We've had a mixed week in mobile headlines - Android has proved as newsworthy as ever, with the release of the HTC One X and One S and fresh rumours about the Samsung Galaxy S III, Windows Phone and Apple have proved more reticent, with only a few stories for each, including the Lumia 900 launch and the iPad Mini, respectively. Still, there's more than enough to pique your interest so let's get into it!
The biggest Android releases this week were the HTC One X and One S, which are now available for purchase in the UK and Europe. The HTC One X has a strong 4.7” Super LCD display running at 720p, backed with a Tegra 3 quad-core processor. As well as a lot of power, the new phone also includes an 8 megapixel camera, Ice Cream Sandwich with Sense 4.0 and a gorgeous hardware design. The One S is a slightly more mid-range option, boasting a 7.9 mm frame that holds a 4.3” qHD display and a Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor.
The HTC One X is available for purchase sim-free for about £489.99 and the One S is £414.99. There’s a similar price gap for contract deals. I’d certainly suggest the HTC One X over the One S here, as that screen upgrade is really becoming essential these days and a quad-core processor can’t hurt either. Both handsets have been critically acclaimed upon launch, and should prove quite popular for HTC this year – something HTC badly needs after reporting Q1 results of a 70% drop in profit from last year.
In the US, HTC are also bringing out an upgraded version of the One X called the HTC Evo 4G LTE. The phone will include a 4.7” Super LCD display and Snapdragon S4 processor, as well as the 8 megapixel camera and a similar chassis with an integrated kickstand. The phone also adds LTE support as you might have guessed, making it a US-only proposition for now.
The latest Samsung Galaxy S III rumour is that the phone will ship with a 4.65” 720 Super AMOLED Plus display. That’s the same size and resolution as the Galaxy Nexus, but the extra ‘Plus’ moniker indicates the display will shed the maligned Pentile Matrix for true RGB. That should lead to the better image quality and colour balance that proved so popular on the Samsung Galaxy S II. One rumour denied by Samsung is that they’d ship the Galaxy S III with a 3D display, stating “we have no immediate plan to include displays featuring 3D technology in our upcoming smartphones.”
10 million units of the highly anticipated smartphone have already been pre-ordered by channel partners, pretty impressive for a phone that hasn’t even been announced yet. To put this figure into perspective, the Samsung Galaxy Note has sold 5 million units and the Galaxy S II sold 20 million units from May 2011 to February 2012.
Motorola have also made an appearance in the headlines this week. After releasing the Droid Razr Maxx, a battery-upgraded version of the Droid Razr, the company is now bringing the popular handset to Europe. While the phone was well reviewed and has the longest battery life of pretty much any high-end Android phone thanks to its 3300 mAh battery, it’s not a guaranteed win for Motorola in the face of the release of many strong new Android handsets.
The big app news this week was that popular retro iOS social photography app Instagram was released for Android, after many months of exclusivity on the iOS platform. Millions have downloaded the free app so far, which offers essentially the same functionality as the iOS option.
Finally, interesting statistics were released early this week showing how many Android users are running Ice Cream Sandwich: just 2.9%. That’s a 2.3% jump, but still speaks to the massive collection of phones that haven’t yet received an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade or that will never do so. With the release of popular Ice Cream Sandwich handsets like the HTC One X and upgrades for other top phones, expect that number to rise significantly in April, May and June.
After a fairly massive (if brief) launch event in Times Square in NYC, the Windows & Nokia flagship phone, the Lumia 900, has been released in the US. Many pre-ordering customers received their phones a few days earlier than the official Sunday release date, and the reviews have been coming in too.
Overall, they’ve been positive but not overwhelming so. The phone’s hardware, which is essentially the same as the Nokia Lumia 800 (and the Nokia N9 before it), was widely praised. Other good points include the low cost of entry ($99 on contract in the US) and LTE connectivity. Still, Windows Phone has some way to go before it’s really on the level of iOS and Android, both in polish and in number of apps. While the Lumia 900 may be Windows Phone’s best handset yet, it’s still relegated to a third place choice behind its rivals.
Nokia have also been busy on the software front, confirming rumours that a new Nokia collection app was on the way. The new app, called Nokia TV, offers streaming TV service in Nokia’s native country of Finland and will be coming in the next few weeks.
Nokia will be looking for big success with the Lumia 900 in the US, but won't be relying on it entirely. The Finnish firm is also close to bringing its 41 megapixel super-cameraphone to market in the UK and Europe. According to an Italian retailer, the Nokia 808 Pureview will be released in May for a whopping €599 - about £490. That's as much as the HTC One X, so expect to pay top dollar for what is, besides the massive camera, a fairly antiquated Symbian smartphone.
It’s been a fairly quiet week for Apple, but there is one saucy rumour floating around: According to Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, Apple is currently testing a 7.85” prototype iPad Mini, which runs at the same 1024 x 768 resolution as the original iPad and iPad 2. That would make it about as tall as the iPad is wide whilst in portrait mode.
Steve Jobs was famously dismissive of smaller tablets and called them “dead on arrival” – without his input, could Apple finally be close to releasing such a device? It'll likely be impossible to tell until one is announced, but Android is dominating the mini tablet market at the moment and Apple may be forced to compete at smaller form factors.
And that's it for the headlines this week - apologies for the brief Windows Phone and Apple news, but there just wasn't too much this week! Please feel free to leave your questions or comments in the comments section below, and if you found the post helpful then hit that 'Kudos' button to give me some sweet internet karma.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to check in tomorrow for a new regular feature here on the giffgaff blog!
This article was written by William Judd, a freelance tech journalist and copywriter.