2013: a golden year for smartphones?

2013: a golden year for smartphones?I had a bit of a moan the other day in Five things smartphone manufacturers keep getting wrong, listing – yes – five things that continually irk me about the latest and supposedly greatest smartphones.

But, removing my slippers of cynicism and instead donning the pants of positivity, 2013 is looking pretty awesome as far as smartphones go – certainly better than recent years.

Rewinding back to 2010, when Mobot was but a twinkle in the Big Boss’s eye, the two big players were Apple with the iPhone 4 (a nightmarish time before Siri, ahem), and HTC with the original Desire.

Meanwhile, Samsung failed to impress with the first entry in its Galaxy S Series, the aptly named Samsung Galaxy S.

Fast-forwarding to this year, however, we’re positively spoiled for choice, with all the big smartphone names coming into their own.

2013: a golden year for smartphones?Apple still features heavily, of course, with the iPhone 5S (right, maybe) expected to be mostly the same as the iPhone 5, though it’ll inevitably go on to shift millions of units and probably be the biggest selling phone of the year.

With its colossal range, Samsung continues to dominate both Android and the smartphone scene as a whole, but we’ll be interested to see how the figures play out for the rest of the year, with increasingly strong competition (see below). Incidentally, IDC, isn’t it about time for some Q2 2013 figures?

The current flagship for Sammo is the Samsung Galaxy S4, and we’re expecting the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 at IFA in early September. Nice.

One of the first big stories we covered in early 2011 was Nokia ditching Symbian and pledging allegiance to Windows Phone. Let’s face it; the Windows Phone 7 era was fairly depressing, but there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel, specifically in the form of the Nokia Lumia 1020 with its 41MP rear camera. Cripes.

Sony had a tough few years, but ditching its 10-year partnership with Ericsson in 2012 has evidently done it a universe of good.

2013: a golden year for smartphones?While the Japanese manufacturer was traditionally behind the curve circa 2011 with the likes of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, it launched one of the first 1080p phones in the Sony Xperia Z (left) earlier this year, and quickly followed up with the top-of-the-range 6.4in Xperia Z Ultra. Good work, guys.

Flying back over to South Korea, LG generally plays second fiddle to Samsung, but it’s proving to be an increasingly relevant pain in the neck, going toe-to-toe on features and occasionally attempting – for better or worse – to steal the limelight entirely.

We reckon the success of the Google Nexus 4 has served LG well (despite the widely documented supply issues), and it’s threatening to launch a Phone of the Year candidate in the LG (Optimus) G2 next month.

2013: a golden year for smartphones?Motorola is another manufacturer emerging from a transitional cocoon in 2013, having been acquired by Google in 2011/12. Yes, Christy Wyatt, World’s Loveliest Lady is long gone (she’s now CEO of Good), but we’re eagerly anticipating the arrival of the much-discussed Moto X (right, as modelled by Google exec Eric Schmidt).

Interestingly, Motorola design guy Jim Wicks sounds pretty on the ball, suggesting that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to smartphones.

The US manufacturer has also promised a focus on durability and battery life, instead of going down the well-worn 5in 1080p, quad-core, 13MP route. Good!

2013: a golden year for smartphones?Finally, last but not least, we have Taiwan’s HTC. To be brutally honest, 2011 was a terrible year for HTC, and 2012 wasn’t much better. Releasing an utterly confusing array of phones didn’t help.

Things are significantly brighter in 2013, with the HTC One (left) widely hailed as one of the sexiest smartphones of all time. Well done, lads.

Indeed, well done to all you lads. Good show.

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5 comments

JanSt / MOD  Jul. 18, 2013 at 14:12

Not a great year if you're not into Android. And if you can't accept an iPhone without jailbreak.
And if you tried a BB10 device and WP8.... Those two are stuck somewhere in 2008.

SpeedyG  Jul. 18, 2013 at 18:39

TBH WP8 needs another year with all the updates and newer models to really be closer to Android in functionality and model choice while catching up with IOS in apps a bit. BB10 is where WP7 was a while ago and has a lot of catching up to do or it could flop badly if the right choices are not made soon.

This has been the year where none of the flagships have interested me greatly. Nothing really ground-breaking or innovative. Maybe MotoX may save things with less is more approach but I'm not holding my breath.

JanSt / MOD  Jul. 18, 2013 at 21:59

Agree. After 2 weeks with the Lumia 820 there's no way I'd pay more than £150 for the 1020. WP got better, but some missing features are just ludicrous in 2013! And with Mac and Linux you rely entirely on cloud services... And come on: camera phones that don't show photo details in the gallery?

And give us a file explorer already!

Android? I don't know if I can ever go there again. The forever in beta feel? I like tweaking and rooting, but Android feels like a project more than a utility.

SpeedyG  Jul. 18, 2013 at 22:21

Ha! Jan, you'll think me a strange geek but I happen to prefer going for or been attracted to phones that aren't too popular or on the way out. When the smartphone boon was in full swing and stylish phones still sold well, I went for the Samsung Tocca Ultra for some reason. My very first phone a Sagem brick. When I tried to be cool, I lost my Nokia 3210 the same day I bought it (Or maybe it was stolen :p) 3310 came much later when colour screen phones where the rage. When in my Samsung stage, D600 and G600 where held for dear life till both got swapped out for the money :'( Had the HTC Hero for a while when I really wanted the Desire (Oh how it teased me so) If money had not been an issue, my phone record would have been immense, but alas...

But I see no desire in getting the flagships now. In fact , the S3 would suit me fine even though the screen is a little to big (My next phone will probably be the Samsung Ativ S, go on, laugh :D) But too much pizzaz and not enough functionality, battery life or ergonomics. It has to be thin, slippery, quad-core but have poor batts, memory (8 and 16GB still options in this day and age? eurgh.) and if it's not super-model looks , no-ones bats an eyelid nowadays.

Don't care.

*Orders back old 3210, 3310 and D600.*

Viva la revolution and a time when having a phone with good talk-time, battery life and that was practical in every day life.

Huzzah!

JanSt / MOD  Jul. 18, 2013 at 22:26

speedy, I know what you're saying... I have had a Nokia N91 and an iPod in my Amazon basket for months. Nothing on planet mobile sounds like the N91... and the iPod would serve as a browsery thing for online stuff. But that seems kinda nuts, even for me :p

If the Pre 3 had a half-decent camera, I'd buy 3 of them :D I quite fancied the one I broke (oops)...

I guess I needn't repeat myself re Android LOL Got over that in 20122/12, and my experience with the HTC One, SGS3 etc have left me utterly, well, both bored and overwhelmed. I'm simply done with permanent updateritis and tweaking...

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