Best Cell phablets for 2016

If a big screen for watching videos, playing games or simply to fit more on the screen when browsing, emailing and texting is what you’re after, these are the best phablets available right now.

best-cell-phablet

Apple iPhone 7 Plus Price: £719

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Apple’s latest phablet is like a greatest hits from the past two years of iPhone. It looks pretty much the same as 2014’s iPhone 6 Plus, has the same fingerprint scanner as the iPhone 6S Plus, but is now waterproof and has a better camera.

The dual camera on the back is the main attraction, using two different lenses to create an effective 2x zoom and some fancy effects. The home button also doesn’t move any more, but the little vibrating Taptic Engine does a good job of giving you the impression that it does.

One thing the 5.5in phablet doesn’t have is a headphone socket, which means you’ll have to use an adaptor to plug wired headphones into the Lightning port at the bottom. You can’t charge while listening to music, but at least the battery lasts about a day.

The iPhone 7 Plus is also wider and more difficult to use one-handed than other 5.5in smartphones in this group, so it’s worth investing in a good case as dropping it is a real possibility when out and about.

Google Pixel XL Price: £719

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Google’s first own-brand phablet runs the very latest version of Android 7.1 Nougat and will get updates before any other Android smartphone.

It has the company’s latest in intelligent voice control, GoogleAssistant, which is a conversational search and personal assistant hiding under the Pixel’s home button for when you need it.

The 5.5in Pixel XL is a relatively simple-looking device, but its subtle wedge shape means there’s no camera lump on the back. The camera is excellent – ranked the best in the business by DxoMark– and it’ll last over a day between charges.

It’s snappy, has a good fingerprint scanner on the back, great screen on the front and is one of the first smartphones compatible with Google’s new Daydream View VR goggles.

But the Pixel isn’t waterproof, like Apple’s iPhone doesn’t have expandable storage, and is pretty pricy compared to the rest of the Android competition.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Price: £520

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Samsung’s smaller top-end phablet, the Galaxy S7 Edge has a 5.5in curved screen that makes it the narrowest and easiest to handle in the category. It has more features too, with a great camera, fingerprint scanner, heart-rate reader, wireless charging and various bits and pieces to take advantage of the curved screen.

It is that curved screen that makes the S7 Edge stand out, fitting a 5.5in screen in a body not much larger than a 5in phone. The only real downside is that picking a case for it could be difficult.

The S7 Edge is waterproof, and has a microSD card slot for expanding the storage. It lasts a day and a half between charges and is compatible with Samsung’s Gear VR headset too.

It doesn’t run the latest version of Android yet, but an update to Android 7 Nougat is already in testing and is expected to be available to all in 2017.

Huawei Mate 9 Price: €699

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If you want a really big screen – bigger than all the others in this lineup – the Mate 9 is for you.

The front is pretty much all screen with a 5.9in display and small bezels at either side making it more manageable than you might expect. Not everyone will be able to use it comfortably with one hand, but the curved back, chamfered edges and good palm rejection make it easier to hold on to than even some smaller-screened competitors, even when it weighs a good 20g more.

The screen isn’t as sharp as some others, but the Mate 9 will last around two days between charges. It’s superfast too, has dual-sim support, expandable storage and has an extremely rapid fingerprint scanner on the back.

It has two cameras on the back, one monochrome and one colour, which work together to improve detail and low-light performance. You can also use them in interesting combinations – shooting in true monochrome is great fun.

Huawei’s version of Android – Emotion UI based on Android 7 Nougat – has many more power and notification controls than you would normally find, and looks a little different from Android on most other smartphones.

OnePlus 3T Price: £399

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The OnePlus 3T is the successor to the excellent OnePlus 3. Now it has a faster processor, a larger capacity battery and better cameras.

It’s 5.5in screen is slightly less sharp than rivals with the same size display, but is vibrant and colourful with good viewing angles. It’s also got narrow bezels, which combined with a curved back and chamfered edges make the 3T easier to grip than most.

You have a choice of 64GB or 128GB of storage, but cannot add more. It has two sim slots for using two phone numbers simultaneously, and a rapid charging technology called Dash Charge.

The battery lasts a day between charges and the phone has the fastest Qualcomm processor on the market, matching the Google Pixel XL. The fingerprint scanner on the front is excellent and the camera’s pretty good too.

It doesn’t yet run Android 7 Nougat, but an update to the latest version is promised before the year is out. The OnePlus 3T is a great all-round device for less money than most of the rest.


32GB iPhone 7 significantly slower than more expensive versions

Not all iPhone 7s are born equally, according to new tests, which appear to show the cheapest, 32GB versions are significantly slower than the more expensive 128 or 256GB versions and that some have much poorer 4G reception.

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Testing by both GSMArena and Unbox Therapy found that the speed of the storage within the 32GB iPhone 7 is significantly slower than that in the more expensive 128GB iPhone 7. Reading data from the storage of the 32GB version of the iPhone 7 was 200Mbps slower than the 12GB version, 656Mbps and 856Mbps respectively. The difference in read speed over 600Mbps is unlikely to be noticeable in day-to-day usage.

However, writing to the storage – saving data including photos, videos, music, apps or any other type of file – was found to be significantly slower on the 32GB iPhone. The 128GB iPhone 7 wrote to memory at 341Mbps, but the 32GB iPhone 7 was over eight times slower at just 42Mbps.

