Saturday, 17 January 2015

SYNAPSE CIRCUIT PREDICTIONS 2015

Above: A Galaxy S6 concept. The Galaxy S6 must be a game changer for Samsung!

SYNAPSE CIRCUIT
LOOKING FORWARD INTO 2015: PREDICTIONS

Goodhour, Synapse Circuit Readers! Yes, I am back on it! Back on the article writing trail! I hope that all is well with you and yours and that the weather is treating you nicely! Over here in the UK the weather is looking grim! Apparently the UK will face arctic conditions in the coming weeks! Gadzooks!

I am glad that you enjoyed my review of 2014! Here’s the Synapse Circuit prediction of 2015! Yes, I get it mainly wrong but right where it counts! Wink, wink! Still, it’s all good fun!

#SynapseCircuit #2014 #Android #Apple #Google #Samsung #LG #Motorola #HTC #Huawei #ASUS #ZTE #Sony #Archos #ASUS #Acer #Lenovo #Xiaomi

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR APPLE?
After yet another mediocre iPhone design for versions 6 could it be time for something new? C’mon... ...even if you are the most ardent iPhone fanatic on the planet you have to admit that it’s the Android designs that is driving the smartphone market and in the process giving people something to gasp at! The front-facing speaker designs from HTC and Motorola came as a breath of fresh air! And if stereo speakers aren’t your thing then the beautiful designs of the LG G3 and the bezel free Aquos Crystal from Sharp must have taken your breath away!

Compared to the aforementioned Android handsets the iPhone just looks bland and I predict that Apple will do something about it this year! If not I will be shocked – especially as they have taken on another well known designer!

iOS 9 should, hopefully, improve upon the formula and enable a QHD screen! Now that app developers have gotten used to the idea of a bigger iPhone there will be apps to take advantage of the screen resolution!

You probably noticed that the plastic 5C variation was a dud and that Apple didn’t refer to it in their reveals says an awful lot! Apple will stick to the standard and plus variations. From looking in the computer exchange store windows I can see that many iPhone users were not impressed and have gone Android or even Windows! Gosh! Golly! Gee! But Apple will have certainly learned from releasing a buggy iOS and lacklustre iPhone.

IS THE iPAD DEAD?
Hmmmm... Now that the 6 Plus is here it could very well be that the iPad is dead. I thought it was pretty much dead when Apple decided to change up the connector cable on the iPad to Lightning! I think people realized that they could just stick to the iPhone and a Macbook. And, of course, the iPad mini variant became a mini Mac for children – and even then some consumers complained about the price (of the iPad mini)! From a consumer viewpoint the iPad does not make sense as you may use the cash to get a good laptop or Macbook instead! Why even a desktop PC is worth having as there is more scope in terms of decent cost effective software!

I still think that a good way to preserve the notion of an Apple tablet lies with converting a Macbook Air into the MacPad! So, if there is to be an announcement come June – regarding a tablet – it will be the MacPad! It’s highly likely that Apple is keeping a close eye on the Windows laptop manufacturers enabling for the keyboard to be tucked away so that the laptop becomes a tablet!

APPLE WATCH: DBA (DEAD BEFORE ARRIVAL)?
I reckon that when the Apple Watch comes out it won’t be the success that Apple had hoped. There must be some serious issues with it why Apple fanatics have to wait so long. In the meantime other manufactures are on the third or fourth smartwatch! Apple talks a good fight but cannot deliver on it! The “Digital Crown” my ass! If and when the Apple Watch comes out there will be other smartwatches that will be more advanced. As with the iPhone the Apple Watch is playing catch up!

Apple Watch = No!

JONY IVE: FIRED!
In order to rescue the iPhone and the “i” brand in general it could be that Jony Ive will be fired or he’ll walk after Cook stating that the reason for the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch failures is due to the bland designs. OMG!!! Sorry, if I made you fall of your chair! I am betting that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus weren’t as successful as the pundits are claiming, “The biggest sales for the iPhone and Apple yet...” The reason why I find this hard to believe is because soooooooooooooooo, sooooooooooooooo many of these devices are ending up in these computer exchange shops (here in the UK)! Yes, I think the 6 Plus wooed iPhone enthusiasts back and they bought it but it became very apparent that the 6 Plus was not what they were hoping for!

