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iPhone-5-official-02.pngSay goodbye to the iPhone 5, with last year's flagship smartphone from Apple set to be discontinued in the wake of the newly-unveiled iPhone 5S.

To my memory, that's the shortest shelf-life of any iPhone to date. But it's hardly surprising; not only did Apple reveal a new flagship handset tonight, but also a cheaper smartphone in the form of the iPhone 5C. Occupying the cheaper price point that the iPhone 5 would have slipped down into, it also sports similar specs to last year's model, while giving Apple an all-new colourful product to promote at the same time. The iPhone 4 will now also be discontinued, unsurprisingly.

However, the iPhone 4S lives on! For those looking to get in on the Apple-action super cheap, the 8GB iPhone 4S will now become the free option on contracts.

iphone-5s-r-3.jpgApple have lifted the covers off the iPhone 5S, the successor to the iPhone 5 and the premium option over the newly-revealed cheaper iPhone 5C.

The headlining feature is the smartphone's new (and long-rumoured) fingerprint scanner, which Apple calls Touch ID. It's 170 microns thin and sits within the Home button, scanning your sub-epidermal skin layers with a definition up to 500ppi.

Reading in any orientation, it can be used to unlock your phone or used instead of an iTunes password when making purchases. Made from sapphire, it should be safe from scratches which could otherwise affect its readings. All fingerprint scans are encrypted, and "secured inside a secure enclave", for tinfoil-hat wearers worried about the prints falling into the wrong hands.
Sporting the brand new A7 processor, Apple claim the chipset inside the iPhone 5S is the first 64-bit chip available in a smartphone, with the new iOS 7 operating system and all native apps now optimised for 64-bit performance. It boasts over 1 billion transistors.

Overall, the A7 chip will give a 40x boost to CPU performance, with a 56x leap in graphics performance. Apple showed off the graphically demanding Infinity Blade 3 to hammer home the point. OpenGL ES 3.0 will also be supported by the chip.

The iPhone 5S will also sport the M7 chip, a new addition to the iPhone line that continuously measures motion data through the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass, and will enable all-new experiences in health and fitness apps.
In terms of camera specs, the iPhone 5S will sport an 8MP sensor, with redesigned five-element Apple-designed lens with an F2.2 aperture. The sensor has a 15% larger active area, packing in pixel 1.5 microns, going for the "bigger pixels is better than more pixels" approach that HTC took in the HTC One's Ultrapixel camera system. A dual LED flash system (one LED being cool white, the other a warm amber), also features. When combined in over 1,000 variations, the flash can dish out just the right colour balance straight off the bat. Auto image stabilisation will also feature, as will a new 10 fps burst shooting mode. Slow motion shooting at 720p / 120fps will also be supported for the first time.

Though looking almost identical to the iPhone 5, it will be available in three different colours - silver, "space grey" and gold, just as was rumoured. The chassis will be made of a high-grade aluminium - far more durable than the glass-backed days of the iPhone 4 and 4S.

Battery life for the iPhone 5S is said to be 10 hours of 3G talk time, 8 hours of 3G web browsing, 10 hours of LTE or Wi-FI browsing, and a whopping 250 hours of standby.
In terms of pricing, you're looking at $199 for the 16GB version, $299 for the 32GB model and $399 for the 64GB daddy. UK pricing is £549 for the 16GB model, £629 for the 32GB model and £709 for the 64GB version. New cases will also be available at $39 a go, £35 in the UK.

The phone will be hitting stores on September 20. No pre-order available this time around, so better dust off your queuing shoes.

iphone-5c-official-top.jpgApple have finally confirmed the long-rumoured iPhone 5C handset. It's set to be the cheap option in the iPhone tonight, sitting below the new top-tier iPhone 5S handset.

Following months of rumours and analyst speculation, the new entry to the iPhone line has been confirmed to come in a number of colours, looking almost identical to the many leaks that have hit the web over the past few weeks.

The back and sides of the iPhone 5C are made from a single piece of hard-coated polycarbonate plastic, with white, blue, green, red, and yellow colored cases available. Apple's Phil Shiller claims you "won't see seams, or part lines, or joins." Despite being Apple's "budget" offering, the handset looked very neat, similar in style to Nokia's Lumia line-up.
Very similar also to the iPhone 5, the handset features a 4-inch Retina display, and is powered by the A6 processor. It also shares the iPhone 5's 8MP camera, with an improved FaceTime HD camera around the front. The handset will also support "more LTE bands" than any rival smartphone. It will come running the new iOS 7 operating system

Custom cases made from a "soft-feel" silicone rubber will also be available, offering an additional colour option to mix-and-match on the handset, and priced at $29 a pop.