GSMArena found similar results in its testing of the iPhone 7, with a 32GB iPhone 7 Plus reaching write speeds of only 39.6Mbps compared with a 128GB iPhone 7 writing at speeds of 308Mbps.

Meanwhile, testing of different versions of the iPhone 7 Plus have also apparently revealed discrepancies in their cellular performances. According to New York-based Cellular Insights, which conducted tests using networking equipment, the iPhone 7 Plus smartphones with model numbers A1778 and A1784, including those available in the UK and Europe, performed noticeably poorer than those with model numbers A1660 and A1661, including those available in the US.

A1778 and A1784 iPhone 7 Plus smartphones have an Intel modem chip that connects them to the 4G network, while the A1660 and A1661 models use a modem supplied by Qualcomm, a common supplier of modems and processors to many Android smartphones, including the new Google Pixel.

The Intel iPhone 7 Plus models showed at least 30% worse network performance, and in some cases as poor as 75% worse, than the Qualcomm iPhone 7 Plus models. This performance gap means that the Intel iPhone 7 Plus models will have poorer 4G reception than the Qualcomm versions and slower download and upload speeds.

Milan Milanović from Cellular Insights said: “In all tests, the iPhone 7 Plus with the Qualcomm modem had a significant performance edge over the iPhone 7 Plus with the Intel modem. We are not sure what was the main reason behind Apple’s decision to source two different modem suppliers for the newest iPhone.”

In Cellular Insights further testing, it showed that the Intel iPhone 7 Plus models had worse reception than the iPhone 6S in the majority of signal conditions.

Most of the time users blame mobile phone operators when the signal drops out on their smartphone or data speeds are slow, but the testing indicates that depending on smartphone model, it might not always be the fault of the network provider.

iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 iOS King

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge last night – Sunday 21 February – and lo and behold much of what we’d been seeing from the rumour mill for months and months turned out to be correct. Meanwhile, the iPhone 7 is a long way off being launched, but what happened with the Galaxy S7 proves that the rumour mill is so far reaching, thorough and accurate these days, that when we consistently hear a particular buzz from particular sources often enough, then these are things to be paid attention to, and are likely on the money.

iPhone-7-vs-Samsung-Galaxy-S7-iOS King

The iPhone 7 will almost certainly launch in its usual bracket of September, but we’ve been hearing rumours now for a good long while, with many of them coming from repeatedly reliable sources such as KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 7: Major Specs

Samsung Galaxy S7

Display: 5.1in Super AMOLED 2560×1440 pixels (QHD), 577ppi (Galaxy S7 edge: 5.5in, 534ppi)
Storage: 32GB onboard (larger capacity models MAY be available), microSD slot
CPU and RAM: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820/Samsung Exynos 8890 processor (region dependent), 4GB RAM
Front Camera: 5MP
Rear Camera: 12.2MP, f/1.7 aperture, 1.4um pixels, dual-pixel 100% phase detection sensor
IP68 water and dust proofing (1.5m submersion up to 30 minutes)
Battery: 3,000mAh (Galaxy S7 edge: 3,600mAh) NON-removable

iPhone 7

Display: 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch Force Touch, but likely with a QHD display of 2560 x 1440 resolution
Storage: 32GB/64GB/128GB/256GB
CPU and RAM: A10 processor, 3GB RAM
Front Camera: 5MP with wide angle lens
Rear Camera: 12MP, 4K video recording, optical image stabilization
Waterproofing?
Samsung’s muddied the waters somewhat by taking a leaf out of Apple’s playbook and not disclosing much information about the processor hardware at launch. We already know from earlier rumours that both the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and Samsung Exynos 8890 SoC’s are inside various iterations of each Galaxy S7 model, and we know 4GB of RAM was rumoured too. However, all Samsung has said is that the Galaxy S7 has a 30% CPU performance uplift over the previous generation, and a 64% speed enhancement to the GPU, along with the introduction of a liquid-cooled heatpipe and heatsink setup to help in high-performance situations.

The iPhone 7 will run Apple’s next-generation A10 mobile chipset and, if previous versions are anything to go by, it should be an alarmingly powerful chipset. Apple’s A8 and A9 chipsets dominated the mobile space in 2014/15 showcasing just what was possible with processing power when you have complete control over specs, hardware and software. And this is no doubt the reason Samsung invested so heavily in its Exynos solution — it wants more control over its devices’ performance and capabilities.

However, this year’s iPhone will likely be the most spec-heavy release Apple has ever pushed to market, providing it features a QHD panel. How much RAM Apple uses is also a deciding factor in the spec battle between the two handsets as well, but mostly this is just academic — the A10 and new Exynos will be super fast, regardless for whether they’re paired with 2GB or 4GB. Apple has consistently shown it can get plenty of performance out of very little memory, so the addition of more inside the iPhone 7, alongside the A10 chip makes for a pretty monstrous phone.

One thing that can be expected for sure is that the iPhone 7 will likely come in 32, 64, and 128GB models. Thankfully Apple should drop the 16GB iPhone version this time around. However there are rumors the iPhone 7 could also come in a 256GB model…something that seems far too good to be true at present. Nevertheless, should Apple get rid of the 16GB version — something it really needs to do, as 16GB is just pathetic these days — then it stands to reason it will have to replace it with something at the top-end to bump everything down a peg and make 32GB the standard model, before 64GB and then 128GB and finally 256GB.

