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The Co-operative Group have announced that they're getting into the mobile phone business. The company plans to offer PAYG SIM cards at 3800 Co-Op supermarkets around the country starting this month.


The Co-Op hopes to be competitive on three fronts: pricing, coverage and - yes, this from the company that Paul Flowers used to be chairman of - honesty.

Calls will apparently cost 8p per minute - and only 4p/minute to other Co-Op users, with text messages at 4 pence (2p to other Co-Op users). Data will apparently be 5p per megabyte (perhaps better wait until you find a wifi connection then).

Perhaps most interesting in the new tariff is that they say they won't be rounding the cost of calls up to the nearest minute - so whereas other networks would make you pay the price of a minute's call for a ten second phone call, with the Co-Op it'll only cost a couple of pence. Not bad if you're cost-conscious.

The network itself is a virtual operator, working on the EE network - so wherever you can get EE coverage, you can get get Co-Op.

Whilst this probably isn't big news for any data-hungry early adopters, it could prove useful if you need a SIM card for your mum, or if you're a wannabe drug dealer in need of a 'burner' phone.

Grr! Look at the dastardly European Union! Not only have they managed to maintain peace and security in Europe for 60 years and provided an excellent mechanism for expanding liberal democracy across the former Eastern Bloc, but now they've gone and done something really awesome for phone users across Europe: Abolished roaming charges.

It's almost as if they want Nigel Farage to look like a dick.

Yesterday the European Parliament voted to end roaming charges across Europe - for both calls and mobile internet, meaning that finally we'll be able to go on holiday without receiving that depressing text message from our scrooge-like UK networks telling us that it costs £6 per megabyte of data to check our emails.

Here's EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes talking about it:

That's not all - the same legislation, known as the "Connected Continent" telecoms regulation also looks set to enshrine net neutrality into European law. This means that we won't get into a situation like there is in America, where internet service providers throttle access to the likes of Netflix unless they pay them a big wad of cash. The fear is that this sort of throttling would not only make watching House of Cards a more buffered experience, but also that it would threaten free speech - creating a "two tier" internet, where the corporations get better access than the little guy.

By comparison, in Nigel Farage's alternative reality, his isolated British government are looking on as the rest of Europe can communicate with each other with no outlandish surcharges, whilst anyone from Britain planning to go and do business in Europe, is not only hit with an uncertain trade environment over tariffs and quotas, but also has to pay through the nose to talk to anyone there.

Typical meddling EU! Looking out for the consumer!

The future has lurched a step closer today as it has been announced that both Microsoft and Samsung have joined the board of Qi Wireless, the group of companies that have all committed to the common Qi charging standard.


Wireless charging has long been a promise of the future but until now support has been patchy. We've seen it in a handful of devices - mostly Nokia's Lumia range - so it is significant to see Microsoft, who make Windows Phone OS which runs on the Lumia join in. Perhaps more importantly, Android giants Samsung have got on board too.

Other companies that are already involved include the likes of Asus, HTC, LG and Sony - so there is already wide support.

The significance here is that it means that much like how mobile phones all use the common Micro-USB standard for plug-in chargers, hopefully this Qi deal points to phone manufacturers coming towards a common standard for wireless charging - so we won't be back to the bad old days of awkwardly having to ask if someone has a charger for a Nokia?

The only potential stumbling block is a rival consortium - the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) - which also count a large number of companies backing that standard (some, you'll notice, are backing both). Does this mean we'll see duelling standards a la Blu-Ray vs HD DVD for a while? Let's hope not.

Still - now these two heavyweights are on board, it can't be long until we're all charging our phones without plugging in, right?

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It comes as no surprise that the continued rise of smartphones and tablets is having a significant impact on the world and the technology industry.

One in five people across the globe now own a smartphone whilst one in 17 own a tablet, and that's continuing to grow.

For many this Christmas it was a strange time, parents were frantically shopping around looking for the latest iPad or Galaxy Tab for their children rather than the Sony PS Vita or Nintendo 3DS. But what does this mean? The end for the portable gaming device?

It wouldn't be surprising. After all smartphones and tablets are becoming the jack of all trades. You can browse the internet, type up notes, and play games that more than match their rival portable gaming devices.

Since the emergence of the mobile devices there's been much talk about how they could compete and even surpass the games console but the releases of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have certainly proved otherwise with record sales, and a buzz that undeniably suggests there is room for both on the market.

On the other hand however, it's been two years since the PlayStation Vita hit the shelves and has sold much less than anticipated with Sony UK's managing director firmly placing blame on an ever changing marketplace.

He told VG24/7, "In all honesty, higher sales would have been what we had hoped for.

"The market Vita entered was more complicated than it was when the console was originally thought about and designed. Games on tablets and phones have changed the marketplace and people can't carry too many things around at one time."

