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We've looked at the best free and paid gaming apps of 2013 for iPhone already, and now its time to turn our attentions to the best free Android games of the first half of the year. In recent years Android has played second-fiddle to Apple's iOS platform when it comes to gaming, especially in relation to free games. That's not the case this year however! There are a ton of great Android games available for free this year, many of which have totally reasonable in-app purchases that can be bypassed altogether if you're on a tight budget. From Temple Run 2 to Candy Crush Saga, here are our top picks of the year so far!

Click below to get started!

iPhone gaming apps! If the storm clouds gathering over our office are anything to go by, the summer's almost up and we'll all soon be hunkering down for some quality time with our favourite games. This year more than ever, we're increasingly finding that most of our favourite titles are on Apple's iPhone rather than other gaming platform. We've already revealed our top 10 best free iPhone games of the year so far, and now its time to turn our attention to the slew of top quality paid-for games released on the App Store over the first half of 2013. From Gemini Rue to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, 2013 is looking like a vintage iPhone gaming year.

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nexus-7-2-compare-top.jpgreview-line.JPGGoogle's original Nexus 7 tablet was the finest slice of pocketable Android you could buy upon release, offering a strong spec sheet at an affordable price. A year on and we now have its successor, the Google Nexus 7 2, boosting the specs and keeping the price relatively low.

It enters a market however now brimming with superb seven inch tablet devices, with major competition from the well-received Apple iPad Mini to Amazon's Kindle Fire HD.

The Google Nexus 7 2 is looking a fine tablet, and the Amazon and Apple rivals have already established themselves as great, worthy tablet purchases. So which should you be laying down the cash on? We put the three tablets head-to-head in this spec sheet showdown as we await our full final review verdict on the Google Nexus 7 2.

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Design
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Apple iPad Mini

Much like an iPod touch but blown up to 7.9 inches in size, the iPad Mini is a real looker. A diminutive iPad or oversized iPod Touch depending on how you look at it, the aluminium-built tablet still keeps Apple's exacting build quality standards. Its dimensions measure 200mm x 134.7mm x 7.2mm, with the tablet weighing just 308 grams. As is standard with Apple mobile products, a single Home button sits on the bottom edge of the bezel, with a video conferencing camera up top. With a thinner bezel on the sides and a curved back, it'll fit nicely into one hand. A 5MP camera sits on the rear.

Google Nexus 7 2

Google's Nexus 7 2 tablet measures 7 inches across (200×114×8.65 mm), and is still built in partnership with ASUS. Thinner and lighter than its predecessor at 290g for the Wi-Fi version (299g with a cellular connection), it's the lightest tablet on this list and is a clean refinement of last year's model. Fitting nicely in one hand and finished with a matte black plastic coating, a black bezel around the screen gives room to rest fingers, without impeding the size of the actual display. A scratch resistant Corning glass display should go some way to protecting the device from bumps and scrapes, and while its casing is built from plastic rather than the metal build found in iPad models, its grip-textured black backing looks to offer the same premium feel as its predecessor. This year's model also introduces stereo speakers to the design, as well as a rear 5MP camera capable of 1080p recording.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

The Amazon Kindle Fire HD is a little smaller in height than the Nexus 7 2 at 193 mm x 137 mm x 10.3 mm, and considerably heavier at 395 grams. Again, it fits nicely in one hand, but has a slightly wider black bezel than we'd usually hope for. Gorilla Glass protects the screen from scrapes, and though built from black rubberised plastic, the casing still looks good and feels solidly put together.

Hardware
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Apple iPad Mini

Under the hood of the iPad Mini you'll find an Apple A5 dual-core processor, the same as is found in the full size iPad 2, but not as speedy as the brand-spanking new A6X chip in the just-unveiled iPad 4th generation. This should be perfect for watching high-definition video and scrolling through web pages and 2D apps, though intensive 3D gaming apps that run smoothly on the newest full-size iPads may not work at all.

Both Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity is available in the iPad Mini, meaning that even if you're away from a Wi-Fi connection, you'll still be able to get speedy web access on the tablet over a mobile connection. In the UK, EE offer 4G mobile connections, and they're not too outlandishly priced; expect a £5 to £10 premium per month over standard 3G connections.

Two cameras feature on the iPad Mini, a 5MP iSight Camera on the rear and a 720p HD Facetime camera for video calling up front. Apple's imaging technology tends to be pretty good, so expect good results from the rear camera for still photos. You'll still look a pillock using a tablet-sized device as a camera.

Sadly, the Retina Display doesn't make it into the iPad Mini. The 7.9 inch display runs at a relatively low 1024x768 resolution, with a 163ppi. That's lower than all the other tablets on this list, and disappointing considering Apple's pedigree in this field.

Other features include an accelerometer, Bluetooth, GPS and gyroscope, but there's no NFC contactless data transfer option, one of the tech industry's current most-wanted features.

Google Nexus 7 2

The Nexus 7 2 uses a stonking 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 8064 processor, with an Adreno 320 GPU that should allow games and apps to run buttery smooth.

Wi-Fi connectivity is built in, with a 4G option on the way, a point sorely missing from last year's model and a welcome introduction here.

A microphone and front-facing camera is available for video calling, and the Nexus 7 2 now also sports a 5MP rear camera, capable of 1080p video capture - again, a feature missing from last year's edition.

Perhaps most striking of all though will be the improvements made to the screen. The 7-inch tablet now sports a 1920 x 1200 resolution display, giving it a super-sharp 323ppi, making it the sharpest tablet in its class.

Other features include an accelerometer, GPS, magnetometer and gyroscope. NFC connectivity is available too, letting you use the Android Beam feature to touch two devices together to share information and files. This year's model also introduces Qi wireless charging, letting you power up the tablet without reaching for a wired charger.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

The Kindle Fire HD uses a 1.2GHz dual-core processor. That's fine for basic web browsing and apps that aren't too graphically intensive, but 3D games can struggle to keep consistent frame rates. For most tableting tasks though, it shouldn't be a problem; watching 720p video for instance is great.

Wi-Fi connectivity is built in, but there's no 3G or 4G option here seeing the tablet lose ground to its Apple and Google competition, meaning you'll again need to be near a Wi-Fi network or public hotspot to access web features.

A microphone and front-facing HD camera is available for video calling, but there's no rear-camera. That's not necessarily a bad thing seeing how ridiculous you look taking a photo on a tablet.

A 1280x800 screen offers up a 216ppi. It's not as sharp as the latest Nexus tablet, but it's still a crisp display; colours are vibrant and black deep, making this easily one of the better 7-inch tablet screens on the market.

Other sensors include an accelerometer and gyroscope, as well as Bluetooth connectivity a microUSB connection and a handy micro-HDMI connection for pushing videos and pictures to a big screen, a great feature missing from the other tablets here.

Interface and Apps
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Apple iPad Mini

iOS 6 sits in Apple's iPad Mini, and it's wonderfully designed. While not as customisable as Google's Android, it's easy on the eye and incredibly easy to use; put an iPad Mini in a tech novice's hands and they'll figure out how to work it in minutes.

iOS 6 is Apple's most current mobile operating system. It puts software known as apps into a grid of icons. Simply tapping them fires them up. Apps can be dragged on top of each other to create folders, or spread across multiple homescreens. Notifications such as email alerts and social networking updates can be accessed by dragging a toolbar down from the top of the screen. It's all very simple and intuitive.

Apps can be purchased from Apple's App Store. Seeing as they invented the whole concept of mobile "Apps" as we know them today, it's unsurprising that their's is the most comprehensive offering on this list. Over 700,000 apps are available to iPad Mini users, 275,000 of which are optimised for the iPad Mini. Be it gaming apps, educational apps, photography apps, music or reference, the App Store's wares are of a consistently high standard. "There's an App for everything" to coin Apple's phrase, but its pretty much true, and plenty of them are free too.

Google Nexus 7 2

Being a Google-branded device, the Nexus 7 2 is obviously be going to use Android, the search giant's own mobile operating system, as the base of its software. The Nexus 7 2 brings with it the launch of Android version 4.3, which introduces multi-user restricted profiles, better Bluetooth power management, OpenGL/ES 3.0, and notification access that will let you push content to another connected device - say a smart watch of Google Glass headset, for instance.

Android is a great operating system, and it's here in its "vanilla" version, unsullied by bloatware or design changes that other manufacturers sometimes lay on top of Google's open OS.

As well as the afore-mentioned Android Beam NFC functionality, Android has plenty working in its favour. Multiple homescreens can be totally customised, with intuitive "long presses" letting you add app shortcuts across the device. There are also resizeable Live Widgets available through Android; these are larger icons spread across the homescreens that offer live updating information at a glance. These may come in the form of condensed Twitter or Facebook feeds, email inboxes or weather reports, for example. It's a great looking OS and incredibly flexible, though it's slightly more complex than Apple's iOS, which idiot-proofs all access to settings and customisation options. Tech tinkerers will get the most from Android.