Again, Samsung has sort of glossed over storage capabilities, aside from the microSD slot, and even then it hasn’t disclosed how big the cards can be. We believe, based on earlier benchmarks and leaks, that the Galaxy S7 series starts at 32GB onboard, and may have 64GB and 128GB models too, but Samsung is yet to confirm this.

What we do know is each Samsung model packs a hefty battery pack, either a 3000mAh cell inside the Galaxy S7 or a 3600mAh setup in the Galaxy S7 edge – both should provide plenty of juice on a single charge. There’s little info about Apple’s battery hardware at this stage.

Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 7: Design
At this stage information on the iPhone 7’s possible design is fairly limited. Given Apple’s usual MO we’re fairly confident it will be a significant overhaul, as the firm tends to keep things incremental on the ‘S’ models (like 2015’s iPhone 6s) and then puts in big changes on the lone number models, with the iPhone 7 of course being one of the latter. On top of this we’ve heard rumours Apple plans on making the handset incredibly thin, thin enough to warrant the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack and the adoption of built-in stereo speakers and a proprietary set of headphones (Bluetooth and/or Lightning connector compatible, allegedly), if the rumours are true.

There’s also strong hints that Apple is working on doing away with the physical home button and embedding a virtual home button and Touch ID in the screen itself, but that might not come until the iPhone 8. The iPhone 7 will almost certainly retain the same size display as this year’s models with 4.7in and 5.5in models to choose from – although there is talk of a 4in iPhone 6c dropping in April.

Other whispers say we’ll see a “streamlined” design with fewer obvious antennae bands, a thinner bezel around the display, and the absence of any camera bump whatsoever – the sensor will reportedly fit flush. There are also some murmurings about waterproofing.

Generally though we’re expecting an extremely sleek and distinguished new iPhone that’s super-thin and entirely made out of metal.

Although different from their predecessors in some ways, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge are, on the whole, quite similar to the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge in terms of design. The overall shape, build quality, and materials (metal and glass) are all pretty much a repeat of last year – not that this is a bad thing of course, as last year’s Galaxy S6 series was gorgeous. The most notable improvements include the addition of IP68 waterproofing and a microSD card slot. It’s also worth noting that while the Galaxy S7 is pretty much the same size as the Galaxy S6, the Galaxy S7 edge is not only distinguished by its unique curved edge display, but also by being much larger than both the Galaxy S7 and the last-gen flagships, with a 5.5in display.

Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 7: Display
The big news for iPhone fans is the iPhone 7 will probably get a higher resolution display, specifically a QHD one with a resolution of 2560 x 1440—as many Android handsets already have. This will match the resolution of the Galaxy S7. As far as sizes, the iPhone 7 should come in the standard 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch (Plus) models.

Both Samsung’s Galaxy S7 handsets to indeed have QHD display resolutions for their Super AMOLED panels. For the 5.1in Galaxy S7 this results in a pixel density of 577ppi, and for the larger 5.5in Galaxy S7 edge an ever-so-slightly lower, but nonetheless sharp, 534ppi. Both also feature Samsung’s new Always On Display (AOD) capabilities, which is where the OLED display selectively powers on a few specific pixels to show certain information while in a sleep state. This is a low power solution and allows it to show the time, date, and a few notifications.

The Galaxy S7 edge naturally has the curved display edges we’ve seen on a few Samsung phones now. With Android Marshmallow and the new TouchWiz build Samsung has literally expanded how much of the edge of the screen utilises the edge functions for things like shortcuts and widgets. It has also allowed you to store more applications in the hotbar.

Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 7: Camera
The iPhone 6s received a major camera upgrade over the iPhone 6—getting a 12MP rear camera and 5MP front one. Don’t expect any megapixel boosts in the iPhone 7 since Apple usually holds the MP-rating for a few years. However, year-on-year Apple has consistently tweaked other parts of the camera setup to incrementally improve imaging performance, and that’s not something we expect it to stop.

There aren’t many rumours at this stage about the iPhone 7’s camera hardware, but we can perhaps expect things which seem to be trending in the industry such as wider apertures, larger pixel sizes, and more complex sensors with higher-quality lenses. One rumoured feature though is the introduction of optical image stabilisation (OIS). If the rumours of a flush-fitting camera sensor are true, what we may see is Apple simply keeping its camera hardware similar to the current-gen, but making it thinner to fit in with the new design.

Samsung has made some big changes to the Galaxy S7 camera. For one thing, the megapixel rating has actually gone DOWN to 12MP, but this is a deliberate choice and Samsung is instead focusing on other areas of the hardware to improve image quality. Things like a wider f/1.7 aperture, a larger 1.4um pixel size, and the world’s first dual-pixel sensor with 100% phase detection autofocus. Correspondents at MWC are raving about this new camera setup, and the low-light performance as well as focusing speed is reportedly quite remarkable.

iPhone 7 concept shootout

Despite the fact that the iPhone 6S has only just released, we’re already seeing an influx of design ideas for the iPhone 7. Today we’re spoiling you for choice with an iPhone 7 concept shootout. You can take your pick from three new visions for the 2016 iPhone, and let us know which you think is best from this roundup.

