NEW YORK –
The smartphone market is in for some major market shifts in the coming months.
Google and Research In Motion (RIM) unveiled new converged tablet/smartphone operating systems, Nokia launched its first Windows Phone 7 smartphones, and AT&T launched its first 4G LTE smartphones while Apple expanded distribution of its iPhone 4S to four U.S. carriers.
In smartphone OS changes, RIM unveiled a unified BlackBerry BBX OS for future smartphones and tablets to combine the best attributes of its BlackBerry smartphone OS and the QNX tablet OS. Products incorporating the BlackBerry BBX OS S will be available sometime next year, a spokesperson said.
The OS will support future BlackBerry Cloud services, native and HTML5 apps, more advanced graphics, and so-called “Super App” capabilities, such as deep integration between apps, always-on push services, the planned BBM Social Platform for social networking and other capabilities.
In the Android OS world, Samsung and Google unveiled the first smartphone using the new Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) OS. The Galaxy Nexus will roll out globally in November in 4G HSPA+ and LTE versions, with at least one of the versions becoming available in the U.S. in November.
The phone, designed jointly by Google and Samsung, operates in HSPA+ mode in the 850/900/1900/1700/2100MHz bands, so AT&T or TMobile could offer it in the U.S. Bands for an LTE version weren’t announced. The companies did not specify which U.S. carriers would offer the device.
The phone features large 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED 720p display paired with a narrow 4.29mm bezel to keeps the phone’s overall size despite the large screen. Other key features include a 1.2GHz dual-core processor.
With the new Ice Cream Sandwich OS, the phone sports multiple enhancements over previous generations of Android OSs, including facial recognition to unlock the device and such camera enhancements as zero shutter lag and ability to take panoramic pictures by moving the camera from left to right.
A redesigned user interface uses gestures rather than button presses for navigation. It also eliminates front-panel hard buttons.
The new OS also delivers such camera-related features as face detection, onboard photo-editing tools, automatic backup of photos in the cloud, ability to take time-lapse videos, ability to take high-resolution photos while taking a video, and zooming while recording.
For its part, the Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) OS got a boost when Nokia began rolling out its first two Windows smartphones in foreign markets with plans to bring a portfolio of Windows phones to the U.S. early next year.
The first two phones, the premium Lumia 800 and more affordable Lumia 710, use 4G 14.4Mbps W-CDMA/HSPA+ cellular technology, but president/CEO Stephen Elop said Nokia will add CDMA and LTE versions of Windows phones “to address specific local market requirements.”
The much-anticipated introduction is the first tangible result of a strategy announced eight months ago to switch the company’s smartphone focus to the Windows OS from the Symbian OS.
In the U.S., the launch will be accompanied by Nokia’s largest marketing campaign in years, a spokesman told TWICE.
Of the two phones, the premium Lumia 800 is more likely to end up in the U.S. because it operates in HSPA+ mode in the U.S. 850/1900MHz bands as well as in foreign 900/2100MHz bands.
Though the phones use the standardized Windows Phone OS, Nokia said it is differentiating its Windows phones in part through design and craftsmanship but also by the inclusion of three free apps and services. They include the Nokia Drive turn-by-turn navigation app, which turns the phone into a portable navigation device whose maps and the routing algorithm reside in the phone. A second free app is MixRadio, Nokia’s free global mobile music-streaming application offering hundreds of music channels as well as off-line listening.
A third free app with service is the ESPN Hub, letting users access sports news, statistics and videos.
For its part, AT&T planned Nov. 6 availability of its first two 4G LTE smartphones, joining multiple LTEequipped data devices.
The two LTE phones, both of which are Android smartphones, are the $199 HTC Vivid and $249 Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket. The HTC Vivid boasts dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 4.5-inch qHD (960 by 540-pixel) display. The Samsung Skyrocket features dual-core 1.5GHz processor and 4.5-inch Super- AMOLED Plus (800 by 480-pixel) display.