Online poker is one area which highlights this, as trends suggest that there will be an estimated 164 million users who choose to use mobile poker applications provided by the big brands, such as Full Tilt Poker with a huge reduction in desktop gaming

It isn't just the convenience though. Of course the ability to pull your mobile phone on the bus and play free poker online is a huge benefit, but it's free that is perhaps the operative word. Tablet and mobile gaming generally offer free or games at relatively cheap prices, allowing gamers to enjoy the latest fad such as Angry Birds, or more recently Flappy Birds, at a price which is disposable income to most of society.

In comparison, a Vita will set you back around £180, whilst you're likely to pay around £20 for a single game.

Sony are trying to combat this, due to the development of the Vita and PS4 at the same time there is set to be greater connectivity between the two. Named Remote Play it will allow gamers to play PS4 games using their handhold console, and even switch between playing on the two without losing any data.

Whether this will help resurrect the handheld console it's unsure, but it will be a mighty climb to beat the likes of the App Store's 260,000 or the reasonable prices of Android tablets. 

In Association With Full Tilt Poker

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There are so many 4G phones to choose from it can be hard to know where to start. To make matters more difficult, many of them are nearly identical thanks to the ubiquity of Android... so how can you be confident you're getting what is right for you when you're picking up a 4G phone? Here are some top tips...


If you like swimming...


The Sony Xperia Z1 is an Android device like no other - because unlike the iPhone, this phone is actually waterproof. Sporting a full HD 5" screen it's a high powered device - with a 2.2ghz Snapdragon processor on in the inside. The camera is decent too - at 20 megapixels, meaning that next time you're in the pool you should be able to get some really cool underwater shots.

If you have massive hands...


The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is the South Korean giant's flagship "plablet" - half way between a phone and a tablet. Unlike other 4G handsets, this phone comes with a stylus for handwriting recognition on it's monster 5.7" 1080p HD screen.

Whilst perfect for those with large hands, there is a concession for those with smaller digits: if you need to use it one handed, you can enable "small mode", which shrinks the screen down to something the size of a normal phone - so you can reach with your thumb when typing.

If you like to type...


Let's face it - phones with keyboards are going the way of the Dodo, but that doesn't mean you can't have one last meal of Dodo a l'Orange. The Blackberry Q5 is one of the few 4G LTE phones available that has a physical keyboard. The trade off is a more limited range of apps (no Vine or Instagram here), but if email is what you need, then the Q5 should serve you well.

If you're not a burglar...


Okay, so I admit these are getting pretty tenuous. But if you don't mind leaving your fingerprints all over the place, why not try the iPhone 5S? The first phone with built in fingerprint recognition, you can use your digits to unlock your device, or make purchases from the app store with having to faff about with passwords.

The other benefit is that unlike all of the other phones listed here, which run Android, you'll get to use the slightly slicker iOS operating system, which is unique to iPhones and is arguably slightly nicer to use.

If you have sticky hands...


The Samsung Galaxy S4 is another of the flagship 4G Smartphones. A powerful device in it's own right, what makes the S4 unique is that it has some built in motion tracking of your fingers, so you can operate some apps without actually touching the screen - instead, waving your fingers in front of it, Minority Report style.

So if you've got a job where your hands are otherwise engaged in dirty work, be it mechanic or cake decorator, you can still read your Facebook without having to wash your hands first. Brilliant.

How can I try these out?

So we've featured a bunch of different phones here - but how can you really find out which 4G phone is for you? Our friends at Gizmodo are running a competition with EE, to find people to test a different phone every month. You can find details on the competition here.

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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has told TechDigest that he will go "ballistic" if the NSA try to gain backdoor access into The People's Operator, the new mobile phone network that it has just been announced Wales will become co-chair of.


Speaking at the DLD14 conference in Munich, Wales announced his new career move - taking time away from Wikipedia to help grow The People's Operator, a charity-focused mobile phone network that launched in the UK at the end of 2012. What makes TPO different to the likes of Vodafone, O2 and EE is that the company promise to give 25% of profits to charity - with a guaranteed 10% of each customer bill also going to good causes.

Wales has previously spoken out in support of NSA whistleblowing Edward Snowden, calling him a "hero" - which is particularly interesting now that Wales is co-chair of a company in which privacy and security is going to be important, and one that he has been brought on board to help grow internationally, including in the US. Asked by us what he'd do if the NSA came and asked him for backdoor access, Wales said:

"I would go ballistic so at all I wouldn't do that, but no, as a virtual - so an MVNO - mobile virtual network operator so we partner with the people with infrastructure, so we have limited control over that aspect of things. However, we want to set best practices in the industry for privacy, data security and y'know, in whatever roles/influence I have either as a public person who opines on these issues, or in this role I would definitely say I'll campaign for our partners to say they should also be practicing the best practices. So, we definitely want to be a shining light in this area but I can't promise total control of the whole pipeline".