I can’t obviously make a statement on the US, Japanese and Chinese markets or the rest of Europe for that matter, but here in London I see people walking around with mainly Samsung handsets i.e. the Galaxy Note 4 and due to the Galaxy S5 the awesome Galaxy S4 has come down to £22.50 a month from £30-odd. Many people are opting for the Galaxy S4 due to the current financial climate in the UK. I know of many Galaxy S3 owners that were due for an upgrade that wanted a GS5 but couldn’t stretch financially and have gone for the GS4 instead! I would imagine that is the case for many people who are due an upgrade! Other premium handsets i.e. the LG G3 for example, have become cost prohibitive! Therefore, the Galaxy S4 is a good compromise.

What handsets are filling up the computer exchange shops in your town? For every one Galaxy Note 4 I see in an exchange shop there are about 10 – if not more – iPhone 6 Pluses! The US market isn’t going to be enough for Apple! The iPhone wants to claw back some of the market taken by Android and it is not doing so! Android is still dominant mobile operating system on the planet. Sure, the iPhone is on its own as there are no other manufacturers making an iPhone so you’ll find that Samsung, LG, HTC and Motorola, etc have to compete with each other for the majority market share. I think that Samsung is on top!

PANORAMA: THE TRUTH BEHIND FOXCONN. APPLE EXPOSED!
After the UK BBC investigative journalism programme Panorama’s lid lifting on Apple’s manufacturing processes it could have conscientious people giving up their iDevices! Such people may opt to plug out of the Matrix as it were!

I know... I know... You are addicted to your iDevices! Ha ha! I don’t know where I would be without my Galaxy Note 4! And I wouldn’t know where I was with Apple Maps! Hahahaha! Just kiddin’!

PR REFORM
I would like to see Apple / Tim Cook being open and truthful about iPhone, iPad and other sales. I think Apple places way too much pressure on itself to be the best in the world at computing and mobile devices. I think people would welcome that change; I have noticed that they are less dismissive of the competition. No matter how much Cook and co sneers at the competition it does not mean to say that what Apple produces is the best that technology has to offer! It’s not as if consumers will purchase Apple goods out of pity.

Jony Ive’s whimpering about “stolen designs” and what not got sooooooooo, sooooooooo boring! If your competitors are “copying” then do something better! Move on! The thing is that the competitors have moved on and are doing great designs; a great example of design innovation comes from LG! Now LG were putting out handsets that look similar to what others were doing and they sort of faded in... LG had some good handsets out but the established hitters always took centre stage. Then LG got the Nexus 5 gig and that put LG in the spotlight! They released a number of good looking handsets: G 2, Flex and G Pro 2. Then there was the magnificent G3 and the amazing looking Flex 2 is about to drop! But the iPhone has stayed more or less the same for all its existence. Tell me if that’s not boring!

GOOGLE
I think it is safe to say that Google will keep updating Android 5, Lollipop to give it greater stability (not that I am complaining where my Nexus 6 is concerned) right across the various fortunate handsets to have gotten the update! I also see that there will be more functionality coming to it! I felt that Android fans – myself included – were a little disappointed from the i / O 2014’s introduction to Android L (it was fun guessing what the ‘L’ stood for) and the relatively slow uptake! By the time my second generation Moto G gets it I may be in possession of the third generation! In fact rumour has it that a Moto G Titan is about to drop which is based on the second generation Moto G only the screen resolution is slightly bigger and that it features a 4G radio! Great! I say “great” with a bit of sarcasm! Oh, it’ll be running Android 5! Cool! Now why didn’t Motorola put this handset out last year, huh? Mind you I don’t know if this rumour is true... It is said to come from UK catalogue / retail outlet, Argos product listings in the mobile phone department! It’s probably true and in keeping with how the Moto G 4G handset was released a little further down the line!

What I predict for the future of Android is that Google will somehow make it easier for manufacturers to update the hardware with the new software. I think that Project Ara may play a hand in having to cope with a bunch of generic modules.

We could see the version of Android on Project Ara merge with the standard one! Android M towards the end of the year, Mud Pie!

IS GLASS DEAD?
I think there will be an uptake for Glass in certain professions / industries i.e. medical, military and police. Whether it becomes a product for public consumption remains to be seen. I was hoping to get one when the price came down considerably! I can see one danger in wearing Glass and that’s with driving a vehicle; one may not be paying close attention to what is going on the road. Another danger is pedestrians not looking where they are going... The amount of times I have seen people texting on their phones not realizing that they are crossing a busy road... The amount of times people have had their faces into their handsets not paying attention until they fall into a train track... Jeez, Louise!

