What to watch out for

In the near future it will be interesting to see what Apple will come up with to make an impact, most recently the 64-bit news fizzled and the Air move does not seem like a very popular move at all. HTC will have a hard time following up on the success of the HTC One series, but perhaps they have another ace in the sleeve. Sony is really trumping up with excellent phones recently, it just might be the company to watch out for. Samsung released the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, which was simply excellent, the Galaxy S4 was rather underperforming. The news about the follow-up model, the Galaxy S5 are already making rounds and it is going to be very hard to fulfil all the expectations that are being set forth.

Other than that, LG will have to provide something stellar next, after the Nexus 5 and LG G2 expectations are high. Nokia, now fully owned by Microsoft, needs to improve the Operating System, more than the available technology; despite the novelty and the good name, the Windows Mobile 8 is simply no match for iOS or Android. Huawei is being pushed out of the international light due to the well-publicized spying threat, very much instigated and promoted by Apple in the US and Samsung elsewhere. BlackBerry is facing another restructuring and rebranding, there is no indication how it will pan out.

At some point Motorola will release the first Smartphone under the Google banner, while they have not been idle, nothing was heard or seen that indicated any plans. Asus has serious plans on the handheld marketplace, the announced Zenfone line, with the flagship Zenfone 6, featuring the Intel Atom processor with anAndroid OS does seem intriguing; their recently released PadFone Infinity 2 is a real beast and definitely worth a serious consideration. A less known company, named Xolo, just released Q3000, a really competitive smartphone running on Android 4.2, but featuring top of the line hardware and features for a surprisingly low price, but it is not yet available in the UK.

Remember Lenovo?


lenovo_logoLenovo purchased the personal computer branch from IBM in 2005 and suddenly became one of the largest personal computer manufacturers. The first major breakthrough for Lenovo came when they during the eighties manufactured a circuit board that was capable of processing Chinese characters. Despite being big in computing, handheld devices were not significant parts of Lenovo’s business, until just recently. About a year ago Lenovo decided to conquer at least the domestic market in regards to handheld devices and introduced a line of mobile phon
es, with the intent to oust Samsung as the market leader in China. These phones were made available worldwide under the trademark IdeaPhone and did contain some memorable devices.

The latest news was presented during the IFA show in Berlin in 2013, where the new phones Vibe X and Vibe Z were introduced. While the two smartphones, or rather phablets, are very much competitive with the recent offerings by the major players, it is their respective prices that are making these phones worth a glance and a closer look. These are incredibly enough not cheap. Quite to the contrary, they are within the top of the line prices for similarly featured smartphones and do not provide the typically Asian pricing policy. Although these smartphones do seem very competitive, the exclusive pricing will dampen sales expectations considerably.

 

Is thinner actually better?

Apple again created an uproar when the latest incarnation of the iPad, the iPad Air, was introduced. Not truly bringing any noticeable improvement, the device only made points with the ultra-thin design, following the Apple Air moniker of their line of laptops – I hope that Michael Jordan had nothing to do with it. In any case, the point here being is that apparently the next iPhone may also follow a similar path and be the first of iPhone Air models. As already previously stated, there are no real improvements notable or seriously expected to happen in near future on the handheld market, which would warrant a major upgrade such as an iPhone 6. Going 64-bit managed to only get an “s” to the iPhone 5s, therefore, is there something the iPhone Air will provide, that may still surprise, or rather awe the public?

It is expected that the next iPhone will feature the Sharp IGZO display, be probably somewhere around five inches, flexible display is a very big maybe, a phablet rumour is also stubbornly making the rounds, wireless charging has been rumoured since the iPhone 4s came out, larger storage is expected, NFC should finally be adopted, and maybe, finally, some form of external storage. It also would be nice if Apple would concede to the Micro-USB standard, but it is not likely.

Since that the camera sensor provider for Apple – Sony – just recently released a device, the Xperia Z1s with a 20 MP camera, many people hope that the iPhone Air will follow suit. A short while ago, a patent filed by Apple with a transparent backside window made the rounds, but an application in the iPhone is still neither practical nor expected.

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One thing is for sure, the next iPhone will be thinner, it will also be lighter in weight. How much this will impress or wow the consumers remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, Sony, HTC and Samsung are technologically way ahead of Apple – the 64-bit chip that Apple introduced is ironically made by Samsung – and if Apple truly intends to remain one of the market leaders, something new needs to be found and implemented fast.

How about the sound?

