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Saturday, December 1, 2012


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Are These Smartphones the Latest Batch of iPhone 5 Killers?
Apple launched its 6th generation iPhone appropriately named iPhone 5 this past September. It's the first iPhone to have widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio support with LTE wireless connectivity. There's a lot to like about the new, 4-inch, A6 processor-powered iPhone despite some problems with Apple maps however, there are some attractive alternatives available now and some others like the Samsung Galaxy 4 rumored to be available soon. Here's a rundown of some of our picks for iPhone alternatives.
Nokia Lumia 920 Running Windows Phone 8Windows Phone 8 is the latest phone operating system from Microsoft that has the potential of tying together Windows computers, tablets, and phones. The Nokia Lumia 920 has a polycarbonate body that feels good in the hand along with curved Gorilla Glass covering a large 4.5-inch, 332 ppi LCD display (iPhone 5 is 326 ppi). The 920 has an optically-stabilized 8.7 MP rear camera which even impressed David Pogue. The 920 is an LTE phone with features that are missing in the iPhone 5 like NFC for contactless information exchange, DLNA for moving media to your TV, and inductive charging that doesn't require the phone to be plugged into a charger. As an added bonus you get Navteq's excellent maps that you can download for offline use.
Samsung Galaxy Note IIThe 5.5-inch Samsung Galaxy phone that some are calling a "phablet" (phone + tablet) has been quite a hit. This extra-large smartphone that comes with a stylus, has sold over 5 million units within the first two months of going on sale much to the delight of Samsung. The Note 2 may have hit a sweet spot as an Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) device that can serve as an entertainment and gaming device as well as a phone. The S Pen, pressure sensitive stylus has many uses including drawing, handwriting or just tapping. It's a well thought out device that includes features like the ability to shrink the soft keyboard for one hand typing. The display is a very large 5.5-inch, 267 ppi, Super AMOLED, Gorilla Glass screen.
Galaxy S IV (Coming Soon)The Samsung Galaxy S III has been the leading competitor to the iPhone with its large 4.8-inch, 306 ppi Super AMOLED display and fast dual-core processor (Qualcomm in U.S.). Recently the rumors of a January or February introduction of a Galaxy S4 have been popping up. The imminent appearance of an S4 could be the reason we are also hearing rumors of an earlier than expected appearance of an iPhone 5S. The Galaxy S4 is rumored to be powered by a Samsung Exynos 5450 Cortex A15 quad core processor. Specs on the S4 display are still a bit sketchy but we've heard it may jump to 441 ppi and possibly a 5-inch display. There are also rumors of a 13MP camera. It remains to be seen whether we see a 5-inch, 1080p phone Galaxy S4 at CES in January or sometime after, possibly around Mobile World Congress in late February.
Nexus 4 (Unlocked Google Phone)When Google started selling its 4th generation Nexus smartphone manufactured by LG, there was some question about whether or not it supported 4G LTE. Officially, the Nexus 4 does not run on any U.S. LTE networks however, the latest word is that it does work on some limited LTE bands including some used in Canada. The Nexus 4 which is currently available on the Google Play Store is also currently on "backorder" status (as of this writing). One of the reasons for the strong initial demand is the fact that for $349 you can buy a 16GB, unlocked phone which means you aren't locked into a contract with any one carrier and you can save a lot of money on a month-to-month prepaid plan from a carrier like T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile or Sprint who typically charge around $30 a month for 100 minutes or more and unlimited texting and data (with a 5GB threshold before throttling). Not only are the service options attractive but so is the 4.7-inch, 320 ppi HD IPS LCD, Gorilla Glass 2 display which some people say looks better than AMOLED and is also curved slightly to make it easier to use gestures. One cool feature is a small LED indicator that can be programmed to alert you to various events like missed calls. Like the Nokia 920, the Nexus 4 supports Qi, inductive charging, NFC and has an 8MP camera. The Nexus 4 also runs the very latest version of Jelly Bean (Android 4.2). If you're willing to do without LTE in the U.S. and want an unlocked smartphone with some attractive features, the Nexus 4 could be just the thing.
HTC One X +The very popular HTC One has gone through some changes since it was first introduced last February. First it became the One X, an able iPhone 4S competitor and most recently it was upgraded to the One X + that includes a faster Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, a higher capacity battery and Jelly Bean. The One X + has a large 4.7-inch 312 ppi LCD display along with Gorilla Glass 2 protection. Similar to the other smartphones in this class, the One X + has an 8 MP camera and supports NFC and LTE connectivity.
HTC Droid Deluxe or DLX (Coming Soon?)A variation of the 5-inch display HTC Droid DNA being called the Deluxe or DLX has been showing up in the latest smartphone rumors. Some are calling this another "phablet" like the Galaxy Note II but in a market that appears to have embraced the 5-inch plus smartphone, the HTC DLX could help get HTC back into the game. So far, it sounds like the DLX will be powered by a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and will display 1080p video on its 5-inch Super LCD 2 screen.
Why Aren't Smartphones Getting Smaller?Wimm Labs In the current smartphone market where every manufacturer is trying to trump the next one with a larger screen phone, wouldn't it also make sense to drive phone sizes in the other direction? In a world where less can often be more, where is the iPhone Micro or Nano? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to carry around a phone the size of a chaptsick or Sharpie? Maybe in the future, a "pencil" phone flexible screen could unroll or it could work with a pair of cyber goggles or maybe it will "tether" to your tablet to display maps and messages or maybe it will be something you wear like a watch, necklace or hearing aid. Concept Phones has a few examples including an iPhone Nano. Are any phone manufacturers thinking "small?"

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