However, as a technology fan / futurist I would want Glass on my face! Yeah, just because I want it doesn’t mean to say that Glass will be available to Jo Public! Just to reiterate: Glass will become a product for professions & industries! Perhaps we’ll see a version to help the visually and audibly impaired... That could work! I’d try to get one on prescription! Just kiddin’, folks! I do appreciate my sight and hearing!

In principal Glass costs very little to make so I don’t know why the price was so high!

ANDROID WEAR
Now I feel that Android Wear might – just might – be discontinued... Why? Here’s what I have noticed where Android for handsets is concerned: IT GOT BIG REAL QUICK!!!! That’s right! Android handset sizes just took off and left the iPhone in the dust! So, I think the same could possibly happen with Android Wear and the devices will become bigger and better as a result! Therefore the bigger devices will use the full blown Android (5, Lollipop) operating system.

It could very well be that Android Wear may be something for those who prefer small wearable devices. I do think that once manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Sharp, etc perfect the flexible screen technology and print a circuit board on flexible plastic (or something that flexes) we’ll be seeing larger but light wearable devices. Imagine a smartwatch with a 360 wrap-around display... Awesome, huh?

ANDROID TV
Android TV has definitely got potential! Last year we have witnessed the beginning of the end of cable (and possibly satellite) TV! If I am correct, Virgin Media has been sold to an American company and it could mean that there will be a shakeup with regards to the cable TV industry. Many people are waking up to the fact that cable TV companies aren’t giving the consumer the best choices and value for money!

I have already cancelled my cable TV as quite a majority of the channels were crap! Think about it: Right now we, in the UK, have access to apps from terrestrial TV channels that enables us to bypass traditional TV networks – thus we can stop paying the BBC TV license fee. And we are able to choose, through the likes of Netflix, what we want to watch instead of the set of (often useless) channels that cable providers have to offer the consumer! Even without Android TV, Chromecast, etc we have access to Free View TV that comes in the form of a box! I believe that Android TV can take television watching further – especially as Google are looking to syndicate it popular YouTube content creators! It makes sense!

I reckon that come April / May the UK will be able to purchase the Nexus Player! I would imagine that right about now Google are working with various networks and developers to make it worthwhile! I am up for that!

ANDROID AUTO
I think Android Auto is going to continue to grow! It is only a matter of time before Google’s driverless cars become a life changing reality starting in the States first. I think there is scope for car kits whereby people can design their car online, have it printed out and with Android Auto at the heart of it! Think about it... Whenever we go on long journeys we either take the car or public transportation. In London, where I live, the roads are often congested with traffic that emits deadly smog that affects nearby buildings such as schools and, of course, pedestrians. If, for example, I was going to do a major shop at the supermarket I would want to jump in the car to and from. But my car will cost me petrol (gas) and it is a relatively short journey. I could take the bus but, depending on the time of day or night, the bus could be jam-packed... And not mention the possibility of spending considerable amount of time waiting for it to arrive. The solution... Wait for it...

Perhaps not this year but I can see where it will be possible to “print” inexpensive electric cars that could be leased on a pay monthly contract as you would a mobile phone until you can upgrade to a new and improved electric car. You’d simply take the car in for recycling and get a considerable amount back in credit to go towards the upgrade! Android Audio will come with the electric car just as it would be on a mobile phone!

And for the long distances there will be driverless buses that will run on both electric and non-fossil fuels that do not emit toxic fumes. As a result there should be more buses that run regularly thus encouraging car owners to leave their petrol vehicles at home for use when travelling to other cities perhaps!

Well, this one is a little farfetched but I can see these electric kit cars meant for short journeys happening that will be powered by Android Auto!

NEXUS
Judging by the Nexus 6 handset selling out when first launched I can see a second generation Nexus 6 happening and possibly a Nexus 7 phablet! C’mon, phones are getting bigger because most of us LOVE big screens for watching video, surfing the web, playing games, etc. The 9” / 10” tablet isn’t for everyone! A well designed 7” phablet would go down a treat! Yes, I think it can be a compromise between a cost effective phone like the Nexus 5 was / is and the Nexus 7 tablet. There’s scope!

