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New Smartphones - Spring 2012

  • Big iPhone release soon
  • Samsung, Huawei, HTC and Sony all gearing up
  • Surprise effort from LG
Written by Adam Wajnberg
03/09/2012

We’re 10 days away from the rumoured launch of Apple’s latest wunderphone, which will no doubt bolster Apple’s overall worth past the $700 billion mark and solve most of the world’s problems, as they relate to pixel density. How readily it will affect global warming is less clear at this stage.

The next iPhone launch is hotly anticipated mainly because it marks the biggest release since the rest of the industry woke up and rapidly started pumping out handsets that matched (and even exceeded) the capabilities of Apple’s juggernaut. And those same competitors haven’t slowed down, even in light of Apple laying $1bn of smack down on Samsung’s head for daring to copy its rounded rectangles.

Click here for the best deals on the Samsung Galaxy S3 – or call Optus on 1300 768 194

In the meantime, the Berlin Radio Show, Europe’s largest electronics trade show has just passed, and every big manufacturer came out of the blocks with new handsets, new ways to integrate their mobiles with other devices, and a whole bunch of gimmicky garbage that they’re all praying will distinguish themselves ahead of not only the next iPhone, but also a possible leap by Apple into the TV space. There’s also Microsoft’s own big time hardware launch with its Windows 8 Surface tablets debuting in the next few weeks. Let’s see what the majors have in store for us:

Samsung

Samsung made waves with its dual-display Windows laptop and a Windows 8 tablet, but the big release was the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, which manages to cram another fifth of an inch to its already capacious display. The 5.5” ‘phablet’ will come with an improved S-Pen, a 1280x720 AMOLED screen and a quad-core, 1.6GHz processor. That’s a lot of alphabet soup – what’s really important is that the Note has taken design cues from the Samsung Galaxy S3, and improves on what turned out to be a surprisingly winning and popular innovation – making smartphones, only BIGGER.

                    samsung galaxy note 2

Seriously though, we love the Note – it’s a simple gimmick that Samsung have actually pulled off really well. The original Note had a delayed release in Oz, and it looks like there will be a holdup on its successor as well – the phone will be out in Europe, the Middle East and the UK by October, and the US by December- no word yet on an Aussie release.

The best deal we’ve found on the original Galaxy Note is Dodo’s $59.90 Chit Chat Mobile Plan, where the phone is $17. That seems like a lot, but the plan itself comes with everything – all mobile, landline and 13 calls are free, all SMS are free, it comes with $100 of international calls and 2.5GB of data. It’s a proper replacement for a home phone, smartphone, mini-tablet all rolled into one. Call Dodo on 1300 136 793

Sony
Oh yes, Sony still makes phones. But it knows where its strengths lie, and Berlin was mostly about showing off its Bravia line of TVs, including a 4K beast (that’s 4 times the resolution of today’s 1080p sets). But amidst the eye-popping HD was a hands on with its latest iteration of its XPERIA line of Android handsets, the Sola.

The Sola, frankly, isn’t going to save Sony from the mobile scrapheap. It’s a passable high end Android smartphone – one of many ‘shiny black rectangles’ with plenty of hardware – with the sole gimmick that it will sense your finger from up to 20mm away. Um. Yay.

The Sola isn’t available on any networks at the moment, but that’s no big surprise- Sony is mostly a distraction these days. That said, the XPERIA PLAY is available from TransACT Mobile for $0 on a $49 plan, with $480 cap credit and 1GB of data. It’s one of the few remaining slider Android phones, with the front panel sliding in landscape mode to reveal a full Playstation style gaming pad. Call TransACT on 1300 744 861

              sony xperia play

LG

It’s easy to dismiss LG as yet another smartphone afterthought, better suited to pushing its big TVs – but LG is actually a big developer of mobile Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, giving them a leg up as the world moves from 3G to 4G. They’ve promised big things from their upcoming LTE phones.

The Optimus G was previewed at Berlin, and it actually looks pretty damn good – Quad core 1.5GHz processor, advanced battery tech (more recharge cycles), new screen tech for thinner bezels and better power saving, and a 13 megapixel camera. It also comes with the latest and greatest radio specs – Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, AGPS, MHL, BBQ, NFL- it has it all! No joke, LG might be the one to watch in 2013.

We’re not going to recommend any current LG phones. Wait. Here’s a pic of the forthcoming Optimus G:

          lg optimus g

         DROOL.

 

HTC

HTC didn’t bring much to Berlin, no doubt because of their slimmer portfolio – they only make phones, and this is more of a general electronics event. They showed off a new budget phone from their lower-spec Desire line, the Desire X; it’s clearly an attempt to marry the One X design with a more affordable handset.

Anyway, it may never come out here, and it doesn’t need to: the HTC One X is simply the best Android phone on the market , and it’s very affordable in Australia (especially when compared to Samsung phones and iPhones).

Optus have the One X going for as little as $0 on their $60 plan, which comes with $650 cap credit and 1.5GB data. Call Optus on 1300 192 947

Huawei

Huawei are making a valid bid to become the first mainland Chinese firm to get the same cache in personal tech as its Korean, Japanese and American counterparts. Like HTC, Huawei got its start making non-descript also-ran phones for licensees (*cough cough Telstra cough*) to smear their branding over. Now they’re putting their own name front and centre, and offering up some pretty decent handsets at budget prices.

The Huawei Ascend and Honor both showed up at Berlin, and are both available in Australia. The Honor is available outright at Dick Smith for just $299, with which you get a speedy dual core 1.4GHz processor, 4” screen and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

          huawei honor

The Huawei isn’t being offered on a plan, but at that price, you’re better off buying it outright and using a plan like Amaysim’s $39.90 Unlimited SIM-only plan. For that price you get all your calls, text and picture messaging for free (including 13, 1800 and 1300 numbers) with 4GB of data. No contract too! Call Amaysim on 1300 302 942.

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