The iPhone 5C will start at $99 for the 16GB model, rising to $199 for the 32GB model, both based on two-year contracts. SIM-free and off contract in the UK, that'll be £469 for the 16GB model and £549 for the 32GB version, which, sadly, will unlikely be the sort of saving that British consumers were hoping for.

Pre-orders for the handset open on September 13, with the phone hitting stores on September 20.

apple-ios-7-apps.jpgApple have announced that the iOS 7 mobile operating system update will be landing on September 18 2013, hitting the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S as well as the latest handsets set to be revealed tonight.

First announced back in June, iOS 7 is a major re-working for the operating system, visually looking cleaner and more "flat", in line with the new software head Jony Ive's design ethos.

Features include redesigned native apps and icons, tile-based multi-tasking, iTunes radio and AirDrop for local file sharing over Wi-Fi.

New additions revealed today include a new male voice for Siri in the US and other select territories, as well as remixed ringtones alongside brand new tones.

apple-ios-7-apps-2.jpgApple's iPhone 5S keynote kicked off in traditional fashion, with CEO Tim Cook speaking about the companies current business and retail details.

And Cook had a big stat to drop at the start of the event - by the end of September 2013, Apple will have sold their 700 millionth iOS device.

In terms of retail, Cook said the company would be "turning [the] focus back home", revealing a new architecturally astonishing store in Stanford, California, with an attractive glass-fronted design.

Cook also spoke of the iTunes Festival currently taking place in London, with 30 world-class acts playing over 30 nights in the capital. Streaming to over 100 countries, over 20 million entered the lottery for free tickets.

We'll have more from tonight's launch event as the evening progresses, so keep checking back for more.

Nokia Lumia 1020 hits UK stores on September 12


nokia-lumia-1020-official.jpgHoping to become a PureView paparazzi with the new Nokia Lumia 1020? Then you won't have long to wait; Nokia's official UK Twitter account has just confirmed that the handset will be going on sale this Thursday, September 12.

"#Lumia1020 + UK = this Thursday" is the simple message given by the tweet, though there was still no sign of an off-contract price for those looking to go SIM free.

The Lumia 1020 makes use of a whopping 41MP camera sensor, using the company's incredible PureView tech, and capable of some very tasty shots according to those forwarded onto us by Nokia themselves.

It's looking equally impressive under the hood too, with a Qualcomm S4 processor sitting underneath its 1280 x 768 4.5-inch AMOLED HD+ display. But with the 6-inch Nokia Lumia 1520 looming over the horizon, those looking for a Windows Phone phablet may want to hold out just a little longer before committing the cash.

ee_banner.jpg4G merchants EE have introduced a new Swap scheme for customers on their network, letting them upgrade to a new handset mid-contract.

It's not quite a straight swap though. First off, you'll need to be the current owner of an iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4, Galaxy Note II or HTC One. Then, rather than simply upgrading to the next handset of your choice, you'll have to pay a one-off fee.

And these fees are pretty steep. You're looking at £49 if you're on EE's top-tier £51 a month contracts, rising to a gigantic £249 if you're on a £36 a month plan.

"With smartphone innovation moving at a relentless pace, we realise that some customers want to move to the latest handset at the earliest possible opportunity," said Pippa Dunn, Chief Consumer Marketing Officer, EE.

"That's why we've introduced 'Swap' to sit alongside our existing upgrade offers - providing a new, simple and easily affordable option for pay monthly customers to move to the latest 4G smartphones."

Going live on September 17, it's launching just in time for the new iPhone's to tempt EE customers to open their wallets once again. Just make sure you've got the readies.

Could this be the cheap and cheerful iPhone 5C, breaking cover on video ahead of tonight's expected official unvieling?

Spotted by Phone Arena over on the Youku Chinese video hosting site, the 15 second clip shows a handset seemingly running Apple's iOS 7 operating system, in an iPhone-sized handset that looks to be cased in baby-blue plastic.

The user swipes through some iPhone homescreens before opening up the Safari browser, and then that's your lot. No multi-angle view, no close-ups.

