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timcook.jpg roy-hodgson.jpgIn the oddest of coincidences tomorrow night is a very big one for two high profile, and mildly controversial individuals, for while Roy Hodgson will be delivering his team talk to an England squad in a make or break World Cup game against the Ukrainians, Tim Cook will be overseeing the launch of two very important new Apple products.

The parallels between the position of the two men are pretty scary - here's why.

1 Both were appointed to be a safe pair of hands - Cook, while not a total surprise, wasn't exactly seen as a bold or innovative appointment, but rather a safe-ish pair of hands. The same is true for Roy Hodgson. Remember the whole country seemed to want the England job to go to Harry Redknapp. I think it is fair to say that neither man has enjoyed the full support of the media either.

I also think that expectations of what both men will achieve is pretty low. No one expects Cook to be another Steve Jobs, while you can get very good odds on Hodgson's England winning the World Cup.

2 Both have been accused of lacking vision
- Some pundits think that the lack of innovation has slowed for Apple since Cook took the reins, while Hodgson's England have been accused of being a tad workmanlike.

3 Tomorrow night is a make or break moment - If the smartphones fail to impress the critics and Apple's share prices plummet, the knives could be out for Cook. Meanwhile if England lose in the Ukraine World Cup qualification will look unlikely and Hodgson's tenure as England manager could be entering the home straight.

4 But both could pull it out of the fire - If things go OK for Cook tomorrow and the press aren't too dismissive of the new handsets he might be able to pull it out of the fire by launching a revolutionary iPhone 6 and iWatch next year. Similarly a draw or even a win for Woy and he will get his shot at greatness as England take on the best of the World in Brazil next summer.

Personally I think both men will get through tomorrow ok-ish (some OK stuff from Apple with the odd negative murmur and a draw for England) - the real pressure will be then on them delivering next year.

Any more parallels you can think of? And no there's no way you can compare Fabio Capello with Steve Jobs!

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Tomorrow is of course the big day when England take on the Ukraine for a place in the World Cup next year. Oh,and a small US company called Apple also happens to be hosting an event in Berlin too.

As we all know the event will see Apple unveil a pair of new phones- the iPhone 5S and the budget iPhone 5C.

So what can we expect from the 5S. Well here's yet another leak which I think might just be not too far from the actual specs.

The big changes are that the button's squared marking has been replaced by a circular one. So does this mean the inclusion of the long-rumoured fingerprint scanner? It would seem so.

And what about the camera - surely Apple will respond to recent innovations from Samsung and Sony by bumping up its camera specs and maybe offering a snapper with with a dual LED flash and f/2.0 aperture that's also capable of recording 120fps 1080p video.

Maybe too we will get improved battery life and a faster processor. But the big questions is will Apple follow its rivals and deliver a bigger screen or stick with a four inch display.

IFA 2013 - Sony Xperia Z1 hands on video

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We have written lots about Sony's new high-end mobile the Xperia Z1 in the last few months. If you want a good summary of all it can do - check here.

Anyway now it is finally here and you can see a video of it in action.

Just to recap - it sports a 20.7MP camera sensor, a 5-inch 1080p display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor all wrapped up in a very cool waterproof shell.

doro-liberto.jpgDoro, the Swedish company that makes simple to use mobile phones is back with a new model. The Doro Liberto 810 keeps the company's trademark ultra accessible interface - the - but wraps it around an Android 4.1 based smartphone. I guess the theory is that you can work out how to do the basics from day one and then maybe explore more of your handset as time goes by.

It is also light and comes with a soft touch casing. The company believes that the simple to follow icons and trio of prominent physical keys on the handset shouldn't fox anyone.

The phone also incorporates the predictive text on steroids system Swiftkey and comes with a specially curated selection of apps from the Google Play store.

Chris Millington, Managing Director of Doro UK and Ireland says: "The name Liberto was specifically chosen for our new smartphone as it sums up the essence of the device perfectly. In ancient Rome, servants and slaves of the empire could earn their full citizenship to become fully contributing members of society. Such people were known collectively as 'the Liberto'. This new mobile helps people, who might be hesitant about using a smartphone, to fully embrace modern society. We are liberating those who perceive smartphones to be overly complicated and crowded with difficult-to-use apps. Our new mobile will bring them into a world of technology in a positive and engaged way.

It will be available in the UK next month.

IFA 2013's Hot Five #3 Sony Xperia Z1

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Like Samsung Sony have traditionally used IFA to unveil its premium products and this year it could be all about a new high-end phone. It has pretty much confirmed that it will use IFA to launch the the Xperia Z1 which has been referred to in the past as the Sony Honami.

