With the specter of Apple's iPhone 5 introduction looming on September 12, gadget makers pressed for their share of the consumer electronics spotlight this week. The most prominent devices on display: Nokia's first Windows Phone 8 smartphones and several new Motorola Droids running Google Android. Even Amazon made a play on Thursday to preempt next month's Apple iPad announcement by revealing high-definition versions of its Kindle Fire tablet.
Based on Nokia and Motorola's new offerings—as well as rumors about the iPhone 5—the secret to building a better smartphone in 2012 is to make it bigger, with a more vibrant screen, longer-lasting battery and enhanced camera capabilities.
Nokia's Lumia 920—unveiled Wednesday along with the lower-end Lumia 820—has the largest battery ever put into a Nokia as well as a 4.5-inch high-definition "super sensitive" touch screen. And Nokia has taken great pains to tout the camera on its colorful new 8.7-megapixel Lumia 920, which uses the latest version of the company's PureView imaging technology, offering optical image stabilization to help keep images from blurring even when the phone is not held completely still.
Whereas Nokia and Microsoft are trying to gain ground on Apple in the smartphone space, handsets using Google's Android operating system actually outsell the iPhone. As such the three new Motorola DROID RAZR phones, all of which operate on Verizon Wireless's 4G LTE network, compete as much with other Android phones such as Samsung's Galaxy S III—which has sold more than 20 million units since its debut in May—as they do with the iPhone. The key technology behind the RAZRs introduced on Wednesday is Motorola's "Super AMOLED Advanced" display, an active-matrix organic light-emitting diode screen designed to improve image quality while using less energy.
Information about the iPhone 5 has come mostly from leaked images purporting to show the highly anticipated new gadget. Based on several of these images, the new iPhone is a bit longer than its predecessors, implying a larger screen and space for a larger battery. ZDNet.com has a nice roundup of leaked images that includes what appear to be new earbuds and a reconfigured dock connector, which means existing recharging and connection cables would not function with the new phone.
Although the iPhone is apparently growing, the iPad is expected to shrink when Apple reveals its newest iteration of the tablet next month. In contrast, the new high-end Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablet introduced Thursday goes in the other direction, placing 4G LTE wireless connectivity behind an 8.9-inch screen, up from the original's 7-inch screen (the iPad's screen is 9.7 inches). The larger of the two new Kindle Fire HDs—there's also a lower-end 7-inch HD version—includes 32 gigabytes of memory (the iPad comes with up to 64 gigabytes).
So Apple's competitors have fired their final salvos at the company before the next few weeks' hoopla over its new smartphone and tablet. Nokia, Motorola and Amazon have introduced new gadgets that bring them closer in line with what their chief rival has been offering. Now it's Apple's turn.
Image courtesy of mikkelwilliam, via iStockphoto.com