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Smartphone Market: Split Wide Open
Rajiv Makhni, Hindustan Times
October 15, 2011
First Published: 13:18 IST(15/10/2011)
Last Updated: 11:28 IST(17/10/2011)

The iPhone 4S was a disappointment – it’s blown open the doors for the competition to come barging in. So who’s there?

It was an event that had the world on hold. And yet, at the end, it wasn’t even about what it was billed as. The iPhone 5 release event wasn’t about an iPhone 5 at all. It was for an upgrade to the existing iPhone 4. More than the downer about the phone, it was also pure disappointment over the presentation. Most of us are now used to the amazing skills and aura that Steve Jobs would bring to an event. This was dull, dry and mostly frustrating.

And when push comes to shove, the 4S has disappointed most. It’s not a bad phone, it’ll still sell well. But it hasn’t set the world on fire with excitement. Most importantly, being an incremental upgrade, it has blown open the doors for the competition to come right in. What does the future hold for smartphones? What are the most exciting ones coming out soon? If you were holding out for an iPhone 5 and aren’t overly thrilled with the iPhone 4S, where can you park your money and get the most bang for your buck? Here are the future superstars of the smartphone world.

Samsung Nexus PrimeSamsung Nexus Prime
It’s a phone whose intriguing curved  form factor has the world lusting. A body that is just 9 mm thick and has an impossibly curved glass screen in the front. The insides are also quite prime: it runs the all new Ice Cream Sandwich, the new Android mobile operating system (version 4.0). It tops out at 32 GB of internal storage, sports a dual-core processor, has a 4.65 inch screen with a resolution of 1280 x 720, 1080p video capability, a 1.3 megapixel front camera, wireless N connectivity and a fantastic battery life. Also, Samsung played its part in going from super hype to super sensitive. They were to announce it as an iPhone 4S killer but held back after news of Steve Jobs passing away. “We believe this is not the right time to announce a new product as the world expresses tribute to Steve Jobs’ passing,” a Samsung spokesperson said. The Samsung Prime could now also be called the world’s most sensitive phone.

HTC Titan
This is another one of the big ones, screen and otherwise. A 4.7 inch screen and a mind-boggling resolution, this one has all the trappings of HTC’s famed build quality and ergonomics. A Windows Phone 7.5 OS, this one can pull off 720P video, has great still photo optics, a very powerful processor and 16 GB built-in storage. The USP? It can do 5.1 surround sound with SRS enhancements. How effective can a 5.1 speaker system originating from a phone really be is the question that will soon be answered. Meanwhile, the other USP is going to be the price. Almost all Windows Phone devices seem to be very aggressively priced and this could be one of the first to start that price war.

xPeria-Arc-SSony Ericsson Xperia Arc S
This is a phone that takes a lot from Sony’s famed design centre and also borrows a lot from Sony’s famed Cybershot cameras. The look and feel are above and beyond all other Android phones; there  is a certain sophistication to this that is tough to describe, and the slim arc is actually quite a design marvel in itself. A 1.4 Ghz processor, the capability of shooting 3D panorama still shots, a live dock that can make this phone have the capabilities of  a laptop or even a gaming machine and a pretty good battery life. The arc may just be on the curve to great success.

Samsung Wave 3
I’ve said this before and I’m going to say it again. I find it impossible to believe that Samsung can carry on supporting three different OSes. They have Android, they have Windows Phone and they have their own Bada. Something’s got to give – and yet they continue to defy the laws of smartphone manufacturing. The Wave is the perfect example. Bada phones were supposed to be the economy version of smartphones and yet, the Wave 3 goes the opposite way. It’s priced right there with the best of Android and Windows Phones, thus showing the confidence that Samsung has in this operating system. This one has a 4 inch Super AMOLED screen, NFC, a completely revamped interface and a hearty processor – this phone starts off a new war in smartphones as Bada throws the gauntlet down.

Nokia Sea Ray
It’s been dubbed the Sea Ray and it may well be the most aggressive bid into the smartphone arena in a long, long time. It has the future of two companies at stake and both Nokia and Microsoft will leave no stone unturned with this one. It’s supposed to have the best hardware that Nokia has ever put together in a phone, have special add-ons from Microsoft and is supposed to have a price that may well have the world’s jaw drop as a collective reaction. This should shake up the market like never before. We should get to hear more details and see a working prototype within days and a release early in 2012.
There are more. The Moto Droid Bionic (Motorola hasn’t been aggressive in India but after the Google takeover it may well be with this one), the Samsung Galaxy Note (a giant phone with Tablet aspirations), HTC Sensations XE (with Beats audio, this is one of the most anticipated music phones), BlackBerry’s latest (with an OS revamp that puts QNX in charge) and a spate of smartphones from LG. Like I said, the iPhone 4S has formidable opposition for the next few months. Until the release of the iPhone 5, that is.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv onTwitter at twitter.com/RajivMakhni

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