Dessert comes after the meal and trophies given after a victory. That is unless you manufacture smart devices-in which case dessert is usually the main course. During the first few months every year, hundreds of technology companies come together at two of the most important conferences in the industry. These get-togethers influence whether you see or don’t see certain smartphones, tablets, computers, apps and accessories in the following months. Fortunately for you, this article is going to let you have your cake and eat it, too, by discussing hot topics from the recent Consumer Electronics Show, the Mobile World Congress conference and beyond.
As you read this, companies around the world are working on the next great mobile technology. Like a kid on Christmas Eve, they just can’t wait to unveil those new toys to you. These mega conferences allow them their first opportunity to pique public interest and gauge marketability. So, what can you expect from the land of wireless wonder in 2012?
The Quad Core Invasion
Like ketchup slowly moving through a bottle, quad cores are eventually going to come out-And sooner rather than later. Most devices these days contain Dual/Duo core processors. They’re fast and capable machines, but as people begin to do more multi-tasking with system-hogging applications, like using Skype while checking email and rocking out on Pandora, the technology begins to feel slow and dated.
Now imagine having another set of arms to help out. Quad-core chips have 4 processor cores in them, compared to the 2 in a Dual/Duo core. The theory is that if you have multiple cores, you can split up the work between them so they’ll run more quickly and efficiently. Going from two to four cores will improve the overall experience when using the device, as well as improve graphics performance and help devices harness the power of 4G networks.
ADVICE: If you’re like us and have phone ADD, a quad core device will keep you entertained. But don’t get too excited. While quad core phones may appear within the next few months,the jury is still out on how this additional horsepower is going to impact battery life.
HD Comes To A Screen Near You
Larger screen sizes were one of the big smartphone trends in 2011. So after giving your eyes more real estate to explore, the next logical step is to improve that view-meaning higher resolution is a likely candidate. Higher-resolution screens will be a huge point of emphasis for upcoming mobile devices, but manufacturers are also working to provide better viewing angles, enhanced color quality and lower power consumption.
Some devices are already beginning to set their resolution to 1280-by-720 pixels, which is an incredible handheld experience and pushes your phone further toward content consumption supremacy. Soon, you won’t be able to tell the difference between an HD movie played on your home theatre and one played on your palm entertainment center.
ADVICE: Last year the first 1280-by-720-pixel phone screens appeared, but we expect that resolution to become the new standard for high-end phones in 2012. If you watch a lot of video and frequently surf the web, make sure your next device has that resolution. Your eyes will thank us.
4G is Set Loose Nationwide
2011 was an experiment for 4G/LTE (Long Term Evolution), which offers dramatic speed increases over mainstream 3G networks. Today, all smartphones with LTE are based on Google’s Android. But that will change over the next 12 months, driven by Verizon and AT&T. When it comes to the big three carriers, Verizon adopted the technology early in 2011, AT&T is just now hitting the gas and Sprint is beginning its rollout soon. So 4G in its several forms should become standard among high-end smartphones at some point in 2012.
ADVICE: As amazing as 4G LTE will be once it’s the standard, it’s not worth specifically upgrading for it at present. Check your carrier’s coverage maps. If 4G LTE isn’t in your area yet, don’t bother getting a device with the feature unless the coverage is coming very soon and they have a set date. Otherwise you’ll be paying extra for a service you can’t use yet. As with most things mobile, current 4G configurations are murder on battery life but this is slowly changing.
OUTLOOK: The best time to buy a new device is usually in December, when prices come down, carriers are willing to make deals and many of the bugs have been worked out. But until then…Apple’s iPhone 5 may debut this summer, possibly June…Samsung’s Galaxy S3 series may be released between now and the summer…And Nokia’s Lumia 900 may make a big splash, as it was named “Best Smartphone” at the Consumers Electronics Show.