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We’ve already seen numerous iPhone 7 creations, but of course at this early stage it’s anyone’s guess as to what the final design will look like. This is where we enjoy the work of concept designers, as they can give us tantalizing ideas for what could or should be offered. The designs featured below offer something for all tastes.

The first image you can see directly below comes from well-known designer Hasan Kaymak. It features a USB Type C port with a difference, as it has integrated speakers and also acts as an audio jack. It has a metallic build and loses the plastic lines across the reverse of the handset that many dislike. It has an edge-to-edge display with slight curving to the sides and unusual styling to the corners of the handset.

The next iPhone 7 concept below was created by Tobias Hornof. His idea also features an edge-to-edge screen and has a more angular appearance than current iPhones with only a very slight roundness to the corners. It’s extremely slim and the Apple WatchOS is reflected in iOS 10 as shown here, with a circular floatation of apps. Instead of a physical Home button the design features a digital Home button.

Our final iPhone 7 concept choice, as seen below this post, has a metal and glass build and was designed by Dusan Djokic. It’s described as an iPhone 7 Premium and has curves at the top and bottom of the handset. The volume buttons are round, similar to older iPhone models, and this one also has a USB Type C Port. It has glossy and sleek styling and offers something a little different.

We’ve shown an image of each of these smartphone designs here, but you can see many more at the links below for a closer look at all of the different design elements. We’re really interested to find out which of these iPhone 7 concept ideas appeals to you most. Will it be the one by Hasan Kaymak, Tobias Hornof, or Dusan Djokic? Do let us know with your comments.

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 6s Are BOTH Coming In 2015

Apple’s set quite a competitive stage for 2015, with the launch of is radically altered iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in September 2014 the company has fully embraced larger displays, NFC, and a host of other features that have set the bar for what consumers will now expect from high-end devices; mobile payment, fingerprint scan security, and more. Mobile buyers are lapping it up too, both devices have been highly praised in reviews and are flying off shelves around the world. Apple’s major design overhaul is kicking ass and taking names in terms of sales, with the company reporting over 70 million units sold since launch. There is still plenty of interest in rival devices, however, with Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge (as well as the freshly leaked LG G4!) receiving plenty of attention. Some analysts predict Samsung will soon catch up in terms of sales.

iPhone-7-2015

So with the next 12 months secure for Apple, we turn to what’s next in store for the biggest smartphone maker in the world. And of course, we already know, it’ll be up to its usual tricks in September 2015. The company has established a habit of launching one or two handsets every year, and they’re always planned well in advance, so we knew at least an iPhone 6S was coming and it’s not too surprising the rumours have started already –– truth be told, if anything they’re a little late, as we were already hearing about the iPhone 6 before the iPhone 5S even launched. What’s interesting, however, is we’re also hearing talk of an iPhone 7.

As it stands at present there are two schools of thought about Apple’s plans for its iPhone line in 2015: on the one hand there’s the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus and this would fit in with the company’s previous tick-tock style upgrade process, whereby BIG changes are saved for tick-cycles and smaller, incremental tweaks for tock-cycles. However, there are plenty of rumours about Apple ditching this approach entirely and moving straight to the iPhone 7. And the reason is pretty much what you’d expect: Apple is worried people are getting wise to its ways and is concerned too many users would wait for the iPhone 7 should the 6s launch in 2015, a potential scenario that could hurt growth for the year.

And this is NOT something Apple will want. Not after the successes of 2015.

Apple is now the biggest selling handset maker in China, surpassing local firm Xiaomi, according to market researcher Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. Apple’s iPhone 6 was the biggest selling handset in China for the first three months of 2015. Previously, Apple has struggled to gain traction in the Chinese market –– also known as the biggest phone market on the planet –– but the advent of its new iPhone 6 handsets appears to have helped the company re-establish itself in the region.

“There has been a strong appetite for Apple’s products in urban China seen since the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and this has continued into Chinese New Year,” Kantar Worldpanel research chief Carolina Milanesi said in a statement. “China Mobile’s subscribers accounted for 59 percent of the 27.6 percent volume share recorded by iOS in the latest period.”

But there does appear to be a third avenue also, as according to reports Apple may, for the first time, have plans to release three phones at once come September 2015. It would appear there is also an iPhone 6c in the works, bringing the less-pricey (though still expensive compared to other “budget” offerings), plastic-backed, but nonetheless competetive traits of the iPhone 5c bang-up-to-date in a new model. If rumours prove true, this version will include some of Apple’s new feature wizardry, such as NFC, TouchID and Apple Pay compatibility, meaning more people can get access to Apple’s payment services.

Aside from this, there’s already plenty of information about what we can expect from Apple’s next-generation iPhones. So, without further ado, let’s have a look at what the rumour mill says Apple has in store for us in 2015, shall we?

iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 Release Date: Staggered Launch Rumoured (Take With Pinch of Salt)
Reports suggest Apple is looking at halving its smartphone update cycle in 2015, meaning we could see two iPhone launches in a single year. It’s claimed the company is potentially prepping the release of one handset –– the iPhone 6s –– alongside the Apple Watch during the first half of 2015 and then another –– the iPhone 7 –– in the iPhone’s usual late-Q3 launch spot; around September.

