SMART­PHONES

When it comes to hard­ware and con­nec­tions for mo­biles, it seems the best is yet to come,

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son

Faster hand­sets, speed­ier in­ter­net con­nec­tions.

THE mo­bile phone is more pop­u­lar than ever. Re­search un­veiled at the world’s big­gest phone con­fer­ence re­cently 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 the 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.

FAST CON­NEC­TIONS

Australia is not the only na­tion with a 4G ( LTE) net­work and the world’s ma­jor phone man­u­fac­tur­ers are gear­ing up for a growth spurt in the tech­nol­ogy.

In­dus­try body GSMA pre­dicts 4G con­nec­tions will grow from just 10 mil­lion last year to 353 mil­lion in 2015.

As such, LG launched a range of new smart­phones with the tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing the Op­ti­mus Vu and Op­ti­mus 4X HD. The South Korean com­pany even de­buted an ac­com­pa­ny­ing motto: ‘‘ LTE, it’s al­ways LG.’’

But the com­pany won’t be alone. In­com­ing 4G smart­phones from HTC, Huawei and ZTE were also re­vealed at the Congress, sig­nalling plenty of choice to come.

Tel­syte re­search di­rec­tor 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 first­mover ad­van­tage 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.

SPEEDY PHONES

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- core pro­ces­sors, like games or even videoedit­ing,’’ he says.

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

Newly an­nounced quad- core 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.

BIG­GER FEA­TURES

The world’s big­gest phone show al­ways at­tracts head­line- grab­bing 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.

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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