Sure, it looks like the real-deal - the cheap handset is said to be cased in colourful plastic, teased by Apple itself with tonight's event invite tagline stating to expect something to "brighten everyone's day".

But then, when you've got the latest, most keenly anticipated Apple product of the last 12 months sitting opposite you, in full working order, you manage only to grab a fifteen second clip? Fishy, right? It's almost as if the poster didn't want us to get a good look at the device. Like it's a fake or something, a modified iPhone 5 perhaps?.

Hmm. Well, with only a few hours to go until Apple open their toybox themselves, we'll soon know for sure what's hitting their stores. Check back at 6pm BST for all the launch day details.


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DSCF4148.JPGLanding just a few months after the original Acer Liquid S1 launched, we have to admit the Liquid S2's appearance at this year's IFA 2013 conference took us a little bit by surprise. But with headlining features such as laying claim to being the world's first phone to offer 4K video recording, the spec boost seems to justify the quick turn around. We went hands on in Berlin for this first-look review.
Firmly sat in the "phablet" realm of smartphone sizes, the Liquid S2 measures 166 x 86 x 9 mm, with a 6-inch 1920 x 1080 full HD display. Built primarily from plastic (with a metallic rim around the edge of the device), its curved chassis doesn't quite have the premium feel of the HTC or iPhone flagships, but felt at least as sturdy as the equally-plasticky Samsung Galaxy range. It's a whopping phone though, and just like all other phablets it'll be an acquired taste, especially if you're shy about holding a six-inch anything up to your face.
That large size affords the Liquid S2 a gorgeous screen though. Pin sharp with a 367 ppi, its colours were rich and its brightness more than a match for the harsh show floor lighting. However, there were moments when swiping through the touchscreen felt unresponsive, with swipes registering as taps and vice versa, or not at all. Admittedly, a tech conference stand isn't the best place to gauge the reliability of a product (for all we know the handset may have been dropped several times before we got our hands on it), but with no visible signs of damage, it was a concern.
The flakey nature of the touch response also made it difficult to judge the performance of the processor, a 2.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 backed by 2GB of RAM. It seemed capable, and when we fired up apps or played around customising the home screen it did so speedily.
The Snapdragon 800 also allows for the Liquid S2's 4K video recording to happen. As well as packing in a 13MP still camera, the Liquid S2 also supports the new super-high definition video standard. But before we get carried away, be aware that 4K recording on the Liquid S2 at this stage is hardly all that inspiring - to the naked eye it seems to only be managing a frame rate of around 12fps in 4K recording mode, making for very choppy playback indeed. Using the 4K feature also made the handset get incredibly hot (in fact, the Liquid S2 was running very hot throughout our test). 4K recording is a luxury of course, and still-sharp Full HD 1080p video capture was handled without issue. It's not as though you're even going to be able to play back 4K video at a native resolution on the handset, and few will have a 4K screen in their homes, so perhaps this isn't too big a deal. But those looking to buy the phone for this express purpose may wan't to think long and hard about it.
Under the hood, the phone also supports 4G LTE, as well as including NFC connectivity and packing in 16GB of storage space (expandable by microSD cards). In terms of software, the handset is running Android 4.2.2 and, for the most part, is very close to a vanilla build of the OS. Acer's Float UI for app switching is there, but it's not too intrusive, making for quite a pleasant software experience.
All the pieces are in place for the Liquid S2 to be a very capable handset, but there are still some crinkles that need to be ironed out. Due to launch at the end of October, a firmware update could optimise some of the problems we experienced during testing, and that screen was undeniably incredible. Don't write it off just yet.

TouchID.jpgWe're just hours away now from the expected launch of the iPhone 5S (and possibly the cheaper iPhone 5C), and the leaks keep coming. Now the long-rumoured fingerprint scanner has been leaked yet again, and this time we have a name for it.

According to marketing materials leaked to French site (the same site that revealed a picture of the Apple Lightening connector ahead of time last year), the fingerprint scanner is here called the "Touch ID sensor".

Embedded in the Home button, it's now identified by a pure white circle around the button rather than the square marking that has been present on other Apple product home buttons.

The leak backs up yesterday's similar leak, revealing the scanner, as well as chiming in well with a report by the Wall Street Journal, claiming that a slew of business apps will use the scanner for security purposes.

