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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

August 20, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Big, bigger and golden: Flurry of new phones ahead of new iPhone

A smorgasbord of new smartphones is appearing this week as phone makers rush to get ahead of the expected Sept. 10 launch of Apple’s new iPhone.

Perhaps wireless companies are also hoping to make some back-to-school sales, at least from affluent families equipping their kids with new phones as well as computers.

The new phones are tempting, but shoppers may want to wait a few weeks to see what Apple has to offer. A stream of early reports suggest that Apple is going to update the current iPhone 5, rather than release an entirely new flagship phone. The company is also reportedly preparing to launch a cheaper plastic model, according to a Wall Street Journal report today.

Here’s a quick look at the parade of new phones.

The iPhone 5S: A highlight of the new iPhone expected to surface on Sept. 10 is a new version of iOS that will give Apple’s mobile operating system a major facelift and more modern style. The iPhone 5S is also likely to include more powerful internals and a better camera, to keep pace with the competition, and perhaps a fingerprint scanner to authenticate users. But the headline will be that Apple’s releasing a version with a metallic gold case — or “champagne” — blatantly pandering to buyers in China and certain parts of Bellevue.

Droids: Verizon Wireless today began selling three new Droids — the Mini, Ultra and Maxx. They all have 10 megapixel cameras, Kevlar cases and Google’s latest voice interface — “Sergey” to Apple’s Siri. The Mini name must refer to its price, relative to its peers — the 4.5-inch Mini costs $100 with a two-year contract. The 5-inch Ultra (pictured below) is billed as the slimmest LTE phone available, with a 7.18 millimeter thick case; it’s $200 with a contract. The selling point of the Maxx is a huge battery that’s expected to run for about 48 hours on a charge; it costs $300 with a contract.


Samsung Mega: If a 5-inch jumbo Maxx or Ultra phone just isn’t big enough, consider the 6.3-inch Samsung Mega that AT&T will begin carrying Friday. This paperback-sized phone debuted overseas earlier this summer, getting ahead of several 6-inch double grande phones expected to arrive over the next few months. It’s $150 with a two-year contract.


Nokia Bandit: The Finnish phone giant is preparing to release the largest ever Windows Phone, matching the Mega with a 6-inch display and upping the stakes with a camera with at least 20 megapixels, according to a report on The Verge. Maybe this is the Nokia tablet people have been whispering about for over a year, and it’s using Windows Phone instead of Windows RT. My guess is that it will use some of the “pro” camera apps that Nokia developed for its 41-megapixel Lumia 1020.

HTC One Mini: HTC’s mini will debut Friday at AT&T for $100 with a two-year contract. It’s a smaller, slimmer version of HTC’s flagship Android phone. It has a still-substantial 4.3-inch display but it’s 0.2 inches more mini than the Droid Mini. For comparison, the full-size HTC One has a 4.7 inch display. Here they are side-by-side:


Sony Xperia: Sony is expected to unveil a new version of its Android phone on Sept. 4, adding better image sensors to the Android device, according to a Bloomberg report. Bloomberg’s story said Samsung will also unveil its Note 3 tablet and a watch-like device on the same day.

Before you know it, they’ll be offering mega watches with 6-inch displays that extend up your forearm.


Comments | Topics: Apple, Droid Ultra, gadgets and products


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