It is a top-end mobile whose headline feature is a groundbreaking twenty mega pixel camera which will be powered by its own dedicated shooting button.

The phone is also likely to tick all the high-end spec boxes in that it will feature a 5-inch 1080p display, boast a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, backed by 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, plus 4G LTE, NFC and a 3,000mAh battery are also on board

It will be waterproof too like the other Xperia mobiles.

Sony is also likely to debut a new type of laptop tablet hybrid which sounds like a reinvention of the VAIO Duo 11.

Click here for #2 Samsung's Galaxy Note 3

Samsung_Galaxy_Note_3.jpgTwo years ago Samsung surprised the mobile world by unveiling the Samsung Galaxy Note - a mobile with a stonkingly large five inch plus screen. Cynics scoffed and said that no one would ever choose a phone that large, but Samsung's experiment paid off handsomely and after selling shedloads of Notes mk 1 and 2, version 3 is set to drop this week at IFA.

So what can we expect? The phone will sport a Super AMOLED screen that is either 5.7 or 5.9 inches (depending on which rumour you believe), which makes it a tad smaller than rivals like the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, with Full HD 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution. The clever money is also 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, the Android Jellybean 4.3 OS and a thirteen megapixel camera.

There are whispers too that the phone will come in three colours - black and white with bizarrely enough a pink model added by the end of the year. There has been the odd suggestion that the phone will follow the HTC One/iPhone 5 route and be made from aluminium, but that would be a huge surprise and chances are it will be plastic like its predecessors.

Samsung pioneered the Phablet market and now it is facing some serious competition from Sony, LG and possibly soon Nokia. It needs to deliver a handset that will keep the hardcore fans who bought the original Galaxy Note back for more.

Click here for #1 Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch

sony3651.jpgIn less than a week's time Sony will take the wraps of its Xperia Z1 smartphone at the IFA exhibition in Berlin. If you can't wait until then take a gander at these images.

They come from a Chinese website 365dian and give us a very clear idea of what the phone will look like- assuming it is the device that we think it is - this looks very much like a prototype.

In case you missed the earlier rumours the phone will be Sony's flagship and include a 20 mega pixel camera as well as a 5-inch 1080p display, a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, plus 4G LTE, NFC and a 3,000mAh battery.

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ARCHOS-childpad.pngARCHOS, which these days bills itself as a pioneer in Android devices, has just announced its product road map for the rest of the year. It has lined up a series of gadgets all of which will make their public debut at IFA next week.

They include Android-based smartphones, the Platinum range of high-end tablets, bespoke tablets for children and gamers and the odd 3G tablet.

Kicking off with the mobiles then all the brand's new handsets will feature pure un-skinned Android OS and Google Certification. Top of the range is the ARCHOS 50 Oxygen which features a full HD IPS screen, Quad-Core CPU at 1.5 GHz, 16GB storage, Android 4.2 and 13MP back camera and a 5 MP front camera.

Slightly cheaper is the Titanium range, which kicks off at £99 for a 4 inch device, and will feature Dual-Core CPUs, Bluetooth, GPS, Dual SIM card slots, Android 4.2, 5MP back cameras and 0.3 MP front cameras.

As for the tablets ARCHOS is introducing the Platinum range, which boast a smattering high-end features including Quad-Core processors, sleek Aluminum designs, wireless display technology and IPS screens up to 2048 x 1536 running Android 4.2.

There is also the Gen11 tablet, the ARCHOS 101xs2, which is powered by a quad-core processor with HD IPS screen and also features front-facing dual stereo speakers and ARCHOS' magnetic keyboard functionality.

As for the dedicated tablets the new ARCHOS ChildPad range features a user interface designed for kids, including Google Playstore access which is especially filtered for children and incorporates full parental controls. The device will run Android 4.2.

Also coming is a tablet aimed at gamers - the ARCHOS GamePad 2. ARCHOS isn't saying a great deal about this for now other than it claims it will be the ideal mix between a gaming console and an Android tablet.

The company also has a range of connected tablets that are 3G compatible.

The ARCHOS Xenon Range of 3 tablets will all feature HD screens, up to Quad-Core CPUs, and will run Android 4.2 offering 3G connected devices cheaper than Apple or Samsung Wi-Fi tablets.

samsung-s5-metal.jpgWell it has been a while since the Samsung Galaxy S4 launched so it is about time we started hearing rumours about what the Korean maker might have up its sleeves for its successor.

And straight in comes ETNews which claims that Samsung may be looking to use a metal chassis on its next flagship smartphone.

