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note-2-top.jpegYou know how Samsung has offered lots of different versions of its Galaxy S4 mobile. Well might it be about to do the same thing with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3?

This much we know that the Note 3 is expected to land later this year and be touting a six inch - or thereabouts screen. However this bit of detective work from the AndroidBeat site suggests that the Note might come in as many as five different variations.

They might be simple tweaks - like for example a dual SIM version, but then again they might be more complex than that. It is even possible that the flagship phone might even have different types of screens with Samsung mulling over using AMOLED displays as well as IZGO ones made by Sharp. One version might be aluminum while another plastic. It could even deliver a an ultra high end super expensive model - I am sure that the demand would be there for it.

It does need to get the Note 3 right. After cracking open the Phablet aka big screen phone market open it is now under serious attack from Sony with its very impressive 6.4inch full HD screen Xperia Z Ultra.

There also remains the possibility that the Apple iPhone 6 will play in the Phablet space with a five inch plus screen. Samsung needs a new flagship product to take some of the sting out of the launch of the iPhone 5S and possibly iPhone 6 launch too.

A really good launch from Apple could see some of the momentum taken out of the Korean company's bandwagon. However offering two flagship phones, as opposed to Apple's one, could be a winning strategy.

Interesting times ahead.

RoswellDailyRecordJuly8,1947.jpgYesterday Google celebrated the 66th anniversary of the Roswell incident, when an alien craft apparently crashed in the New Mexico desert, with one of its cute squiggles. Which got me thinking once again about alien life forms.

Give the number of stars in the sky there has to be a very strong probability that there is some sort of life on other planets. But to be honest, in spite of all those sightings, abductions and conspiracy theories I don't think they have connected with us just yet.

It strikes me that if aliens were to make their presence known they might choose a busy Friday afternoon in Birmingham to fly their spaceship over. Or maybe a trip round Manhattan or quick sojourn in Tokyo,

But nope aliens choose Siberian deserts, New Mexico plains and more where their arrival is only ever witnessed by a tiny handful of, how shall we put this, enthusiasts.

It strikes me too that we are getting to the same stage with leaks of the next generation of iPhones (and other high profile mobiles too).

We always seem to be getting grainy images and iffy looking videos that have been delivered to obscure far eastern tech sites or Russian retailers.

Call me naive, but surely if someone were to grab an iPhone from a production line somewhere in China, they must be able to get better images and videos of it. And when they got the product they might be smart enough to think that there are other media in the world, that might make their story more believable. Ok so I know that after the Gizmodo case there are issues with this, but last time I looked that site was still thriving and hadn't been bankrupted by Apple's lawyers.

Then again I think that the 'leaks' do tell us something interesting about the people who are fascinated by them (and I'll admit to lapping up every single one). It comes down to the whole reason for the social web in the first place - the ability to find out things and share them before anyone else. Sure that knocked off iPod like mobile from a Chinese factory probably isn't the new budget iPhone, but can we afford to run the risk that it isn't. We might as well share it anyway.

In a funny way too our obsession with the leaks has taken a lot of the fun out of the real launches when they come. Sure there's that brief nano second when something new and utterly unexpected is unveiled, but we often don't even pause to take that in before imagining what is coming next.

Ironically the leaks do tell us much about the phones they purport to be even when they are obvious fakes. Guessing the spec of mobile phones isn't that hard these days - so in a funny way the leaks just confirm what we are already guessing anyway.

So I will continue to read every bit of gossip, but like you, each time I see a leak from an odd source I'll think of aliens in the desert.

samsung galaxy s4 vs apple.jpgIt seems as if the British public is starting lose a bit of faith in the iPhone. A new study by a mobile phone comparison website has discovered that 65% of Britons predict that the new iPhone (5S or 6) will generate poor sales when Apple releases it later on this year.