Wales explained to us that he was first attracted to the business by the fact that it both has a business model and a charitable motive - two things that don't often come together. Asked why a mobile operator is a good vehicle for fundraising, Wales replied:

"Its a huge industry with a huge number of subscribers, and a lot of money flowing through" - rather than spend on a marketing budget, the plan is rely on word of mouth and goodwill of the customers. The cash that would go on advertising can then be spent on good causes instead.

To manufacture this goodwill, Wales referred to needing a "rock solid offering", including good customer services - which will be music to the ears of anyone who has ever had to phone their mobile operator.

You can hear the whole interview here:

So it's interesting times ahead for Wales - and it'll be interesting to see if the new announcement leads to East London's People's Operator gaining more traction. Here's hoping he'll be about marshall the other operators into caring more about privacy issues too.

The people of Finland live in fear. Though everything appears normal by day - when nightfalls it begins. Ungodly noises shriek out of the creepy castle on top of the fill - and cries of agony can be heard. Just what is going on up there? When cornered, villagers speak in hushed tones about what they've seen. "It's... it's... not natural", they quiver.


Rumour has it that Nokia have been building a monster. A chimera - Android phones designed to look an awful lot like they're actually running Windows Phone. A droid in Bill Gates' clothing.

In screenshots unearthed by the usually reliable evleaks, it shows the latest from Nokia's "Normandy" programme - currently developing the firm's first Android phones. The plan, apparently, is for the Android devices to appear on the low-end phones - presumably replacing the Nokia Asha series and its basic "feature phone" operating system.

The reason for dressing it up as Windows is because the plan is to encourage users to upgrade to fully fledged Nokia Windows phone device, like the Lumia 1520. Apparently they've taken a "fork" of Android, and modded it significantly (a bit like Amazon have done with the Kindle Fire) - so don't expect the standard Android Google apps on each device.

To further confuse things, you might be able to spot Blackberry's newly cross-platform BBM sat on the homescreen.

What's really interesting though is the wider context in which this development is taking place: Nokia's phone division are soon to be owned wholly by Microsoft (they're going through the legal wrangling at the moment)... so whether any Normandy phone will ever see the light of day remains to be seen, given Microsoft are not going to want to encourage users to use a rival platform.

So for the people of Finland, there are perhaps more sleepless nights ahead whilst Nokia use lighting to try to animate this phone into life. Who knows... it might even already walk amongst us...!

If you're waking up this morning in Bath, Cambridge, Northampton, or seven more lucky towns throughout the country, you may have noticed that the internet on your phone is faster than usual - EE have expanded their 4G coverage. Read on to find out where.

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Today's rollout covers ten more towns: Bath, Bournemouth, Brighton, Cambridge, Darlington, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Northampton, Poole, Portsmouth and Redcar - this, of course, supplements 131 existing 4G cities and towns (London, Birmingham, et al).

What's more is that by Christmas - so in the next three weeks, EE also plan to have 4G coverage sorted for a further 19 places: Aberdeen, Braintree, Cheltenham, Chester, Dundee, Durham, Exeter, Gloucester, Grimsby, Ipswich, Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Norwich, Peterborough, Plymouth, Stoke-on-Trent, Swansea, Swindon and York.

This is a nice gift to anyone receiving an iPhone 5S for Christmas - apparently the EE 4G network now reaches 60% of the UK population. It's also a stark reminder to urban tech journalists like myself that not everyone gets the shiny new toys as quick as we city-dwellers.

Personally, I'm hoping we'll reach a point where EE are so successful that they'll pull all of those hideous Kevin Bacon adverts - just destroy whatever dirt you have on him EE, do the right thing and stop him from having to go through with this depressing charade!

Nokia-Lumia-1020.jpgreview-line.JPGName: Nokia Lumia 1020 

Type: Windows Phone 8 smartphone with 41 Megapixel sensor 

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: £549 (without contract)

 It may have a 41 Megapixel sensor. But is this the cameraphone to beat all other cameraphones? And will the fact that it uses the Microsoft platform rather than Android or Apple put people off buying it, especially with such a high price tag. Read on to find out...

Yellow peril

A couple of months ago I took a look at the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom for Tech Digest. The first cameraphone to feature a 10x optical zoom, it is also arguably the first to come close to matching the performance and functionality of a compact camera, particularly when it comes to framing long distance shots.

However, it's not without its faults, most notably the fact that it is extremely bulky for a phone and it isn't easy to switch between camera and phone modes.  It's also got very limited storage (just 8Gb on board).

Enter the Nokia Lumia 1020. Much, much thinner than the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom, it also lays claim to the 'king of the cameraphone' title with a lens boasting a whopping 41 Megapixels - over eight times more pixels that is than the 8 Megapixel Apple iPhone 5S and double the number onboard the 20.7 Megapixel Sony Experia Z1. 