Apps come courtesy of Google's Play Store. There are over 1 million apps available through the store, and unlike Apple, Google are open to more wacky (sometimes dubious) submissions. While this makes it slightly more prone to attracting hackers and unsavoury apps, there are also loads of really incredible apps for unlocking the full potential of your hardware. The standard of Android apps has greatly improved in recent times; whether you're a gamer, a reader, someone hunting news stories or recipes, a photographer or a blogger, there's something for everyone. Many are free too, and few cost more than £3 or so. When it comes to mapping, Google's Maps app, included here for free, is far and away the best solution, particularly in comparison to the woeful Apple Maps.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

A heavily-altered version of Google's Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS is installed on the Kindle Fire HD. Clearly directed at encouraging you to buy content from Amazon's online stores, it's not very customisable at all, and not always a pleasant experience to use.

On the main screen a central carrousel of your most recently used apps, books, videos and magazines can be spun through. Once you settle on one, a row appears below that suggests similar content that other users have bought. A search bar sits at the top of the screen, while a list of categorised sections houses similar content together below that. It's easy to find what you want, though the connected content stores are often slow to load, and don't make great use of the screen real estate on offer to display the information you need.

Despite being an Android device, the Kindle Fire HD has its own Android app store. This is bad, not because it doesn't work or isn't easy to navigate, but because it offers far less apps than the standard Google Play Store does. You'll still get all the big names (Twitter, Facebook, Angry Birds etc), but there's just not as much to chose from. Gamers may want to look elsewhere regardless; the dual-core processor isn't quite up to the task of playing more advanced Android games.

Video
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Apple iPad Mini

If you're familiar with Apple's iTunes store then you'll be right at home downloading movies and TV shows on the iPad Mini. A gigantic catalogue of films in both standard definition and high definition can be both rented and bought from the store. New releases in HD quality are usually about £13.99, and standard definition films about £9.99. The quality of films on iTunes is top notch; if you can buy it online or in your local HMV, chances are you'll find it on iTunes. It's a shame the screen resolution is lower than on a regular sized iPad, though with the screen significantly smaller, it'll still be very easy on the eye.

Transferring your own content onto an iPad can be bit troublesome, as you have to connect to a Mac or PC and use the desktop iTunes software to manage your content. It can be picky about which file formats it accepts, so it may be worth investing in some file format conversion software or hunting down a reliable one online.

Regardless, the App Store has loads of great movie streaming apps, including LOVEFiLM and Netflix. Movie buffs will be spoiled for choice.

Google Nexus 7 2

The default option for getting movies and TV shows onto the Google Nexus 7 2 is Google's Play Movies store. Here you can rent movies, or if you live in the US TV shows too. New releases are never more than £3.49 for standard definition or £4.49 for HD content. There's a good selection of movies from across the ages (though there's a bias towards newer blockbusters), and the improved display of the Nexus 7 2 paired with the stereo speakers promises to be a lush viewing experience.

As well as easily adding your own personal video collection from a PC over the included microUSB connection, the Google Play app store has access to many other video playing and streaming apps, such as Netflix. There are plenty of options for film fans here.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Through the Amazon Prime one-month trial that comes with the tablet (usually £49 a year with a host of other benefits), you get unlimited access to the Amazon Instant Video collection, offering Netflix style streaming. Searching for content is easy and the library is robust. If you're a LOVEFiLM Instant subscriber, you also get "X-Ray" features with movies, which hooks up to the IMDB movie fact database and overlays key details over the action. There are less movie options available to Kindle Fire HD users, but what's on offer here is of a high standard, in terms of both titles and the way they're presented.

Also, the speakers on the Kindle Fire HD are superb, loud enough for a few friends to comfortably cram around the screen and have listen. Though not as sharp as the Nexus 7 2, contrast levels are deep and colours incredibly vibrant on the Kindle Fire HD. Visually and sonically, we expect it to hold its own against Google's latest.

Books
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Apple iPad Mini

iBooks is your portal to literature on the iPad Mini. It offers 1.5 million books (many of which are free) and arranges them in an attractive bookshelf-style library. Text can be resized to suit your preference, with books slightly cheaper than their paper-and-print counterparts.

iCloud features mean that if you own another Apple device, like an iPhone, you can read on one device and pick up on another exactly where you left off on the other device. The new version of iBooks launched tonight also offers continuos scrolling as an option if you'd rather read your books as one long document, and adds Twitter and Facebook sharing of your favourite quotations and passages.

If you're after newspapers of magazines, Newstand is your app of choice, letting you add subscriptions to many major publications, automatically downloading new issues as they become available. Many publishers put most effort into the iPad versions of their magazines, making for the most interactive and visually appealing versions available in any medium. The same goes for comics, with a really love selection of apps available for fans of the superhero's medium of choice.

Google Nexus 7 2

As with Play Movies, there's the Play Books app for literature on the Nexus 7 2. It's an easily navigated store, broken down into categories and highlighting new releases or popular collections or seasonal genres. There are plenty of free classic books on the store, while new releases are pretty much a match for other outlets, and usually a few quid cheaper than the paper versions. Magazines are available through the Google Play Magazines app too, offering subscriptions and back issues. They look great, with full screen, colourful photography. Books come in open ePub and PDF formats, which work with most devices other than the Kindle eReaders.

Again, the Google Play Store houses plenty of other reading material, from Amazon's own excellent Kindle app to comic book readers form the likes of Marvel and DC, as well as standalone single book apps.

Reading on the Google Nexus 7 was comfortable, and we see no reason why it won't be even better on the Nexus 7 2's improved screen; many apps offer adjustable text sizes and the backlight makes it good for reading in the dark, though it's not a patch on how comfortable it is to read an e-Ink eReader or regular paperback.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Amazon's Kindle Fire HD is probably the best option if you're into your books of the three tablets compared here. Tapping into the extensive Kindle book store, you've got nearly a million books on offer, the majority of which are under £3.99 and many free too. Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI and PRC files formats are handled natively, and there's also support for Audible Enhanced format (AAX), DOC and DOCX formats through other apps. Whispersync technology keeps all your bookmarks and last page read in books tracked across devices; if you read on a smartphone or Kindle eReader as well as the Kindle Fire HD, you'll go back to the right point as soon as you pick up the next device.

Amazon Prime members also get access to the Kindle Owner's Lending Library, letting you "rent" 180,000 titles for free, with no due dates. You'll get one book a month, with a one month free trial for Amazon Prime with the Kindle Fire HD. Prime subscriptions cost £49 a year, and adds unlimited free one-day delivery to all your physical Amazon.co.uk orders as well as other benefits.

150 magazines are available through the Kindle Fire HD too, including Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair, as well as newspapers such as the Guardian. Subscriptions are uniformly cheaper than print editions and look great on the vibrant screen.

Storage
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Apple iPad Mini

16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions of the iPad Mini are available, offering a nice spread of storage options for all budgets. However, with the size of iOS apps skyrocketing since the introduction of the Retina Display, you're best to grab the 32GB version at the very least. There's no microSD expansion on offer here either; once you've bought it that's all the physical storage space you're ever going to get.

If you need more storage space, you're going to have to find a cloud storage provider. We'd suggest Dropbox (being free and offering the easiest ways to expand your storage space without spending an extra penny), though Apple's iCloud may be more up your street, particularly if you regularly use other Apple products. 5GB of iCloud storage comes as free, but for a fee that can be expanded to as much as 50GB.

Google Nexus 7

The Google Nexus 7 2 will come in 16GB and 32GB versions. You can of course supplement storage with a cloud-based solution. We'd suggest Dropbox which is free, and offers plenty of ways to easily boost the amount of storage space you're initially given for free too as well as premium options. There's of course Google's Drive option too, if you prefer to keep all your Google branded products nestled together.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

16GB and 32GB versions of the Kindle Fire HD are available, and all models are well priced for the storage they offer. Again, there's no microSD slot here, so you'll need to supplement storage with a cloud service. Amazon offer unlimited free cloud storage space for any item you buy from their stores and limited storage space for your personal files, though we'd still recommend Dropbox for your own files.

Battery Life
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Apple iPad Mini

You'll get 10 hours of web browsing, video viewing or music playback from the iPad Mini, or 9 hours if you're connected to a cellular network. From our experience with other iPads, that's a pretty trustworthy estimate, and pretty much as good as it gets in tablet land.

Google Nexus 7

Google quote 9 hours of HD video playback for the Nexus 7 2's 3,950mAh battery. That's above average and commendable, though we'd like to put it through its paces before wholly recommending it.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

the Kindle Fire HD offers 11 quoted hours of reading, surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music. Again that's above average and a good amount of time, but as Amazon admits, that'll vary depending on your usage.