When asked whether they believed that the new Apple iPhone handset will prove to be a success in terms of sales, 65% of respondents answered 'no'. A quarter said this was because Apple doesn't build the quality products it used to, while almost a third said that the company was losing the smartphone battle to Samsung.

In fact 59% predicted that Samsung would become a more popular mobile phone brand in the UK due to the success of the Galaxy S4. Interestingly of the people polled (2007 adults) a third already owned iPhones as opposed to just 14% who have a Samsung mobile.

Adam Cable, Director of MobilePhoneChecker.co.uk which undertook the survey commented.

"The results of this study really took the team here by surprise. The fact that 65% of Britons are essentially expecting the iPhone 5S or 6 to flop is not something we were expecting, especially considering how high the general public's expectations were regarding the release of the iPhone 4 and 5 in previous years. "

Of course you can never take polls like this too seriously, but it does highlight that there is considerably lower expectations around forthcoming iPhones than there has before.

The ball is very much in Apple's court.

budget-iPhone.jpgThe internet has seen a bit of glut of pictures recently of the supposed budget iPhone. Some have the new handset as being a little like the iPod in design and featuring an array of plastic coloured shells.

Well here's another possible elak to add to that list courtesy of the site Techyd. It has this pic which shows a handset with a four inch screen. In many ways it looks fairly similar to the iPhone 5, but its displays just about it.

It is also made from plastic, which would be in keeping with its apparent budget status - sports a lightning port, speaker holes and a headphone port.

On the rear is what looks like a camera, LED flash and microphone.

So what do you think? Hard to say but I am not sure this is the real budget iPhone? The company has a pedigree in producing, for want of a better word, knock offs of new handset. Might it be a mocked up fake? Well we will know soon enough.

Taking your Apple iPhone 45 out and about with you this summer. Before you indulge it in a little sand and surf you might want to check these out.

Here is our selection of high-end cases for the Apple iPhone 5, from ultra stylish designer wallets through to quirky, but pricey customised cases.

iphone-5s-production.jpgSo is this the iPhone 5S on the production line? It has been published by the site gforgames, and it certainly looks real enough.

If the iPhone 5S is going to launch in late summer/autumn then it would need to go into mass production pretty soon, so maybe this is real.

Judging by this pic there doesn't appear to be a great deal of difference between the iPhone 5 and the 5. That means that the new mobile will have four inch screen - an issue I have already looked at this morning here.

So it seems that the major changes will be in areas like software, processing power and the camera. Well we will know soon enough.

It might seem incredible but up until today you haven't been able to buy MP3s from Amazon to play on your iPhone. That has all changed with the announcement by Amazon that as from today its MP3 are compatible with iPhone and iPod touch devices.
The retailer says that its 25 million song catalogue is now accessible via the iPhone's Safari browser.

Music purchases are automatically saved to customers' Cloud Player libraries and can be downloaded or played instantly from any iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Kindle Fire, Android phone or tablet, or any web browser.

"Since the launch of the Amazon Cloud Player app for iPhone and iPod touch, a top request from customers has been the ability to buy music from Amazon right from their devices. For the first time ever, iOS users have a way do that - now they can access Amazon's huge catalogue of music, features like personalised recommendations, deals like albums for £3.99 and songs for 89p and they can buy their music once and use it everywhere,"
said Steve Boom, Vice President of Amazon Music.

Is Nokia labeling all iPhone users as zombies? Well that appears to be the rationale behind the company's new ad for its Lumia 925 Windows powered mobile phone.

The ad features a street full of iPhone touting zombies taking images in low light with powerful flashes shooting off everywhere. The implication is that if you use the iPhone flash in this way then you'll get whited out subjects with red eyes like zombies.

Unlike with the Lumia 925 which the company says promises: "The best pictures in any light. Even without the flash."

The ad is part of an ongoing campaign by Nokia to underline its credentials as a market leader in camera phones. The 925 certainly has an impressive 8.7 mega pixel camera and Nokia will soon properly unveil the Lumia EOS PureView camera which may boast a 41 megapixel sensor.