It was HTC again, that managed to provide something nobody really thought of before; namely, how about improving the sound of the handheld device? Thereby, by watching a movie or a video on the HTC One, you can experience more than just a nice picture with metallic blurbs, but truly be capable of listening to proper music, without additional speakers. The idea was new, they did it remarkably well with BeatsAudio, a Dr. Dre company that is known for underhanded moves, just ask Monster, which tried to get more than they deserved and failed; later changed to BoomSound, an HTC trademark, but with similarly high quality sound. While everybody focused on display, HTC added the sound to it, et voila, perhaps the best new smartphone of 2013 was born.

Blooming-Sound

Such should the ideas be, which are supposed to make users purchase a new phone instead holding on to the sufficiently good former model. Instead of making your phone even lighter or thinner, you provide something that really matters. People do listen to their mp3s and watch YouTube videos on their handheld devices and headphones should not always be the only option. Sony picked up on the idea and is trying to implement also higher quality audio on the forthcoming models, but the latest Xperia Z1s is only featuring their best smartphone camera to date, with 20.7 megapixels and HDR video capability something really staggering to behold.

In any case, customers are growing up and cannot be fooled by useless gimmicks anymore. A fingerprint scanner is a novelty item for a day or two, after that it becomes a nuisance and gets turned off. A great sound is something that you do not want to turn off, ever. So, if you are looking to improve your device in a good way, let it sound better.

Smartphones of tomorrow

downloadApple will continue to put the design in the first place, rather than top of the line technology, all the way trying to find something the competition has missed to provide. Samsung will continue to follow the trend more and bigger is better, providing smartphones for every budget. HTC relies on the extensive research and development force they own, HTC One was the first stroke of genius, more will follow. Sony is already well established, the gimmick with the water and particle resistant phones paid off, the SmartWatch is better looking than Samsung Gear. New providers will compete with the old ones, but largely with the likes of Huawei, Nokia – which will probably be the ruin of Microsoft, LG, ZTE and lately very interesting Lenovo; BlackBerry may return with force, Motorola as well, maybe some obscure company like Meizu with their Ubuntu based phones will make a break for it.

In any case, as previously stated, there is not much new that can come out yet, unless someone really comes up with an incredible idea. Games have shifted focus and now it is again a PC that takes the gaming crown, despite the release of new consoles such as the Xbox One (now where did they get the idea to name it “One”, I wonder *cough HTC, cough*) and PS4. Trying to make tablets and smartphones the next big gaming solution is without a doubt not a consideration at this point. Additionally, every single size of display screen is currently available or will soon be released, there is no more gap between a smartphone and a tablet. For more detailed mobile phone reviews, check out PlanetMobiles.

Rounding it up is the constant improvement in operating system capabilities, which follows the processor technologies, where smartphones will in future incarnations completely replace photo cameras and amateur video equipment. In terms of quality, most high-end phones outperform hand-held cameras, whereby professional quality is not far from being reached. If HTC continues with the development of their technology, true innovation with the UltraPixel ImageChip features, some professional manufacturers may license this and provide for the future of image caption capabilities used in professional applications.

Is it all just a sales pitch?

If you consider all the aforementioned, it comes to mind that manufacturers, despite providing true technology advancement, are actually selling stuff that is not really providing anything of significance. To be completely honest, most of the products that are currently being offered, no matter what industry branch you are talking about, talcum powder, bottled water or smartphones, sell the same item over and over again. In order to do so, they need something that is different, but reasons for such actions can be prompted by a multitude of genuine legal requirements. Most of the inventions are protected by copyright, trademark, intellectual property, industrial trademark and whatever else is out there protecting patents and inventions worldwide. If you are selling a smartphone, then your smartphone cannot be a copy of my smartphone, because I own the design, technology and anything else that I managed to patent and secure for the benefit of my company.

Sales-Pitch

For that very reason there are plenty of lawsuits going on, most prominently the one between Apple and Samsung, but rest assured that each and every single manufacturer of smartphones is suing somebody for one reason or another, with a most likely case of a patent infringement lawsuit. There is a reason why there are more lawyers than medical doctors in this world and particularly in the western world. However, to return to the topic at hand, it becomes all relative at some point. How defined do you need your display screen to be? How much RAM does it take for a smartphone to properly function? How large does an internal memory really need to be, particularly in a device that you are supposed to dump after two years of use, maximum?

If your device is functioning adequately after two years of use, then you are not a returning customer, but a lost customer, right after you made your initial purchase. For that very reason, manufacturers need to implement measures that will bring you back after a calculated amount of time, in order to fuel additional money into the parent company. This is the only reason why smartphone manufacturers build in a battery that will become unusable, but which you cannot simply replace, unless you are a skilled technician with adequate professional tools. Still, some of the manufacturers renege on the deal, or unspoken rule if you will, and manufacture a device that is functioning for a prolonged time, despite a battery snag. Many people also rather choose to keep the device and have a professional replace the battery as well.

