Smartphones

The iPhone 4 Gets an "S" (For Effort?)

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Like the rumour-based oracles predicted, Apple unveils the 2011 iPhone model at Let's Talk iPhone-- only not the "iPhone 5," but the iPhone 4S, a hardware upgrade on the previous model.

The revelation proved disappointing for the Apple disciples expecting something entirely new (as if Apple would reinvent the wheel), 4G (lacking) or an improved display (the iPhone4 Retina Display remains).

iPhone 4SInside is the dual-core A5 processor from the iPad 2, which Apple says improves on both graphics and iOS performance. Cameras also get an improvement-- iPhoneographers will be able to play with an 8MP camera handling 1080p video, complete with hybrid IR filter, real-time image stablisation and temporal noise reduction.

Connections come through HSPA+, with GSM and CDMA antennas making it an "international" smartphone.

What's new is "Siri"-- the voice-controlled virtual assistant that speaks back, Hal 9000-style (only in a soothing female voice). In a very non-Apple (but very Google) move, Siri will actually launch in beta alongside the iPhone 4S.

A bullish Tim Cook took to the stage like a duck takes to water-- if not a low-key Steve Jobs, opening his appearance with "I love Apple!" before rattling out hyperbole and statistics. Other Apple executives also took the stage (including Scott Forstall, Eddy Cue and Phil Schiller), in a move only pointing out the elephant in the room that was the absence of Jobs.

The main question-- how will the iPhone 4S fare against the increasingly confident Android competition? Will such a simple upgrade fuel sales? TrendForce at least believes so, saying "a strong market demand remains" and predicting WW 2012 iPhone 4S shipments may reach 100M (resulting in a boon for the NAND flash market as it could cause flash undersupply, triggering a price increase).

Meanwhile iSuppli predicts Apple will remain on top of the smartphone pecking order, leading the general smartphone category to reach global shipments of over 1 billion units by 2015.

Technology-wise, the iPhone 4S races neck to neck against the latest Androids, while windows Phone remains something of a dark horse (with the promise of both "Mango" and WP7-powered Nokia handsets).

The iPhone 4S will be launch in the US on October 14, with other territories to follow soon-- or maybe later, if Apple wants international versions of Siri available.

Go iPhone 4S

Go TrendForce: iPhone 4S Sales Expected to Exceed 100M

Go IHS iSuppli Fast Facts on Apple's New iPhone Introduction

iPhone 5 Gets Announcement Date

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Here's the date Apple disciples are waiting for-- October 4th, the very probable date for the next iPhone's announcement as revealed in a somewhat cryptic image.

iPhone 5 InviteThe image shows the announcement date (Tuesday 4th October), time (10:00am California time), the number "1" (will Apple only reveal 1 device?) and the address to the Apple Cupertino HQ.

What can one expect from the Apple event? One thing for sure-- a lack of Steve Jobs, alongside his famous "reality distortion field" superpower. Most likely to take his place on stage is no other than new CEO Tim Cook.

Wild iPhone 5 feature rumours have been flying around since the iPhone 4 launched last year. The more realistic include an NFC chip, voice-activated "assistant" feature, improved cameras and the same dual-core A5 processor as the iPad 2.

Plus it surely won't look too different from the iPhone 4-- noone expects Apple to reinvent the iWheel by this point (even if it would be a pleasant surprise).

We'll learn whether an Apple announcement will capture the imagination sans-Jobs next week, then.

Go iPhone 5 Event Invites are Out (Business Insider SAI)

Go iPhone 5, Minus the Master (FT.com)

Samsung Takes Down Notes on Tablets

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Is Samsung showing a large smartphone or a small tablet? That's the question on everyone's lips following the Galaxy Note reveal at IFA 2011.

Galaxy NoteThe Galaxy Note is a smartphone (not a tablet) in a new form factor-- a 5.3" 1280x800 resolution Super AMOLED display.

The touchscreen is pressure sensitive and handles stylus input (a rarity nowadays), as Samsung appears to be pushing the device for handwritten note-taking and sketching use. 

Inside are a 1.4GHz dual-core processor and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), as well as Bluetooth and wifi connections. 

Completing the package are 2 cameras-- 8MP rear-facing and 2MP front-facing.

Samsung offers no launch date or pricing details yet, but we expect those will be available soon enough. 

Go Samsung Galaxy Note

Extending Smartphone Talk Time

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iPowerUp launches 2 PwrVault products providing extra power to either Blackberry smartphones or the iPhone 4.

Blackberry PwrVaultThe PwrVault for iPhone 4 carries a 1680 mAh Lithium-Polymer battery, toegether with an iPhone dock connector, mini-USB port (for AC/DC/USB external charging) and a LED power gauge showing power status. 

Coming in the form of a non-slip rubber case, iPowerUp says it extends talk time to up to 6 hours (with up to 350 hours of standby time), while also improving phone reception. 

The PwrVault Hybrid for Blackberry (for Curve 9330, 9300, 8530, and 8520 models) has the same specifications as the iPhone model, with an additional solar panel on its back providing solar-powered recharing. 

It comes complete with a kickstand (for optimised solar charging) and extends talk time to up to 7 hours (with 16 days' worth of standby time). 

Go iPowerUp PwrVault

The Windows 7 Phone

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Fujitsu has a solution for customers thinking Windows Phone is not enough-- the F-07C, a Windows 7 smartphone.

Windows PhoneIt's basically a PC inside a compact (measuring 125mm x 61mm x 19.8mm) design, with a 1.2GHz Intel Atom Z600 processor, 1GB of LPDDRR400 memory and 32GB of eMMC storage. 

The sliding 4" LCD display (1024 x 600 resolution) reveals a QWERTY keyboard and trackball for mouse control. Ports include USB and HDMI. 

Since it has a x86 processor and standard Windows as OS, the F-07C runs any Windows software, including Internet Explorer 9 (included as default), Adobe Flash and Silverlight. Fujitsu also includes a 2-year Microsoft Office 2010 personal licence. 

The device should launch this month in Japan, but there's no word if Fujitsu has any European launch plans yet. 

Go Fujitsu Introduces Windows 7 F-OC Mobile Phone