From Apple’s highly-awaited iPhone 6 to Google’s low-end Android One phones and everything in between, the month of September has been quite interesting in the mobile space. Here’s a quick recap of all the hot launches of September 2014.
Apple iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus
This month, we finally saw Apple showcased its new iPhone models. With the new iPhones, Apple has addressed the most common demand by its consumers – a larger screen. The iPhone 6 comes with a 4.7-inch display and the iPhone 6 Plus enters the phablet zone with a gigantic 5.5-inch display, which is a significant upgrade over the 4-inch display seen in the predecessor. Both iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have already received rave reviews from tech critics. However, the larger model was marred by the #bendgate rumour which pointed at a probable design flaw in the larger of the two iPhones. Available in gold, silver and space grey, the devices are powered by A8 64-Bit process and the new M8 co-processor. Both models come equipped with outstanding 8MP iSight cameras. But owing to the larger display and extra space in the iPhone 6 Plus model, Apple has managed to fit in an optical image stabiliser in the device. With 16GB, 64GB and 128GB storage options, Apple has added improvements in various aspects like LTE, connectivity options and battery life. The devices were expected reach Indian shores next month, just before Diwali, but recent reports claim a delay and a probable November launch.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Samsung kickstarted the month by launching its trump card for the year – Galaxy Note 4. It’s the first Note phone to feature a QHD display and at 5.7 inches, the display is suitably large. The pixel density goes from a stunning 386ppi to an astounding 515ppi. It comes with a revamped S Pen stylus that offers better grip and more functions. It can be used to resize compatible apps to use two apps simultaneously. It can be used to resize compatible apps to use two apps simultaneously. The accompanying software has been spruced up for a cleaner, dare-we-say Android L-like look. Snap Note turns photos of printed documents and text into editable text, like an OCR editor. In terms of processing speed, expect two powerful variants; one with Snapdragon 805 chipset, which brings LTE Cat 6 support and another with Samsung’s Exynos 5433 chipset and LTE Cat 4 connectivity. The Note 4 will run Android 4.4 KitKat at launch and with the proprietary interface on top. Connectivity options on the Note 4 are top-of-the-line too with Wi-Fi ac, GPS with Glonass, NFC, Bluetooth v 4.1 (BLE,ANT+), IR LED, USB 2.0, and MHL 3.0. News has it that Samsung may launch the device in India in the next two weeks, just in time for Diwali.
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
While the iPhone 6 is likely to not enter the Indian market until November. Samsung has already introduced the Galaxy Alpha, initially touted as the iPhone-killer. It closely resembles the iPhone 6 in both looks and specifications, but is priced at Rs 39,990. The Samsung Galaxy Alpha runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat out-of-the-box with the requisite customisations that come with a Samsung phone. It features a 4.7-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) Super AMOLED display, which is very similar to the one used in the Galaxy S3. In terms of Internet connectivity, there’s support for all important options including 4G/LTE, Wi-Fi and GPRS/ EDGE. On the inside, there’s an octa-core chipset, Samsung’s own Exynos SoC, though the exact model number is unknown. It’s a quad-core clocked at 1.8GHz and a quad-core 1.3GHz, working in the HMP mode, so all eight cores can run simultaneously, if required. The phone packs in 2GB RAM and 32GB of internal memory, though there’s no micro SD card slot. All this is powered by a rather measly 1,860 mAh battery, which is much lower than what rival phones are offering. The phone also includes a fingerprint scanner and has a removable back cover. The video camera can capture UHD 4K videos (3840 x 2160 resolution) at 30fps. The cameras include a 12MP one on the rear and a 2.1MP one on the front.
HTC Desire series
This month, HTC took the wraps off two new smartphones – Desire 816G Dual SIM and the Desire 820. The Desire 820 is further available in two variants. The 816G Dual SIM priced at Rs 18,990 is expected to ship next month while the Desire 820 models will most likely start shipping in November.
Desire 820, 820q
The Desire 820 is successor to the company’s Desire 816. Available in two variants – the Desire 820 is powered by Qualcomm’s 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor and the Desire 820q comes fuelled by a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad-core processor. The Desire 820 features 2GB RAM while the 820q gets 1GB RAM. Sporting a 5.5-inch display with 1280×720 pixel of resolution, the Desire 820 models feature a 13-megapixel rear camera, 8 megapixel front camera, and BoomSound speakers. Both devices also support LTE connectivity. The list of specs also includes dual-SIM support, 16GB of internal storage, microSD card slot and Android 4.4 KitKat.
