Gadgets of the month: Apple’s latest, smartphone innovations and the coming console war

1 Nov 2013

Image via joingate/Shutterstock

We take a look back at some of the biggest gadget news from October and look ahead at what’s to come.

Vodafone Ireland Gadgets of the Month is made possible by Vodafone Ireland

This month…

Apple’s month of releases and reveals

Apple was persistent in grabbing headlines over the course of the past month. Its latest smartphones – the colourful, plastic iPhone 5c and the high-end iPhone 5s with fingerprint recognition technology – finally arrived in Ireland on 25 October, one month after their original release. It seems Apple’s decision to venture into making the lower-priced 5c had little effect on sales in the upper end of the market as 5c orders were scaled back while 5s demand increased.

But before the reinvented iPhones reached these shores, Apple had more new gadgets up its sleeve. The ultra-thin and light iPad Air was unveiled at a press event on 22 October and, though it’s no game-changer, it will likely be top of many fanboys’ wish lists this Christmas.

Apple iPad Air

The new iPad Air from Apple

Alongside the new iPad, Apple revealed updates to its MacBook Pro range of laptops and powerful Mac Pro desktop computing system. IT repairs website iFixit was unimpressed with the new MacBook Pros, though, on account of hardware design decisions that make these computers dastardly difficult to repair or upgrade.

New ideas in the smartphone market

This month, we learned that Irish people use their smartphones as a social crutch and substitute doctor, and have no qualms about snooping on someone else’s device. But as fast as we are to adopt smartphones, they are often disposed of just as quick, contributing to the growing electronic waste problem worldwide.

To address this issue, Dutch designer Dave Hakkens devised Phonebloks, a modular smartphone concept that would allow users to replace broken or defunct parts rather than ditching the phone altogether for a new model. Hundreds of thousands of people signed up to support Hakkens’ idea and now Google’s Motorola has adopted the concept in line with its own Project Ara.


While we wait for customisable built-it-yourself smartphones to be realised, we still have plenty of devices on the market to choose from. This month alone, HTC introduced the HTC One Max with a fingerprint scanner, Nokia launched two 6-inch Lumia smartphones and an all-new low-cost Asha range, and Google finally revealed the Nexus 5 made in partnership with LG.

We also saw the first curved smartphones enter the market, initially with the Samsung Galaxy Round released in South Korea, followed by the LG Flex, which curves from top to bottom to mimic the shape of the classic telephone handset. This 6-inch smartphone will also be released first in South Korea with other markets to follow.

LG G Flex

LG’s G Flex curved smartphone

Coming soon…

Google’s wearables

The early adopters of Glass are in for a treat later this year as Google is offering members of its Glass Explorer programme the opportunity to upgrade their hardware to a new set of smart spectacles that will be compatible with future lines of sunglass and prescription frames and will also come with a mono earbud. Explorers will also be able to invite up to three friends to join the programme, meaning we’ll have more ‘Glassholes’ knocking about in the new year.

While openly working on Glass, Google is rumoured to be developing another form of wearable technology behind the scenes. Speculation of a smartwatch companion for Android smartphones amped up in the past month and we could see this device brought to life before the year is out.

Let the battle between Xbox One and PS4 commence

What we’ve all been waiting for this November is the oncoming console war between Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4. The former will be welcoming visitors on the Xbox One world tour, reaching Dublin on 14-17 November.

The PlayStation 4 will be first out of the traps in the States, with its release set for 15 November. Xbox One will arrive in the US and parts of Europe (Ireland included) on 22 November, while the PlayStation 4 will leave those in Europe waiting until a 29 November release. The countdown is on!

Main gadgets image via Shutterstock

Vodafone Ireland Gadgets of the Month is made possible by Vodafone Ireland

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.