Earlier reports have claimed Apple is looking to discontinue the iPhone 5c and iPhone 4s, with production of the handsets winding down in the second half of 2015. Apple has yet to comment on the rumour –– it never does –– and we, for one, will certainly be sad to see the back of the iPhone 5c.

“The new schedule is expected to stagger the releases of two devices in 2015 to capitalise on sales,” reports The Mail Online. “Apple could release the iPhone 6S to people who want to upgrade to a slightly cheaper model, before announcing its flagship iPhone 7 in the autumn.”

There’s been little other evidence to back up the claims, however, and while the idea if Apple staggering its handset releases does kind of make sense –– you have two distinct sales periods instead of one –– it could just be hearsay, yet another rumour in the on-going “this is what the next iPhone will be like-saga”. Still, it is certainly a very interesting turn of events: would staggering the release of handsets mean more sales?

“Rumours abound that Apple is preparing to ditch this pattern –– iPhone X to iPhone Xs –– and skip straight to the iPhone 7. The main reason cited for this change in strategy is that the “S” range is thought to be more down-market than the model that preceded it, and Apple is very much focused on being a premium product company,” reports PC Pro. “We’re not sure about this rationale just yet, however some of the rumours around major redesigns of the next handsets to be released could point to the launch of a newly numbered set of phones. It’s probably about time too.”

“KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo,” reports Mac Rumors, “who has a respectable track record at reporting on Apple’s upcoming plans, issued a note to investors on Thursday that claims the next-generation iPhone will have a FPC-made capacitive Force Touch sensor under the backlight, laminated with metal shielding. Kuo adds that the change may be significant enough for Apple to call its next iPhone the “iPhone 7″ instead of the so-called iPhone 6s.”

Check out Kuo’s note below:

“We believe that iPhone’s Force Touch sensor doesn’t directly detect the pressure applied by fingers. Instead, it monitors the contact area on which the finger touches the screen to decide how big the pressure is.

There are two possible structural designs for Force Touch from a technology viewpoint. The Force Touch sensor can either be placed between the cover lens and the In-cell touch panel or under the In-cell touch panel’s backlight. In the first position, the technological challenge lies with how to produce the transparent Force Touch sensor; in the second position, the challenge is how to reduce signal interference from in-cell touch panel. Our understanding of the technology is that producing a transparent Force Touch sensor is more difficult, so the chances are the new iPhone this year will opt for the second position.”

According to reports out of China (Weibo and GizmoChina) Apple is gearing up to begin mass production of the iPhone 6s in June 2015 with the goal of having 230 million units ready to ship after its usual launch in September. The reports also reiterate previous rumours that Samsung will produce the new A9 chipset for Apple on its 14 nanometre FinFET manufacturing process, and that the new model will pack 2GB of RAM alongside pressure-sensitive touch control capabilites.

Apple might just be adding more colour options this year, too. According to Mac Rumours –– citing a report from The Wall Street Journal –– suggest “that, in addition to Silver, Gold and Space Grey, you’ll also be able to buy a new Pink model. It’s not going to be bright pink like the iPhone 5C, but rather a rose gold colour like the colour of one of the Apple Watch Editions. We can imagine the new colour being rather popular.”

As for the fate of the iPhone 7, it would appear –– at least if the WSJ and GizmoChina are to be believed –– that Apple will indeed stick to its 6s-then-7-update cycle, meaning those looking for the iPhone 7 had better get saving their pennies for its release inside 2016. This could change, granted, but for now it seems as if Apple is sticking to its tick-tock update schedule for iPhone. And who can blame them? It’s been working brilliantly for several years now.

WWDC 2015 Set For June 8
Apple has officially announced the date of its annual WWDC event, which this year will be taking place on June 8 at the Moscone Centre in San Franciso, California. As usual, Apple will be using the event to reveal and showcase some of its plans for iOS 9 for its mobiles and tablets and the next iteration of OS X for Macs. Last year the company showed off a lot of crossover between the two platforms and this looks set to continue. We also expect to see more about connected smart devices, appliances and vehicles; the internet of things, as it’s understood Apple has big plans here.

Apple is also believed to be gearing up to reveal more about its plans for a Music service, following its acquisition of Beats Audio. This will likely form a focal point of the next iPhone along with otherkey features from iOs 9, and we’re also hoping to hear about more integration and features from the Apple Watch, and possibly details of a rollout of Apple Pay outside the US.

iPhone-6c-2015

An iPhone 6c Too?
Well this is unexpected. For several months now we’ve been seeing a trickle of information about the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7, expected for launch towards the end of 2015, however, it now seems Apple may have a third handset in development –– a successor to the plastic iPhone 5c!

More recently, reports from the oft-unreliable DigiTimes are now claiming Apple will release three handsets in 2015 in the form of the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 6s Plus and –– this is where it gets interesting –– the iPhone 6c, which is rumoured to be a cheaper option with a 4in display aimed at picking up where the original iPhone 5c left off.

“Industry sources are reportedly referring to Apple’s supposed next-generation 4-inch device as the iPhone 6C,” says Apple Insider, “a take on the low-end, polycarbonate-bodied iPhone 5c that debuted in 2013. As an entry-level product, the 6C is rumoured to run on current generation A8 system-on-chip silicon, while the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones will run an unannounced A9 chip.”

