What's Next in Mobile?
Locked in a contract until next year? Don't worry: It has never been a better time to upgrade your smartphone. Your phone may be feeling a bit sluggish already after a year of daily use, but don’t rush to upgrade too early in the spring, as you could wind up with buyer’s remorse. Here are some phones that might be worth waiting for.
Nokia Lumia 900
Although Nokia’s first Windows Phone 7 handset, the Lumia 800, was a good effort, the phone just didn’t match its iPhone and Android rivals--apparently because Nokia was holding back its flagship device. The Lumia 900, set to be unveiled in January at the CES trade show, promises a larger display, a front camera, 4G speeds, and NFC, along with an update to the Windows Phone 7 OS.
Quad-core processors are coming to Android smartphones next year, and HTC seems to be on top of the trend already. The four 1.5GHz cores of the HTC Edge’s Nvidia AP30 Tegra 3 processor will power a 4.7-inch 720p display on what seems to a typical HTC design otherwise. Other specs include 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, but the four hardware buttons on the front could mean that the phone won’t come with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Intel-Powered Android Phones
The first half of 2012 should see the first Intel chips inside Android phones, as Google is working to port Android for the architecture. The move will make it easier for manufacturers to produce Android phones with Intel inside--and if the reference design is anything to go by, they’re looking good.
The theory goes likes this: Since the iPhone 3GS was an improvement over the iPhone 3G, and the iPhone 4S was an improvement over the iPhone 4, Apple should be poised to launch a completely redesigned iPhone 5 in 2012. The 2011 iPhone was not exactly what some analysts hoped it would be in terms of hardware, as reportedly Steve Jobs was “intimately involved” with the 2012 iPhone 5, which may arrive at midyear. The iPhone 5 might be thinner, and perhaps it will sport 4G LTE, but very little else is known about it.
Although analysts are predicting that the delay until late 2012 of BlackBerry 10 smartphones could be disastrous for Research In Motion, BB10 holds a lot of promise for users. The specs on the device are not expected to hit new benchmarks--among them are a modest 1.5GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and an 8-megapixel camera--but RIM seems to be pushing the design envelope with the purported BlackBerry London.
Image: Courtesy of The Verge
Amazon Kindle Phone
Amazon’s stellar entry into the tablet market this year (more than 3 million Kindle Fire tablets have sold so far) prompted speculation about a Kindle phone running on a heavily customized version of Android, just like its bigger sibling. Among the advantages of an Android phone would be low pricing and seamless content integration. And Amazon recently added fuel to the fire by weighing the possibility of buying BlackBerry maker Research In Motion.
Image: Fake Kindle Fire phone courtesy of Gadget Venue
Evidence of a Facebook phone is particularly lacking, but speculation on the emergence of such a device refuses to die down. With more than 100 million users connecting via Facebook mobile apps every day, the social network has a huge potential market. The latest rumor is that Facebook has partnered with HTC for the Facebook phone (HTC already sells phones with deep Facebook integration), and that the OS powering it will be a modified version of Android.
Image: Parody of Facebook phone courtesy of Joy Of Tech.
The HTC Ville is poised to be the slimmest Android phone from the manufacturer so far, without skimping on specs. The new model, expected to debut at Mobile World Congress in February, features a 4.3-inch display, an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video recording, and Android 4.0, all packed into an 8mm-thick body. Music fans will appreciate the Beats Audio integration, too.
Panasonic Android Phone
Panasonic is staging a comeback with an Android phone in 2012, boasting a 4.3-inch display in a slim waterproof and dustproof case. NFC appears to be on board in this elegant phone as well, but Panasonic has yet to detail more specs.
Samsung Flexible-Display Phone
Flexible phones are stepping out of sci-fi movies and into reality, courtesy of Samsung, which confirmed that it is working on such devices for early 2012. The company demoed flexible 4.5-inch displays this year, but exactly what the flexible phones of 2012 will be capable of doing remains very sketchy. Nokia is also working on similar designs.