Gadgets of the month: January 2013

31 Jan 2013

We take a look back at some of the biggest gadget news from January and look ahead at what’s to come in 2013, from Mobile World Congress and beyond.

Vodafone Ireland Gadgets of the month is sponsored by Vodafone Ireland

This month…

Back to BlackBerry

The saviour of the company formerly known as RIM has arrived – or, at least that’s what BlackBerry is hoping for. BlackBerry 10 was unveiled just yesterday and initial reactions have been mixed. Some believe BlackBerry’s strategy of trying to be all things to all users is flawed and maybe the company should stick to what it knows and focus on devices for business users.

That said, feedback on the two new smartphones – the touchscreen Z10 and full QWERTY keypad Q10 – hasn’t been all bad, and BlackBerry has been commended for managing to launch its rebranded BlackBerry World app store with 70,000 apps in place.

BlackBerry 10

Image via BlackBerry on Facebook

Whether the Z10 and Q10 will revive the ailing smartphone maker or be the final nail in its coffin remains to be seen, but chances are we haven’t seen the last of BlackBerry, with four more devices apparently in the pipeline.

The BlackBerry Z10 hit the UK first today and will arrive in Ireland on 1 March, with the Q10 expected to launch in April.

Tablet talk

Figures just released from IDC show that the global tablet market grew 74.3pc in Q4 2012, and Apple’s suite of iPads accounts for the vast majority, with 43.6pc of the share. However, if Amazon could stretch its tablet range to the global market it could be a significant challenger to Apple, with statistics from Localytics showing how this tablet brand dominates in the US market where it is widely available.

Apple’s not one to rest easy on its success, though, and has already updated its range with a 128GB iPad, while Sony has upped its tablet stakes with the release of the world’s thinnest and lightest full-size tablet yet.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z

Meanwhile, poor Microsoft can’t seem to make a name for itself in the highly competitive tablet space, and the would-be hardware manufacturer was left embarrassed earlier this month when a thief broke into its campus and made off with some iPads, leaving Microsoft products untouched. Things may change once Surface hits more markets, though, and Irish customers will be able to get their hands on one starting this Valentine’s Day.

While the tablet market is going strong, variations in up-and-coming devices could see this growth fractured. Analytics firm IHS believes 2013 could be the year of the phablet, thanks to supersized smartphones from the likes of Samsung, Sony and Huawei.

And at CES we were introduced to ‘table computers’, from Lenovo’s 27-inch IdeaCentre Horizon Tablet PC to Panasonic’s 20-inch 4K device. Will these seemingly impractical monsters take off? We’ll see. But, either way, Deloitte still thinks the PC has its place in this tablet-filled world, despite declining sales.

Coming soon…

What to expect from iPhone in 2013

Just when the hype for the most recent iPhone dies out the rumours for the next contender to the throne amp up, and thus the cycle continues with rumours this month that Apple may have as many as three new smartphones planned for 2013, including, perhaps, a 4.8-inch device, an injection of colour, or maybe even a lower-priced model, though Apple was quick to squash this rumour.

Either way, we’re fairly sure a new device and a new OS is on the cards and the sooner the better for Apple if rumours of waning demand for the iPhone 5 are to be believed.

MWC: big reveals or a quiet affair?

While we’re on the topic of smartphones, we can’t really leave this feature without a look ahead to GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry which takes place in Barcelona each February.

This year’s event starts on 25 February with Nokia confirmed for a press conference on this date. CEO Stephen Elop is also a confirmed keynote speaker so we’re expecting the Finnish firm to have a lot to talk about – perhaps a refreshed Lumia line with aluminium casing? Or a Windows Phone 8 device featuring a 41MP PureView camera? Or even a 10-inch Windows RT tablet?

Surprisingly, two major brands seem to be ignoring MWC in favour of their own stand-alone events. HTC has a press event planned for 19 February in London, where it is expected to unveil the M7, a new flagship Android device rumoured to have a 4.7-inch full-HD display with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 – making it the smallest 1080p screen on the market, with a pixel density of 468ppi. The M7 is also expected to feature a 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 13MP camera with f2.0 lens, 2MP front-facing camera, 2GB RAM, 32GB internal storage and the brand-new HTC Sense 5 user interface.

Samsung may also be keeping quiet at MWC, having planned its own Samsung Unwrapped event in March. Whether it’s at MWC or this event, we’re expecting to see a Galaxy S IV before April. This new flagship Android device is predicted to come with a 5-inch Super AMOLED display and a whopping 1.8GHz eight-core Exynos Octa 5 processor. Other new devices predicted from the South Korean manufacturer are a Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy Tab 3 tablets (perhaps even a seven-inch competitor) and a smartphone running on the open-source Tizen platform.

Stingy Surface storage

While we’re still waiting for the arrival of the Windows RT version of Microsoft’s Surface tablet, other markets have the arrival of the Surface Pro with Windows 8 Pro to look forward to on 9 February. Unfortunately, it has been revealed that more than half of the device’s 64GB of internal storage is already in use out of the box.

Surface with Windows 8 Pro

The Verge revealed that just 23GB of storage will be available to users, owing to the amount of memory taken up by the pre-installed OS, apps and a recovery partition. Those opting for the 128GB model will have a roomier 83GB to work with, and there’s always an option to delete the recovery partition and create a back-up bootable USB. Plus there’s USB 3.0 and micro-SD support – and, you know, that SkyDrive thing that Microsoft really want you to start using.

Main gadgets image via Shutterstock

Vodafone Ireland Gadgets of the month is sponsored 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.