite system has been met with mixed reviews, and the company recently opened purchases to the public for a limited time.
The phone is available in both a 16GB and 64GB model, with only a $50 upcharge on the larger size, which is another unique aspect of the company's sales model. The One sports a 5.5 inch display, putting it right on the outskirts of the phablet description. OnePlus has definitely turned some heads, but it's unclear whether or not it can make a real play as an Android vendor.
Android is thriving in India, and one of the biggest vendors to come out of India is Micromax. The company recently surpassed Samsung as the top manufacturer, shipping more phones in its home country in 2014. Micromax originally started out as an IT software company, but pivoted to telecom and quickly grew.
Micromax offers two series of phones, the Canvas series and the Bolt series. Devices are of varying specifications, and some are part of Google's new Android One initiative to serve emerging markets. One of the company's initial bumps in popularity came after they hired Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman to endorse their Canvas Turbo smartphone. Micromax also sells televisions, tablets, and datacards.
BLU Products is a Miami, Florida based Android vendor that was founded in 2009. Founded by Samuel Ohev-Zion, the company has seen success mostly in the US and Latin America, but its products have been sold in 40 countries. BLU focuses mostly on low-cost, unlocked smartphones that rival some of the phones put out by bigger vendors.
The company currently lists five series of phones on its website: Dash, Vivo, Studio, Life, and Specialty, along with their older models. In addition to selling Android phones, BLU offers Windows phones and feature phones, along with a few tablets. BLU phones run the gamut of specification from entry-level devices to high-end premium tier phones.
Meizu started out manufacturing and selling music players, but began offering smartphones in the late 2000s. The company started with its M8 phone to compete with the iPhone in 2007. While headquartered in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China, the company also operate in Russia, Israel, and parts of Europe.
The MX4 is Meizu's newest premium phone, and it is loaded with top shelf features. It is powered by a Samsung Exynos 5430 processor, has a 20.7 megapixel camera, dual 4G, and fingerprint unlock. If Meizu is able to build on it early success in the smartphone market, it should be quite a contender.
What do you think?
We want to know. What Android vendors do you think are worth watching?
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.