Anything that makes it safer to send money over an iPhone is a great move, considering how many purchases we now make with our mobiles. Could an Apple-specific payment system launch alongside the iPhone 5S? We'll know for certain in a few hours time - tonight's launch action kicks off at 6pm BST. Check back then for all the details.

vodafone-4g-cab.jpegAs the UK's 4G network war hots up, Vodafone have announced that they will be "adding an extra 4GB of data to all existing and new customer plans," as they look to tempt customers away from rival superfast networks provided by O2 and EE.

According to the press release, customers signing up before the end of October will get an extra 4GB of data per month for the length of their contract. As it stands, that'd give Vodafone's current cheapest 4G plan (£34 a month for 2GB of data per month on a 24 month contract) a boost to 6GB of data per month. If our understanding of the deal is accurate, that's a very generous 4G helping indeed.

Along with the data boost news, Vodafone have also announced that they'll be activating their 4G network in a handful of extra cities this month. Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield will get superfast Vodafone 4G on 28 September.

The news comes as rival network EE announce they have already hit the 1 million 4G customer milestone. Having roughly a year's worth of 4G exclusivity on the UK market, EE still managed to hit the one million 4G customers mark ahead of their own 2014 goal, four months ahead of schedule.

iphone-5s-marketing.jpgWe're just a day away from the expected launch of Apple's new iPhone line, with both the premium iPhone 5S and cheaper iPhone 5C set to be revealed, and the leaks keep coming. Ahead of the September 10 launch a comparative marketing release showing the new iPhone 5S alongside previous iPhone models has hit the web.

So does it give anything new away? Not much, and our Mandarin isn't up to scratch to glean too much more from the leak's text. But we can see that the Home button's squared marking has been replaced by a circular one, perhaps indicating the inclusion of the long-rumoured fingerprint scanner?

The camera is also highlighted in the image above, and is expected to land with a dual LED flash and f/2.0 aperture, capable of recording 120fps 1080p video.

Other expected features are 250-hour standby battery life, the inclusion of the latest A7 processor (said to be 25% faster than its predecessor), a 4-inch 326ppi display and 5GHz Wi-Fi.

Apple's hosting a major press event in Berlin tomorrow night. We'll be bringing you all the news from the launch as it happens, so keep your eyes fixed on Tech Digest for all the details.

Sony Xperia Z1 first look video review

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Ready to take on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One is Sony's new flagship smartphone, the Sony Xperia Z1.

The successor to the impressive Xperia Z, the handset launched at this week's IFA tech conference in Berlin, revealing key new improvements such as the addition of a 20.7MP camera sensor, a 5-inch 1080p display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor.

We spent some hands-on time with the handset to bring you this first-look video review.

To read our in-depth first impressions, click here.



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Sony-Xperia-Z1-preview-1.JPGSony's mobile departments have been making great strides of late, with the Xperia Z (revealed back at CES 2013) the impressive culmination of years of hard work in the Android market. Fast forward to this week's IFA 2013 conference in Berlin and its successor has already been announced, the Xperia Z1. We went hands-on with the Xperia Z1 for our first-impressions review and, even with a relatively short development time between it and its predecessor, it's looking like an incredibly worthy handset indeed.

Though at a glance similar looking to the Xperia Z, the Xperia Z1 is rammed full of improvements both internally and and in its external design. Measuring 144mm x 74mm x 85mm, and weighing just 170g, it sits more comfortably in the hand than its predecessor thanks to a chassis that's had its edges softened just a tad. There's still a glass backplate (with the phone available in either black or white), with a surrounding frame made of a single piece of anodised metal that doubles up as the phone's antenna. Plastics are used sparingly, only visible as a thin bezel around the edge of the screen.
And that screen is a corker. A 5-inch, 1080p display, it burrows tech from Sony's HDTV lines to offer as striking an image as possible. Alongside the X Reality engine that was also present in the Xperia Z, the Z1 also uses Sony's Triluminos display tech from the Bravia range, giving colour a punchy look but without scrimping on the subtleties of life-like skin tones. Even under the harsh lighting of the IFA conference show floor the screen looked a treat, with brightness levels that bode well for viewing when out on a sunny day.