I am guessing here but I would imagine the one thing that has Galaxy S4 owners looking jealously over their shoulders at iPhone 5 and HTC One users is their lovely metallic finish. So a metal chassis on the S5 really is an obvious move.

ETNews also claims that Samsung is looking to start a production line later this year and is experimenting to minmise the effects of a metal housing on things such as antenna reception and expandable storage.

It is however unlikely that we will see the S5 until at least the middle of next year, but a metallic phone, with a 20 mega pixel camera and shed loads of innovative new features would be just the ticket.

Huawei ascend P2.jpgThree today announced its 4G plans and chucked in a massive curveball. While the other networks have carefully curated plans for squeezing the most of out of their customers for the data they will use,Three basically said it will simply upgrade its customers existing plans.

And that means that millions of its subscribers can access 4G from December onwards and access unlimited data.

So if you are mulling over a 4G contract here are two very good reasons to consider Three - price and the Apple iPhone 5.

1 The Huawei Ascend P2

On 3G this looks like a pretty decent phone with its 4.7inch, 1280 x 720 display, 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB internal memory, 13MP rear camera and front facing 1.3MP snapper. Given that it starts at £20 a month on Three with unlimited data in December it will become the heart of the cheapest 4G phone package in the UK. That deal looks phenomenal.

2 The iPhone 5

Want an Apple iPhone 5 on 4G? Well at the moment it is is either Three or EE. Three has the Apple iPhone 5 from £31 a month on a 4G all you can eat data package - you have to pay an upfront fee of £29. With EE prices start at £26 per month for the 4G iPhone but that will only grab you 500Mb of data and you have to cough up £250 upfront. For a large amount of data - 10 gigabytes - you need to pay an upfront fee of £9.99 but £46 per month on top of that. Three clearly has a much better package for now.

It should be stressed though that there are many other things to consider when buying a 4G phone/contract including availability of 4G, speed, extras and more.

Check out our comparison of the UK's 4G services here.

Ok, so now we have heard from all four big UK networks about their 4G plans. EE, Vodafone and O2 are live now and Three will follow in December. So which of the quartet has got the best deal. Here is a quick round up.

Best 4G prices

Three of the four networks have pitched their 4G offerings at around the same price, they all start at £26 a month and then go up to £51 a month from EE if you want an awful lot of data.

If you do start at the bottom and pay £26 per month for a SIM-only package at present EE limits users to 1GB of data a month. O2 is the same. Vodafone has a 2GB cap. Vodafone is also a little more generous in its data offering in other packages than O2.

EE has some high-end packages if you pay £44 a month you get 10GB of data is on offer, or if you fancy 20GB that will set you back £51pm - both deals include a handset. O2's top-end SIM-only deal is £36 a month for which you get a hefty 5GB of data - EE has a SIM-only deal at a similar price.

With O2 you can also supercharge the data package with each additional 500MB costing £6 per month, or £10 a month for each additional 1GB.

As for Three, it is a simple upgrade process for existing customers who are on their 3G service. In theory you can get 4G via Three on the Huawei Ascend P2 is which is 4G compatible and that sells for £20 per month. In a major plus on Three you also get unlimited data. If you just want a SIM only then Three's base SIM-only tariff starts at £6.90 per month and gives you 500MB of data.

Overall then the price structure is fairly competitive. Three is the most generous in its data offering with its unlimited data which makes it very attractive.

Best 4G coverage

There's not a huge difference here between O2 and Vodafone as they share the same network. And both go live on 29th August in London with Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield will all live by the end of the year. The plan is for 98 percent coverage across the UK by the end of 2015.

Meanwhile EE already has 4G coverage for over 60% of the UK including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Three has announced that its 4G services will kick off in December with a roll out in London, Birmingham and Manchester. It promises to have 4G live in 50 cities by the end of 2014 and as much as 98 percent of the population could have 4G via Three by the end of 2015.

Best 4G speed

Vodafone and O2 are offering speeds of around 25Mbps. 4G in this speed is also available from EE in 50% of the UK.

About a quarter of the UK (12 cities including London, Birmingham and Cardiff) can also access EE's new double speed 4G which offers speeds of up to 80mbps at full capacity. We don't know yet what Three's 4G speed will be when it launches in December.