And while it doesn't have an optical zoom like the Samsung, what you are able to do is crop the picture and still - in theory - have enough resolution to get a well defined image from a long distance shot. It also has more built-in memory too, 32Gb compared to 8Gb, although this isn't expandable. 

Available in three colours (white,black and yellow), we tested the eye catching, and actually rather attractive, bright yellow model. It's actually a lovely phone to hold in your hand. Well made and a good size too with a plenty large enough 4.5inch display. Screen resolution is very high too: 1280 x 768 pixels (WXGA). Certainly we found the colours excellent and the display nice and bright.  

It's also very, very slim, much slimmer than the positively obese Samsung Galaxy Zoom. The camera lens hardly protrudes at all from the main body, though you can buy a standalone grip for the phone should you wish to have something sturdy to grip when taking proper professional shots. Costing around £45, these are available from here (

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Windows Phone 8 platform 

I would love to write that the Windows Phone 8 platform is the future of smartphones and no one, but no one, should worry about getting a Windows phone like this one. Unfortunately I don't believe that's true. Like Symbian, the doomed platform used for Nokia's short lived 41 Megapixel predecessor (the 808 Pure View), I have very big doubts about whether the Microsoft software can survive in the long term.

For a start I don't think it's anywhere near as straightforward to use as an Android and Apple device. Rather than a display with a list of sub-pages showing various apps and settings, what you are greeted with is a very graphical display with a bunch of different coloured, different shaped tiles with lots of flashing from various parts of the screen - displaying unnerving mug shots from your Facebook contacts to all and sundry . It all feels like a challenge on the Krypton Factor (kids ask your parents!) rather than a phone I should be able to pick up and use straight away. Swiping to the left brings up the list of available Apps but again this is far from intuitive.

Talking of apps, it's here where the main issue lies. I'm sure given enough time I could get my head around with the tiled, flashing interface with the different coloured and sized titles. But there is no escaping the fact that the app store for Microsoft - like the video selection for Betamax tapes years ago is a bit rubbish. Sure, some of the big hitters are there like Facebook and Twitter, but you are missing Instagram and Vine and a whole of other apps, including my personal favourite: the Nike+ Running app. There's no official support for YouTube and Gmail either - including push notifications - so you can't get your gmails the minute they are sent automatically. 

Now if this was a bargain basement smartphone you might excuse this oversight, but the fact is that it's a very high end phone - one of the most expensive on the market - and that just isn't acceptable!

Instead Nokia has provided a few of its own apps to make amends, including Here Maps (a GPS-based mapping tool which also lists local businesses and restaurants), Nokia Drive (turn by turn directions for drivers) and Here Transit which shows location of public transport. They're all half decent but it's not the same.

Solid visual performance

nokia lumia 1020 (screen grab).jpgThankfully while the operating system may not be up to scratch at least the camera is. I was a bit sceptical about whether the 41 Megapixel boast was just all hype and it wouldn't be any better than lower resolution cameras.

But actually the pictures are really very good. Either the cameraphone can be used in fully automatic mode or you can switch it to manual mode with an array of various manual options including shutter speed, ISO, white balance and focus (but not aperture control). Strangely, the camera doesn't have a specific macro mode for detailed close ups but it's here that I though the Nokia 1020 excelled. Just take a look at this picture below taken in North London's Oakhill Park on a crisp Autumn morning. 

Taken extremely close up, here the Nokia Lumia 1020 gives exceptionally detailed results with large portions of the frame in focus. Click on picture for full sized image.

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And here's another one.  Here you can see a high level of detail and focus in the central portion of the frame. Click on picture for full sized image.

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And here's another one showing an unusual Wendy House in the middle of the park. First in automatic mode. Click on picture for full sized image.

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And now in manual mode, deliberately overexposed and with an 'interesting' colour balance. Click on picture for full sized image. 

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Battery drain

Like most smartphones, it seems, the Nokia Lumia 1020, seems to suffer the curse of rapidly diminishing battery life. It comes with a 1.5GHz dual core processor and 2000 mAh battery which, the manufacturer claims, should give up to 13.3 hours of talk time. I don't know where companies get these figures from, but I found the Nokia Lumia 1020 nearly as bad as my iPhone 4S and that's saying something. 

Maybe it's that busy tiled interface showing images of my Facebook friends that's draining the battery? I don't know but I know that you are lucky to get more than 12 hours of use from the phone and that's with only making a few calls during the day. Finally another gripe is that I didn't find call quality particularly great. It wasn't so much the strength of the signal which was the problem - more to do with the positioning of the speaker which I found made it diffcult to hear calls if you just moved your head to the side slightly. Not great. 

