It was another busy week, with something for everyone: Apple fans got the new iPad (or didn't, with online order shipments delayed for two to three weeks), owners of the Android flagships HTC Sensation/XE and Samsung Galaxy S II got Ice Cream Sandwich, and Windows Phone folks with Lumia handsets can look forward to new tethering support on their phones. We even got exciting news about the state of fast LTE mobile service in the UK.
For now, let's have a look at the biggest launch of the year thus far: Apple's 'new iPad'.
The new iPad, aka the iPad 3, has finally been released to the burgeoning masses. The new iPad launch went without major incident, with many retailers reporting that stock remained after the lines had waned.
The reviews of the new 'resolutionary' device have been strongly positive, with reviewers on the whole emphatic that the upgraded display is well worth the purchase. The addition of LTE is also a strong bonus to American consumers, although it won't be much of a point in its favour here.
However, a few downsides were noted too - namely a much longer charge time (battery life remains at 10 hours but the size of the battery has been increased 70%) and a slightly warmer chassis. These small flaws won't lose Apple many sales however, and it's clear that Apple have worked very hard indeed to make this a major iPad upgrade.
Of course, the Apple jailbreak developers have been hard at work as well - on the very same day the iPad was released, MuscleNerd tweeted a photo that showed the new iPad being jailbroken. The untethered jailbreak isn't yet available for release, but it's surely only a matter of time.
Elsewhere in the Apple world, there were a number of other interesting headlines this week.
In the legal arena, Samsungs attempt to block the sale of iPhones and iPads in the Netherlands due to patent infringement were rejected by a Dutch court, an important victory for Apple and one that would have been disastrous for their presence in the country.
Another big story has been the continuing saga of This American Life (a popular American public radio program) and its look into working conditions at Foxconn's iPad factory. After a fairly damning initial report full of heart-wrenching anecdotes from Mike Daisey about the people he'd met there, he has now admitted that many of the encounters were fabricated, and were based off heresay and rumour rather than actual events.
The episode has been pulled by This American Life, with the host remarking that he was "horrified to have let something like this onto public radio." It's distressing that the report was aired in the first place, but more so that this will doubtlessly have an effect on how future reports are received, from This American Life and elsewhere.
From this rather bleak news, we'll move onto something a bit more shiny: The glimmering world of Android!
The big Android news this week - at least for certain handset owners - was the upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich. Two of the big three released ICS updates for last year's flagship phones: The Samsung Galaxy S II and the HTC Sensation and Sensation XE. HTC also continues to add phones to its Ice Cream Sandwich update schedule, a commendably open move that I wish more handset manufacturers would follow. Samsung have also stated that ICS will "follow soon" for the Galaxy Note and Galaxy Tabs (7.0+, 7.7, 8.9, 10.1).
The Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus was one of two handset launchs of the week. It's a predictably timid upgrade upon the original Galaxy Ace, but that seems to be par for the course for Samsung. The new handset was released yesterday, on the 17th, and includes a 1 GHz processor, a 3.65" screen and Gingerbread.
The second announcement was the Sony Xperia Sola, a mid-range handset that includes an interesting gimick: 'floating touch'. Essentially, the web browser allows you to select links just by hovering your finger over the screen, without having to make contact. That makes a lot of sense for glove-wearing users, but doesn't seem quite enough to warrant a whole new phone dedicated to the feature...
In app news, popular iPhone retro camera app Instagram is coming to Android. The founder of Instagram, speaking at the SXSW conference, said that it would be better than the iPhone version and one of the most exciting apps on Android. I've certainly been looking for a good retro camera app, so colour me interested. There's no known release date yet, however.
If you're looking for a new handset and you've got a need for speed, then you may want to wait for the Huawei Ascend D Quad. It's been ripping through the benchmarks recently, with the highest scores in anTuTu Benchmark (save for a couple of heavily overclocked Transformer Prime tablets) and NenaMark v2. That's higher than any of its top-end competitors, including the HTC One X, the LG Optimus 4X HD and older devices like the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Nexus.
There have been a number of interesting rumours this week too.
The first - and sadly least probable - is the release of another purported leak / render of the Samsung Galaxy S III. This latest piece includes a razer thin chassis, a cool looking mashup between Samsung UI TouchWiz and native Ice Cream Sandwich, and an announcement date of May 22nd. Sadly, it's unlikely to be real - there are a few inconsistencies between the side and front shot of the phone, making it likely a clever photoshop job rather than a genuine leak.
The next batch of rumours are altogether more likely - and it's all about HTC's One series of phones. Retailer Phones4U have the HTC One X and HTC One S on pre-order with release dates on April 6th. O2 has also claimed in a tweet that the One X will ship on April 5th, which would seem to confirm an early April release date for the pair. The One V has also been in the headlines, but for a more mundane reason: It will apparently be coming out in purple and black versions too.
Good news all around, then! Onwards, to Windows Phone!
The Windows Phone section (or as it's commonly called, the Nokia section) is usually a bit lacking in news - but not this week, thanks to Nokia's upcoming Chinese launch and their corporate proclivity for frank and honest interviews.
At first only confirmed for the Lumia 610, we now know that tethering will be coming to all Lumia handsets - the 610, 710, 800 and 900 - in an update to be released "soon." It's also been revealed that the Nokia Lumia 900 launch will bring software improvements to both the 900 and the 800, with which it shares many common components. The update should optimise focus and color balance for the camera as well as audio playback across the OS.
As I stated earlier, Nokia Windows Phones will be launching in China near the end of March - the 28th to be exact. We'd already heard that low-spec Lumia 610 and mid-range Lumia 800 devices would likely be announced for the Chinese market then, but now we hear that a new device will be joining them - the Nokia Lumia 719. The 719 leaked on Chinese social network Weibo, and shows off the phone's mid-range specs: A 3.7" ClearBlack display, a 5 megapixel camera and HD video capture. With these three phones, Nokia should be able to offer Chinese consumers a nice range.
Nokia are also hard at work on their Windows 8 tablet, with their director of design saying that he has been spending a third of each day working on the new tablet. Windows 8 is expected to be released this October, and the Nokia tablet should be out soon after.
Dell and Lenovo have also stated that they're working on Windows 8 tablets, and should launch before the Nokia iteration. That shouldn't hamper Nokia's efforts though - they became the #1 Windows Phone manufactuer after just a quarter, after all. If they can use the same design smarts and close relationship with Microsoft to their advantage, they could do similarly well in the tablet space.
I'm definitely looking forward to seeing these new Windows tablets - should be good! Anyway, onto one last piece on news, that could be the most important item for many tech enthusiasts in the UK.
LTE in the UK & Conclusion
So remember when I said earlier that LTE wouldn't likely be available in the UK until 2015? Well, I may have been wrong about that... Ofcom have announced that T-Mobile and Orange (a joint venture known as Everything Everwhere) are free to deliver 4G services in the UK as early as this year.
The 4G will use the existing 1800 MHz spectrum currently used for 3G, and its competitors have four weeks to submit their own proposals. We may see 4G networks in service in just a few months time - starting with a trial next month in Bristol, of all places.
So that's it - the biggest headlines from the big three this week. We'll back next week with all of the latest headlines, so please check in then. If you've got any questions or comments about the post then feel free to contact me via the comments below or via the links just here:
You must be a registered user to add a comment here. If you've already registered, please log in. If you haven't registered yet, please register and log in.