Price

Apple iPad Mini

In the UK the iPad Mini Wi-Fi sells for £269 for the 16GB model, £349 for the 32GB model and £429 for the 64GB model. Pop £100 onto the end of each of those prices if you want a version with a 4G connection.

Google Nexus 7

The new Nexus 7 2 will ship in the UK from September 13, and is set to cost £199.99 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only version and £239.99 for the 32GB version. A 4G variant has been announced, but no pricing or network details have been revealed for UK users yet. Even for the Wi-Fi only version alone that's a significant jump up in price from the original Nexus 7 tablet, though still represents good value for money given the spec sheet.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Amazon have a slightly different approach to pricing the Kindle Fire HD, offering a slightly cheaper version that pops the odd advert onto the lock screen. The ad-supported version costs £159 for the 16GB version and £199 for the 32GB version. These adverts aren't intrusive, so if you're counting the pennies, this shouldn't be too much of a problem.

If you cant handle adverts of any kind, the ad-free 16GB version costs £169, with the 32GB set at £209. Whichever version you go for, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD is cheap as chips.
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WINNER: Google Nexus 7 2
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Two years running, we expect the Nexus 7 2 to retain its crown as the king of 7-inch tablets. Making improvements across the board, and only slightly increasing the price, it's looking set to be a lovely device.

It's not as cheap as the Kindle Fire HD, and considerably more expensive than the original Nexus 7, but offers a far better, open software experience through vanilla Android 4.3,. It's also still cheaper than Apple's iPad Mini, despite packing in a screen that makes Apple's little tablet seem a little lacklustre.

With a 4G cellular connection now also offered it now matches the iPad Mini in this regard and wipes the floor with the Wi-Fi only Kindle Fire HD, as well as offering a useful NFC option, and a far more streamlined way of getting your own content onto the tablet over USB.

Of course, Apple's App Store remains the pack leader, but Google's Play Store is now of a comparably high standard, as are its media content and books stores. Amazon's App Store really lets it down in this regard, as does its pushy commerce-driven interface, though it still sports the best bookshop of the three.

It remains a close run race though. While the Kindle Fire HD now seems to be falling behind the pack, having an affinity for iOS or Android will likely swing it for most users towards either the iPad Mini or Nexus 7 2. Those comfortable with Android though will find a significantly improved tablet awaiting them in the form of the Nexus 7 2 however.
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galaxy-note-2-official.jpgBigger isn't just better - it's best. That's the message coming out of Samsung HQ, as their flagship Android phones grow considerably larger year after year. From the 5-inch Samsung Galaxy S4 to the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note 2, the only way is up for smartphone screen sizes.

But are we ready to go even bigger? The popularity of the original Galaxy Note, with its somewhat anachronistic stylus pen and gigantic screen size took many industry experts by surprise, with the range now one of Samsung's key properties. Now approaching the inevitable release of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, we've rounded up everything there is to know so far about Samsung's pen-packing phablet.

Screen

Conflicting reports have put the Samsung Galaxy Note 3's screen size at everything between 5.9 and 6.3-inches, with the former suggested by Samsung's J.K. Shin back in May. With the recent launch of the 6.3 inch Samsung Galaxy Mega, it's unlikely that Samsung will pop the same screen size into both devices - though their love of shared branding (see the mountains of Galaxy S4-branded handsets) across their range suggests they're not fearful of confusing their customer base with multiple similar handsets.

There's also been rumours of the handset sporting a flexible OLED display, though reports of a non-bendy full HD 1080p AMOLED screen seem most likely, and were pretty much confirmed yesterday.

S-Pen

Being the Note's key defining feature over the Galaxy S series, the Note 3 is all-but guaranteed to again ship with the S-Pen accessory. Will we see any innovations in this year's model? The launch of Sony's Xperia Ultra Z will certainly provide and impetus for Samsung to do so - Sony's phablet device includes screen technology that will allow any sort of standard pencil or dry-ink pen to work on its screen without damaging it, whereas the Note line has traditionally only worked with Samsung's proprietary S-Pen. With snappy scribblers likely to favour Sony's system in this regard over the Note's current set-up, we'd expect to see some similar innovation from Samsung on this front.
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Specs

Running all that S-Pen software for one-to-one stylus input is demanding, so the Note 3 is likely to be a pretty powerful device. With the top spec Samsung Galaxy S4 sporting an eight-core Exynos Octa-core, we'd expect to see the Note 3 match it at the very least. 3GB of RAM is also tipped for inclusion, again helping deliver a smooth multitasking and pen-input system.

Camera

Many had expected Samsung's flagship Galaxy S4 device to come with the company's newly-developed Orb Camera system, which would allow for 360-degree panorama shots, optical image stabilisation and include far deeper (and simpler) Facebook integration and social network sharing. Not present in the Galaxy S4, it's now being tipped for inclusion in the Note 3. In terms of megapixel count, a 13MP sensor is likely to feature.

Design and build

Looking to keep profit margins high, Samsung have traditionally built their handsets using plastic materials. However, the superb response to the aluminium build of the HTC One Android handset is said to have shaken Samsung, who are said to be considering a new metallic build for the Note 3 that could shake up the entire design language for the Galaxy line. This leaked image from @evleaks supports such claims:
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However, we'd expect such a drastic departure to be reserved for Samsung's Galaxy S4 flagship, rather than the company's second-most important handset. And while we're not privy to the goings on in Samsung's design labs, the leaked images above looked decidedly un-Samsung like to us. In this regard, we'd expect an evolution, rather than a revolution, on Samsung's curvy plastic Note 2 build.

Operating System

With the Galaxy Note 3's launch expected so late in the year, many had hoped it would land running Google's latest build of the Android operating system, version 5.0, AKA Key Lime Pie. However, with Google still staying tight-lipped over the operating system's launch, and the latest rumours pencilling in its release date for October, it's looking unlikely that the Note 3 would launch with the desert-inspired OS onboard. Expect instead Android version 4.2.2, or possibly the rumoured Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update.

As with all Samsung's Android handsets though, expect to see plenty of love-em-or-loathe-em tweaks to the core Android operating system from Samsung's own TouchWiz UI. These will likely include apps such a S-Note, Smart Stay eye-tracking and Air Gestures for hands-free page scrolling.
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Price

The Samsung Galaxy Note line has always been a pricey one, with the 2nd generation Note 2 starting at a whopping £549.99 price tag. Expect no different from the spec-heavy Galaxy Note 3, which will likely start around the same price. With the comparably sized and comparably spec'd Sony Xperia Ultra Z up for pre-order on some independent retailers at £599.99 including VAT, Samsung could well push the price up from the Note 2 by £30 or so and still undercut their competition.

Release date and launch

Both the original Galaxy Note and Galaxy Note 2 were launched at the annual IFA tech conference in Berlin, and we'd expect the trend to continue for the Galaxy Note 3, a reveal window even hinted at by Samsung's own J.K. Shin. Whereas the Galaxy S4, being the brand's flagship handset, has broke away from shared tech conferences to become the star of its own show, the niche-yet-newsworthy Note line has become the perfect headliner for Samsung's Berlin showcase in the Autumn.

However, the usual source "familiar with matters" at Samsung has suggested the handset may be revealed slightly earlier than the start of the IFA conference, with a special "press-only" Samsung Unpacked event rumoured to be planed for September 4th.

With IFA running from 6 - 11 September 2013 this year, expect to see the handset on the show floor throughout the conference at the very least.

As for an in-store consumer availability date, the Note 2 launched in the UK on October 1 2012, roughly a month after its August 29 IFA unveiling. Conservative estimates would expect a similar launch schedule for the Note 3, though with an iPhone 5S handset from Apple expected to launch around a similar time there's potential for Samsung to aim for a swifter global release with the Note 3.

So, what do you think of the Note 3 rumours so far? Enough to get you excited, and to stave off competition from Sony and Apple? We'll be updating this post with all the latest Galaxy Note 3 news as it comes in, so keep checking back for more in the run up to release.

Everyone loves free gaming apps, right? I know I do, but sometimes it can be hard to find the ones worth downloading. Which apps are worth your time? And which are worthless trash? Well don't worry! TechDigest is here to help you choose the best of the best available to iPhone and iPod touch owners. From Punch Quest to Sprinkle, Temple Run 2 to Layton Brothers, we've picked out a game for every iOS skinflint out there.

Then, once you're done here, be sure to check out our top 10 best paid for iPhone apps round-up, that includes such crackers as Ridiculous Fishing, Deus Ex: The Fall and XCOM: Enemy Unknown!

Click below to get started!


Windows-8.1.jpgWindows 8.1 is finally available to download in preview form, updating Microsoft's divisive operating system with new features that should help ease the pain of those turned off by the new-look OS.

The preview build is available for all to try out now. Click here to find out how to give it a go ahead of its late 2013 full release.

