This year doesn't hold many surprises in Olympus' Tough range, the moniker the company uses for its waterproof, dustproof, freezeproof and shockproof compact cameras. Three mid-range compacts (the TG-630, TG-2 and TG-830) have come to replace last year's entry-level models.
Olympus TG-63050 readers want this So do I!
Taking the place of the TG-620, the TG-630 features the same 12-Megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and 28-140mm f/3.9-5.9 lens. But there are some changes. The most notable is a TruePic VI processor, which is Olympus' new "thing" this year: putting its latest image processing engines in its entry-level cameras.
> Read the full review: Olympus TG-630
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2013 doesn't have many surprises in store for Olympus' "Tough" range, the label the company uses for its waterproof, dustproof, freezeproof and shockproof compact cameras. Three mid-range compacts, the TG-630, TG-2 and TG-830, have come to replace last year's entry-level models. Taking the place of the TG-620, the TG-630 features..
Chinese manufacturer Oppo was one of the first phone-makers to unveil a 5" Full HD Android smartphone with the Find 5. This handset has been on sale for a few weeks now in China, and is currently on show in Europe at the Mobile World Congress. In all, the Find 5 looks like a nice surprise. Eager customers may be interested to know that a limited number of handsets will be going on sale internationally from 27 February.
Oppo Find 5109 readers want this So do I!
Although relatively unknown just three months ago, Oppo has managed to get itself out there on the smartphone scene by presenting the Find 5. Note that this Chinese phone-maker is no way related to the "Oppo" brand of Blu-ray players and Hi-Fi systems.
The Find 5 has a Full HD IPS screen with 1920 x 1080 pixels. The display uses One Glass Solution technology (OGS), which makes the IPS panel and its touchscreen layer into a slimmer package.
This handset runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core SoC clocked at 1.5 GHz and has 2 GB of RAM. It comes with either 16 GB or 32 GB of memory, to which an extra 32 GB can be added via the microSD card slot.
The Find 5 comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and a home-grown Oppo interface over the top. The handset's finish is excellent. In fact, it's a really nice phone to handle and the screen is very bright.
The interface seems pleasant enough to use and—more importantly—the OS runs smoothly. The Find 5 is a slim smartphone that uses a 2500 mAh battery to help keep its 5" Full HD screen powered up.
The Find 5 offers Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, a GPS, NFC and 4G LTE support.
There's a 13-Megapixel camera with LED flash on the back of this mobile and a 1.9-Megapixel camera on the front for video chat.
Oppo has announced that a limited number of Find 5 handsets are due to be launched for sale internationally. The Oppostyle website shows a release date of 27 February at 4 p.m. UK time, with a countdown timer to the start of sale. The Find 5 is expected to sell for $499 (approx. £330) for the 16 GB model. No 32 GB models will be available among this first batch of handsets.
Set on not letting Qualcomm and Samsung take the lead in 2013, Intel has announced its own range of high-end mobile chips, which it's releasing sometime this year.
The name of Intel's new platform is Clover Trail+. We already mentioned the high-end model, the Atom Z2580, which will be equipping the Lenovo K900 smartphone, earlier this month. Now we have more details about the technical specs and the other chips in the range.
The Clover Trail+ series comprises three chips, the Z2580, Z2560 and Z2520. What sets them apart are their CPU and iGPU frequencies. Everything else is the same across the range: a dual-core processor with hyper threading support (the system recognises four 'cores'), a Turbo mode that modulates the cores' frequencies depending on the workload (all three have a default rate of 933 MHz, which increases by varying degrees) and a PowerVR SGX 544MP2 GPU.
The highest resolution each SoC can support is 1920 x 1200 pixels (WUXGA), which is plenty for a high-end smartphone in 2013, as most have Full HD displays. Like Qualcomm and Samsung's competing chips, Intel's range supports advanced camera functions, such as HDR, burst mode and continuous focus.
The biggest question with these systems-on-chip is their power consumption, which 'Trails' a bit behind the competition. The transistors use a 32 nm process at a time when the competing companies are focusing by-and-large on 28 nm (this is because the smaller the transistor, the less it tends to overheat and the more efficient is its overall use of energy).
Of course, power consumption doesn't only depend on how fine the engraving process is, and the Clover Trail+ range includes a 'low consumption' rate, set at 800 MHz (where, again, the default is 933 MHz). This reduced frequency lowers the amount of energy the chip uses when performing tasks that require less computation, as well as when the device is on standby or lock.
