Phone best yet to come

The lat­est smart­phones will fea­ture faster hard­ware and con­nec­tions, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley-ni­chol­son

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Gadgets -

THE mo­bile phone is more pop­u­lar than ever. Re­search un­veiled at the world’s big­gest phone con­fer­ence last week re­vealed more than 6.6 bil­lion mo­bile phone con­nec­tions are now in op­er­a­tion and that num­ber will reach 9.1 bil­lion by 2015.

But the globe’s 3.6 bil­lion phone sub­scribers could be us­ing very dif­fer­ent de­vices by then, with ma­jor over­hauls planned for smart­phones this year.

As re­vealed at Mo­bile World Congress in Barcelona, the fu­ture of smart­phones in­cludes faster hand­sets, speed­ier in­ter­net con­nec­tions, big­ger screens and head­line­grab­bing fea­tures, in­clud­ing built-in pro­jec­tors and 41-megapixel cam­eras. Foad Fadaghi pre­dicts that many Aus­tralian phone buy­ers will opt for 4G hand­sets this year, even though only one car­rier has launched the net­work so far.

‘‘ It’s a nat­u­ral evo­lu­tion,’’ he says. ‘‘ Con­sumers will seek out that func­tion­al­ity when pick­ing out their next smart­phone. It’s all part of peo­ple fu­ture-proof­ing their pur­chase for the life of a 24-month con­tract and there might be as­sump­tions that net­works will be rolled out fur­ther.’’

While Tel­stra’s 4G net­work cov­ers only a 5km area around Australia’s cap­i­tal cities, ma­jor airports and se­lected re­gional cen­tres, Ovum se­nior an­a­lyst Ni­cole Mccormick says the com­pany will con­tinue to en­joy a first-mover ad­van­tage with cus­tomers for some time.

‘‘ In con­trast, ri­val Op­tus will only switch on a limited LTE ser­vice in April 2012, while value-seeker op­er­a­tor Voda­fone . . . has put LTE on the back-burner,’’ she says.

Tel­stra’s first LTE phone, the HTC Ve­loc­ity 4G, has al­ready be­come the com­pany’s third best-sell­ing con­sumer post-paid phone. It’s not just in­ter­net con­nec­tions that will speed up this year: phone hand­sets are set to get a ma­jor speed boost.

Quad-core pro­ces­sors are be­ing added to smart­phones for the first time, giv­ing each phone’s com­puter chip four in­di­vid­ual ‘‘ cores’’ or brains to boost its pro­cess­ing power.

In prac­tice, Fadaghi says, this could change the way peo­ple use their phones; al­low­ing them to more ca­pa­bly stand-in for lap­tops and cre­ate videos or doc­u­ments, for ex­am­ple.

‘‘ Quad-core phones will be at­trac­tive, par­tic­u­larly if you start see­ing ap­pli­ca­tions that make the most of those quad- Tech­nol­ogy surge: mo­bile phones will have taken an­other quan­tum leap by 2015. core pro­ces­sors, like games or even video-edit­ing,’’ he says.

‘‘ There’s a lot of po­ten­tial there for mak­ing these de­vices con­tent-cre­ation de­vices as well as con­tent-con­sump­tion de­vices.’’

Newly an­nounced quad­core phones in­clude the flag­ship One X hand­set from HTC, LG’S Op­ti­mus 4X HD, the ZTE Era phone, an un­named but wa­ter­proof pro­to­type from Fu­jitsu, and the Huawei As­cend D Quad.

Huawei de­vice chair­man Richard Yu says the com­pany added more power as speed was at the top of con­sumers’ wish-lists.

‘‘ We’ve lis­tened to peo­ple’s top de­mands from smart­phones: speed, long bat­tery life, high-qual­ity vis­ual and au­dio ca­pa­bil­i­ties and a com­pact light­weight hand­set,’’ he says.

Big-name man­u­fac­tur­ers in­clud­ing Sony, Nokia and Sam­sung have yet to join the trend, how­ever. The world’s big­gest phone show al­ways at­tracts head­line­grab­bing phones.

Nokia pres­i­dent Stephen Elop boasted the com­pany is chang­ing its ‘‘ clock speed’’ be­fore un­veil­ing the world’s first smart­phone to fea­ture a 41-megapixel cam­era.

The Nokia 808 Pure­view also fea­tures a Carl Zeiss lens and new pixel tech­nol­ogy for sharp images, although Ovum prin­ci­pal an­a­lyst Tony Cripps says its ‘‘ Sym­bian Belle op­er­at­ing sys­tem might de­tract from its ap­peal’’.

Sam­sung also re­vealed the Gal­axy Beam, its sec­ond phone to fea­ture a built-in pro­jec­tor, while com­pa­nies in­clud­ing LG, Pana­sonic and Umeox launched su­per-sized smart­phones with 5-inch screens.

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