I am hoping for a stronger Nexus tablet... What I am looking for in a Nexus tablet is more convincing power! I think Android tablets (and handsets) in general require CPUs that don’t heat up when playing intensive 3D games or watching 4K video... You know what I mean? I am also expecting a Nexus tablet that features a more solid build! Plastic can still work as the Tesco Hudl 2 demonstrates but the Nexus tablet back shouldn’t pop as they have been known to. I would like to see ASUS and / or Samsung come back for a 2015 Nexus tablet! Possibly LG as they are showing great designs of late! There again, I think that Motorola stumbled onto a good thing with the Moto G, X and Nexus 6 designs that can translate into a tablet! We’ll see!

PROJECT ARA
I think the modular handset is a great idea! I think that some tech pundits are overcomplicating the Ara handset!

1. It’s a modular smartphone and it is NOT the same as building your own PC. Building a PC may have become easier but it is still something for the geek enthusiast to do! If the Ara phone is going to be like PC building – which it is not – the handset won’t take in the mainstream! You’ll just be able to swap out many different modules to create your ideal handset!

2. “Android working with all the different modules may prove to be impractical...” As I understand it, Google are working with manufacturers to develop generic modules that the Android operating system will be able to understand without requiring a special driver for it to work. Think about it... Why would Google make it so that the manufacturers produce modules that will give Android problems? What Google are doing, from my understanding, is ensuring that the modules have a uniformity that circumvents compatibility issues.

3. “It’s not going to take off in the mainstream...” This is dependent entirely upon the way Google advertises it on television. I am envisioning simple ads that show just how easy it is to add and remove modules as though you were using Lego bricks! The ad should also show how it is possible to customise the modules with your own unique design or picture and how having a modular phone is better for the planet!

With the above in mind I can’t see how Project Ara will fail. Unlike Google Glass where a unique invention has to find where it can be applied, Ara has a solution to handset upgrading and I don’t know about you but I LOVE when it is upgrade time! With Project Ara everyday is an upgrade opportunity! You do a scratch card and win a couple of hundred Pounds (insert your own currency) how about a memory upgrade? Camera upgrade?

Then there is the issue of cost... I am going to assume that once a module as been created it would be easy to replicate and therefore the cost of mass production should be inexpensive. To use the Lego brick analogy again, once a mould has been created for a type of brick – module in this case – it should not be very expensive to keep reproducing it.

I imagine that to arrive at the equivalent of the Nexus 6 would be considerably cost effective because you already have the chassis and so there is no need to buy a new one and that’s one big cost taken care of already!

I don’t think that we’ll be ready to give up the likes of the Galaxy S6, Note 4, L3, etc but I am sure that we’d just have to have an Ara handset in addition! Who can resist it?

Project Ara = A huge success for Google!

LENOVO MOTOROLA / LENOROLA
Speaking of the Devil... I have to take my hat off to Lenovo for becoming a PC powerhouse from selling dirt cheap PCs in the likes of Lidl & Aldi stripped down supermarkets. I never thought that I would entertain buying a PC from Lenovo and now I would! But can I say the same of Lenovo’s Android products? For a start I do like the look of the Yoga tablet for both Android and Windows! The 13” Pro Yoga tablets look awesome and have the potential to really take off in the way the iPad could never! I predict that Lenovo will unleash yet another Yoga tablet with even more power behind it around summer time. I am getting the impression that Lenovo are still looking for a tablet breakthrough product and it is going to get there this year! We’re going to see a great series of Android and Windows tablets come around summer!

MOTO NEXUS
As for Lenovo smartphones... Lenovo has always shown promise of a decent killer smartphone... I would see details for a potentially brilliant model only for that model to never see the UK or anywhere else for that matter! Now that Motorola is a Lenovo company I can see nothing but brilliance coming from the Motorola side of things! I see the combination of some of the killer features of the Lenovo smartphone technology coming to Motorola. I am looking forward to the next Moto G, X and Nexus 6 (and possibly 7). And with the strides Lenovo have taken with tablets I would imagine that it is time for Motorola to get back into the tablet game! I would like to see the tablet equivalent of the Moto G, X and Nexus! They wouldn’t have to go crazy with 3 different tablets for budget, mid and high-end; just one tablet for each market (like it is with the smartphones).