We've had some hands-on time with the new build of the OS and have picked out fourteen of the best new additions. Check them out below!

Following an entertainment-focussed unveiling for the Xbox One console, Microsoft had to prove to gamers that their next-generation gaming console had their interests in heart too. And though the used-game and internet requirement conditions may still alienate some, one thing is for certain - the Xbox One is going to have some mighty fine games headed its way.

Here's a selection of some of the best Xbox One game trailers shown so far at E3 2013. We'll update this post as more nifty titles start to trickle in.

Halo Xbox One

Dead Rising 3

Forza 5

Battlefield 4

Ryse: Son of Rome

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Project Spark

Zoo Tycoon

Quantum Break

D4

Sunset Overdrive

Titanfall

LocoCycle

Kinect Sports Rivals

Killer Instinct

Below

Crimson Dragon

writers-block-top.jpgYour great unwritten novel. We've all got one, right? Sitting on the back burner, never to see the light of day beyond the flicker of an idea hiding at the back of your mind for God-knows how many years.

It doesn't have to be that way! If the prospect of writing your book has been daunting in the past, let it be known that there are plenty of applications that can help get your creative juices flowing, as well as making organising your novel incredibly easy. As part of Tech Digest's eBook self publishing season, here's our pick of 10 essential applications for authors.

Kindle-Paperwhite-KDP.jpgGot a smartphone in your pocket? An eReader in your bag? An iPad on your bedside table, or even simply a computer at work? Then through the wonders of digital publishing you've got access to a library of millions upon millions of eBooks to read.

And your book could be among them!

The eReader/digital publishing revolution has made it easier than ever before for budding Tolstoys to get their work in front of the masses, taking control away from picky publishing houses and putting it into the hands of the very people who write the books you read.

Thanks to services like Kindle Direct Publishing from Amazon and iBooks Author from Apple, you can easily get your novel onto digital storefronts worldwide and selling across the globe within a couple of hours. In some cases, you can even take as much as 70% of the eBook selling price as royalties.

It can be hard work, but anyone with perseverance can pull it off, and we're here to help! Over the next couple of days, Tech Digest will be pulling together how-to guides, interviews and comparison features on many aspects of the self publishing process, helping you gain insight into this exciting, growing world of publishing. We'll be posting new eBook publishing stories every day this week, and this page will become a landing page for all of them, so keep checking back for more self-publishing posts. Check out the season so far below!

HOW TO: Self-publish an eBook with Kindle Direct Publishing - formatting, pricing, royalties and more!

Q&A: Mel Sherratt, author of 'Taunting The Dead', on Kindle Direct Publishing

Q&A: Tim J Cooke, author of 'Defending Elton', on self publishing and the changing relationship between authors and publishers

Profit from your fanfiction with 'Kindle Worlds', but watch the T's and C's

Q&A: Ben Galley, author of the 'Emaneska' series, on the challenges of self publishing eBooks

10 essential applications for authors: software and tools to banish writer's block for good

Q&A: Claire L Brown, author of 'Draco; Homecoming', on self publishing her first novel as an eBook

Dark Fate "First Person Fiction" iPad novel takes to the high seas of the Kickstarter self publishing route

REVIEW: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Wi-Fi and 3G)

HOW TO: Self-publish an eBook with Apple iBooks - formatting, aggregators, royalties and more!

Wingo eReader and tablet cases ease carpal tunnel pain with ergonomic design

Q&A: Pete Smith, author of 'Project Management: All You Need Is Love', on self publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing

REVIEW: Bookeen Cybook Odyssey HD FrontLight eReader

galaxy-s4-s4-vs-banner.jpgreview-line.JPG
Time to crown a new Android king, or is the Samsung Galaxy S4 a pretender to the Galaxy S3's throne? After a long old wait, and more leaks than a boat made of Hula Hoops, we've finally got the Samsung Galaxy S4.

But was it worth the wait and, more importantly, is it worth your money? We put the latest Samsung handset up against its predecessor to see if any major improvements have been made over last year's impressive model, and whether or not it's worth investing in the Galaxy S4 or picking up a bargain-priced Galaxy S3. Based on what we've found out tonight, hopefully this guide will help you pick between the two if you're stuck.

review-line.JPGDesign and Build Quality

Galaxy S4
The Samsung Galaxy S4, at least in terms of aesthetic design, looks almost identical to the Galaxy S3. Available in "Black Mist" and "White Frost" colours, it measures just 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm and weighs only 130 grams, making it a tad lighter than the S3. Still rocking a plastic polycarbonate build rather than an aluminium one (likely to keep costs down), the handset plonks a giant 5-inch 1080p display on the front, making it .2 of an inch larger than even its sizeable S3 older brother. Slim enough to fit comfortably in a trouser or jacket pocket, it's still a very large device that will put off some people looking for a smaller phone. It does have its advantages though, especially when browsing the web and watching video. 4G download speeds are also included, while there's also an IR blaster for controlling home cinema kit.

Galaxy S3
Thin at just 8.6mm and light at 133g, the Galaxy S3 feels great in the hand, and slips almost invisibly into a pocket. Available in Pebble Blue and Marble White, as well as other exclusive shades depending on your carrier, Samsung said last year that its curved edges are meant to conjure memories of nature. However, its plasticy "Hyperglaze" finish lacks that premium feel, and some may decide the Galaxy S3 is a little flimsy, albeit unfairly. The Samsung Galaxy S3 also has NFC features, as well as including 4G connectivity.

Winner - Though very similar, the slimmer, lighter, more-feature packed S4 wins it

Screen
galaxy-s4-s3-vs-screen.jpg
Galaxy S4

Phone screens rarely come bigger than the one packed into the Galaxy S4. A massive 5-inch display sits up front, with a Retina-beating 441ppi full HD 1080p resolution. The handset uses Samsung's Super AMOLED display technology, which should also keep images and videos bright and vibrantly colourful on the handset, as well as offering wide viewing angles. It'll be a great phone for consuming media on or browsing the web with as a result, and even features screen tech that will let you use its touchscreen features whilst wearing gloves. Sturdy Gorilla Glass 3 is also used in its construction.

Galaxy S3
A 4.8 inch Super AMOLED HD display sits on the front of the Galaxy S3 and it's gorgeous. Though its extra size and resolution mean it "only" hits a 309ppi pixel density, to the naked eye that won't make a difference. Vibrant and colourful, it's still one of the finest displays on the market, but it has been surpassed in both size and definition by the S4.

Winner - Galaxy S4 is easily superior, providing you want an even bigger screen

Processor

Galaxy S4

Samsung have opted for their 1.6GHz Exynos Octa 8-core processor in the Galaxy S4. Seeing as even quad-core chips clocked considerably lower than the beast of a processor found in the S4 normally see Android apps and software features ticking over nicely, the Galaxy S4 looks to be a real powerhouse of a phone. It's arguably even overkill - we can't think of a single Android feature that would truly be able to capitalise on such a chipset.

Galaxy S3
Samsung popped a quad-core 1.4Ghz Exynos processor in the Galaxy S3, and there isn't a stutter or hang to be seen with it. This remains one powerful phone, best presented by the Pop Up Play feature that offers true picture-in-picture multitasking, offering windowed HD video playback. Impressive is an understatement.

Winner - Galaxy S4

Storage


Galaxy S4

The Samsung Galaxy S4 will come in three different sizes: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. Each handset can also be expanded with microSD cards, up to an additional 64GB, making for plenty of flexibility when it comes to storage options. It's not yet certain whether or not the Galaxy S4 also includes the Galaxy S3's 50GB free Dropbox cloud storage promotion - it'll be a shame if it's lost this nifty feature.

Galaxy S3
Samsung's generous storage options are seen in the Galaxy S3 too. For starters, you've got 16GB and 32GB handset options. A 64GB model was also touted, though released far later into the handsets life cycle and is a little hard to come by. The S3 too had the option of popping in as much as an extra 64GB from a microSD card, not to mention a superb 50GB of FREE Dropbox cloud storage that comes as standard with every Galaxy S3 purchase. Either way, the Galaxy range is hard to beat when it comes to generous storage options.

Winner - For now we'll give this one to the S3 based on the Dropbox functions. If the S4 is confirmed to have it too, we'll change this verdict to reflect it.

Battery
battery-icon.jpg
Galaxy S4

The Samsung Galaxy S4 includes a whopping 2,600mAh battery. That's over a fifth larger than the battery found in the Galaxy S3, and it's removable too, meaning you'll be able to hot-swap batteries on the go if you're running short on power. However, we'd imagine both that screen and processor churn through power at an incredible rate, so you may not see a dramatic jump in battery life despite the capacity bump.

Galaxy S3
Samsung popped in a 2100mAh battery for the Galaxy S3. It's a sturdy performer, but even it struggles to get a full day's use out of a single charge. Remember there's a massive screen to power, as well as a quad-core processor draining juice all the time. Touches like the Smart Stay tech keep battery usage as low as possible, but not by much.