Best freebies

Voda has a great selection with a choice of free Spotify Premium or free Sky Sports Mobile TV (which features all the sports channels and includes live Premiership football.) EE has free cinema tickets via its Orange Wednesday promotion plus either a Deezer music subscription, a games offering or a TV selection that includes ITV and Channel Four. More details here. O2 has 4G Music Tracks which offers playlist, video and Top 40 streaming free for 12 months. Or for sports fans exclusive NBA and rugby content. Gamers can access Gameloft mobile titles including Asphalt 8: Airborne, Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour and Zombiewood multiplayer over 4G without eating into their data allowances.

At the present time Three hasn't announced its add-ons.

Best phones

EE has a strong selection with the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, Sony Xperia Z and the iPhone 5, Blackberry Q5, Samsung Galaxy S3, Nokia Lumia 820 and Nokia Lumia 625 all included.

As for Vodafone it offers the Samsung Galaxy S4 (and S4 mini) HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, Blackberry Q10, BlackBerry Z10, Samsung Galaxy S3, Nokia Lumia 820, Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 925 and Nokia Lumia 625.

O2 has gone with the Samsung Galaxy S4 (and S4 mini) HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, Sony Xperia SP, Blackberry Q10, BlackBerry Z10, Samsung Galaxy S3, Nokia Lumia 820, Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 925 and Nokia Lumia 625.

Three has among others the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Apple iPhone 5.

The only significant difference is that if you want a 4G iPhone 5 then you have to go with EE or Three.

Overall

If you want a basic 4G package - then Three with is flexibility and unlimited data is the place to start. of the other three Voda shades it for now with its more generous data allowance and excellent Sky and Spotify freebies.

If you want a top-end package - Then it has to be EE which has faster speeds and a top-end package with a ridiculous amount of data.

If you want a 4G iPhone 5
- Then it has to be EE or Three. Neither O2 or Voda are offering a 4G version of the Apple phone.

Details here

O2
Vodafone
EE

So in the week that Vodafone and O2 go live with their 4G services the last big UK network has finally nailed its colours to the 4G mast. Three has announced that its 4G services will kick off in December with a roll out in London, Birmingham and Manchester. It promises to have 4G live in 50 cities by the end of 2014 and as much as 98 percent of the population could have 4G via Three by the end of 2015.

The interesting part is that Three is offering a very simple upgrade process. If you have a Three contract and a 4G device you get the upgrade and continue to pay what you were paying before on your 3G tariff.

Also that most Three plans have all you can eat data as part of the package. Three's rivals have limits on the amount of data a person can download. Once they go beyond these limits they pay fairly handsomely for more data.

Three claims that it will have over 1.5 million customers on a 4G networks by the end of January 2014.

New customers start on £32 per month on a contract with a HTC One which includes 500 minutes of talk time and 5,000 texts.

If you want a really competitive deal though Huawei Ascend P2 is 4G compatible and that sells for £20 per month.

Also if you own an Apple iPhone 5 then you can take advantage of Three's 4G network. Prices for that phone start at £31 per month.

The UK 4G packages from EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three are compared here.

Nokia Bandit Lumia 1520 phablet pics leaked

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Nokia-lumia-1520.jpgThere have been lots of rumours about a new big screen Nokia phone and now this picture has landed which purportedly shows the Finnish Windows Phablet.

The gossips have been suggesting that the phone will compete with the Samsung Galaxy Note and tout a six inch screen with 1080p high def resolution, come with a 20 mega pixel camera and a Quad-Core processor.

It has also been given the great moniker of Bandit, though is more likely to be known as the 1520.

Nokia is also expected to drop a 10inch Windows powered tablet soon to compete with the Apple iPad.

Fancy a sneaky peek at the next Sony flagship smartphone? Well the company has just posted this video showing the phone which is rumoured to be called the Xperia Z1 and has been referred to in the past as the Sony Honami.

The video majors on its camera which would seem to confirm that the mobile will boast a very high-end snapper - the rumour is it will be 20 mega pixels. In typical Xperia style it is waterproof too hence the slo mo drenching.

The rumours are that the Xperia Z1 will feature a 5-inch 1080p display, boast a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, backed by 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, plus 4G LTE, NFC and a 3,000mAh battery are also on board

The video says that the mobile will be unveiled on September 4th- the same day as Samsung's big smartwatch and Galaxy Note 3 announcements.

Sony also has a habit of pulling something a bit left field out of the bag, so maybe there will also be a surprise or two.

Excited about that heavily rumoured gold/champagne iPhone 5? Well if you are one issue that you are probably mulling over is 'whether your new shiny case will scratch. After all the black iPhone 5 is notorious for showing marks.

Best check out this video then where Jailbreak Nation has got hold of a gold prototype case and smeared it with cat food and left at the mercy of a groups of kittens tried to mark it with a knife.