Desire 816G Dual SIM
The Desire 816G dual SIM is said to be a cheaper version of the Desire 816 and comes with the same 5.5-inch display with 1280 x 720 pixels of resolution. It is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor coupled with 1GB RAM. Some of other features include Android 4.4 KitKat with HTC Sense 6.0, 13-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front-facing camera, BoomSound speakers, 8GB onboard storage, micro SD card and dual SIM support. The slew of connectivity options includes Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS with A-GPS. A 2,600 mAh battery completes the package.
Android One phones
In a bid to change the face of budget Android market, yet again, Google announced a trio of phones under the Android One initiative in India – Spice Dream UNO Mi-498, Karbonn Sparkle V and Micromax Canvas A1. Under Android One, devices will come with automatic backup on Google Drive, two-year software support from Google, carrier billing and more. Though, they ship with Android KitKat 4.4.4, one can expect Android L when it is released officially. Moreover, the the devices will have support for seven Indian languages including Hindi. All three device carry almost the same specs, so there’s isn’t anything exclusive about any of these devices as far as the hardware goes. Now, it all boils down to the build quality, and the design choices made by the companies. And of course, there’s the question of after-sales service, which will be handled by the brand itself and not Google. In terms of specs, one will find a 4.5-inch screen with FWVGA (854 x 480 Pixels) IPS LCD display, MediaTek SoC with a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and Mali 400 GPU paired with 1GB of RAM, 5MP shooter, 2MP front camera, 4GB internal storage and microSD card of up to 32GB capacity.
Sony Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact
Last week, Sony launched its latest flagship, the Xperia Z3 smartphone at a steep Rs 51,990 price tag in India. Alongside the flagship, the company has also revealed its younger sibling Xperia Z3 Compact priced at Rs 44,990. Both water-resistant and with similar capabilities, the Z3 has a 5.2-inch display, while the Z3 Compact has a smaller 4.6-inch display. he powerful quad-core 2.5GHz MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801 with 3GB of RAM and Adreno 330 graphics means Android 4.4 KitKat should have no issues running on the Z3 even with Sony’s customisations. The Xperia Z3 is a waterproof and dust-proof device with an IP65/68 rating. Battery life should be great thanks to the 3100 mAh battery, which Sony claims offers up to 2 days of usage. It comes with either 16 or 32GB of storage which can be further expanded to up to 128GB thanks to the microSD card support. Connectivity options are top-end too, with Wi-Fi, USB on-the-go, GLONASS and NFC all packed in. Sporting a smaller 4.6-inch display, the Z3 Compact sacrifices the full HD panel for a 720p display. It eschews the metal frame of the Z3 for a lighter plastic build, while the battery is also smaller at 2,600mAh, but slightly larger than the last-gen model. Besides these distinguishing factors, both phones are identical in terms of specs. PS4 integration is also present, and the Z3 series will support the Remote Play feature, allowing you to attach a Dualshock controller and stream games from the PS4 to your mobile device.
This month, we also saw Finnish smartphone maker Jolla launch its Jolla Sailfish OS smartphone in India for Rs 16,499. The Jolla Sailfish OS has a 4.5-inch qHD screen with IPS panel and Gorilla Glass 2, it’s got a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 system-on-chip with a 1.4GHz dual-core processor, an 8 megapixel rear camera and 2 megapixel front camera. The RAM is 1GB and total storage space is 16 GB along with a microSD slot, although the limit on that is not clear. In terms of connectivity it’s got WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth 4.0, USB and has a 2100mAh battery with 9/10hours of talktime on GSM/3G respectively. Sensors on the smartphone are: Proximity, Accelerometer, Gyro and E-compass. Jolla is all about its gesture-based UI that is built to offer smooth navigation. The device is also compatible with Android apps. While there isn’t a dedicated Play Store, you can side-load Android apps onto your Jolla phone. The phone is available in Poppy Red, Keira Black and Aloe colours.Check out our first impressions of the Jolla smartphone.
BlackBerry’s newest smartphone aimed at enterprise and professionals dubbed passport was unveiled globally and subsequently launched in India. It is the first smartphone to come with an unconventional 4.5-inch square-shaped touchscreen and a dedicated QWERTY keypad. The display features 1440 x 1440 pixel resolution and a pixel density of 453 dots per inch, covered by Gorilla Glass 3. Beneath the touch sensitive display, you have a dedicated QWERTY keyboard that also doubles up as a touch-sensitive swipe pad. The Passport is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC which will come with a quad-core processor clocked at 2.2GHz along with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable memory. With the square display, BlackBerry is targeting working professionals as opposed to the regular consumers whose phones have a rectangular shape – which according to BlackBerry is more geared towards consuming multimedia content rather than working. Take a look at the product demo and first impressions of the BlackBerry Passport.