Camera supplied to Tech Digest by



There is no doubt that the Nokia Lumia 1020 is a good phone, especially for those interested in photography. It is well made, looks great and has an excellent camera. However, there is simply no getting around the fact that it's a Microsoft phone and with that comes a whole bunch of problems, including an app store that simply isn't well enough populated. Call quality and battery life are also poorer than I was expecting. 


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Can Microsoft turn Windows Phone around?


Later today we're expecting to see Apple's Tim Cook unveil the next generation of the iPad - which is presumably why this morning Nokia thought it was, ummm, a good idea to announce a new tablet and some new phones that everyone will stop caring about in a few hours time.


Nokia and Microsoft have a huge problem. Windows as a mobile platform is failing. It's market share is pitiful, and despite both companies being huge players, there doesn't seem to be anything they can do to fix it.

The problem they have is in the user experience. In short, Windows phone doesn't have enough apps. And the app economy is what matters in mobile these days. People will only buy into Windows phone over iPhone and Android if they think they can get all of the apps they want (and thus have a good user experience)... but developers are only going to make apps for the Windows platform if there are enough people with Windows phones, who will conceivably want to buy their app.

Right now - Windows is in an app recession. There aren't enough users, or enough apps. By comparison, iPhone and Android are booming - both platforms have millions of users and thousands of developers making thousands of apps. It's a self perpetuating cycle. I know that my next phone is going to be an iPhone or Android because I can be confident that all of the services I use every day - Facebook, Twitter, and indeed any new service that hasn't yet been invented - will continue to support the two platforms on strength of numbers.

You may be wondering how iPhone and Android got ahead. I'd argue that it's because they had first mover's advantage. In other words, when the iPhone came along, most phones were clunky bricks with keypads - in fact, the first iPhone didn't even run apps. But by the time Apple enabled developers to make apps and created the app store, the game-changing iPhone was already in the hands of millions of people, thirsty to buy apps for their phones. Android then managed to muscle in on this by providing a more affordable smartphone option, at a more accessible price point than the premium iPhone.

And whilst all of this was going on, Nokia was still hanging on to it's dying Symbian operating system, which compared to the iPhone was a user experience nightmare, and Microsoft were presumably sat twiddling their thumbs, still worrying about desktop computers.

Eventually Nokia gave up on Symbian and chose to move over to the Windows platform. But why? At the time, it was reasoned by analysts, that they didn't want to become just another "OEM" faceless hardware manufacturer for someone else's software - by picking Windows, because the platform is much less popular, they could still be big players by working closely with Microsoft. (I wonder what they think now when looking at Samsung's Android success?)

That was the plan, anyway. But nothing Nokia have done has yet quite made the impact they were hoping for. In fact - there were rumours a while back they were thinking of making another switch - this time to Android... but then Microsoft buying the phone division put a stop to that.

So now they're stuck with the dilemma outlined above. How can they get more apps and users? How can they get from the cycle of despair (less apps, so less users, so less apps), to the virtuous cycle of users begetting apps begetting users?

The reason they haven't completely given up yet is because of Microsoft's financial clout. Last year there were reports that Microsoft was paying companies cold, hard cash to build apps for the Windows platform. Think of it like a stimulus package during a recession. This morning we heard how Instagram and Vine will both soon be coming to Windows.

Personally - even with this stimulus I'm sceptical that it will actually make an impact. I've worked in a couple of app start-ups in the past, and can't help but wonder if - especially with smaller developers - once the Microsoft apps are built, will they just be forgotten? Will they really bother to keep pace with the iPhone and Android versions of the apps with new features and so on if the money taps are switched off?

And apparently things are so dire that Microsoft are repackaging mobile websites as 'apps'. Will these potemkin apps that are merely a shell containing a website really fool anyone? Will this really be perceived as a user experience equivalent to the rich experiences a proper app can bring?

The problem is that you can't fool users like this. The only way to make consumers and developers want to use your platform is to give them a good user experience - in this case give them the actual proper apps that they want. If you give someone a poor user experience, they won't stick around.

Want proof of this? Then look no further than the actor James Corden - who you may remember starred in an advert for Windows Phone earlier this year:

As part of the promotion, Microsoft had clearly and wisely had it written into his contract that he was to use a Windows phone. You can see this by looking at his tweets:

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 10.32.49.png

...Yet clearly as soon as the contract was up he was straight back on the iPhone 5.

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(In fact, a little Twitter investigation demonstrates that the switch was somewhere between March 16th and April 30th!)

So if you can't even get your paid brand advocate to stick with your phone - then that really isn't a good sign.

I'm not sure how Microsoft are going to break this cycle and get a foothold - but maybe this is the problem. If you were looking to buy a new phone, would you really risk it with a platform that's so uncertain?

I guess you could say: "live by the app, die by the app".