This is kind of understandable, though, as the iPhone 5c did prove very popular with a lot of users; you see the colourful handsets everywhere when walking around London. A lot this boils down to people liking the colour options, as it gives their iPhone something of an individual look –– you don’t see that many blue ones for instance, although pink and white seem to be very popular.

Following the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the iPhone 5c was not axed, as many presumed it would be, but was instead relegated to a replacement for the iPhone 5 as the base model in Apple’s catalogue.

According to the rumour mill (DigiTimes), Apple is planning a 4in display size for its next plastic fantastic iPhone, together with NFC and TouchID, meaning it is getting the functionality of its more premium brethren.

“Industry sources are reportedly referring to Apple’s supposed next-generation 4-inch device as the iPhone 6C,” says Apple Insider, “a take on the low-end, polycarbonate-bodied iPhone 5c that debuted in 2013. As an entry-level product, the 6C is rumoured to run on current generation A8 system-on-chip silicon, while the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones will run an unannounced A9 chip.”

And now Future Supplier, a source that’s been vocal about iPhone details in the past, has leaked a photo of the alleged iPhone 6c’s plastic back panel in a familiar red/pink we saw on the 5c. The source notes that the panel has an oval cut-out for the camera sensor similar to the iPhone 5S (as opposed to the 5C’s round hole). It also has a pair of drilled speaker grilles in the bottom edge, where the iPhone 5C only has one grille.

iPhone 7 Display
Apple’s next iPhone will adopt a new type of display technology called Force Touch. Apple developed this display technology for its Apple Watch but is said to be keen on bringing it to future iPhones, starting with 2015’s models. Apple’s new MacBook uses the technology in its touchpad and can, according to Apple, differentiate between a light, soft and heavy touch – different levels of pressure can be assigned to different functions, so essentially this gives more options than the conventional tap and long press options. The advent of this type of technology inside the iPhone could completely change the way millions of people interact with the device on a daily basis.

According to information from Economic Daily News (Taiwan), Apple has plans for a “3D touch technology” utilising touch sensors from Avago Tech (a company Nintendo used for the Wii consoles).

The translation is a little fuzzy, but the report indicates that Apple owns a patent which can “simultaneously identify multiple fingerprint recognition technology panels,” plus there’s mention of “gesture control technology.”

It’s implied that Apple may be trying to do away with the Home key and transferring its functions into the display surround – just like the Apple Watch. The only thing this doesn’t solve is the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, but Apple already has a patent in place for putting fingerprint scanners underneath the display glass.

As for other details about the new iPhones — we’ll see two new models again, according to the Wall Street Journal — Apple won’t change the display sizes, while the resolution will stay “similar” –– meaning 1080p panels, not QHD.

iPhone 7 Camera: Major Updates Planned
A report from Phone Arena, citing sources in Apple’s supply chain, points to a series of key updates to Apple’s camera technology. The iPhone 6 setup was impressive, but what Apple has in store for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 looks to seriously up the ante, as you can see from the below extract.

“What will eventually be new, though, is a thoroughly redesigned camera module, with dual lens design, perhaps similar to the HTC One (M8) or Huawei’s Honor 6 Plus units, a shot at a “zoom function,” and sensor capable of soaking in more light. An optical zoom part is hard to believe, despite phones like the ZenFone Zoom that were just revealed at the CES expo, since it will require protruding lens. There are some periscope-style optical zoom designs, but the bodies of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are so thin, we doubt Apple can fit anything like that inside. On the other hand, there are lossless zoom options, and alternative approaches to optical zoom, though we don’t know how close these are to mass production. We’ll see whether this pans out at all.”

There is cause for concern, however, as reports from Asia suggest Apple may keep the same 8MP sensor inside its upcoming new iPhone release. “Analyst Jeff Pu recently discussed the financial situation of Largan Precision Co. – Apple’s major camera lens supplier. Pu forecasts that, this year, Largan faces limited growth because the industry is transiting to higher-res cameras too slowly,” reports G For Games. “As for the iPhone 6S, Jeff Pu speculates that because the smartphone will not push a larger than 8 MP camera to the market, Largan Precision Co. will have a difficult time increasing its stock price in H2 2015.”

Apple has apparently bought Israeli imaging firm LinX, a company which builds small, phone-sized camera units that can deliver DLSR-like image quality. According to the WSJ, neither Apple nor LinX is confirming the buyout, though Apple did give its usual response that it sometimes acquire small companies and is not compelled to let the public know.

“It’s not clear how and when Apple will incorporate LinX’s technology into its devices,” reports MacRumors, “but it’s possible we could see these types of camera improvements as soon as this year. Rumors have suggested Apple is looking into a major camera boost for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, with new technology that could produce SLR quality images, and LinX’s multi-aperture lens systems could potentially accomplish that feat.”

The iPhone –– at least according to Flickr –– is one of the most popular camera phones on the planet. More images taken with an iPhone are uploaded to Flickr than any other handset. Apple knows this too and will be looking to dramatically cement its position in the imaging space during 2015 with the iPhone 6s or iPhone 7 (no one seems to know which is launching).