MOTO 360 2015
I am going to stick my neck out and predict that if there is a Moto 360 2015 it could possibly be the last for reasons mentioned in the Android section: the smartwatch will become big! There’s already talk of Samsung producing a smartwatch that runs the full version of Android.

Lenovo Motorola could surprise us with one of those wrist devices that you only see in Sci-Fi movies along with a Moto 360 2015 for those who are more James Bond than Futurama!

ANDROID APPS
Let’s take a break from talking manufacturers and let’s get into the subject of Android apps... Given that the high end Android handsets have some amazing cameras on them I am surprised that Google haven’t themselves delivered a decent video editing app! Some of the current video editing apps just don’t appeal. I would like to see Google or a trusted developer / software house develop a real video editing app! We’ve got the killer QHD screens so let’s have a decent video app to go with it! If there is a price on it I’d gladly pay it one time whereby all what I need is there!

What else do we like doing or want to do on our smartphones and tablets?

1. I have yet to see a decent app for the creation of eBooks. Given that we can take stunning pictures and video I think it is about time Google gave us a decent eBook creation app; we’ve got the equivalent to Microsoft Office we just need the equivalent of Adobe InDesign or Quark Xpress!

2. Given that we enjoy QHD screens I think it is now time for a drawing / illustration app that is the equivalent of Illustrator!

3. Website design! I don’t know about you but I don’t like these made for mobile websites. I nearly always opt for the desktop version – especially with my phablets! I would rather design websites on my smartphone / tablet whereby I can make something look good all-round on the different devices: desktop, smartphone and tablet.

I don’t think I am asking much there and we should have these apps come around summer whereby we are using our smartphones the most taking pictures, videos and writing stuff into Docs. I predict that Google will recognize that there is a shortfall where productivity apps are concerned. I see that Samsung are making a great effort to create apps that make you want to purchase their hardware such as the music creation app, Soundcamp that looks like it could be a great alternative to Apple’s Garageband!

I think this is one reason why Android devices may not have sold well last year. The other reason is this...

MEDIOCRE HARDWARE
I am quite sure that the hardcore Android fans, like me, passed on last year’s tablet offerings because once we heard “64-bit” we said to ourselves, “Let me hold off until next year and something really worthwhile...” As you may know – if you have been paying close attention to my articles – I bought an ASUS Fonepad LTE last year as it was a good compromise between handset and tablet! I needed a tablet permanently so that I am able to write about tablet based apps and since my RAZRi died on me I thought I’d replace it with the Fonepad LTE! Already, I wished I could’ve held out a little longer! I can see how a more powerful tablet is desired and if the right hardcore 64-bit powerhouse of a tablet came along I’d get it!

From what I have seen with the first Black Friday sale in the UK people were happy to pay around £70 to £80 for an Android tablet. I think ASUS did well with the MeMoPad 7. I felt that the hardcore among us are waiting it out. Family friendly tablets such as the Tesco Hudl 2 did well but I think the high-end of the tablet market didn’t fare as good.

And it has sort of been the same with smartphones in that some of us are waiting until these 64-bit beasts come along! When I got my Samsung Galaxy S2 I think I must have waited about 4 months for it to become available to the UK networks! We’ll come to Samsung in a bit... Don’t you worry!

What I expect to see this year is the likes of Archos, Acer, ASUS, Huawei and ZTE producing handsets with the spec that people can live with! Over the years as a reviewer I have seen Archos, for example, coming up short consistently where a decent desirable smartphone is concerned. This year I suspect that the manufacturers mentioned in this paragraph will go further than the second generation Moto G by offering a handset with stunning hardware for the same ballpark price with 4G! The Archos 50 Diamond could cause some damage! Here’s some spec:

CPU
Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 Octa-Core A53 - @1.5 GHz & 1GHz

GPU
Adreno 405

RAM
2GB

Internal Storage
16GB Expandable

Storage
MicroSD card up to 128 GB (when formatted to fat32 standard)
Screen
5 inch (12.7 cm)
Resolution
1920 x 1080 (full HD)
Technology Type
IPS (440ppi)

CAMERA
Back camera
16MP -BSI, Autofocus with LED Flash, Video Encoding1080p
Front Camera: 8MP

Now, isn’t that something? Apparently this will cost less than $200! Really? If this is true... Gosh!

We’re going to see ASUS making a challenge to Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony, etc with some new mid to high-end premium handsets!

