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Mobile World Congress rumor mill churns with reports of better screens, cameras

Mikael Ricknäs | Jan. 28, 2015
For Android fans, the next couple of months will be exciting times thanks to the expected arrival of new flagship smartphones from HTC, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Sony. While nothing revolutionary is expected, the steady pace of product evolution will nevertheless result in some great devices.

Until now, Samsung has used a mix of its own and Qualcomm's processors on the company's high-end devices. Just using the company's own processor would be a feather in its cap. But without Qualcomm as a safety net, Samsung would be more vulnerable to production issues of its own.

One thing that's surprising about the rumored specifications of these upcoming products is the amount of memory they are expected to have.

Reports point to 3GB of RAM becoming the new standard. Anything less would be unacceptable, since existing products like the Nexus 6 and the Galaxy Note 4 already have that amount. While that's an improvement over high-end smartphones from the first half of last year, Xiaomi's Mi Note Pro has 4GB of memory, so there is room for an even bigger upgrade. The phone, which will also the Snapdragon 810, was announced this month, and will start shipping in March.

What makes the Mi Note Pro special isn't just the amount of RAM it has, but the type. The smartphone will use super fast LPDDR4 (low power, double data rate) mobile DRAM. In December, Samsung — which makes memory modules — said the combination of improved performance and size would result in a new era of mobile responsiveness.

The improvements aren't just about increasing speed: low operating voltages and faster processing will also result in power savings, according to the company. Since Samsung has its own memory chip unit, it should be able to secure enough 4GB components for use on its own smartphones.

All this adds up to smartphones that are becoming increasingly similar, which means marketing and design will become even more important than in the past. Last year saw Samsung stumble with the design of the Galaxy S5 and then bounce back with the improved looks of the Galaxy Note 4. The company needs to build on that and come up with something that looks even better for the Galaxy S6. Hopefully the company will also release an Edge version of the S6, which is expected to have screen that wraps around one of the sides of the device.

The next few months won't be just be about the companies mentioned above. For example, Huawei has its sights set on the high end, and has been improving the design and performance of its products in the last couple of years. On Tuesday, the company said it sold 75 million smartphones, representing a year-on-year increase of 45 percent.

One of the most highly anticipated products of the year is OnePlus' next flagship. In a recent interview, company co-founder Carl Pei said that it will start shipping in about six months — an eon in today's fast-paced market.


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