Camera quality is one of the easiest ways that other makers can take on the iPhone - for more on that and their other tactics see here.

Apple is however likely to respond with an enhanced camera on the iPhone 5S which ironically enough may deal with some of the issues created by its powerful flash.

So what do you think. Has Nokia gone too far with the Apple-bashing this time?

heard iPhone app.jpgEver had a conversation and then five minutes later completely forgotten what was said? Well if that's a regular occurrence for you then you then you might like the sound of a new iPhone app called Heard. Billed as the app that will 'Turn your iPhone into a time machine!' it basically continually records the noise, conversations and whatever else that's in the range of your iPhone's mic.

But rather than save it all a very long and dull document it cuts it into snippets and automatically deletes the stuff you don't need enabling you to choose the bits you want to keep by pressing the app's button.

Once recorded the snippets are then easy to save or share on social media sites like Facebook.

Heard comes in two guises, a free version which only records up to 12 seconds or the full version which for $1.99 will let you adjust the archive buffer to 30 seconds, 1 minute, or 5 minutes.

It sounds intriguing, but I am not entirely sure how it would earn its keep. Maybe it would be good for journalists and bloggers for on the fly editing of interviews. Or it could have a role for forgetful people who need to access what was said minutes before.

The big question could be what kind of impact the constantly running app has on your iPhone's battery life. LG is rumoured to be working on a voice control system for its Optimum high-end phones which is also always on. Again there are concerns about its impact on battery life.

apple iphone5sdual lens.jpgWe ran a feature last week about the different ways that makers are taking on the Apple iPhone, and one of the key ways is to add cameras that are way superior to those on the Apple device.

There are rumours though that Apple is striking back. Phone Arena has what it is billing as a leaked photo which it says shows that the upcoming Apple iPhone 5S will have a dual LED flash. The idea being that one of the lights in the dual flash will include a blue tint. This will keep the white balance lined up and could significantly improve image capture quality.

Apple has been rumoured to be working on enhancements to the camera of the iPhone 5S so this would make sense. The clever money at the moment seems to be on the 5S also having an improved resolution camera - possibly 13 megapixels - a fingerprint scanner and possibly an NFC chip.

lg_optimus_2x_android_1.jpgInteresting stuff coming out of the Gotta Be Mobile blog which claims that in 2014 LG will release a smartphone that is always listening out for voice commands.

At the moment if you use Siri, the iPhone voice assistant, you need to hold down the home button to launch it. The key issue here is that it isn't exactly hands free.

If the LG phone (a high-end Optimus is the likely place for it) does materialise then it would be excellent for driving or other situations where you need voice control but your hands are busy doing something else.

Gotta Be Mobile even suggests that LG's phone will be able to navigate the Android UI by voice, and even zoom in and out of Google Maps on command.

If there is a sensor constantly listening out for your commands a few things come to mind. How does it differentiate between your voice and other people's for one? What is likely to be the effect on battery life too?

It does however sound like a real breakthrough that will shift voice control from a bit of a gimmick to a feature that really is fundamentally useful. I can't imagine that it won't be on a 2014 iPhone either.

Apple iPhone 5S to be available in gold?

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gold iphone5_page_1.jpgSo how do you make the next iPhone really stand out? Easy you add a touch of bling. There's a rumour which has been picked up by Mashable that the iPhone 5S is going to be available in a gold version.

Sounds bonkers, but apparently this isn't the first time a gold mobile has been mooted. The story comes from Japanese site Macotakara which suggests that a reliable source aren't they always has told them that the iPhone 5S will be gold.

There have been other mentions of a gold iPhone before but we'd assumed that they were the work of over imaginative teenagers who are dab hands on Photoshop.

Incidentally you can already get an iPhone 5 in gold here. It will cost you though.