It’s the same with Acer and ZTE – especially ZTE! At one point ZTE looked poised to blow up big here in the UK but they petered out with network provider Virgin Mobile with some under £90 handsets that you’d place under the wheel of a juggernaut after a day with it!

SAMSUNG
Already I have read somewhere by an Apple biased source that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is going to dominate the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, the forthcoming Galaxy S6 and over Android in general! Well, you know what I think about that! It’s NUTS!!! Only an iPhone fanatic would dream of such nonsense! Well, okay... Maybe in America the iPhone MIGHT dominate over the Galaxy Note 4, S6, etc but I have come to take Apple biased media with a pinch of salt because, like Apple, they don’t tell people the truth about the iPhone sales being that of a disappointment. Sssshhh! Don’t say “5C”! And don’t say, “6 Plus was a disappointment what with iOS 8 being buggy and that many apps do not scale to the 1080 x 1920 resolution! There were instability issues with third party keyboards...” The Galaxy Note 4 is the king of phablets and there was nothing that came close to it last year or this year thus so far!

It has been said that the reason why the Galaxy S5 didn’t sell as much as it should have is down to Samsung not having any loyalty in the way that Apple has with its iPhone! That’s not entirely true! Here’s why...

1. Samsung are market leaders and innovators and they alone have created the markets that other manufacturers are enjoying today! That’s all good! So, when the Galaxy S5 came out it fell short with not much of a design departure; after all the speculation regarding a quad HD screen it didn’t happen and that disappointed many Samsung fans. The LG G3 in comparison grabbed the attention because of the unique thin bezel design and the quad HD 5.5” screen! While I thought the Galaxy S5 made for a good everyday active person handset I, along with many others, were expecting the Galaxy S5 Prime and it never happened. As a result the LG G3 took some of the Galaxy S5 market share. Maybe Samsung’s back to basics approach was due to the media’s (not public’s) negative reception of the Galaxy S4 launch. The Galaxy S3 wowed the media as well as the public and thought the media was going to receive the Galaxy S4 in the same way; I don’t think that happened. I do think the media has become Apple biased (for reasons that I have expressed numerous times).

2. The Galaxy Note 3 was wonderfully designed that it ceased to be a “phablet” and people held out for the Galaxy Note 3. My Galaxy S4 just seems tiny in comparison to the Note 2, 3 and 4! The Galaxy Note seems to have usurped the Galaxy S! Okay, the Galaxy S5 may be water and dust resistant but we coped with the GS4 not being water and dust resistant and therefore the GN3 looked more attractive as the camera on it is great – reliable!

3. I don’t think Samsung invested in enough terrestrial TV ads as they did with the Galaxy S3 and to some extent the Galaxy S4. The Galaxy Note series sells itself as I can see on the streets that people are sporting their Galaxy Note 4!

PROJECT ZERO
Once again we find ourselves anticipating the Galaxy S6 that is said to be redesigned from scratch! Yes, the rumour machine is off again! However, I do think that we are holding back on the expectations just in case there is disappointment! What if the Galaxy S6 just looks a little like a combination of the Galaxy S5 and Note 4? This is what usually happens with the proceeding Galaxy S model after the Galaxy Note; it’s as though Samsung says, “Right! Let’s come up with a design that is in-between the current Note and the last S for the new Galaxy S...” I would be shocked if the same was to happen again! There’s rumour after rumour about the GS6 having a double curved QHD screen and a standard screen – two edges. But I would more than a curved screen want front-facing speakers as I would like to compose music with Samsung’s Soundcamp music making app!

Then there is this very unlikely rumour that the Galaxy S6 will feature a folding screen! That would be out of this world like the “Galaxy” namesake but I can’t see that happening somehow! Maybe next year!

Here’s my prediction for the Galaxy S6...

5.5” QHD screen
64-bit Snapdragon CPU in some markets and in others it’ll be a Samsung 64-bit Exynos CPU.
4GB RAM to compliment the 64-bit CPU
32GB storage expandable to 3TB of microSD card storage.
Android 5 Lollipop with an optimized version of TouchWiz for a snappier response
20MP main camera, 4K video recording with no time restriction hence the huge microSD capacity
8MP front-facing
A design featuring front-facing speakers (wishful thinking)

It is highly likely that we’ll see a variant that features a double edged screen! Yes, to the double edged screen! In any event I think we’ll see a Galaxy S6 with a hardcore set of specs! I also predict that Samsung will have to produce its own video editing app to show off the camera capabilities. We are going also going to have the highest quality sound to go with Samsung’s own Soundcamp music making app, V2!