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has been speaking in Abu Dhabi this morning at the Nokia World conference - and has announced a whole raft of new products. Read on to find out more.

nokia tablet.png

The Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet will - like all of their products - run Windows 8 and apparently has a special screen, which they claim will enable greater visibility in the sun compared to the other tablets on the market. They've also thrown in a 6.7MP rear facing camera with Carl Zeiss lens (and 2MP front-facing camera).

The screen is 10.1" (same as the Samsung Galaxy Tab), and like the Microsoft Surface, comes with a keyboard that can boost battery life and provide USB ports for the pseudo-laptop experience.

This should be pretty good for running some of the new apps that are launching on the Windows 8 platform - including photo filter app Instagram, video app Vine and feed reader Flipboard. Nokia have also unveiled Nokia Video Director alongside an app called Storyteller, which combines photos, video and maps to, well, tell a story.


Nokia Lumia 1520 - This looks set to be the company's new flagship phone. Packing a 6" screen that can play full 1080p video, it seem as though like the iPhone 5 before it, Nokias are going taller - allowing more on the screen than ever before.

Similarly the Nokia Lumia 1320 is a slightly more lower-end phone. Whilst the screen is still 6" big, it can only do 720p.


What makes the 1520 particularly interesting is that it comes with a 20 megapixel camera - complete with Zeiss lens. Combine this with the also announced brand new Nokia Camera app, then given the company's historically excellent track record with cameras, this is definitely something to get excited about.

In amongst all of this one announcement that has almost got lost is that of Nokia Beamer - which can apparently "project" your phone display to any HTML5-enabled device - displaying everything from web pages to the phone's camera. This could be game-changing as HTML5 browsers are commonplace now - so why would we need, say, an Apple TV to airplay our iPads if the competitor can do it with just a HTML5 browser? It'll be interesting to see this one in action.

Perhaps most excitingly for existing Nokia users is that like with iOS upgrades, much of this new functionality will also be pushed out to older Nokia Lumia phones - so no need to cry if you've just sunk a few hundred quid on a Nokia 1020, you'll still get the new Nokia Camera app too!

Phew! That's a lot - we'll hopefully have some reviews of some of the new kit when it's released.

If you want a phone with a full keyboard then you're pretty much out of luck. In the space of a couple of years, physical keyboards seem to have gone the way of the dodo. But why is this?

So what physical keyboard phones are available?

Today if you want a physical keyboard the only real options is the ailing Blackberry Q10 - which if you follow the phone industry, is pretty damning. Blackberry are not having a great time at the moment, and have even gone as far as announcing they're pivoting away from consumer phones and are sticking with corporate contracts. The Q10, which was pretty much a make-or-break gamble though keeping pace spec-wise has failed following complaints of a poor user experience and crucially: lack of apps and support.


Anyway - what about Android? When the platform was first unveiled back in 2008 the first Android phone, the G1 had a slide-out physical keyboard, as did many competing phones. These days, the only option if you really want an Android phone with a keyboard is the Motorola Droid 4... which is nearly two years old.

Why is this?

The decline in keyboard phones roughly tracks the fall of Blackberry. Again it was only a few years ago that Blackberry seemed like the company to beat when going after the youth market - as BBM provided an affordable way for the kidz to message each other, and you needed an Blackberry to use it. Now though, this has been eclipsed by the likes of WhatsApp, which is like BBM, but works across different platforms - killing the need to own a Blackberry.

More broadly - the trend seems to be people simply do not want keyboards. There's a limit to how large a phone can reasonably be (whatever 'phablet' owners may tell you) - so why take up half the space on the black rectangle with a fixed keyboard at the expense of a larger screen? Why make everything else crappier, just to make typing subjectively easier?

Subjectively easier?

It's easy to assume that because a full size keyboard on your computer is the fastest way of inputting text, it'll be the best for your phone. I'd argue this is wrong. On your phone you're not going to be typing out novels - maybe a few texts and emails, so there's no need to devote so much device "real estate" to it.

In any case - there are some better solutions than tiny 'real' keys. Modern on-screen keyboards are actually pretty good. On Android for example, there are a couple of really great alternative keyboards you can download from the Google Play store.

Swiftkey is essentially a normal keyboard, but it is brilliant at auto-correct - allowing you to mash roughly where the key you need is, and it'll be good at predicting the rest. How does is it so good at guessing? When setting it up, you link Switftkey to your text messages and emails, so it can see what words you use most often. Brilliant.


Swype, on the other hand takes a different approach to text input. For this to work, you essentially draw a line between the keys that you want, and by analysing the path it will work out what road you were trying to write. The longer the word, the more unique it's path - reducing the number of errors.

And if you don't like typing, then why not try voice input? If you've ever used the iPhone's Siri, it's really quite astonishing how accurate it is. In addition to translating your words to text, you can also add in punctuation - so if you speak something like "Happy Birthday exclamation mark new paragraph from James" - it'll have it all formatted correctly. Brilliant.

