Knowing what we know about the phone world, we have a smidgen of authority in guesstimating just when we can expect some landmark releases in the coming year. Some are confirmed, some are stabs in the dusk but all are exciting so lets get to it and embrace some educated speculation:
Recap – Operating systems, phablets and tablets.
iOS 6 Announced
Apple’s new operating system iOS 6 will include deeper Facebook integration, improved Siri and Local Search – even here in the UK and tighter iCloud support/ Perhaps the highlight of iOS 6 is the new Apple mapping which will replace Google Maps as iDevices mapping system of choice. Built from the ground up by Apple, it will also feature turn by turn navigation as well as a vector based 3D view.
Windows Phone 8 Announced
A much needed update to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5 Mango landed mid-June in Windows Phone 8, complete with UI re-vamping and under the hood tweaks. For starters, the home screen is considerably more flexible supporting three sizes of live tile. Under the hood, Windows 8 now has support for three screen resolutions – WVGA, 720p and WXGA. Windows Phone 8 devices will also have optional expandability via micro SD card and Microsoft is offering improved developer support to help the Windows Marketplace take off.
Android 4.1, Jelly Bean Released
After the pretty monumental update that was Ice Cream Sandwich or Android 4.0, Google has surprisingly delivered a meaty set of new features in Jelly Bean. While the overall look is the same, Google Voice has become significantly more comprehensive offering a card system that selects and reads back key search results. Google Now is also Android’s way of moulding around your mobile life and the homescreen has received an improved notifications bar and widget deployment system. Finally, Project Butter, an initiative geared towards smoothening out the UI has been implemented, delivering constant 60fps frame rates and silky smooth transitions.
Google Nexus 7 by Asus
Speaking of Android Jelly Bean, Asus beat Samsung in the bid to design the first ever Jelly Bean device and Nexus tablet. The Nexus brand relates directly to Google’s Android OS with Nexus devices being the first to run Google’s latest mobile operating system. The first Nexus phone was created by HTC. The next two were created by Samsung. The Nexus 7 by Asus is a 7-inch device that sports a 1.3Ghz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. The IPS LCD display packs a 1280×800 resolution giving it great pixel density and considering it retails for as little as £159 for the 8GB version, it’s widely regarded as a bit of a steal. In fact, word on the grapevine is it’s Asus’s best selling tablet ever, check out the Google Nexus 7 by Asus review here.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
Samsung’s follow ups to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 come in the form of the Tab 10.1 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. As with the original Note, the Note 10.1 sports an S-Pen, but this time you get to use the S-Pen on a 10.1-inch screen. It also offers a 1.4GHz quad-core processor 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity thanks to stylus integration. The user interface is also incredibly well optimised for the pen input with a host of bespoke Samsung applications. Given the additional screen size over the original Note, this gives Samsung a real powerhouse, you can check out our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 here.
September – iPhone 5? iPhone 5! iPHONE 5!!!
Sony Xperia T and Xperia V.
The Sony Xperia T and Sony Xperia J update the Sony Xperia line with a new flagship and mid-ranger. The Sony Xperia T will be Sony’s new global flagship with its 720p 4.6-inch display with Mobile BRAVIA engine. It will also pack Full 1080p HD video and Sony’s new 13-megapixel camera sensor as well as Android 4.0 out of the box. Moving into the mid-range experience and the Xperia J looks set to deliver across the board with its 4-inch WVGA screen, 5-megapixel camera, 1GHz processor and roughly £180 price tag.
Sony Xperia Tablet S
The Sony Tablet S managed to deliver innovation in terms of industrial design and some great UI enhancements that boosted its functionality as a TV accessory of sorts. It failed to gain mass appeal though, largely thanks to entering the tablet race late in the game, packing underpowered internals and an overpowered price tag. Now Sony hopes to remedy its shortcomings with the Xperia Tablet S, a quad-core media-centric marvel that builds on the wedge shaped design of the original, but also offers handy features like a splashproof casing not to mention a very attractive, wafer thin case that doubles up as a keyboard dock. It’s shipping now in the UK for as little as £329 and is available in both a Wi-Fi and 3G variant.
Nothing has been confirmed regarding the upcoming iPhone 5 in terms of tech-specs other than it will run iOS 6, but we do know a fair bit about its chassis if the leaks of late are anything to go by. Most notably, this will be the first iPhone with a 4-inch screen and will sport a rough 16:9 aspect ratio. It is bigger than any iPhone before, but will still be considerably smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X. It will likely have a resolution to rival the iPhone 4S’s pixel density (1146×600) and chances are the next iPhone will also ditch the glass backing of old in favour of unibody metal and new charger.
October – I’Lumia’nating Windows Phone 8.
Windows Phone 8 – HTC, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung, Sony? LG? ZTE?
