Tomorrow's smartphone tech today
Look what's coming to mobiles in 2012
Technology, like time, moves on, and it doesn’t half go at a hell of a rate. Tooth and nail competition means that mobile tech moves even faster than most, and it’s extremely tricky to predict what’s just around the corner. Fortunately, the annual phone industry shindig, Mobile World Congress (MWC), is here to point us in the right direction, so we’ll have a go. Here are some things to look out for in 2012.
Better phones for less cash
There’s a lot of competition out there in smartphone land, and manufacturers will be doing their level best to cram as much tech into their handsets and sell as many of them as possible.
Low-cost Lumias: Nokia will launch cheap WinPho handsets this year
Last year smartphone penetration in the UK passed 50 per cent -the highest in Europe, according to a recent Google IPSOS survey, followed by France, and ahead of both the US and even Japan - and shows no sign of slacking off. Smartphones now account for 70 per cent of all phones sold in the UK and with more people using smartphones, it becomes more economical to make them even smarter for less outlay.
Conor Pierce, Nokia's Western Europe chief, says his company plans to focus on the “mid to low end” for its Windows handsets, which started off with a relatively high minimum spec but now look likely to evolve to cover all price bases.
Five cores in your phone: Nvidia's Tegra 3
Higher tech handsets
At the high-end cutting edge, there’ll be some technology debuts this year. Dual-core processors barely seemed to have arrived before there was talk of quad-core, and this year we can expect to try them for the first time.
It’s said that Nvidia’s Tegra 3 processor will be five times faster than last year’s dual-core Tegra 2 - and more power efficient too. Fujitsu plans to launch a handset with one at MWC, and Samsung's Galaxy S III, expected to arrive in April, is believed to sport a quad-core ARM A9-based Exynos 4212 chipset, clocked at a furious 1.8GHz.
Samsung may well launch phones with curved screens - but not as way out as this concept
Samsung has said that it plans to launch handsets with flexible OLED (FOLED) screens this year - possibly beginning with the Galaxy S III. FOLED, unsurprisingly, means the phone doesn’t have to have a flat screen but one that curves, leading to some interesting designs, though it’s unlikely we’ll see anything weird, like a roll-up screen, this year.
Next page: Android apps everywhere (almost)
Re: Re: Scanning stuff in shops
It's not just see-before-you-buy-online. Occasionally I see things on offer in shops and I want to check some reviews of them before purchase. Most recently, a fancy VAX cleaner at less than half-price - one quick scan later, and a read of the unanimously dreadful reviews it had - no purchase, money saved on a crappy product.
On the other hand, I recently spotted a PS3 game in Sainsbury's which looked suspiciously cheap. Quick scan confirmed it was a tenner less than Game/Amazon/etc, into the trolley, bosh. Sale achieved!
Re: Cheap Nokias - is this how they hope to compete?
Nokia has been selling a very, very high volume of very, very cheap phones worldwide for a very long time. As developing countries start to move away from Nokia 1100 type basic phones and want to start buying smartphones, the Nokia brand will still be attractive to them, and if there are decent quality, easy to use, affordable Nokia smartphones, I'm sure they will sell plenty.
For a global company like Nokia, its not all about putting yourself up against Apple at the very top end of the smartphone business. There is a tanker load of cash to be made much, much further down the food chain.
What I *actually* want to see
Is a smartphone with a sensible battery life.
The (absence of any) useful battery life on my otherwise pretty cool smartphone is pissing me off so much that I'm seriously considering a £10 Tesco dumbphone as my next handset.
Ecstatic though I am about having a 5-core phone that displays HTML 5 etc, I'd just settle for a smartphone with sensible battery life. My HTC Desire can just about make it through the day if I don't actually use it for speaking to people.
And I'd gladly pay extra for a phone that comes with a cast-iron guarantee that it will under no circumstances transfer money to anybody.
Cheap Nokias - is this how they hope to compete?
If Nokia hopes to compete with Apple and Android in terms of Average Selling Price (ASP) it's not going to do it with cheap Windows Phones!
Frankly, it's already looking like a busted flush when Nokia is having to price its Windows Phones lower and lower in order to attract sales. And with so little interest in Windows Phone it's a coin-toss whether they'll be able to survive medium-to-long term on such razor thin margins, particularly as they're unlikely to backfill the massive erosion in Symbian sales since the Feb11 announcement.
When Symbian had 35% to 40% market share the low ASP was quite tolerable, but with less than 5% market share the low ASP for Windows Phone is going to be something else entirely. And all the while, Apple and Samsung coin in the profits thanks to the hefty ASP their high-end handsets command.
The decision to go with Microsoft as a smartphone platform is looking more and more desperate and doomed to fail with each new cheap model, and with each new price cut at the high end in an effort to shift slow moving flagship devices (the Lumia 900 is already expected to debut in the UK at £399 PAYG in March - WTF, that's way too cheap to make a decent profit and turn around the Nokia smartphone business! And it's guaranteed to be cheaper still in April...)