Samsung Galaxy S III apps leak, iPad Mini & iPhone 5 Rumours: This Week's Headlines
Welcome to our weekly roundup of the week's mobile and tablet headlines. This week we've got a lot to cover, including the latest Samsung Galaxy S III app leaks and information, LG's counter barrage, HTC's new budget phone, Apple's new iPhone and iPad Mini, and even Windows Phone's surprising success in China. All this and much more after the break!
This week, the Samsung Galaxy S III shares the headlines with its LG competition. The big news to start off is that the Galaxy S III has already received 9 million pre-orders worlwide. That's an impressive number, and no doubt is down to a combination of Samsung's marketing budget, as well as its stellar hardware and unique apps.
No doubt to Samsung's chagrin, these unique apps are being extracted from the Galaxy S III and made available for all Android smartphones. One of these, news app Flipboard, was leaked earlier this month and works fine on my Galaxy Nexus.
This week, another potentially must more interesting app has been leaked: the Siri competitor S Voice. The app should work on all Android 4.0 phones - again it worked fine (if a bit slowly) on my phone (see screenshot to the right).
This means it should be relatively easy for you to root your Galaxy S III immediately upon purchase, and may also have the side effect that we'll see more Galaxy S III apps released for all Android phones as well.
Elsewhere in Android land, the LG Optimus LTE II with 2 GB of RAM has been released in South Korea. It's powered by a dual core Qualcomm MSM8960 processor, has a 4.7" IPS display at 1280 x 720, an 8 megapixel camera and is powered by a 2160 mAh battery. All in all, it's a hell of a phone and should be an interesting counterpoint to the S III, although it's undoubtedly out of the public conscious in the west.
Another LG phone in the headlines is the unannounced LG LS970. This phone upgrades to a quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor, a 13 megapixel camera and 2 GB of RAM.
The phone has recently been pictured au naturel, revealing a removable battery. The phone may have some unique features when it launches near the end of the year, including a separate chip for voice-over-LTE.
Finally, LG have released their LG Optimus 3D Max. The no-glasses-3D phone is the followup to last year's Optimus 3D, and improves upon that model with a thinner chassis.
Still, initial reviews like this one from The Verge have been quite critical of the device's weak 3D use-case, bland design and low resolution WVGA display. The phone also launches with the old verison of Android, Gingerbread, making this a poor choice unless 3D is a must-have feature for you.
Now that we've seen the LG and Samsung news, there's just one more big name on the roster this week: HTC.
Aside from a court ordered meeting with Apple next week (see the Apple section below), they've announced another budget smartphone: The HTC Desire C.
Above: HTC Desire C in white. It's so tiny!
The phone runs Android 4.0 with Sense, and is powered by a 600 MHz single core CPU and has a 3.5" 320 x 480 display. Despite the low power, the phone looks to be about 20% faster than last year's Wildfire S that had similar specifications. It could make a good Android phone if even the HTC One V is too costly for you.
It's not all about the big boys in Android, so let's finish up with some news from a much smaller firm than LG or Samsung.
Android developers Teknision have taken to Kickstarter to raise support for their replacement Android tablet homescreen, Chameleon.
Above: Chameleon's media home screen. Lovely!
As well as having a beautiful unified design not often seen on Android, the replacement launcher automatically adapts to its environment - in the morning, it'll show your schedule for the day and the news. At work, it'll show your email inbox, taks and documents. In front of the TV, it'll change to a media view that lets you play music or videos.
Of course, all of these are just examples - you can set up each home screen as you like it, and trigger changes between them based on what wireless network you're connected to, what time of day it is and your GPS location.
It looks to be a really well designed project, so I'd encourage you check out the Chameleon Kickstarter page. It's just $5 to get the app upon release, which seems like a damn good deal to me.
It's been a bit of quiet week for Apple, but of course there's always a juicy rumour to liven things up in the stead of actual announcements and news. This week, it's a rumour courtesy of The Wall Street Journal that Apple is working on an iPhone with a larger screen size - most likely 4". That's been rumoured before, but it's also been confirmed by other big publications including Reuters and Bloomberg.
The latter publication is also stating that Steve Jobs had "worked closely on the redesigned phone before his death in October." While Jobs had publically been outspoken against phones with larger screens, the trend is definitely towards larger and larger displays, with 4.3" becoming standard for an Android phone and 4.7" being the new high point - even the Galaxy Note at 5.3" has seen a lot of success. In this kind of an environment, a larger iPhone seems to be a necessity.
Above: How big the iPad Mini would be, compared to the iPhone 4S.
Another rumour from Taiwan-based Liberty Times is that the 7.85" iPad Mini is expected to begin production shortly. LG and AU Optronics have been certified to supply the LCD panel for the Mini, and will soon be shipping the panels for production with an expected release date in the latter half of 2012. Apparently 6 million iPad Minis have been ordered thus far.
In other news, we've learned that the upcoming jailbreak for iOS 5.1.1 has come to support a number of additional models, including the iPod Touch 3G and iPhone 3GS. The untethered jailbreak should only not work on the latest-generation Apple TV, so overall it's excellent news for iOS owners looking to jailbreak from the latest version of iOS.
Finally in the legal realm, Apple's suit against HTC has been ordered to be settled on May 21st and 22nd. The talk will be mediated by a third party, and will likely involve the CEOs and/or chief lawyers of the two firms, as the court has asked for persons who "must have full authority to act on the behalf of the parties, including the authority to negotiate a resolution of the matter and to respond to developments during the mediation process." It'll be interesting to see what - if anything - comes out of this meeting... neither HTC or Apple are in a strictly leading position, with court decisions before now going both ways.
Nokia is looking to extend its lead in the Windows Phone market by producing additional Windows Phone software additions, much like Samsung is doing with Android. After we saw the released of Nokia TV this week in Finland, Nokia's next addition is said to be called 'Camera Extension', which will add features to the Camera app on Lumia Windows Phones.
There will be four new camera modes: Action Shot (burst mode), Panoramic, Self-Timer and Smart Group Shot. Smart Group Shot takes five pictures of a group of people, then lets you choose the most complimentary shot of each person. These are then combined into a single image, so if someone is blinking or looking away you can still get a perfect photo.
Windows Phone launched in China last month, and is already reaping the benefits of a strong marketing campaign. According to Microsoft, the OS has achieved 7% market share in the country, ahead of the iPhone's 6%. While Android still reigns supreme at 68%, it's a great start for the OS if the numbers are accurate.
Finally, we'll end this article with a look at a cool new concept for Windows Phone. Called Butterfly, it's a concept for an app that allows you to link your tablet, phone or PC to a TV or projector and then play content over them. Despite mispelling Kinect, it's a very swish design that should definitely turn into an app at some point. What do you think?
So there we have it - an action packed week, particularly for Fan-droids in the audience. Which phone are you most looking forward to? The iPhone 5, the Galaxy S III, the LG LS970 or even the HTC Desire C? Let us know in the comments below!
This article was written by William Judd. Will is a freelance technology writer, with a Twitter you should follow and a website you should visit. He's also recently seen Silbermond in their first UK concert - absolutely amazing.
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