Under the hood their are ample improvements too, with the Z1 sporting the speedy 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB RAM. Running Android 4.2.2 (though an upgrade to 4.3 "KitKat" will be delivered as soon as possible), the handset zipped through demanding applications, including a novelty AR app that had a dinosaur running around the IFA show floor (and harking back to the original demo disc that came with the first PlayStation - a reference Tech Digest readers of a certain age will surely appreciate!).
16GB of storage is also onboard, expandable via microSD cards, will a capacious 3000mAh battery will store enough juice to see even a heavy day's worth of use through without needing to dive for a charger. Sony also offer a magnetic charging option on the Z1, allowing you to pop it into a docking station to feed it power. 4G, NFC, GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are all of course also supported.

Perhaps most impressive of all however is the new camera system onboard. Using an Exmor RS 1/2.3-inch 20.7-megapixel sensor, Bionz processor and packing in a G lens, it's borrowing tech from Sony's compact camera line, and leaving merely an optical zoom off the spec sheet. As such, our time with the camera delivered detailed shots and a speedy response time from the camera application itself. We'll reserve full judgement until we can blow the images up onto a big screen, but the early signs here are promising.
The camera UI also has a number of interesting new features included. As well as the aforementioned AR tricks, there's a Time Shift Burst option that takes 61 shots in a go (30 before the shutter is pressed, 30 after, and one as the shutter is hit), and a Social Live option that will enable you to livestream video to Facebook in 10 minute chunks, letting viewers add comments along the way.
Refinements have been made to the handset's waterproofing features too. Though there are still annoying flaps protecting the microUSB and SIM tray slots from a good dunking, the headphone socket is now thankfully left exposed, and yet remains safe when submerged in water. allowing you to easily plug in your cans without having to fiddle with a cover.

Very promising then. Sony executives have pinned the handset down for a release as soon as September 16th, so if you're on the market for a new Android phone this should be shooting to the top of your wishlist. We'll have more on the Xperia Z1 shortly, so stay tuned.

Landing pages for top-secret unreleased product pre-orders should come with a Dr Strangelove-style giant red button that has to be pushed before publishing - perhaps then they wouldn't "accidentally" hit the web ahead of schedule.

As was with this week's Kindle Paperwhite 2, and now today with the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, courtesy of China Telekom.

A verified China Telekom account on microblogging network Weibo posted what looks like an advert for advanced orders on the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C last night before being hastily pulled.

The Wall Street Journal however managed to nab a revealing screengrab before the listing disappeared for good. Though the image is of a low resolution, it seems to show the iPhone 5S as having an optional block of colour on its back, rather than a fully coloured casing. The image shows the handset's camera sensor embedded in a white strip, while the rest of the body is forest green colour.

The listing also suggests that China will be among the first markets to get the phones, a rumour backed up by a China-specific launch event being planned, and coming as quite a departure for Apple as that market tends to usually have to wait a while before shipping begins.

fingerprint-sensor-leak-iphone-5s.jpgNext Tuesday's iPhone launch is nearly upon us, and the leaks are now getting very specific indeed. Today, we have the long-rumoured iPhone 5S handset's fingerprint sensor, snapped up close, gutted from the next Cupertino smartphone.

Apple product serial leaker Sonny Dickson got his hands on the parts, with high-resolution photos far clearer than any previous leak.

Dickson states the sensor, as expected will be embedded in a new style of home button equipped with sensors and a flex cable featuring "a remarkably different design when compared to the iPhone 5 home button - and even previous supposed 5S part leaks."

As well as the iPhone 5S news, Dickson has also reportedly leaked iPad mini 2 shell parts, revealed in a YouTube clip by user Unboxtherapy. Though said to have a Retina display, the iPad mini sequel is expected to be very similar in size to its predecessor, as shown in the below video:

"You're looking at two very comparable form factors," said YouTube's unboxtherapy.

"In fact, I think every single dimension is identical here. So no real big changes in this particular department."

Unboxtherapy's previous iPad leaks suggested that the next full-size iPad will be slimmed and trimmed down considerably, giving it a form factor similar to the iPad mini.

"The question now becomes: with the full-sized iPad getting closer in dimensions to the iPad mini [2], are you going to be as compelled to pick up the mini [2]," a pointed question asked by Unboxtherapy.

iphone-5s-invite.pngDiaries at the ready! You can go over that pencilled-in September 10 iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C launch date in ink, as Apple have now sent out official invites for a press event launch on September 10.