64-bit and 4k

Would you think that it is preposterous that Samsung is considering a retinal scanner as the safety device for the Samsung Galaxy S5? Nothing less preposterous than a fingerprint scanner, which additionally alienated mainly European customers, among fears that their fingerprints are now being stored in NSA facilities without permission. Besides the technology gimmick of the Samsung Galaxy Gear, or Sony’s SmartWatch, or even the delayed iWatch by Apple, wrist devices with features that bind them to your smartphone are a novelty item, but not much more. Similarly to Google Glass, there will be some interest, even significant sales success, but eventually this will fade or simply become an accessory like the Bluetooth headset.

iphone-64bit-lead

Apple made a lot of waves by releasing the first ever line of 64-bit devices, besides the iPhone 5S; the iPad Air is also such a “breakthrough” device, whereby the opinions are divided as to how much such a breakthrough is really effecting in terms of performance. If you get a chance, take an iPhone 5 and an iPhone 5s and compare them one on one. You will see that in some cases the 5s is even more sluggish than the predecessor, while in some cases they act similarly. You will notice the slight performance improvement only because the ARM v8 architecture allows the 1.3GHz clocking to work a bit more efficiently, but that’s about it.

True difference is supposed to be visible when the Samsung Galaxy S5, if rumours are true, is released as the true 64-bit device with 4 GB of RAM, where addressing will be handled properly, but since there are no true 64-bit applications out there, nor are any such applications necessary for non-server applications, such an approach is also just as questionable and not really justifiable.

You must be aware that 64-bit systems are available on desktop computers for more than 10 years now. Although some drivers and operating systems do utilize the advantages, there are still barely any true 64-bit applications capable of truly deploying all that power available. It does make a difference if you are making an animated movie and a score of interconnected computers are rendering high definition images for worldwide release, or something similar, like special effects for movies. If you are browsing the net, watching streaming content, even doing some single-system animation rendering of your own, like in, for instance, AutoCAD or 3D Studio Max, then you will not see any significant difference taking place, in comparison to a 32-bit system with equal resources.

Which brings me to 4k display screens; you may have heard that the next big thing, after true HD, will be the 4k resolution, or rather horizontal resolution of a display screen that has or goes beyond 4000 pixels. Such a resolution is deemed ultra-high definition or UHD and starts with 3840 x 2160 pixels. Consumer television of 8k UHD is already being made ready for release, as soon as the 4k platform has generated enough sales; needless to say that several 4k UHD formats have been made standard, depending on the display wideness and cropping – but all of this is of no true importance to the average consumer.

The future of handheld devices and the trends to watch out for

There is a wake-up call shaking up the industry in regards to the handheld devices and the prospective future they will or can have. Namely, the development of never-before-seen stuff suddenly goes missing, there is no surprise factor apparent and no real advances in handheld devices have been perceived as of late. What is happening and what is about to happen, furthermore, why is the world of handheld devices staggering to an abrupt halt?

To clearly define what is happening, you need to have a grasp on current releases that are being touted as state of the art nowadays. To pick one of the most prominent participants in the handheld device circus, Apple, take a look at the latest device that came out of that house, just as an example: the iPad Air. What is new in the iPad Air? It is noticeably thinner and lighter in weight. It has the latest processor, A7, which runs on 64-bit. Is it faster? Not really, there are still only two cores, the clock speed is only 1.3 GHz and there is still only 1 GB of RAM. You can pick a version that has 128 GB of internal storage, but the display is till the same that graced iPad 3.

To sum this up in one sentence, no it does not pay to purchase a new iPad, if you have any version since iPad 3, because there is nothing new. The 64-bit architecture is just a PR spin, there are no applications out there that can utilize the advanced addressing, nor is there enough memory to take advantage of any such thing. An ultra-thin tablet is not really a good thing, it breaks more easily, if not the metallic casing, then the internal motherboard. Additionally, the weight is not really a positive issue here, if you do not hold it really tightly even the slightest wind breeze can toss it out of your hand.

What does this indicate? That there is nothing really new to be done to the tablets right now seems very much implied; even the announced iWatch is not out yet. The iPhone 5s, apart from slight improvements, did not bring anything truly substantial, if you disregard the 64-bit idea. So, what does the future of Apple truly hold in stock, a new iPhone Air? As if making the iPhone even lighter and thinner would make a difference.

Similar is the position of Samsung, which has been bombarding the market with new products, larger phones, curved displays, 4 GB RAM, octa-core processors, 4k displays and actually only one remarkable smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, which did not bring anything particularly new, but was the best functioning Note version to date. What can be truly improved, does 64-bit bring anything, is the public going to follow the trend of purchasing a new device, just because it is new and not because it is truly providing something new? If you want to find out, please stay tuned.