The year 2012 is about to end (and we don't mean the end of the world like many predicted) and what a year it has been! In a way, it was a make-or-break year for a number of technology giants. The year saw the humbling of the Finnish handset-maker Nokia and the rise of Samsung. It also saw RIM's BlackBerry handsets go out of fashion and Apple's new iPhone getting negative reviews (probably for the first time) for its lack of design brilliance. Then there was the famous patent war between Apple and Samsung, and we can see even more legal battles in the coming year.
However, in this quick recap, we will bring you all the smartphones and tablets that rocked 2012.
Apple iPhone 5 for Rs 45,500 onwards
This year saw the launch of a number of Apple devices, but none created the pre-launch buzz quite like the iPhone 5. Everyone was waiting for the next breakthrough device from the Cupertino company (since it has been a kind of norm that the iPhone design gets completely revamped every two years), but that didn't happen. Like we had written earlier, the device was nothing we hadn't seen before. Then why it deserves a place in this list, you may wonder. That's because it is still one of the best (and most selling) smartphones out there. We guess that's just the kind of brand Apple is.
Samsung Galaxy S III for Rs 34,900 onwards
At the time of its launch, many called it an iPhone-killer and we have to say that it has lived up to its reputation. Prior to the launch of the iPhone 5 (and even after that), Samsung's third generation of Galaxy S smartphones compelled many Apple fans to rethink their brand loyalty. The smartphone that came with the tagline 'Designed for humans and inspired by nature,' was high on specifications and introduced a number of interesting features. The popularity of the device can be judged from the fact that within six months of its official launch, Samsung also launched a compact version of the smartphone called Galaxy S III mini.
Google Nexus 4 for Rs 30,000 (unofficial price)
After collaborating with Samsung for a range of Nexus smartphones, Google chose LG as its partner for Nexus 4. The smartphone runs on Android 4.2 (new version of Jelly Bean) operating system and sports a 4.7 inch True HD IPS Plus touchscreen display (1280Ã—768 pixel resolution) with 320 pixels per inch (ppi). Its high-end specs also include a 1.5 GHz Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB/16 GB of internal memory. Additionally, the fact that it is a Google device means it will always be one of the first smartphones to receive Android OS updates in the future.
Samsung Galaxy Note II for Rs 36,900
That Samsung is mentioned for the second time in the list is only testament to the brand's popularity. The immediate successor to Galaxy Note, which was the first phablet (smartphone+tablet) from the company, Galaxy Note II comes with a 5.5 inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display (720Ã—1280 pixel resolution) that is even bigger that the original Note. While many critics predicted that this segment would not work due to the large screens of the devices, the first Note became one of the hottest selling smartphones for the company. With Note II, Samsung is looking to ascertain its dominance in the phablet space.
Nokia Lumia 900 for Rs 31,131
While the company also launched a mobile phone called Nokia 808 PureView that came with a gigantic and unheard-of 41 mega pixel camera, the device that deserves a mention in the list is Lumia 900. Although not as hot (or happening) as the other honchos in the list, Nokia's flagship smartphone emerged as a ray of hope for the Windows Phone OS platform. The device was applauded and ridiculed in equal measure by experts, but it did stand out with its quirky design and 'live tiles' Metro user interface. With Lumia 920 in the pipeline (it should hit the Indian shores next month), we hope the series can boost the once-great, now-humbled Finnish handset giant.
Google Nexus 7 & 10 for Rs 22,990 and Rs 41,300 onwards (unofficial price)
Nexus 7 was Google's (in partnership with ASUS) first foray into the tablet segment. It received rave reviews and turned out to be largely successful in the 7 inch segment, which was previously dominated by Amazon's Kindle Fire. But that was not all. The company followed it up by further upgrading the 7 inch version and launching a new 10 inch version. Armed with devices in 7 inch and 10 inch screen sizes, the company now poses a very real threat to both Apple and Samsung.
The third iPad offering from Apple had a 9.7â€‘inch (diagonal) LED-backlit multiâ€‘touch display with IPS technology and 264 ppi. The 'retina display' was the high point of the device since it had four times the number of pixels in the iPad 2 and a million more than an HDTV. At that time, the company had claimed that the display was the best ever on a mobile device.
The company also decided to reduce the size of its tablets for the first time since 2010, in an attempt to challenge Amazon's and Google's tablet offerings that dominate the 7 inch screen size segment, which has been fast gaining acceptance among consumers. And like its official tagline, the new 7.9 inch iPad mini was every inch an iPad.
Kindle Fire HD 7 and 8.9 for Rs 17,000 and Rs 23,900 (unofficial price)
After tasting success with the 7 inch Kindle Fire, a tablet version of the Kindle e-book reader, Amazon was out for blood. In September 2012, the company launched an upgraded version of the original Kindle Fire and also introduced a new Kindle Fire HD family to the mix. The additions came in the form of a high definition version of the 7 inch Kindle Fire and a new 8.9 inch version to take the fight directly to Apple (at that time, Apple was yet to launch the iPad mini). The company actually claimed that its tablet's Wi-Fi offered 41 per cent faster downloads and streaming, compared to the new iPad.
Samsung Galaxy Note 800 for Rs 37,500
Although the tablet was named after the popular Note series of phablets from Samsung, Galaxy Note 800 (also known as Galaxy Note 10.1) was not a conventional phablet, rather a power-packed tablet. As the name suggests, the tablet has a 10.1 inch LCD touchscreen display (1280Ã—800 pixel resolution) and comes with an S-Pen (an advanced stylus), just like the original Note. Apart from a Quad-core processor, the highlight of the tablet was a multiscreen feature that enabled users to work on two different applications side by side at the same time, by splitting the screen.
Microsoft Surface for Rs 41,500 (unofficial price)
For the first time is Microsoft's 37-year-old history, the company introduced its own line of tablets (till now, it relied on other manufacturers to manufacture/market systems running Windows). The new line of tablets, called Surface, include two devices â€“ aimed at consumers and enterprises. The tablets come with 10.6 inch displays, are powered by different versions of the Windows 8 OS (Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro) and include a jazzy-looking keyboard that also doubles as a cover for the device.
What can we expect in 2013?
It's already past Christmas and we are rushing into the New Year. Like always, expectations will be high in the coming year and tech enthusiasts will look forward to a plethora of new and innovative products. Here's a look at what you may expect in 2013.
Samsung may launch the next-in-line Galaxy smartphone called Galaxy S4 as early as April next year. If reports are to be believed, it will come with an unbreakable screen. The company will also launch the third generation Note phablet called Galaxy Note III that may come with a 5.8 inch screen.
Research In Motion (RIM) will finally launch its long overdue (to the point of being not interested at all!) smartphones based on the BlackBerry OS 10 (renamed from BBX after the company lost the trademark battle against BASIS International Ltd).
Nokia will launch its next flagship Lumia device called Lumia 920 in the Indian market (it is already available in the US and Europe) in January 2013.
Finally, Apple may do away with its one-smartphone-a-year policy and launch the next iPhone (rumoured to be called iPhone 5S) in the second quarter of 2012. And this time around, the device will be available in multiple colours and not just white and black.
That is all for 2012 and finally, Techcircle.in wishes you a very happy and prosperous New Year!
(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)