Q4 is fast shaping up to be a vintage three months for smartphone cognoscenti. Not only is there a fifth-gen iPhone to look forward to. We’re also in for a third Google branded phone. And then there’s the first-ever Mango efforts, including Nokia’s first tilt at a phone running Microsoft’s OS, and a slew of Android kits from HTC and Samsung.
Here, we’ve picked the five we think will make the most waves in the run up to the winter festivus. Agree? Not so much? Let us know…
Readers, believe us when we say we tried to look beyond the fifth-gen iPhone for the top spot. But a scan of the mooted spec sheet suggests that, for Apple at least, five not three is the magic number.
Features rumoured to be on board? An eight-megapixel snapper for starters – a massive improvement on the superannuated-even-at-launch 5MP number on the current-gen kit. Then there’s the nigh-on-certain to be on board four-inch super high density retina display - the viewing panel tech that means that the iPhone 4’s screen is still the best we’ve seen. And that includes the larger Super AMOLED numbers that Samsung favours for top-end Galaxy phones.
It’s also bound to be smaller and lighter – just because each new iteration of a Jonny Ive device always is – and might even bring the return of 3GS-style curves. The lengthy gestation of the device, and the longer window for testing that allows, suggests there’s scant chance of a repeat of an antennagate-style fiasco too. Much to the chagrin of Cupertino haterz, obviously.
Due date: October
2 Google Nexus Prime
Android’s 2011 has been even better than 2010. So much so that it’s now the number-one smartphone platform by market share in the UK. But that’s not to say that it hasn’t had its fair share of problems.
Examples? Hmm, how about the HTC Desire update farrago caused by the once highly rated Sense custom skin? Or the still-painful waits customers face to get their hands on OS bumps while a) manufacturers make the new version of Android work with their own user interface customisations and b) networks smear Android in bloatware and carry out compatibility tests?
If you’re one of those who’ve suffered, but don’t want to give up on Android, the Nexus Prime could be just the ticket. Like the Nexus One and Nexus S before, it’ll run the unadorned, vanilla version of Android. That means that you’ll get upgrades the minute they leave the Googleplex.
Reportedly being manufactured by Samsung on Google’s behalf, the Prime sounds like a something of a doozie on the features-front too. Highlights are mooted to include the new Ice Cream version of Android out the box, which takes the best of the tablet optimised Honeycomb iteration and brings it to smartphones. Sweetening the package is a 4.65-inch Super AMOLED HD display that almost nudges the Prime into tablet territory and a brawny 1.5GHz processor – no doubt of the dual core variety.
Due date: October/November
3 Samsung Galaxy 3D
Early sales for the HTC Evo 3D and LG Optimus 3D aren’t all they might’ve been apparently. But we can see Sammy’s 3D-capable Galaxy phone racking up some very, very serious numbers indeed.
How so? Well it’ll reputedly features the same stereoscopic technology as those two kits to allow you play games, watch movies and capture stills and clips in 3D. But otherwise it’s said to be unchanged from the already pretty brilliant Galaxy S2.
Assuming Samsung prices it around the same as the S2 at launch, you’re basically giving punters the chance to get 2011’s best-in-class Android phone with 3D as a sweetener.
What’s more, while people may have baulked at paying a premium price for an LG device 3D or no 3D, we think they’ll have no such qualms about shelling out for a Samsung kit with the same USP but with a better build quality and spec sheet.
Due date: November
4 Nokia Sea Ray
Nokia’s first-ever Mango phone is a tech landmark event in anyone’s estimation. And although it looks like it’ll be gazumped in the race to market by HTC’s efforts, we still think it’ll be the Sea Ray that garners more column inches. If only because investors and consumers alike will be mad-keen to see if Nokia can stage a 90th-minute recovery.
Specs are thin on the ground. But leaks suggest we can look forward to a 3.9-inch Super AMOLED display fashioned from Gorilla Glass, an eight-megapixel camera and, of course, the 500 new features that Mango adds to Windows.
Due date: October
5 BlackBerry Curve 9360
The Curve is BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion’s best-selling range. That’s due in no small part to the line’s keen price points that mean that teens can afford them and curved look that remains one of RIM’s few concessions to swish-y handset design.
But it’s the cost that really does it for many. The Curve 9360 is likely to be around £10 per month cheaper than the new flagship Bold 9900. But you’re still getting pretty much everything that’s good about RIM’s new BlackBerry 7 operating system, including the faster browsing, better graphics and a more responsive touchscreen. Plus, of course, the revamped BlackBerry Messenger and improved email solution.
Sure, you don’t get quite the specs you do with a Bold. But it’s the services most people buy BlackBerrys for. And by allowing them to get on board with the best of those, it’s the Curve not the Bold that’s going to be top of most mainstream users’ wish lists.
Due date: October