Winner - We're going for the S4, hoping that the additional capacity is enough to improve its battery life despite the added bells and whistles.

Software and Apps
samsung galaxy s4 sunset
Galaxy S4

The Galaxy S4 runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, the latest build of Android while we await the launch of Key Lime Pie later this year. When it comes to apps, Android has grown remarkably over the last few years, with virtually every major app present on iOS now available on Android too. Android, unlike iOS, also comes with Google Maps as the default mapping provider, the premier mapping application on the planet. Jelly Bean also offers the Google Now service, which offers at-a-glance information provided by Google's search engine based on your interests and location. Everything from bus timetables to sports scores to local restaurant reviews are covered. It's a great feature.

Android is however a far less user-friendly OS, but what it lacks in dummy-proofing, it excels with customisation options. You can make your Android device look and act pretty much however you want it to, freely adding widgets and personal touches throughout the device, and even adding custom ROMs that totally change the way Android looks and feels.

Samsung have included plenty of their own software features through their own TouchWiz UI reskin too.For instance, there's a feature called S-Translator that can translate languages automatically. You type words out in English and the Galaxy S4 then speaks them in one of nine languages, making it a valuable travel buddy. The camera system can also recognise text in foreign languages and translate it.

Smart Scroll web-page eye-tracking and Smart Pause media pausing are also included, with the front facing camera following your eye movements and angle of the handset in your hand to pan pages automatically, or pause videos if you look away from the screen. The screen's "Adapt Display" will also kick in automatically, adjusting settings such as brightness depending on the apps you're using and ambient brightness so that it is comfortable to your eyes.

The S4 also has Group Play, a shared music feature which lets users sync and play music on up to eight devices simultaneously, while video calling has been enhanced so it now works with up to three people - or you can have a video call but show an image.

S-Health is a suite of health and fitness related features. It will tell you how many calories you are burning, gauge your heart rate and sleeping patterns. You can also monitor your blood sugar levels with an add on.

The TouchWiz UI however isn't as easy on the eye as stock Android, now anywhere near as attractive as Apple's iOS.


Galaxy S3
The Galaxy S3 shipped with Android Ice Cream Sandwich, though a 4.1 Jelly Bean update has slowly rolled out from many carriers. Even if you're stuck on Ice Cream Sandwich, it's still a great OS without the Google Now features, and is just as highly customisable as Jelly Bean. The Galaxy S3 also saw the debut of many now-standard Samsung Galaxy features, including picture-in-picture Pop-Up Play and Smart Stay screen sleep tech. It wouldn't be an unprecedented move for Samsung to eventually roll out some of the Galaxy S4's headlining software features to the Galaxy S3 over time either, which would further extend the possibilities of the handset.

Winner - Galaxy S4, as it has everything the S3 had and more.

Camera and Video Recording
galaxy-s4-camera-official.jpg
Galaxy S4

The S4 sports a 13 megapixel camera, a significant spec-bump up from the 8 megapixel one found in the S3. 1080p video recording is also onboard.

Plenty of nifty shooting software features accompany the now-standard HDR, panoramic and photo filter shooting options.

For instance, It also includes a "Dual Camera" record feature, letting you shoot videos or photos from both the front and rear cameras at the same time, enabling you to be in the picture if you are taking the image. You can also add voice to an image as it can capture a few seconds of audio simultaneously.

The S4 also has a feature called "Drama Shot" that can snap 100 images in four seconds, and then make a composite of the most interesting moments captured. All these images and videos can then be stored in the "Story Album" gallery, that automatically makes a library of related shots based on date and location data.


Galaxy S3
Though many of the Galaxy S3's best camera features are now in the Galaxy S4, it's still a very capable snapper in its own right. The Galaxy S3 camera is an 8MP offering, with impressive start up speeds of 990ms, and the ability to fire off 3.3 photos a second. A 20 in a row, six photos per second burst mode also features, alongside Best Shot, which takes 8 pictures and picks out the best based on framing, lighting and blur, as well as elements such as open or closed eyes on the subject.

Then there are the facial recognition features. Snap a friend, tag them in one photo, and every subsequent picture you take of them in the future should automatically be tagged accurately by the handset. Groups of people appearing in the same shots can also have group tags associated with them, making organising large photo libraries incredibly easy. Images can quickly be shared via email or social networks using this feature too.

Elsewhere, more standard features like High Dynamic Range (HDR), panorama, Smile Shot and Beauty Modes are onboard too, as well as plenty of manual settings for things like exposure values.

1080p video recording is also onboard. Just like the S2 before it, the results from our tests look a real treat, with video stabilisation options working superbly. Up front, a 1.9MP camera for video calling and shooting 720p video is also available.

Winner - Galaxy S4

Price

Galaxy S4

Pricing has yet to be revealed, but expect it to be a lot more than what you can currently grab an S3 for.

Galaxy S3
Unlocked, the 16GB Samsung Galaxy S3 now sits at around £350, with the 32GB available at around £400 if you're willing to shop around a bit. Those are bargain prices considering how well the phone still performs. 24 month contracts sit at around £30 a month - depending on the deal you may even get the handset for free, though expect most of the time to spend a £30-£50 upfront cost, depending on the nature of the contract. With the S4 now out in the wild however, expect even these relatively low prices to drop further.

Winner - Galaxy S3

review-line.JPGVerdict:

Was there ever really going to be any winner here other than the Galaxy S4? As a major update to Samsung's leading smartphone range, it of course ups the ante over its predecessor in pretty much every department. From screen improvements to a faster processor, cool new software features to nifty new camera tech, it's the superior handset in almost every way.

Of course, it does mean however that the Galaxy S3 is about to get very, very cheap indeed, and in the coming days and weeks expect it to hit bargain basement prices. If that proves true, you could be picking up a really excellent handset for considerably less than the S4 will sell for. If you don't mind being just a step behind the cutting edge, the Galaxy S3 still comes highly recommended.

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For more Samsung Galaxy S4 launch news, click here

s4-vs-iphone-5-banner.jpgreview-line.JPGSamsung Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5? Following tonight's big reveal, that's going to be the question on every budding smartphone buyer's lips for the next six months or so. The two major smartphone manufacturers have been duking it out for years now, but the latest generation of flagship handsets from both stables is the closest fight we've ever seen.

Both the Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 have impressive feature and specs lists, but which is best for you? Based on what we've learnt tonight, we compare the key features and specs of both to help you decide which you should be splashing the cash on.

review-line.JPGDesign and Build Quality

Galaxy S4

The Samsung Galaxy S4, from an aesthetic perspective at least, looks very similar to the Galaxy S3. Available in "Black Mist" and "White Frost" colours, it measures just 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm and weighs only 130 grams overall. Still rocking a plastic polycarbonate build rather than an aluminium one (likely to keep costs down), the handset plonks a giant 5-inch 1080p display on the front, making it considerably larger than the iPhone 5 and even its S3 predecessor. Though slim enough to fit comfortably in a pocket, it's a large device that some will likely feel a little silly using for calls on a day-to-day basis, though will have advantages when browsing the web and watching video. 4G download speeds are also included, while there's also an IR blaster for controlling home cinema kit.

iPhone 5
The iPhone 5 was a considerable re-design for the iPhone line. Measuring 7.6mm thick and weighing 112 grams, it's 20% lighter than the previous iPhone 4S generation, and significantly trimmer than the S4. Available in two colours, either black or white, the rear panels are different on each. The white version has a raw aluminium back plate, while the black version has an anodised black finish on its rear. It's also the biggest iPhone to date. 4-inches diagonally, it now sits in a taller, widescreen ratio, but that's still considerable smaller than the Galaxy S4 screen. It'll still sit more comfortably in one hand though, which may swing the choice for small-handed smartphone fans. Made entirely from aluminium and glass, it has a real premium feel to it, though we're not personally sold on the whole two-tone look. The 4G download speeds of the S4 are also matched.

Winner - iPhone 5

Screen
iphone-5-vs-samsung-galaxy-s4-screen.jpg
Galaxy S4

If you like your phone screens big, but not as gigantic as the Galaxy Note 2 or other "phablets", there's quite literally a lot to love with the Galaxy S4. A massive 5-inch display sits up front, with a Retina-beating 441ppi full HD 1080p resolution. The handset uses Samsung's Super AMOLED display technology, which should also keep images and videos bright and vibrantly colourful on the handset, as well as offering wide viewing angles. It'll be a great phone for consuming media on or browsing the web with as a result, and even features screen tech that will let you use its touchscreen features whilst wearing gloves. Sturdy Gorilla Glass 3 is also used in its construction.

iPhone 5
Apple's top-notch Retina display with 326ppi features in the iPhone 5. Though it's in a 4-inch screen of the usual width, it is however taller than previous iPhones. The resolution of the display sits at 1136 x 640. Closer to a 16:9 ratio than before, the iPhone 5 is now better for viewing films on, with 44% better colour saturation, and with touch integrated into the display to reduce glare in sunlight. But despite being the biggest iPhone screen to date, it's still considerably smaller than that of the Galaxy S4. If you're looking to comfortably watch videos at length on a handset, it's arguable that the iPhone 5 screen will be too small. It will however look far more sensible when held up to your face for calling!