The next iteration of Windows Phone will have a much more competitive user interface than Mango thanks to all the Windows Phone 8 revelations in June. Aiming to compete more directly against Android we can look forward to the slew of Windows Phone 8 devices to offer removable memory and NFC support, as well as screens up to WXGA 800×1280. That they will integrate with Windows 8 seamlessly promises improved interaction for PC users as well, with HTC, Huawei, Nokia and Samsung confirmed to be developing hardware for the OS. We can also predict manufacturers like Sony, LG and ZTE will be doing the same down the line. So far, the only Windows 8 phones that have been confirmed are the Samsung Ativ S and the new Nokia Lumia’s.
Nokia Lumia 820 and Nokia Lumia 920
Our favourite phone in terms of design from the last year was the Lumia 800. It was small, edgy, curvaceous and different from all the other touch screen slabs on the market. Fast forward to September 2012 and the Nokia Lumia 820 and flagship Nokia Lumia 920 have been announced and are expected to drop alongside the other Windows Phone 8 devices. The 820 will offer a 4.3-inch LCD display inside its plastic body. Speaking of its body, it will offer a changeable polycarbonate back plate along with 8GB internal memory and expandability via microSD card. The new Lumia flagship, the Lumia 920 will offers 32GB internal memory, pack a 4.5-inch AMOLED display complete with the polycarbonate unibody the high-end Lumias have been loved for in the past. Its display will offer better than 720p resolution and the 8-megapixel camera will deliver PureView technology along with pioneering image stabilisation.
HTC One 2nd series
HTC have been suggested to have another flagship on the cards to offset the impact the Samsung Galaxy S3 is having on their sales. Leaks have all pointed to the device packing an HTC One X’s chassis or something very similar. We would hope for this device to build upon the successes of the HTC One X and to resolve some of the main pain-points, namely battery life. Naturally, we would also expect Jelly Bean to make its way on to the Next HTC One device along with a new version of Sense, Sense 4.5 if leaked camera hacks are anything to go by.
November – Samsung Galaxy, the next Note and Nexus?
Motorola RAZR HD and RAZR M
Since Motorola Mobility was bought out by Google there’s been very little noise over at the Motorola camp in terms of innovation beyond the RAZR MAXX. The silence has officially been broken though with the Motorola RAZR HD and RAZR M announced in New York along with the RAZR MAXX HD. Only the prior two have been confirmed for release outside the States. Kicking off with the RAZR HD and it gets its name thanks to the 4.7-inch 720p AMOLED display adorning its fascia. It packs a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and an 8-megapixel camera. Despite not getting the MAXX branding, it still delivers a 2530 mAh cell, which when coupled with the dual-core processor can be expected to deliver killer battery life. Motorola also have a more budget offering for anyone who’s looking for a mid-range RAZR in the RAZR M. While the US variant also packs a Snapdragon S4 processor, rumour is that the RAZR M will sport Intel inside as we saw earlier in the year with the Orange San Diego. We’ll have to wait to see what happens but if Motorola have any hopes of staying competitive, they will need to get both these phones onto shelves by October.
Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Announced at IFA, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is the successor to the hugely popular seminal phablet from the Korean tech giant. Bumping up the screen size by 0.2-inches, this pocket beast will measure in at 5.5-inches, delivers a 720p display and offers a full 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity. It’s also guaranteed to benchmark like a champ thanks to the quad-core Exynos 4 processor clocked at 1.6GHz. In the same way the original Note looked like a blown up Samsung Galaxy S2, the Note 2 is nothing short of a pen touting giant S3. Smooth curvaceous backing, pure plastic construction and glossy hyperglaze makes it feel smaller than 5.5-inches but look considerably cheaper than its £550 price tag infers.
Google Nexus 10.1 and Galaxy Nexus Next
Starting with the Nexus Tab 10.1, we expect this to arrive either from Asus or Samsung, as the only two Nexus manufacturers with Android tablet experience of late. The first full-sized Nexus tab should really ship by the end of Christmas as a lower-cost alternative to the iPad. As for the next Nexus Phone, we reckon the hardware will once again be Samsung’s own given the Korean giant’s success with the Galaxy S3 and its capability when it comes to pushing through massive global product launches. It will keep them in the race against the HTC One X successor – albeit under Google’s par-branding.
- We suspect a November release as this would see a full year pass since the Samsung Galaxy Nexus was released. Packing stock Jelly Bean, the next Galaxy Nexus will likely use hardware that isn’t quite bleeding edge. We can expect a quad-core processor, a screen akin to that on the Galaxy S3 and a design centred around Jelly Bean or whatever incremental update is announced with the phone.
Just writing this roadmap has excited us no end. There’s an incredible amount of hardware out this year rocking all the lovely software Apple, Google and Microsoft have been showing off throughout June, and odds are we don’t know the half of it yet. We’re most excited about the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and its pressure sensitivity as well as Windows Phone 8. Of course, we can’t forget about Apple’s iPhone 5, the next iPhone, the new iPhone or whatever it ends up being called, or Nokia’s stunning new Lumia handsets. Bring on the coming months we say and stay tuned to this roadmap which we’ll be updating with expected releases as and when we hear about them.