Well we will see. Anyhow forget the gold. Apple really needs to focus on the iPhone 6 having a big screen and stunning camera or else it will be losing ground to mobiles like this.

Pic credit (and if you want a gold mobile now) here.

Apple ios-7-Activation-Lock-header-640x480_fullwidth.jpgAs you are probably very aware Apple unveiled its latest operating system for the iPhone - iOS 7 - on Monday. The jury seems out on the upgrade with some critics praising the simplicity and cleanness of the design and the interesting new features.

Others have been a bit more cynical. Among them is the team ITProPortal who have put together a list of the features on iOS 7 that it alleges that Apple have copied from other platforms.

So for example, it points out that Automatic Updates are not news to Android phone owners as they have been able to update their phones on the fly via Wi-For for awhile. Also FaceTime Audio is not a great deal removed from BlackBerry Messenger and the 'find and kill option' which has been available on both Windows and BlackBerry phones for a while now.

Then there's the similarities between Pandora and Apple's new iTunes Radio streaming service which we looked at here.

The list runs to 13 items.

For me it underlines what are in fact Apple's key strengths and weaknesses. In many ways it isn't always an innovator in the truest sense of the word. There were touch screen phone before the iPhone, MP3 players before the iPod and so on. What Apple does brilliantly is to take innovations that other people have made and take them mainstream by offering a smoother more engaging users experience integrated within beautiful product.

I wonder if this will also be the case for the iWatch. There have been smart watches on sale for almost two years now, but the clever money is on Apple being the first to get the interface and the features correct?

So what do you think? Does it matter if much if features on iOS are cribbed from other platforms?

o2_iphone_uk.jpgSome fairly interesting news coming out of the Apple camp tonight. Bloomberg is reporting that the US consumer electronics giant is about to unveil a trade in programme for its iPhones.

The deal is that if you own an older model you will be able to take it to an Apple Store and swap it for money off new products. The theory is that it might encourage those people who still have the iPhone 3GS for example to finally swap it for a shiny new iPhone 5 or even the 5S when it launches in the autumn.

The phones that Apple collects are then sold off to customers in emerging markets.
The concept of trading in an old phone isn't a new one, especially not in the UK where there are countless sites which will give you cash for your old handset.

However the lure of offering a trade-in price in the Apple store will surely tempt more puters into upgrading and hopefully Apple will launch it in the UK soon too.

Apparently Brightstar Corp., a mobile-phone distributor, is partnering with Apple to run the exchange programme.

sony_xperia_z_2.jpgI like quite a lot of what Sony is doing in the mobile and tablet space at the moment this looks like it is going to be a good move too.

Android Geeks is speculating that the Japanese maker is the latest to be swayed by the potential of stock Android and will release a version of its flagship phone, the Xperia Z, in that format very soon.

In case you missed the buzz about stock Android it means that the phone is available without all the software that the software and interfaces etc that the maker adds. The first stock Android phone to get the nod was the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition, announced at the Google I/O conference.

Since then other makers including HTC and LG have hinted that they too will offer stock Android handsets, so Sony is in many ways the only big name not have offer it.

Android Geeks suggest that Sony will partner with Google to make the project happen.

Sounds interesting. So what about you. Is stock Android really the way to go, or would you miss all those extra bits and bobs?

phone_hero.jpgAfter a few quiet days the old iPhone 5S rumour circuit has been buzzing today with a very interesting claim coming from the Wei Feng Network reported here.

It suggests that the next iPhone will keep the iPhone 5's four inch screen but will have twice its number of pixels, an upgrade from 730K to 1.5 million. It will also sport a much narrower bezel and feel much more like the iPad mini like design.

So, how do you feel about those rumours?

Personally I think it a massive error for Apple not to offer a larger screen handset. However it was always unlikely that the 5s would be larger though, so an upgrade in the number of pixels is very welcome.