If that is the real case it doesn't seem to have come out too badly does it. Shame they couldn't afford the kittens though.

galaxy_gear.jpgBig, big news, Samsung has confirmed that it will launch its smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, on Sept. 4th at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin. It will also unveil the latest incarnation of its top-end Phablet the Galaxy Note 3.

The date for the launch plus the details were given by Lee Young-hee, VP of Samsung's mobile business, to The Korea Times.

Yet how innovative will the watch be? For starters it will have no flexible display. Here's what Lee said.

"We will be introducing a new wearable concept device called Galaxy Gear at our own event in Berlin on Sept. 4. We are confident that the Gear will add meaningful momentum to the mobile industry."

Lee also added that the company has more wearable gadgets in the pipeline.

"We have intellectual properties for patents related to the next wearable devices. Those are concepts for future products," she added.

So, it could be that the watch is little different from the type of watches we have seen so far from Sony and smaller companies like Pebble.

We will find out soon enough.

Images of what it might look like from T3 here.


There are shed loads of rumours now about the potential launch of a budget iPhone - which has become known among bloggers as the iPhone 5C.

Now however an analyst has stuck his neck out and not only given the 5C a price but also a launch date.

KGI analyst Ming-chi Kuo says that the iPhone will cost between £230 and £320 for the SIM free model. It is at the upper end of that scale then it doesn't really qualify for a mid range handset. It would still be a pretty much a premium phone.

Kuo said that the "iPhone 5C to replace iPhone 5, while iPhone 4S goes on. We've learned that the iPhone 5 line will be terminated from 4Q13, while the iPhone 4S line will carry on. From this, we infer that iPhone 5C is launched to replace iPhone 5. In other words, the 5C model will be positioned as midrange. We forecast its retail price to be US$400-$500 (£230-£320).

Kuo also thinks that the new mobile will debut in China first with the rest of the world following later in the year. He suggest that China will get the handset in October and that the rest of the world including the UK will see it later in Q4 - which in theory means late October/early November.

Meanwhile 9to5 Mac which broke the Kuo story is also saying that some sources think that the new Apple iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C will be ion the stores in late September.

It says

Both of Apple's next-generation iPhones will rollout in Japan on Friday, September 20th, according to a report from Nikkei. With the "iPhone 5S" and plastic iPhone scheduled to be introduced at a September 10th media event, a September 20th launch is not a bit surprising based on past history.

More here.


September 10th - get that in your diary now, for it seems pretty certain that it will be the day that Apple unveils its next iPhone.

It has been rumoured as the big day and now US blog All Things D is saying that a very reliable source has confirmed it.

The day will be a huge one in Apple's history with the iPhone under attack not just from Samsung, but also increasingly from Sony too, the company will need to pull something pretty special out of the bag.

The rumours are that it will debut the iPhone 5S which may or may not feature a fingerprint sensor and an enhanced camera. There are even rumours that Apple will increase the size of the screen to keep up with the current Phablet trends.

Also heavily rumoured is a budget version of the iPhone which may or may not be called the iPhone 5C, it is expected to offer fewer features than the iPhone 5 and come with a plastic casing and a cheaper price tag.

Longer shots include the unveiling of an Apple smartwatch, some news about a TV, and maybe even the Apple iPhone 6.

We'll just have to wait and see.

valev.jpgLG's Bulgarian head of mobile communications, Dimitar Valev has been talking about what the company has lined up for the future, and unless the Korean maker is going to solely focus on the Bulgarian market there are some exciting products in store.

In an interview with Bulgarian website Dnevnik.bg Valev confirmed that a tablet and smartwatch are on their way but also that LG will have a Firefox OS phone on its books by the end of 2014. He did clarify this by adding that it was dependent on how the Firefox OS which debuted recently on the ZTE Open fared, but so far the response for that mobile has been phenomenal.

As for the tablet, there have been lots of rumours of a 10 inch tablet from LG recently, and the smartwatch has long been assumed to be an LG project as they seek to take on Apple and Samsung in that market. Valev did let on that the watch will use flexible LCD technology.

There was a time when we couldn't get enough of flip phones, or clamshells as they sometimes got called this side of the Pond. In fact in the US in the mid noughties no serious business exec would be seen without a flip dangling from their belt in a novelty style holster.

Well now it appears that the Flip is back with Samsung today confirming the Hennessy flip phone. It is apparently a China-only handset for now, but then again if there was a huge demand.

Anyhow to celebrate the return of the flip are five clamshells that changed the world.

I owned at least three of them - how many did you have?

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