As ever, there are clues as to what to expect hidden in the invite itself, and its series of coloured bubbles hints at the multi-coloured iPhone casings that have long been rumoured for inclusion in this iPhone generation.

If the long line of leaks is to be believed, we'll be getting a fingerprint-scanner-packing iPhone 5S (in an optional blinging "champagne" gold colour), and cheaper plastic-cased iPhone 5C handsets in almost every colour of the rainbow. Each will undoubtedly be running the latest iOS 7 software too.

We'll be covering the launch extensively of course, so head back to Tech Digest next Tuesday for the full details.

ios-7-apple-top-thumb.pngMusic to the ears of Apple fans (and likely the beginnings of a month of major headaches for Apple store employees), rumour has it that the Cupertino company's retail staff have been told to expect two separate deliveries of brand new hardware in the coming weeks.

That's according to unnamed "sources" quoted by the Telegraph, who claim staff are being prepped to start advertising three mobile phones in stores for three different price points. That's likely putting the as-yet-unrevealed iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C at the top and low end of the pricing scales respectively, while last year's iPhone 5 would sit in between for Johnny-Come-Latelies.

Though Apple's outgoing generation of products always retain a fair chunk of their premium price tags when the new stuff hits stores, it's still interesting to see the 5C potentially positioned at the entry level tier. What this means for surplus iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S stock remains to be seen - could the 5C undercut their current price points too?

HTC Desire 601_all colours.jpgIf you haven't got enough readies available to bag the HTC One Mini, but still fancy a taste of the company's latest Sense UI enhancements, the newly revealed HTC Desire 601 may be just what you're looking for.

Though its specs place it firmly in the mid-range of the market, it's still managed to launch with many of the flagship HTC One's interface features intact. These include the BlinkFeed social and news aggregating homescreen feed and Zoe, merging video and still image highlight reels together. The handset also makes use of HTC's BoomSound speaker tech, which on the flagship handset proved surprisingly capable of delivering clear and loud audio if your headphones aren't to hand.

It's the hardware then that gives the phone its mid-range placement. Though offering the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 1.4GHz dual-core processor as the HTC One Mini, it's housed in plastic casing (red, black and white shades will be available). And while its screen is slightly larger than the Mini's at 4.5-inches compared to the Mini's 4.3-inches, the quality drops down from the Mini's 1280 x 720 resolution to the Desire 601's 960 x 540 resolution.

The camera tech is scaled back too, with the Desire 601 offering a 5-megapixel sensor with a f/2.0 aperture and 28mm lens instead of HTC's UltraPixel camera found across the One range. 4G LTE is supported though, meaning you'll be able to take advantage of the freshly launched superfast networks in the UK.

Set for release in September, no exact pricing has been revealed yet. Expect to shave a fair few quid off the HTC One Mini's £380 price tag though.

nokia-microsoft-pals.jpgMicrosoft has announced that it is gearing up to purchase Nokia's hardware division, in a deal worth £4.56 billion.

A move that has been more or less on the cards since Nokia gambled their smartphone business on Microsoft's Windows Phone platform two and a half years ago, the deal will see 32,000 Nokia employees join the Redmond company. Nokia will also license its patents and mapping services to Microsoft, with the buyout expected to be completed in early 2014.

An open letter from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop broke the news, while an internal email circulated among Microsoft employees, along with a Strategic Rationale document, explained the specifics of the deal to the workforce.

With Microsoft specifically buying Nokia's Devices and Services division, Nokia CEO Elop will step down from his current position and head a new Devices team at Microsoft, while Julie Larson-Green, currently handling the Xbox One and Surface teams at Microsoft's Devices and Studios, will join Elop.

The deal cements Microsoft's renewed focus on hardware, giving them a mobile devices team to rival Apple's, while still allowing them to license out the Windows Phone platform to partners like HTC and Samsung. Both Microsoft and Nokia have struggled to gain significant market share in the smartphone era; this deal will unify Microsoft's solid Windows Phone OS with Nokia's impressive hardware output, allowing the two to make timely and aggressive mobile moves.

One particularly interesting nugget to come along with the deal is the rumour that Elop may be now front-runner to take over from Ballmer as Microsoft's next CEO, following Ballmers announcement that he'd be stepping down within a year. Elop, with his hardware experience lining up nicely with Microsoft's current strategy, could be the man to helm the Redmond ship.

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