So could keyboard phones ever see a resurgence?

There's rumours of a Droid 5 on the horizon but the trend is clear: No one seems to want a phone with a keyboard anymore.

This might seem a bit odd in the face of the phablets - so large that surely there's room for a keyboard? Maybe, but don't hold your breath. The future seems to be virtual - though considering the innovation seen with the likes of Swype and Siri, who knows how we'll be writing our emails in the future?

There are a number of interesting rumours buzzing around over some remaining tricks Apple and Samsung may have up their sleeves, to unleash on us this side of December 25th. Here's a run-down of what the whispers are saying...

New iPads


Word on the Apple street is that on October 22nd Apple will be announcing a new iPad and iPad Mini - the iPad 5 and the iPad Mini 2, respectively.

Given the recent iPhone 5S unveiling, we can expect the new iPads to sport fingerprint recognition and be powered by a beefed up "A7X" processor. Almost every pundit is also expecting to see the new iPad Mini have an upgraded retina display to match the rest of the iPhone and iPad range. Incrementastic!

Waterproof Samsung Phones?


Perhaps having taken inspiration from the disastrous/hilarious (delete as applicable) rumour that the gullible that iOS7 made their phones waterproof, Samsung are said to be cooking up a range of phones that can actually take a dunk in the pool with you (Sony, as in the picture above, already have a waterproof handset). The rumours suggest a device called the "Galaxy Note 3 Active", which will be like the Galaxy Note 3 wearing a wetsuit and some tougher army. Which will be ideal for any Navy SEAL soldiers with shovels for hands.

The same source also suggests a waterproof Galaxy S5 - but for that we'd have to see a Galaxy S5 first, which seems fairly unlikely given how recently the S4 was released. I mean - an S5 before Christmas would be silly... right?

A Galaxy S5 Before Christmas!


This website reckons we will see an S5 this side of Christmas - on the basis that Samsung need something new to compete with Apple and HTC who have refreshed their flagship smartphone offerings more recently than last April.

The same source suggests the S5 will have a metal body (because the plastic S4 felt too cheap) and sport 3GB of RAM (vs 2GB on the S4), 128GB storage (vs 64GB) and also be one of the first phones to offer the latest version of Android, KitKat, out of the box.

Perhaps most interestingly, at least to my nerdy battery life obsession, the S5 is said to have an "enhanced" battery - whatever that means.

Flexible Screens?

galaxy round.png

The Galaxy Round - pictured above - is definitely not a rumour. It was officially unveiled today on Samsung's official Samsung Tomorrow Blog - and will soon be heading to South Korea. But will it be heading to the rest of the world in time for Christmas?

The Round is essentially a Galaxy Note 3 that someone has stepped on. It has a similar 5.7" AMOLED screen, and can do everything the Note can - including multitasking and the amusing "small mode", which shrinks what's on the screen down to the size of a normal phone.

The difference, of course, is that the screen is rounded.

Apparently it'll be available in a number of colours eventually but at launch will only be available in what Samsung are calling "Luxury Brown".

A massive tablet?


Mobile Choice UK recently reported on a rumoured massive 12.2" tablet from Samsung - which could be available this side of Christmas. The "Galaxy Note 12.2" as they call it is said to a Exynos 5 Octa processor, 2560x1600 (better than HD!) resolution display, and 3GB RAM. And it'll also come with a stylus.

Even more interestingly, the Android Guys reckon that this 12.2 incher could be the first Samsung tablet to dual boot both Android and the ailing Windows 8 RT. This would mean that you'll be able to have your pick of whatever ecosystem suits you better - so you can run normal tablet-like apps in Android, whereas you'll be able to switch to Windows RT if you need to do a more heavy duty task, like use full-sized Microsoft Office.

Health Warning

So that's the rumours we've been hearing - if we hear anything more concrete we'll be sure to share it with you. Of course - the main thing to remember is that these are just rumours - which often sound like facts, but are of course, completely unverifiable and not necessarily likely to be true. So just as aliens probably didn't land at Area 51, and you couldn't find Mew underneath a truck parked in Vermillion City - take these with a gigantic pinch of salt.

2014thumb.pngOne of the big trends in mobile technology in 2014 looks set to be flexible screens - with LG apparently launching their first flexible phone by the end of this year. Surely this won't be the only innovation we can expect though? So here's five more things that we're hoping to see next year.

5 other things you didn't know that iOS7 did

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Now everyone knows that iOS7 makes your phone waterproof... right? Or at least, that's what some realistic adverts created by the lovable trolls at 4Chan would make you think. Over the last few days some rather unfortunate internet users have been testing this new functionality out - with some fishy results.

So the jury is still out on waterproofing - but did you know iOS7 can do a whole lot more than that? Here's five other things that you didn't know iOS7 can do.

One in eight prefer new iPhone to new partner!

