New Smartphones: What To Expect This Fall

After a quiet spring and summer, the smartphone market burst into life this week with Samsung’s unveiling of two new handsets, plus a virtual reality headset called Gear VR. This was quickly followed by Microsoft’s announcement that it is releasing three new Lumia phones, including the Lumia 730 – dubbed the “selfie phone” – which is expected to feature a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. All this activity precedes next week’s highly-anticipated Apple event, at which the Cupertino, CA behemoth is expected to showcase the iPhone 6.

So what can we expect from these new devices and are they going to provide a much-needed jolt of energy to a U.S. smartphone market that is regarded by many as nearing saturation point? Here is a quick look at what we know and, in the case of the iPhone 6, what has been carefully leaked:

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

The more interesting of Samsung’s two new smartphones is probably the all-new Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, so named because of a curved screen that wraps around the right edge of the device. The curved edge allows for a different set of information displays, including access to your favorite apps, notifications and more.

The Note Edge comes with a phablet-sized 5.7-inch display, improved S Pen functionality, and a 3.7 megapixel front-facing camera. The Note Edge has a significantly improved charging time, going from zero to 50 percent in about 30 minutes, about 40 percent faster than other Samsung Galaxy phones. There is also an Ultra Power Saving mode if you are running low on juice.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which updates the hugely popular Galaxy Note 3, also features a 5.7-inch screen and includes all the camera upgrades, improved battery charging, and many of the other new features from the Galaxy Note Edge.

Improved multi-tasking is another feature of the new Samsung phones, with users being able to manage multiple applications on a single screen using simple swipe gestures.

No pricing or release dates have been given for the new Samsung phones, although they are expected to be available in the U.S. by the end of September.

Lumia 730

Microsoft’s long-awaited “selfie phone” features a wide-angle 5-megapixel  front-facing camera, coupled with a dedicated selfie app that launches the camera as soon as it detects any faces in its field of view. The app includes plenty of editing options, including filters, skin enhancements and even tools to slim your face (!) and blur out the background.

The 730 is clearly aimed at the younger, Instagram generation, and the color options in green, red, white and black further target that demographic. Unfortunately, the 730 is set to be released “globally,” which is a euphemism for “not yet available in the USA.”

iPhone 6

This year’s media frenzy over the release of a new iPhone seems a little subdued, with headlines focusing more on the possible breach of celebrity iCloud accounts that any potential hardware innovations.

Most news sources are suggesting that Apple will increase the screen size of the regular iPhone from 4 inches to 4.7 inches and also introduce a larger 5.5-inch model. These projected screen sizes do nothing to curb the impression that Apple is playing catch up to the large screen devices popularized by Samsung and others.

Super-slim bezels and curved screens have also made the rumor mill, as has a new “indestructible” sapphire glass finish, which might finally put an end to the epidemic of cracked iPhone screens. Most of the other changes are expected to come from the release of iOS 8, which will include additional camera enhancements and tighter integration with smart home and health and fitness devices.

Although no release date has been announced, new iPhones are usually available 10 days to two weeks after they are announced, which would put the iPhone 6 in-store around Friday, September 19.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *