Presently, there are rumors spreading out among various tech sites around Europe that there will be a new release of the lattest generation of smart phones based on Google’s ever more popular mobile operating system, so-called Android happening in Europe in time of the fourth quarter rush (September/October onwards). The speculation is substantially originated from a leak posted on a techsite, Omio, which annouces to have a launch schedule for new phones by one of the huge networks in Britain for the final year quarter of 2010.
Among the big name manufacturers are Samsung, Nokia, Sony, HTC, etc. However the greatest interest has been in the (as yet still alleged) HTC releases. Around the names ‘HTC Gold’ and ‘HTC Ace’ feverish speculation has mounted with various claims from those in the know that the Gold is a Windows Mobile 7 based phone while the Ace is an Android device (possibly based upon HTC’s iPhone challenger in the United States, the HTC Evo 4G).
Since no official comment has been offered by either the Korean-based manufacturer or the British phone network it is impossible to state with any certainty whether the leak is factual or not (despite the claims found on some sites). However, if true, and if the Ace is based upon the Evo, then it would certainly meet the demands of European consumers that have grown in the last year and more as they have seen the quality and performance of mobile phones in the United States slowly creep ahead of their European counterparts (in no small measure due to the launch in the US of Google’s own HTC-made Nexus, and a stark contrast with the situation that existed just a few years ago when US phones invariably lagged behind those available in Europe and elsewhere). The HTC Evo is by all accounts a powerhouse phone coming with a 4.3 inch AMOLED touchscreen display, 8mp camera (and front camera), 1Ghz Snapdragon CPU (the Ace has been predicted to sport one of the new 1.5Ghz chips due out at the end of the year from Qualcomm), Android 2.1 (the Ace is alleged to run on the as yet unreleased new version of Google’s operating system, Android 3.0 – most Android-based phones are now running some variant of 2.0), and all the usual gizmos: WiFi, GPS, etc.
If the specs of the speculative Ace match (or exceed) those of the Evo then expect the HTC Android phone to be the must-have device this Christmas, and with Apple going through its crash-and-burn reception problems, exacerbated by Steve Jobs alleged email reaction, perhaps as much of an iPhone rival as its American cousin.
As for the other phones featuring in the leak the Samsung i8700 Cetus seems to be generating the most interest, much of which is even more speculative than that surrounding the HTC Ace. So far predictions are centring on a mobile phone with features similar to the popular Galaxy S models.
Another possible Android candidate to hit European shores, though it is not featured on the list leaked to Omio, is Motorola’s portentously named Android X, which was recently unveiled in the United States, and which may possibly turn up over here in some version before the end of the year (in the US it has been released in four network-specific versions, all variations of the same base model). Another power-house-in-a-brick, its specs broadly match those of the HTC Evo and so far US reviews have been very favourable, though quibbles about camera quality have concerned some.
At the moment most Irish and European consumers find themselves with a raft of older model Android and Windows based phones from various manufacturers with less than impressive specs compared to the new crop available elsewhere but with the tantalising promise of a wave of new Android based sets launching here in the coming months complaints about a lack of real choice may well disappear.
Finally what of Nokia I hear you ask you ask? Several phones based on the Finnish company’s once hugely popular Symbian operating system also feature on the leaked list, with most interest zeroed in on the upcoming Nokia N8. Though still popular around the world much of Nokia’s can-do-no-wrong sheen as been knocked off its once prominent halo. A series of mediocre phones (reaching its zenith – or nadir – with the Nokia N97) has left consumers with a bad taste in the mouth. While there is no denying Nokia’s abilities as a maker of mobile phones, its status as an iconic innovator has fallen way in recent times and reaction to the slow leak of information about the upcoming new flagship model, the N8, have been distinctly cool. While most mobile manufacturers have embraced Android or Windows Mobile as their preferred operating system Nokia continues with the increasingly tired looking Symbian which,despite a promised midlife facelift, looks distinctly old hat against the younger kids on the block.
All in all it may be time to start saving your money now for none of these devices are going to come cheap but with mobile phones increasingly becoming multi-task machines, beyond mere talking and texting, these Android based smartphones will probably be the must-have buys for the savvy consumer in the latter half of 2010.
Seamas O Sionnaigh
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