Winner - Galaxy S4

Processor

Galaxy S4

Samsung have opted for their 1.6GHz Exynos Octa 8-core processor in the Galaxy S4. Seeing as even quad-core chips clocked considerably lower than the beast of a processor found in the S4 normally see Android apps and software features ticking over nicely, the Galaxy S4 looks to be a real powerhouse of a phone. It's arguably even overkill - we can't think of a single Android feature that would truly be able to capitalise on such a chipset.

iPhone 5
The iPhone 5 comes equipped with an A6 processor, which is said to be 2x as fast with both CPU and GPU processing as the already-speedy dual-core A5 chip found in the iPhone 4S. Shrinking down the transistor size, it's smaller and more energy efficient too. Apps will load as much as 2x faster using the new chipset. Though it's arguably a slower processor than that found in the Galaxy S4, you'll be hard-pressed to tax it, meaning all apps and operating system functions flow without trouble.

Winner - Tie (Both processors will offer speedy, responsive user experiences)

Storage

Galaxy S4

The Samsung Galaxy S4 will come in three different sizes: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. Each handset can also be expanded with microSD cards, up to an additional 64GB, making storage options far more flexible than with the iPhone 5. It's not yet certain whether or not the Galaxy S4 also includes the Galaxy S3's 50GB free Dropbox cloud storage promotion - it'll be a shame if it's lost this nifty feature.

iPhone 5

Though Apple's iPhone 5 doesn't offer expandable storage, they at least offer three different configurations when it comes to size. 16GB, 32GB and 64GB iPhone 5 models are all available, with pricing rising appropriately. It's a crafty tactic though, as those opting for more storage space have to pop money directly into Apple's coffers, rather than picking up cheaper expandable storage elsewhere. With the iCloud back-up feature you've got a little leeway with which to store files remotely too, though extensive cloud storage through Apple doesn't come cheaply.

Winner- Galaxy S4

Battery
battery-icon.jpg
Galaxy S4

The Samsung Galaxy S4 includes a 2,600mAh battery. That's over a fifth larger than the battery found in the Galaxy S3, and it's removable too, meaning you'll be able to hot-swap batteries on the go if you're running short on power. However, we'd imagine both that screen and processor churn through power at an incredible rate, so you may not see a dramatic jump in battery life despite the capacity bump.

iPhone 5

According to Apple, you'll get 225 hours of battery life on standby for the iPhone 5, with 8 hours 3G or LTE talk time, and 10 hours Wi-Fi usage. In reality however, you're going to be juggling through all these tasks (plus video or audio playback) throughout a day, meaning that you're going to need to recharge that battery long before the day is done.

Winner - Tie (We're going to withhold judgement until we see how much power the Galaxy's screen and processor eat up)

Software and Apps

Galaxy S4
The Galaxy S4 runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, the latest build of Android while we await the launch of Key Lime Pie later this year. When it comes to apps, Android has grown remarkably over the last few years, with virtually every major app present on iOS now available on Android too. Android, unlike iOS, also comes with Google Maps as the default mapping provider, the premier mapping application on the planet. Jelly Bean also offers the Google Now service, which offers at-a-glance information provided by Google's search engine based on your interests and location. Everything from bus timetables to sports scores to local restaurant reviews are covered. It's a great feature.

Android is however a far less user-friendly OS, but what it lacks in dummy-proofing, it excels with customisation options. You can make your Android device look and act pretty much however you want it to, freely adding widgets and personal touches throughout the device, and even adding custom ROMs that totally change the way Android looks and feels.

Samsung have included plenty of their own software features through their own TouchWiz UI reskin too.For instance, there's a feature called S-Translator that can translate languages automatically. You type words out in English and the Galaxy S4 then speaks them in one of nine languages, making it a valuable travel buddy. The camera system can also recognise text in foreign languages and translate it.

Smart Scroll web-page eye-tracking and Smart Pause media pausing are also included, with the front facing camera following your eye movements and angle of the handset in your hand to pan pages automatically, or pause videos if you look away from the screen. The screen's "Adapt Display" will also kick in automatically, adjusting settings such as brightness depending on the apps you're using and ambient brightness so that it is comfortable to your eyes.

The S4 also has Group Play, a shared music feature which lets users sync and play music on up to eight devices simultaneously, while video calling has been enhanced so it now works with up to three people - or you can have a video call but show an image.

S-Health is a suite of health and fitness related features. It will tell you how many calories you are burning, gauge your heart rate and sleeping patterns. You can also monitor your blood sugar levels with an add on.

The TouchWiz UI however isn't as easy on the eye as stock Android, now anywhere near as attractive as Apple's iOS.

iPhone 5

They say there's an app for everything, and with Apple's iOS App Store, that's more or less true. There are well over 700,000 apps available in Apple's store, with an app to cover almost every potential need. From fitness to finance, arts to archaeology, you name it, there's a shed load of apps for every possible niche. Gamers are served particularly well with the iPhone, with it more than a match for handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS or PS Vita these days.

The iPhone 5 also features the Siri voice control app, letting you search the web, set calendar reminders, dictate emails and much more with just your voice alone. However, it's still more useful in the US than the UK, where a giant database of details on local businesses and events integrates directly with the app. In the UK, it's far less comprehensive in terms of what it can do, meaning it is still a bit of a novelty.

The iPhone also offers FaceTime as the native video calling application, allowing users to call Mac, iPad and iPod touch owners for free, as well as other iPhone users.

As for the design of the iOS operating system itself, it's incredibly easy to use and looks beautiful. It pretty much invented the grid-based app layout that everything from the Xbox 360 to Roku entertainment players have ripped off since.

What you gain in ease of use you lose in customisation options though, and if you're a tinkerer who likes to get tweak every property and potential UI layout, it's not a patch on Android. The latest version of iOS, iOS 6 (which the iPhone 5 ships with) also drops the superb Google Maps app in favour of Apple's own Maps application. Apple's take on cartography is pretty but buggy and inaccurate, nowhere near as extensive or precise as Google's and lacking useful features such as Street View.

Winner - Tie (iOS is slick but closed, Android and TouchWiz open but more complicated)

Camera and Video Recording
galaxy-s4-camera-official.jpg
Galaxy S4

The S4 sports a 13 megapixel camera, a significant spec-bump up from the 8 megapixel one found in the S3. 1080p video recording is also onboard.

Plenty of nifty shooting software features accompany the now-standard HDR, panoramic and photo filter shooting options.

For instance, It also includes a "Dual Camera" record feature, letting you shoot videos or photos from both the front and rear cameras at the same time, enabling you to be in the picture if you are taking the image. You can also add voice to an image as it can capture a few seconds of audio simultaneously.

The S4 also has a feature called "Drama Shot" that can snap 100 images in four seconds, and then make a composite of the most interesting moments captured. All these images and videos can then be stored in the "Story Album" gallery, that automatically makes a library of related shots based on date and location data.

iPhone 5

Though its megapixel count of 8 isn't any higher than the majority of top-tier smartphones, and considerably lower than that found in the Galaxy S4, the iPhone 5 sees Apple's imaging systems again impressing. A dynamic low-light mode for better night time shooting is added to the 5-element lens and f/2.4 aperture. There's also a panorama shooting mode natively built into the camera app for the first time, with a 360-degree shot resulting in a giant 28 megapixel image. The A6 chip allows for faster photo capture too, as well as a smart filter for better colour matching and reduced noise. Share Photo Streams allow you to share photos with pals, and receive messages on your snaps too.

Combine all that with clever HDR and Macro software, and you'll get excellent still image results almost every time. A super-fast shutter speed that lets you snap multiple images directly after each other sweetens the deal, as do the many superb photography apps on the App Store.

1080p video recording with anti-shake functionality and facial recognition tech will likely impress too, with the iMovie app letting you make a few simple edits on the go.

Winner - We're going for the Galaxy S4, based on the rich feature list and higher megapixel count

Price

Galaxy S4

Pricing has yet to be revealed for the Samsung Galaxy S4.

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 handsets come in three sizes, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB, with the price scaling with each. Unlocked and direct from Apple, you're looking at £529, £599 and £699 respectively for each handset. A free 16GB handset on 24 month contracts hover around the £30 a month mark.