“Apple’s commitment to photo quality has continually led to iOS cameras that offer superior images compared competing smartphones, and the acquisition of LinX could put it even further ahead of the competition,” added the report.

iOS 9 To Be Focused On STABILITY
Apple’s iOS platform, for the longest time, was incredibly stable but after a string of large, feature-packed updates inside iOS 7 and iOS 8 a lot of this stability was compromised, forcing the company to issue plenty of memorable “patch” updates to fix issues.

“For 2015, iOS 9, which is codenamed Monarch, is going to include a collection of under-the-hood improvements. Sources tell us that iOS 9 engineers are putting a “huge” focus on fixing bugs, maintaining stability, and boosting performance for the new operating system, rather than solely focusing on delivering major new feature additions. Apple will also continue to make efforts to keep the size of the OS and updates manageable, especially for the many millions of iOS device owners with 16GB devices,” reports 9to5Mac.

But stability is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg. Apple has been carefully building the world’s first 64-bit mobile platform, and in 2015 with the launch of iOS 9 the company will likely unveil myriad new ways for developers to create content for both mobile and OS X, meaning crossover is inevitable, notes Computer World.

“iOS 9 devices will also enjoy tremendous integration with Apple’s Macs, making both platforms the best-in-class choice for anyone who wants to get things done – from consumer to the enterprise; from oil and gas exploration using M2M facilities, iPads and IBM-driven big data systems to gurning grinning gamers.

“It is possible iOS 9 will only be made available for 64-bit devices, so that’s any iPhone since iPhone 5S and post-October 2013 iPad Air and iPad mini tablets. Those on older devices may need to upgrade.”

Apple’s renewed focus on stability will apparently mirror similar initiatives from the company for its OS X platform. According to multiple sources, Apple will release public betas of iOS 9 to the public ahead of a gold-standard release. The idea being that once the platform goes official, it will be completely bug-free and as smooth and stable as iOS used to be prior to the launch and release of iOS 7 –– when Apple started pushing lots of new features into the mix.

“In an effort to eliminate bugs from upcoming iOS versions ahead of their general releases,” reports 9to5Mac, “Apple plans to launch the first-ever public beta program for the iOS operating system, according to multiple people briefed on the plans. Following the successful launch of the OS X Public Beta program with OS X Yosemite last year, Apple intends to release the upcoming iOS 8.3 as a public beta via the company’s existing AppleSeed program in mid-March. This release will match the third iOS 8.3 beta for developers, which is planned for release the same week. Apple then expects to debut iOS 9 at its June Worldwide Developer Conference, with a public beta release during the summer, and final release in the fall…”

iPhone 7 Specs: A9 Chipset & 2GB of RAM
Samsung semiconductor head Kim Ki-nam has now confirmed Samsung will be providing 14-nanometer processors to Apple for use inside its 2015 iPhones and iPads. Ki-nam confirmed this victory would have a HUGE affect on Samsung’s bottom line in 2015. Samsung’s technological progress with its 14-nanometer process, an area it has invested heavily in, swung the pendulum away from TSMC and back in of favour of Samsung.

“The balance of power has shifted back to Samsung,” reports RE/Code, “thanks to its advanced fabrication technology. That same advantage is said to be putting pressure on Qualcomm, which has been the biggest maker of chips in high-end phones. Owing in part to its own manufacturing edge, Samsung is expected to use its Exynos processors in forthcoming handsets instead of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810, which is made in TSMC’s factories.”

Samsung has invested a HUGE sum on money into its display and semiconductor businesses, a reported sum of $21.4 billion. All of this was done to ensure Samsung remains in growth and profitable for 2015/16 and beyond. Dr. Kinam Kim, president and general manager of the semiconductor business of Samsung, told press Samsung’s profits would improve dramatically in 2015 with the addition of Apple’s 14nm A9 chipset for its upcoming iPhone 7.

“Samsung LSI hasn’t directly confirmed Apple as its 14nm customer. But the company sounded confident about 14nm FinFET ramp in the second half of this year during its Q4 2014 earnings call,” said Strategy Analytics analyst Sravan Kundojjala. “Samsung LSI is looking to regain share in applications processors with the help of 14nm FinFET chips after seeing a steady share decline in its AP shipments over the past few years.”

A report via Apple Insider cites an anonymous “person familiar with Apple’s future product plans, who has provided reliable information in the past.” The source alleges that Apple’s iPhone 6s will ship with 2GB of RAM onboard. Of course we’ve heard similar talk ahead of the last few iPhone launches and it hasn’t come to pass. As Apple Insider points out; the iPhone has stuck with 1GB of RAM since the iPhone 5 launched in 2012.

LG Denies That Snapdragon 810 is Prone to Overheating

We have heard that the Snapdragon 810 processor is plagued with overheating issues and there were even reports that Samsung decided to ditch the chipset due to this issue. Alternatively, the South Korean company will favour its homebrew Exynos processors.

This isn’t the first time we heard bad things about Snapdragon 810, even before it enters the mass production phase. It is also rumoured to have memory controller mishaps, diver issues and other unreliability problems. We can’t be too sure about this, but various flagship models to be released by various companies are confirmed to include the chipset, they include Xiaomi Mi Note Pro and LG G Flex 2.