As soon as early 2014, Intel will be launching the next generation of Atoms with the Merrifield and Bay Trail platforms, which use a 22 nm process. There will be a dual-core version (the Tangier) and a quad-core version (the Valley View), both of which will have a Series 6 Power VR iGPU.
Furtively revealed late last year, the ZTE Grand S is now out in the open at the Chinese brand's stand at MWC. The Grand S is ZTE's first 5-inch Full HD smartphone.
ZTE Grand S35 readers want this So do I!
This year ZTE is putting its money on the plus-size smartphone market. Yesterday we showed you the Grand Memo, now here's the Grand S in all its splendour, with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display and Gorilla Glass anti-scratch, anti-shock coating.
The Grand S has a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core CPU clocked at 1.7 GHz, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage space (expandable via microSD).
On the back is a 13-Megapixel camera with an LED flash that films in Full HD 1080p, and on the front is a 2-Megapixel webcam. The interface ZTE has added on top of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean gives users extra capabilities, such as the ability to programme six shortcut icons on the lock screen to whatever features your heart so desires.
The menus look the same as the menus on the Grand Memo, with a lot of nature-inspired themes and backgrounds: leaves, woods, trees, bark... There's even a background with mushrooms and butterflies on it (hey, we didn't say you have to like it...).
The Grand S has Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and a wireless audio-video connection for compatible TVs (Wireless Display) and it's 4G/LTE-compatible. Unfortunately, for NFC you have to pay extra.
ZTE hasn't announced a European release date or official pricing yet for either the Grand S or the Grand Memo. I personally hope they release the S here, though, because it really runs smoothly and the materials are much better and less plasticky than the Memo.
While some camera-makers are already on their twelfth generation of expert compacts (e.g. Canon's G series, launched in 2000), Pentax has finally got round to outing its first advanced compact snapper in 2013.
The MX-1 is based on the same lens unit and sensor as the Olympus XZ-2 but comes loaded with Pentax's own image processing system and with a 60s style retro casing. So how can you be sure to stand out from the likes of the Olympus ZX-2, Panasonic LX7, Sony RX100, Samsung EX2F, Fuji X10 and Canon G15 when you're a latecomer to the market? Find out in our review.
> Read The Full Review: Pentax MX-1
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While some camera-makers are already on their twelfth generation of expert compacts (e.g. Canon's G series, launched in 2000), Pentax has finally got round to outing its first advanced compact in 2013. The MX-1 is based on the same lens unit and sensor as the Olympus XZ-2 but comes loaded..
The newly unveiled PadFone Infinity is based on the same "smartphone and docking station" concept as the original PadFone. Here, you get a 5" handset that slots into a 10.1" touchscreen tablet dock.
The PadFone Infinity smartphone boasts an aluminium finish and weighs 141 grammes. It runs on a 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and will be available with 32 or 64 GB of memory. You also get 50 GB of cloud-based storage.
The smartphone is loaded with a Full HD display with 1920 x 1080 pixels—that makes 441 pixels per inch. Plus, its 5" screen has been treated to an anti-fingerprint coating. The PadFone Infinity Station has a 10.1" screen, again boasting Full HD resolution (1920 x 1200 pixels).
The Infinity has a 13-Megapixel camera and a 2-Megapixel front-facing webcam. Aperture is announced at f/2.0 and video is filmed in 1080p Full HD. Connectivity is covered by 4G LTE, Wi-Fi a/g/b/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and a GPS. The whole lot runs on Android 4.2.
The PadFone Infinity smartphone has a 2400 mAh battery promising up to 19 hours of talk time over 3G. The PadFone Infinity Station has a 5000 mAh battery, boosting that to 57 hours of talk time or 20 hours of web browsing.
The PadFone is expected to launch at £799 when it lands in Europe in April.
Asus then went on to present the 7" FonePad tablet with phone functionality. This phablet has an IPS display with 1280 x 800 pixels, a 1.2 GHz Intel Atom Z2420 processor, 1 GB of RAM, a Power VR SGX540 GPU and 8 GB of internal memory. The FonePad has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a GPS, as well as call capabilities.
The FonePad has a microSD card slot for boosting storage and can be loaded with a micro-SIM card. It runs on Android Jelly Bean 4.1, and has a 3-Megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.2-Megapixel front-facing webcam.
The FonePad will be launching at the end of Q2 with prices starting at £179.