Winner - Not sure yet. We'll update once Galaxy S4 pricing is revealed.

review-line.JPGVerdict:

Based on what we've learnt about the Samsung Galaxy S4 tonight, it looks as though Apple's iPhone 5 may have been unseated as the smartphone king. As well as the impressive hardware tech, a slew of interesting software features make the Galaxy S4 look very attractive indeed.

Having said that, the two flagship smartphone lines are now very different indeed, and look to serve two quite different audiences. If you're after a giant, luscious display, the Galaxy S4 is certainly what you should be looking at. But if you're after a more subtly-sized smartphone made of superior materials, the iPhone is the one for you. Certainly, both operating systems are mature enough to offer excellent user experiences regardless of which you choose to side with.

It will likely be ultimately a question of pricing, one as-yet-unanswered as we await the Galaxy S4 pricing structure. It's likely to be considerably cheaper than the iPhone though, adding another string to its bow. All in from what we've gathered so far, were calling the Galaxy S4 the winner overall here.

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For more Samsung Galaxy S4 launch news, click here

sim-city-alt-banner.jpgToday, we'd intended on posting our review of the long-awaited SimCity, the 2013 revamp of one of the most revered god game series of all time. However, if you've been watching news on SimCity closely, you'll know that the game's always-online requirements have been causing havoc and preventing players from building their cities. That includes us - we've yet been able to have substantial time with the game in order to put a review together to our usual standards.

So, to tide you over while you wait for our review (and possibly while you too wait to get into a game of the crippled SimCity yourselves) here are 12 of our favourite god games as SimCity alternatives!

depressing-games-banner.jpg Video games. We play them because they are fun. But are they always happy? No. Not by a long, long shot. Here Tech Digest run-down the top 20 most depressing video games of all time, depressing not because they were bad (the games on this list are almost uniformly excellent) but because they have a dark heart, examining some of the more shadowy or painful sides of the human condition.

So what are you waiting for? Scroll down and have...er...fun?

ps4-launch-event-1.pngSony have officially launched the PlayStation 4 during a glitzy launch event in New York City today, and with it comes the launch window for the next-generation games console. Those looking to get their hands on the PS4 console will be able to pick one up by the end of the year, during "Holiday 2013". No pricing has been revealed yet. Read on for all the details of what was revealed at today's press conference.

Hardware

Despite going into detail about the games set to be available for the console, as well as the PS4's online and social features, Sony failed to reveal the console hardware itself, keeping the PlayStation 4 design still shrouded in mystery.

Sony did however unveil some of the tech that will go inside the PlayStation 4: there will be an x86 processor, an undisclosed combined CPU/GPU, 8GB of unified GDDR5 memory (a significant jump over the PS3's 512MB) and a local HDD, possibly Solid State given the speedy boot up and game resume times Sony touted at the event.dualshock-4-controller.pngWhat was on show at the event in terms of hardware however was the new DualShock 4 controller. Similar to what's on offer already in the PS3's DualShock 3 controller, the DualShock 4 adds a touch sensitive panel front-and-centre on the controller, a 3.5mm headphone and mic jack for easy player communications and a Move-like lightbar for identifying players and interacting with a 3D motion sensing camera. That light was also seen to change colour during live game demos at the event, suggesting it will add visual cues to go along with onscreen action. There was also a share button, perhaps the classic controller design's most intriguing, forward-thinking addition.

Social, streaming and sharing
ps4-social-streaming.png
Most often referenced during the PS4 press conference the dedicated "Share" button on the DualShock 4 controller. With it, gamers will be able to upload video content of games they are playing instantly, as well as broadcast live streams of gameplay sessions through video streaming service Ustream. It looks as though Sony are keen to tap into the blossoming competitive eSports gaming market, something that relies on shared video content of games, and something that the PS4 is now well poised to deliver.

Such social gaming features will be core to the PlayStation 4 experience, allowing gamers to talk about games over social networks like Twitter and Facebook, as well as offering the chance for pals to check out friends games as they are playing and be given the chance to remotely take control of difficult sections when invited, much like remote desktop management on a PC.

No native backwards compatibility

Game streaming will make up the pseudo-backwards compatibility of PS3 games on the PS4 using Gaikai tech. Though you won't be able to pop your old PS3 discs into the PS4 to play them, the PlayStation 4 will allow you to stream older games over the internet direct to the console. It's unclear yet whether or not a premium will be charged for this service, even if you have a physical copy of the game for the PS3.

Fast booting fast downloads

Accessibility and seamless interactions with the console were highlighted by Sony. Not only will the console's increased RAM and (possible) SSD storage allow for faster loading and start-up times (as well as the ability to put the console into low power mode and pick up from the last played moment almost instantly) Sony's improved network downloads should make grabbing games over the internet far easier. With the PS4 you'll only need to download the bare minimum few files of a game required to play before being able to start messing around in a gameworld, while the rest of the files needed for the complete game finish downloading in the background.

Remote and multiplatform play

ps4-remote-play.pngThe PlayStation 4 will also work alongside smartphones and tablet tech, with at least one game showcased (Drive Club) launching alongside a dedicated interactive app. Most significantly, Sony aim to be able to have every single PS4 game available to be streamed to their PS Vita handheld (as is already possible with a number of PS3 games), allowing for Wii U style second-screen functionality, adding a modicum of in-the-house mobility.

Games

The true stars of the show however were the many games previewed at the event. Sony stated that they've got every major third-party developer onboard for the PS4, and many key partners were in attendance to show off their forthcoming wares.

Sci-fi shooter Killzone: Shadow Fall was revealed by developers Guerrilla Games (shown in the trailer above), while MotorStorm devs Evolution Studios showed off Drive Club, a first-person driving game that focusses on team play and social challenges.

Ubisoft's promising open-world action game Watch Dogs (initially revealed as a PS3, Xbox 360 and PC title at E3 2012) was finally confirmed as a PS4 title, and showed some stunning free-roaming, free-running hacking action, while a teaser trailer for InFamous: Second Son was also shown (as seen in the trailer directly above). Ex-Halo developers Bungie also took to the stage to share gameplay footage of their eagerly-anticipated social-shooter-in-space Destiny, also now confirmed for the PS4 with console-specific content in tow.

Those looking for less intense titles will be able to look forward to action platformer Knack (as seen in the trailer above) from PlayStation 4 architect and Marble Madness creator Mark Cerny, while there's a new puzzle game called The Witness from the team behind the critically-acclaimed Braid.

Perhaps the biggest coup was the announcement that Blizzard will be making games for the PS4, starting with a port of Diablo III. Though its unlikely to be an exclusive deal considering owners Activision publish to every major console, its significance can't be understated given Blizzard's sole focus on PC gaming in recent years. Could the long-rumoured World of Warcraft successor come to the PS4?Capcom also showed a promising fantasy-themed tech demo called Deep Down, looking to build on the popularity of their Dragon's Dogma series (which you can see in the YouTube clip above), though Square Enix's disappointing tech demo had to be buoyed by the announcement of a new Final Fantasy game for the PS4.

Though not showing new games themselves, LittleBigPlanet developers Media Molecule and Heavy Rain mastermind David Cage were also in attendance, showing that Sony's other first-party partners will soon have PS4 fruits of their own to share.

A solid start for the next-generation of PlayStation gaming

It's a promising start for the PlayStation 4. Sony's intentions with the console seem to put gamer's first, as all good gaming console launches should. While there was a brief mention of TV and media services coming to the console, the focus was on new games and partnered developers, and new ways for gamers to interact with titles. Stunning graphics were on show, as well as innovative social features which appear to be far deeper than and more ingrained in the console than any gaming machine has attempted before. We may not have seen the actual console hardware itself yet, but what we've now officially been told it can do looked very impressive indeed.

Keep checking back to Tech Digest for more news on the PlayStation 4 and its next gen-rivals in the coming days, weeks and month as their launch dates approach.

addictive-games.jpg Some mobile phone games blow you away with nifty graphics. Some mobile phone games keep you gripped with a riveting story. Some mobile phone games keep you hooked by pitting you against your friends.

But some mobile phone games are more addictive than nicotine-filled, chocolate-covered crack. These games have a magical hold over us, always sitting at the back of our minds, making us hear little voices that whisper "Plaaaaaaay meeeeee...plaaaaaaay meeeeeee", every waking moment of the day. We play them every chance we get, we love them, and we just cant help ourselves.

Here are the top 10 most addictive mobile phone games, all available on both Android and iPhone. Play them at your own risk.

Kindle-Fire-HD-apps-top.pngreview-line.JPGAmazon's Kindle Fire HD is one of the best value 7-inch tablets on the market. Kicking off at £159 for the 16GB version, it's got a vibrant 1280x800 resolution screen and a bag-sized form-factor that make it a great on-the-go travel tablet.

Though it comes pre-loaded with apps like LoveFilm, IMDB, OfficeSuite, a nifty email client and the speedy Silk web browser, to get the most out of the Kindle Fire HD you'll be wanting to grab some new apps for it.