ALL CHANGE
Although Chinese manufacturers have produced great inexpensive handsets I can’t say that I have seen anything that comes close to the functionality of the Galaxy S5 and especially the Note 4! What the likes of Oppo and Xiaomi have done is come up with handsets with, arguably, better cameras and priced them at the top end of the mid-range market. As a result Samsung’s mid-range market isn’t as strong as it once was.

Then there’s the budget market whereby for the last couple of years it has been the ultra-cheap handsets from LG and the L series (that seems to have died with the closure of Phones 4U in the UK); Huawei and Motorola. So, Samsung is struggling a little at the budget end of the market. And because Samsung have produced more handsets than any other aimed at the lower markets the profits as a whole will be affected adversely. Samsung is going to find it harder to compete in the Chinese marketplace as Xiaomi have risen to a high status followed by other manufacturers.

So, this is why Samsung has to up the ante where the innards of the Galaxy S6 is concerned so that it can’t compare to the top end of the mid-range handsets. It also gives them (Samsung) an opportunity to release a handset for the lower markets that will compete with what the Chinese manufacturers are putting out! These handsets aimed at the lower markets could feature Samsung’s own processors and / or processors from Qualcomm!

Samsung says it’ll produce less handsets this year... I think this will happen.

INNOVATIONS
I think that Samsung has come up with some great innovations such as the Galaxy Beam projector phone! However, the Galaxy Beam seemed experimental and the handset itself wasn’t as powerful as perhaps it should have been. I feel that such innovations are placed in the wrong handsets and when they do not sell it gives the wrong impression.

The question is: Would the Galaxy Note 5 benefit from a build in projector? The Galaxy Note Lightbeam? I think there is scope for a limited edition of a Galaxy Note 5 with a projector built into it – the ultimate business handset!

And we have seen how the Galaxy Zoom has opened up the possibilities for other manufacturers to create similar handsets that feature a serious camera with a zoom lens. Considering that Samsung manufactures a great range of serious digital cameras I am surprised that the Galaxy Zoom or K Zoom didn’t feature a stronger camera! If there is to be another Galaxy K Zoom I predict that the camera is going to be a formidable one where it can’t be faulted! Again, stick such a camera on the flagship Galaxy Note 5, let’s say, and you have Galaxy Note Media (or something like that).

It’s great that Samsung has created markets but I feel that they ought to be at the top of those markets with the innovations in the right products! I wouldn’t mind a projector in my Galaxy Note as not everyone and / or establishment has a TV that I can broadcast from my phone to! Yes, I would like to see better cameras and accessories that can aid productivity! Samsung will face some stiff competition from ASUS with its imminent Zenfone Zoom!

TIZEN
I’ve said it before and will say it again... Tizen is not meant to wean Samsung off Android. That would not be a clever move as Android has done well for Samsung and vice versa! Samsung has shown the world just how great the Android platform is! Tizen is Samsung saying, “We are Samsung! This is what we can do!” Tizen is a way for Samsung to develop their innovations that could end up as being part of Android or a Galaxy handset!

It can be easy to forget that before all this smartphone / superphone malarkey Samsung was one of the first to enable a high quality video capture (in its day) on one of these candy bar phones that had video out capabilities to watch on television. Today, smartphones can use a HDMI out and / or cast wirelessly to a screen!

I reckon that around summer there will be a Tizen handset aimed at the budget market that will be compatible with Android apps.

TABLET
I am sure that Samsung will kill, cremate and bury the iPad once again! Truly, the Galaxy Tab S tablets were superb and I do believe that 64-bit Galaxy Tab S’ (or something like that) is on the way! A 4K screen, 4GB to 6GB RAM and a 64-bit quad-core processor! Samsung should have a few brilliant productivity apps preinstalled!

I think we could be seeing the first foldable tablet too! It could be that Samsung will leave the mid-spec 7” tablet market to the likes of ASUS and focus upon the high and premium end of the Android tablet market.