LG-Denies-That-Snapdragon

It is quite obvious that LG lacks proper homegrown processor series, since the Odin was criticized for its meagre performance. A senior executive from LG’s mobile division commented recently that devices powered with Snapdragon 810 are actually cooler than other models in the market. LG needs to defend Qualcomm Processors, because the Snapdragon 810 will be used inside LG G Flex 2. On the other hand, Samsung has become much more reliant its proprietary processor products and it has spent $15 billion on a chip manufacturing plant outside Seoul.

Lenovo Introduces S660 S850 and S860 Smartphone Models

As expected, Lenovo will continue to build on its well-known S-series family in 2014. Three models are introduced at MWC 2014 event, S660, S850 and S860. The latter should appeal to owners of Motorola’s MAXX devices who seek to obtain new smartphone this year. The Lenovo S860 could support 24-hour talk time and it could even charge other smartphones. The powerful battery is paired with 2GB of RAM and quad-core processor.

Lenovo-S860-Smartphone

Unfortunately, it doesn’t do LTE connectivity and comes with the slightly outdated Jelly Bean Android 4.2 OS. Nevertheless, Lenovo promises that the KitKat Android 4.4 update will arrive at some point. The 1.6Mp front-facing camera is ideal for video calls and there is also an 8Mp rear-facing camera.

The Lenovo S850 is a more affordable model with focus on lightweight glass thin construction and it has a reasonably large 5-inch display. Users could bet to get a quad-core processor. Photo buffs out there would also be happy to get 5Mp front-facing and 13Mp rear-facing camera. The Lenovo S660 rounds out the group with its 5-inch display, solid battery life and brushed metal construction. With its comfortable design and value-level price, the S66- slow in well under the S850.

Specs of Lumia 940 are Rumored

Microsoft seems to be planning to return with a vengeance. Its upcoming flagship will use the popular Lumia branding, specifically the Lumia 940. Screenshots of the device have circulated recently. But, while we can’t really guarantee the validity of these new images, the rumoured specs do seem believable.

Unfortunately, Microsoft may eschew the more popular Quad HD screen resolution and it will stay with the more common Full HD resolution on its 5-inch display. Obviously, any flagship model is expected to feature Quad HD resolution, although the immense sharpness will no longer deliver visually discernible differences compared to the current 1080p resolution. It is also interesting to note that the display will be protected with Gorilla Glass 4 layer, which hasn’t been confirmed by Corning itself. With 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor and 3GB of RAM, the new flagship won’t be underpowered at all.

Microsoft-Lumia-940

Camera will likely be the best feature of the 940, since the 24Mp sensor is based on the PureView technology. It could record 4k videos at 60fps. The 5Mp front-facing shooter should be able to record at 1080 resolution. Weighing 149 grams and measuring at 8.9mm thick, the Lumia 940 should be reasonably light and compact.

iPhone 6 LCD Metal Frame Leaked

When the front glass lens and the rear housing of iPhone 6 came to light successively, more components assumed to be a part of purported iPhone 6 come out. And now, a new photo about the supposed iPhone 6 LCD Metal Frame was leaked by a website in Taiwan selling Apple spare parts.

iPhone-6-LCD-Metal-Frame-Leaked

This part comes out at its first time, even though there’s a flood of  iPhone 6 leaks before. From the picture, we can make out the frame is all made of metal, and that claimed to be 4.7 inches screen size, which meets the specification of rumors.

iPhone 6 Going on Sale for $160

Goophone, the Chinese phone company known for its uncanny smartphone knockoffs, is back with its latest adaptation.

The i6, an imitation of the still-unannounced iPhone 6, rolls out online on Aug. 1. Designed based on supposedly leaked images and videos, the i6 is priced at $159.99 for the 16 GB model. For comparison, the 16 GB iPhone 5S retailed for $199 with contract and $649 unlocked.

iPhone-6-Going-on-Sale-for-$160

While it sounds like a sweet deal, consumers should know that i6 uses a different processor than the iPhone and comes equipped with Android instead of iOS. It also only has a 1.4GHz processor, a downgrade from the 2GHz offered with Goophone’s i5S model, which is — you guessed it — a knockoff of the iPhone 5S.

The design of the i6 and the expected design for the rumored iPhone 6 are very close: Both have fingerprint readers on the front, an auto-focusing camera in the rear and other design hallmarks borrowed from iPhones.

However, the i6 sports a image of a bumblebee on its back instead of Apple’s classic logo the i6 sports a image of a bumblebee on its back instead of Apple’s classic logo, distinguishing itself from the iPhone’s no-frills design. Goophone hasn’t explained why it uses the bee as its logo, only remarking that it is “cute.”

Unlike the Goophone i5S, the i6 is only offered in two colors, black and white. The champagne finish was a new direction for iPhone design when the 5S emerged and was copied by Goophone (and others). It’s still unknown what colors Apple will offer for the iPhone 6.

It’s also difficult to say exactly how closely the i6 resembles its Apple original, as designs for the iPhone 6 leaked earlier this year proved to be fake. An exact release date for the iPhone 6 has also been hazy, after rumors that a smaller version would debut in August were squashed. It is now widely anticipated that both the 4.7-inch will hit the market in September, while a larger 5.5-inch model could come in the months ahead.

In the past, Goophone has mimicked the Samsung Galaxy S5 and other highly desirable smartphones. While there are obvious copyright issues at hand, Chinese authorities aren’t doing much to shut it down for now.