Will it provide a major reason for phone buyers to upgrade. Possibly not. Bizarrely enough last night I caught an episode of the kids TV programme Victorious which ran with a story about a new iPhone-esque mobile (the new Pear) that everyone apparently wanted. When asked about what was different about the next incarnation they shared that it had a much better screen. Cue a lot of shrugging. There's loads more about the Pear phone here.

It has been a while since we saw a significant improvement on iPhone screen resolution and several of Apple rivals have phones which have better screens.

So it does feel like the iPhone 5S will be the maker playing catch up with its rivals. The real innovation is sure to come on the iPhone 6. Surely!?

Incidentally the iPhone 5S is, according to a deluge of web rumours, most likely to land in September.

iPhone-5-gallery-resize-01.pngSo how does Apple make the next iteration of the iPhone the consumer electronics object that everyone will lust after? Well if some interesting rumours are to be believed it we might be about to see a total overhaul of the look of the iOS software.

The normally very reliable Mark Gurman at 9 to 5 Mac says that the new software is going to be overhauled by lead designer Jony Ive and it is going to be slicker and simple to use.

According to Gurman Ive is apparently going to change some of the icons on the handsets. So whereas in the past they resembled real world objects - eg Games Center has a Vegas style gaming table, in the future they will be more stylish and less literal in their interpretation.

Ive is going to unify the built-in Apple apps, giving them black, white, silver colors, says Gurman.

Ultimately though Apple fans shouldn't worry too much about how the future handsets might work, The icons may look prettier but the phone is going to operate in the same way.

samsungglaxys4figs.jpgThere has been a fair bit of speculation in the last few days as to how many Samsung have sold of its flagship Galaxy S4 phone in the month since it launched.

Well today it offered up the figures and claimed to have cleared 10 million handsets since the end of April. Pretty impressive stuff eh, and all the more impressive when you consider that the Galaxy S III took 50 days after its launch to ship 10 million units, while the S II took five months and the original Galaxy S took almost seven months.

And then the phone isn't on sale globally yet with Samsung promising to deliver the handset to another fifty or so countries imminently. To celebrate the company is going to ship the S4 in other colours too including; "Blue Arctic", "Red Aurora", "Purple Mirage" and "Brown Autumn".

The big question then is how do sales of the S4 compare with the iPhones?

Interestingly Apple sold over five million iPhone 5 handsets in the opening weekend of sales. And as Apple Insider points out here that was in just nine countries and that figure was deemed by some analysts as disappointing.

The iPhone 5 went on to sell 33 million units in 2012 which was roughly the same number that Samsung sold of the S3 in the same period.

The iPhone 4S also got off to a flying start in with four million units sold in the first three days of release.

We don't have the exact figures for the first month of iPhone sales but hazarding a guess they are likely to be in excess of ten million.

Ultimately the S4 sales figures tell us two key things. Firstly that Samsung has produced a hit phone that even if hasn't usurped its Apple rivals in popularity is breathing down their necks. Secondly that Apple will need to post some pretty impressive stats for the iPhone 5S and 6 to keep its critics and the financial institutions happy.

So Apple today has made the original iPhone obsolete, which could be bad news for Greg? So who is Greg? Well he was the first person to buy an iPhone in New York as he was first in the queue in the Apple Store back in the summer of 2007.

It is fascinating to compare the two original iPhone launches - the one in New York and the one that followed in November in London.

Greg in New York was Mr Media Savvy, a professional queuer who seemingly would stand in line for the opening of an envelope. Susi Weaser, editor of Shiny Shiny at the time, collared him and asked him the question that everyone really wanted to know the answer to, what did he do when he needed to go to the toilet?

Fast forward a few months to London and there was just a handful of people in the queue in what was a fairly low key affair. The most interesting is that the first guy looks absolutely knackered.

Future UK iPhone launches would go on to be more like the US one. Maybe it is another example of how we have acquired some of our behaviour traits from our transatlantic cousins via the web.

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