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One in eight single men would rather have an iPhone 5 than a new partner - according to a recent survey.

The survey of 550 people by money saving website found that 12% of bachelors would rather get their hands on the recently released gadget than a new love interest.

And a heartless three per cent of those polled said they'd willingly leave their current partner if rewarded with the latest Apple iPhone.

Interestingly, five per cent of those surveyed said they would prefer a non-Apple smartphone to a new partner.

A spokesman for said regardless of the overwhelming demand for the new phone, the results had still come as a surprise.

He said: "There's been so much excitement building up around the release of the iPhone 5 with many believing it the ultimate smartphone. Nevertheless, you don't expect to see one in eight men prepared to forgo love or even ditch their current partner to get their hands on one."

lg-vu3-top.jpgSquare, 4:3 smartphones, rather than widescreen phones, are a bad idea right? Sure, it's a nice try by LG to try to stand out from the crowd with the 4:3 dimensions of the LG Vu 3, but when the majority of the Android software that your handset will run is optimised for widescreen devices, as is the majority of video content these days, it does feel a needlessly contrary design decision.

That hasn't stopped LG from going out all guns blazing with the LG Vu 3 though. Making use of a super-powered 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, a 5.2-inch 1280 x 960 screen and coming complete with a stylus, there's also a 13MP camera around the back. Though squared off and featuring a number of physical buttons, there's more than a whiff of the flagship LG G2's design ethos having trickled down to the Vu 3 too.

Launching in Korea on September 27, the handset will be priced around £465, substantially more affordable than the off-contract price of comparable rival, Samsung's Galaxy Note 3. Though the Vu range has only seen modest sales in the west, they still seem to be proving popular in eastern territories, so perhaps it's not all completely bonkers. That screen shape would make for quite a nice web browsing experience, admittedly.


iphone-5s-r-2.jpgProving that Apple malaise hasn't fully kicked in yet, the Cupertino tech giants have just announced that a record-breaking nine million of the new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C handsets were sold over their launch weekend.

That's a substantially larger number than the five million sold during the iPhone 5's launch weekend, though it obviously wasn't being propped up by the newly-introduced, cheaper 5C last year.

Though US retailers are claiming that the iPhone 5S (now sold out in the majority of shops) sold in quantities three times as many as that of the iPhone 5C, the large nine million overall sales figure suggests that the colourful 5C did at least hold its own. That's contrary to UK reports suggesting pre-order figures for the handset were dire. Perhaps those hunting an elusive iPhone 5S handset eventually caved and went for the cheaper iPhone 5C instead.

"This is our best iPhone launch yet - more than nine million new iPhones sold - a new record for first weekend sales," says Apple's CEO, Tim Cook.

"The demand for the new iPhones has been incredible, and while we've sold out of our initial supply of iPhone 5s, stores continue to receive new iPhone shipments regularly. We appreciate everyone's patience and are working hard to build enough new iPhones for everyone."

Click here for a full run down on the iPhone 5S, and here for the low-down on the iPhone 5C.

galaxy-note-3-different-colours-635.jpgThree have just revealed their Samsung Galaxy Note 3 pricing info and, with the phone starting at just £30 on some contracts, it's at first glance a very reasonable deal.

Of course, to get the handset that inexpensively, you're going to have to be prepared to cough up a hefty contract fee per month to keep that oversized phablet in your pocket - providing you could ever squeeze its 5.7-inch frame in their in the first place. Pay £30 for the handset and you'll also need to part with £51 a month for 24 months too, bagging yourself 4G connectivity, 20GB of data, unlimited texts and calls, That's a generous bundle, but at over £50 per month you'd hope so too.

If you've got some ready cash, you have the option of grabbing the handset from Three for £310, after which you'll pay just £26 a month on a 24-month contract with 500MB data, unlimited calls and texts. You pays your monies, you makes your choice.

As for the phone itself? The giant Android handset makes use of a 1080p screen, 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 CPU and an S Pen stylus for unleashing your inner Rolf. If that's allowed these days.

Pick it up from September 25.

nokiaappletweet.jpgA simple tweet from Nokia having a knock at Apple's new iPhone 5C handset has become a certified Twitter viral smash.

On the night of the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S launch, Nokia's official Twitter account posted the message "Thanks, #Apple ;)", alongside a picture of the company's colourful Lumia range with the tagline "Imitation is the best form of flattery". It seems as if the Finnish smartphone manufacturers believe Apple took more than a little inspiration from the look of the Lumia's when it comes to the new colourful plastic casing found on the iPhone 5C line-up.

And, even if Lumia sales pale in comparison to iPhones, Twitter users retweeted the hell out of the post. Twitter have revealed that the post was shared and retweeted over 38,000 times since the iPhone's unveiling.

Turn those retweets into some Lumia sales and Nokia/Microsoft would be truly smiling.

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