And some free ones at that! We've tracked down the 20 best free apps for Amazon's Kindle Fire HD tablet. From Temple Run 2 to TV catch up services, there's something here for everyone, even if your budget is simply the air that you breathe. Scroll down to see our picks!
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(NOTE: Though an Android tablet, the Kindle Fire HD grabs its apps through Amazon's own Amazon AppStore. As they're not being bought through the Google Play Store, they'll only be tied to Amazon Kindle Fire devices unless you grab the Amazon Appstore app on another compatible Android device.)

dyson-top.jpgJames Dyson is a British engineering legend. A graduate of two of the UK's most prestigious design schools (Byam Shaw School of Art - now part of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design - and The Royal College of Art), he's been wowing the world with his inventions since 1970, re-imagining everyday household appliances and tools like the vacuum cleaner and washing machine, and taking the world a few steps closer to the vision of the future we'd seen in The Jetsons cartoons.

Today, he and his team are at it once again, revealing the re-invention of the humble tap with the AirBlade Tap, which both washes and dries your hands.

To celebrate the great man's work, here's our pick of the Dyson team's top ten best inventions.

name-bloody-stupid.jpgSamsung are rumoured to be revealing a new smartphone/tablet hybrid at this year's MWC event in Barcelona. A 5.8-inch dual-SIM number with a 960x540 AMOLED screen and Android Jelly Bean software, it's all sounding pretty good except for one point: its name.

Combining phone and tablet, Samsung look set to christen the device the Samsung Galaxy Fonblet. Phone + tablet x lack of common sense = Fonblet.

As the device has yet to be officially revealed by Samsung, the South Korean firm thankfully have time to come up with a less ridiculous name before launch.

But what of the phones that make it to market with their dumb names intact, destined to bring ridicule and shame to all who own them? Here, Tech Digest run down the 10 worst phone names in mobile history. Scroll down to check them out.

ces-2013-best-in-show.jpgreview-line.JPGWith the end of yet another Consumer Electronics Show drawing near, it's time to look back on a week of newly unveiled tech goodies, sifting the wheat from the chaff as we run down our favourite gadgets from CES 2013.

It's a year of subtle change for the tech industry; 3D TV made way for 4K Ultra high-definition as the headlining feature of many an AV showcase, smartphones continued to blur the lines with tablets as average screen sizes continued their upwards rise and a few unexpected players entered the gaming hardware race.

But change of an even more significant kind is certainly in the air. There's a sense that physical hardware has hit a kind of plateau, where the services contained within rather than the device itself are more important. For many, CES 2013 felt like the end of an era, the changing of the guard as the "internet of things" and cloud connectivity dominated an event that was once the domain of high end AV and cutting-edge gadgetry. Sure, there was impressive hardware on show, of which we're about to pick the best of the bunch, but one now wonders how important, or even how relevant, a giant event like CES is any more.

Still, there were plenty of lust-worthy devices on the show floor that we can't wait to get a nice long play with. Here is Tech Digest's CES 2013 Best in Show selection.
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Razer Edge
razor-edge-1.jpgRazer have a vocal community of fans who offer invaluable feedback when producing the company's upcoming gaming hardware devices. And having that source of real-gamer feedback has certainly proved its worth with the development of last years Project Fiona gaming tablet, reborn at CES 2013 as the Razer Edge. A 10-inch full Windows 8 tablet that's just as comfortable as a portable PC gaming machine as it is tablet or even desktop replacement, it's a nifty design that makes high-end, portable PC gaming a reality.

Two models are available, the Razer Edge and the Razer Edge Pro. The entry level unit starts at around £650 and packs in a Core i5 processor, discrete Nvidia GT 640M GPU, 4GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD. The £1000 Pro model jumps up to a Core i7 with the same Nvidia GPU, 8GB of RAM and either a 128 or 256GB SSD depending on how much extra cash you're willing to lay out.
With those specs (especially the Pro model) you'll be able to do some serious gaming on the Edge, and thanks to a control pad convertor case that packs in analogue sticks and mechanical buttons, you'll be able to play any number of gamepad enabled PC games through Steam's Big Picture mode. HDMI-out also allows the tablet to be hooked up to a big screen HDTV.

Battery life is said to be comparable to other tablets, which should offers something between 8 to 10 hours of usage, with an option battery pack adding another two hours on top. A keyboard and dock add-on, expected to land later in the year, will allow the Edge to become a fully-fledged desktop replacement too, letting shooter fans add a mouse for pinpoint sharpshooting.

Sony Xperia Z
sony-Xperia-Z-Press-01.jpgSony had a really strong showing at this year's CES, and despite suffering a number of leaks, it couldn't dampen the enthusiasm and excitement its Xperia Z handset garnered.

The handset packs in a 5-inch full HD Reality Display, running at a full HD resolution of 1080 x 1920. Using Sony's Mobile Bravia Engine 2, it even employs some of the same technology that goes into Sony's TV sets too. The Xperia Z is also the first handset from Sony to use a quad-core processor, using a 1.5GHz variant backed up with 2GB of RAM.

Running Android Jelly Bean 4.1, the Xperia Z also sports a 13.1MP camera with 1080p video recording capabilities, with a 2.2MP front facing camera onboard too. All the usual conenctivity options are onboard too (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS) as well as super-fast 4G data connectivity and NFC capabilities. 16GB of storage comes as standard which can be expanded via the microSD card slot.

Sony's handsets often look better on paper than they eventually prove to be, but with the Xperia Z everything's pointing towards them having a genuine winner on their hands.

Polaroid iM1836 Android
polaroid-android.jpgSaid to be priced between £250 and £300, the Polaroid iM1836 looks to be a great deal if it can land in stores at its suggested price point.

The Polaroid iM1836 is an Android powered camera (running Jelly Bean 4.1) just like the Samsung Galaxy Camera, but one that also throws in interchangeable lens functionality. Shooting 18MP images, the camera comes with a 10-30mm kit lens, but will be compatible with all micro four thirds lenses with a mount adapter.

With both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in, you'll quickly be able to upload super snaps directly to social networks using the iM1836's 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen. There's even full HD 1080p video recording onboard too.

Sounds great, right? But is it too good to be true? We'll have to wait and see, but at that relatively low price we'd be willing to take a chance on it!

Plastic Logic PaperTab
papertab-1.jpgThey've left the eReader market behind, but Plastic Logic still had new electronic paper developments to show at CES 2013, turning heads with their PaperTab concept.

PaperTab is a 10.7 inch flexible tablet that could well represent the future of regular wood-mush paper. A bendy, high-resolution display that's paper-thin, the PaperTab is powered by a Core i5 processor, and uses innovative gesture controls to navigate. For example, bending the display would turn a page in a book, a completed email could be sent by bending forward a corner of the sheet, while touching two PaperTabs together would let you share information between each device.

Intriguingly, the plan is to run a single app on each PaperTab, rather than swiping between multitasking apps as with a traditional tablet experience. Positional awareness of the PaperTab allows each sheet to know what's being shown on the other and display relevant information. The PaperTab would also know when it's within reaching distance of its user, displaying an overview of contained documents for instance when out of reach.

Sony 56-inch 4K OLED TV prototype
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An "in development" 56-inch 4K OLED TV from Sony, this headlining set wiped the floor in terms of pure image quality with every other TV on show at CES 2013.

The first and largest 4K OLED TV in the world, Sony have used a new "Super Top Emission" technology to overcome the challenge of pushing light through larger OLED glass. It looked incredibly impressive according to experts in attendance, setting a new standard for OLED TVs (despite the fact that the technology is still yet to become available in western stores). Elsewhere, LG also impressed with a curved 4K screen that was said to offer an IMAX-like experience in the living room.
Click here for more news from CES 2013

ces-2013-banner-day-three.jpgreview-line.JPGDay two of the world's biggest technology show *in the world* is in full swing and while all the big boys have had their fun with giant press conferences, our attentions turn to the smaller guys in town.

Today's most intriguing story is definitely the relaunch of Razer's Project Fiona, now revamped and renamed the Razer Edge. A tablet/PC/handheld games console hybrid, it's going head to head with Nvidia's Shield at this years show.

Read on for more of today's top tech news from CES 2013!
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Five new dual-SIM Lenovo IdeaPhone Android smartphones on the way

Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 Windows 8 Pro and JT-B1 Android tablets head out into the wild

Nvidia's Shield handheld console to be the first of many

Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" finally achieved with Bang and Olufsen's BeoLab 15 and 16 speakersrazor-edge-1.jpgProject Fiona gaming tablet reborn as Razer Edge

LG show off IMAX style EA9800 curved OLED TV

ZTE Grand S officially revealed

Lenovo K900 is a 5.5-inch super-slim Intel powered smartphone

Click here for more news from CES 2013

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