SMARTWATCH
The Gear S, in my opinion, was the best of last year’s smartwatch offerings. I reckon that Samsung will put out a couple of Android (and possibly Tizen) smartwatches this year... I am guessing around summer time... I think we could be seeing a large rectangular smartwatch in the form of a wristband – Predator / Futurama Leela style! I guess this is wishful thinking on my part but I don’t see smartwatches taking off this year unless they are more like the Gear S and that’s what Samsung are going to be aiming for – a smartphone condensed into a smartwatch with the full Android operating system. This might upset Google a little as it may comprise the Android Wear concept but if the devices improve it will maintain a niche market.

HTC
I think the HTC Hero sold many on the Android operating system! However, the notion of “Hero” soon turned to “Nemesis” with the dodgy touchscreen that lost the ability to sense touch input! However, I wasn’t completely put off and got the HTC Desire subsequently. After the Desire I came to the conclusion that Samsung (back then) makes the best Android handsets! HTC makes beautiful looking handsets but they are somewhat lacking... And after my Galaxy S died I decided to replace it with a second hand One X! That’s my brief history with HTC.

For some reason HTC doesn’t focus on delivering an all-round decent handset; the One M7 & M8 look and sound great but the camera was not there. Then they keep putting out a bunch of handsets aimed at the lower markets that prove to be also lacking in terms of components and ultimately performance! Towards the end of 2014 they released some interesting looking handsets such as the Desire Eye which features a 13MP front and back camera that takes better pictures than the M8 but the video recording is very disappointing. That’s another issue I have with HTC handsets: video recording!

Last year I was hoping to see HTC knuckle down and put together a One M8 (at the time) with a strong camera and they did not do so! I reckon HTC will finally put a decent camera in the M9; 13MP front and 16MP main. Again, they will stick to the aluminium unibody chassis and put in a larger battery capacity, 3000 mAh. The M9 won’t feature a QHD in order to keep allow the battery to last longer and to make it competitive against the Galaxy S6 and LG G4 & Flex 2! If HTC promotes the M9 right it could win back those who hated the camera in the M7 & M8! Certainly, the M9 could woo disgruntled iPhone users as I would imagine the M9 would look even more premium than ever! It should also sport a 64-bit CPU, 4GB RAM and a 5.5” screen as it won’t be thought of as a phablet. I think it’ll be wider too so that the front-facing speakers can have more space!

Again, come around the fall we’ll see another Desire Eye with a better photographic and video camera. I can only hope that HTC will concentrate on making its handsets solid as the competition this year is going to come from all over!

TABLET
I think it would be prudent for HTC to avoid creating a phablet as the last one didn’t capture the public’s interest... HTC were fortunate enough to be chosen for the Nexus 9 and so they ought to continue while the iron is still hot! I can see an 8” tablet from HTC come around summer or around September to coincide with going back to school!

SMARTWATCH
I am sure that HTC will join the club in producing a smartwatch. I don’t think the DesireWatch (hee hee) will make great waves but it may be interesting to see HTC’s take on the smartwatch!

ASUS
Okay, we know that ASUS have the Zenfone 2 and the Zenfone Zoom on the horizon come March... 4GB RAM and a 64-bit processor... Bring it on! What??? $199???!!! Oooh, yes!

I reckon ASUS will want to compliment this year’s handsets with some serious tablets! Last year’s tablets seem to be scratching the surface of what the hardware and Android can do. This year I am expecting more powerful 7” and 8” tablets! I can envisage a more streamlined designed Fonepad 7 LTE with better front-facing speakers and an 8” tablet that goes a few steps beyond the MeMo concept! ASUS has always produced some groundbreaking tablets such as the Transformer Pad range. With the current state of hardware I think that ASUS will be throwing its hat into the ring with a high productivity tablet aimed at gamers, video enthusiasts and productivity that requires processing power. The time is now right as 64-bit processors and 4GB RAM will support such raw power!

CONCLUSIONS
I didn’t mention a number of manufacturers because, from my point of view, they will just produce the next incarnations of their products. Yes, I think we know what Sony is going to do already: Z4, Z4 compact, Z4 Tablet, the new expensive audiophile walkman and 4K action camera! Cool! LG is going to build upon the G series with the G Flex 2 and G4; there might be a G Pad 2015! But I think we won’t miss anything if LG didn’t produce another average tablet. The Chinese manufacturers will continue with interesting smartphones that features an interesting camera... Xiaomi should reach world markets outside China... In general I am not seeing anything from China that makes say, “I want it this instead of a Galaxy Note 4 or Galaxy S6 (even though it’s not here yet).

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