The smartphone market has showed no signs of slowing in 2010 – as worldwide mobile phone sales in the third quarter amounted to 417 million units, a rise of 35% from the third quarter in 2009, smartphone sales grew 96%, resulting in one in every five sales in that period was that of a smartphone.
Android shipments have surged as manufacturers have taken to powering their latest smartphones with Google’s free operating system, Apple’s iPhone continues to fly off the shelves and only today, RIM announced that it had shipped a record amount of handsets in its last financial quarter.
There have been some standout smartphones hitting the market in 2010 but it’s now time to look at the devices that will be vying for consumer dollars in the coming year. Lists are always subjective, and we are guaranteed to see a number of new handsets announced in the meantime, but here are our top five picks for 2011:
LG Optimus 2X
Officially unveiled just days ago, LG’s Optimus 2X Android-powered handset will be the world’s first dual-core smartphone.
The handset boasts a 4-inch screen, 8GB memory (expandable up to 32GB), dual camera (1.3MP front, 8MP back), full HD video playback and HDMI mirroring, allowing you to output your videos on to the big screen.The Optimus 2X has both an accelerometer and a gyro sensor and a 1500mAh battery.
Slated for release in Korea in early January, with the rest of Asia and Europe coming just weeks after, the Optimus 2X will ship with Android 2.2 initially but will receive an upgrade to Gingerbread once builds become available.
The rumours state that the handset will sport a 4.2-inch OLED screen, a 1.2GHz processor, 768MB of RAM, a 12MP camera with Carl Zeiss Optics and a 1600mAh battery.
There is no word on an official release date for the Nokia N9, despite rumours of a December release date. As we come to the end of 2010, this handset has found itself with a 2011 release, we would guess within the first quarter of the year.
HTC 7 Pro
Perhaps the most desirable Windows Phone 7 handset, the HTC 7 Pro is a slider handset that “allows you to get your work done and enjoy big screen entertainment”. Unveiled at Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 launch event, the HTC 7 Pro has been dogged by delays, pushing back its release to what looks like will now be a Q1 2011 launch.
The HTC 7 Pro sports a sliding chassis that incorporates a 3.6-inch display slide-out landscape QWERTY keyboard. It’s powered by a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, has 576MB of RAM, a 512MB ROM as well as a 5MP camera (720p HD video recording), 8GB of internal storage and a 1500 mAh battery.
Sony Ericsson Zeus Z1 or “Playstation Phone”
Sony Ericsson has the mobile world all aflutter with reports that it might release a “Playstation Phone”, an Android-powered smartphone-cum-gaming device that has emerged in numerous spy videos and leaked reports but hasn’t had official confirmation that it exists.
The handset is set to feature a crystal-clear display, providing stiff competition to Samsung’s Super AMOLED screens and Apple’s Retina Display. It is thought that Sony Ericsson will be using its established Bravia brand name from its high-quality flatscreen TV’s for its new device.
The device is said to be “nowhere near ready”, meaning it won’t be ready until next year, possibly launching Spring 2011.
Suggested unlocked pricing of the device is around $500 with five free games, although it is not known whether the games will be downloadable only or the device will support media of some type (old PSP games). The games will likely mirror pricing on smartphone app stores and Sony Ericsson is reportedly leveraging its gaming might to encourage a large line-up of independent games for its platform.
The Motorola Olympus has been touted as “the first real flagship Android device on AT&T.” It’s possible the device could live up to its billing, featuring a 4-inch display, and a NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor (the very same processor used by LG in its Optimus 2X) possibly launching with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread).
According to a question posted on AT&T’s Share Facebook page concerning when the device would be available, a representative from AT&T responded stating that it would be “available in December or January.” The exchange has since been removed from the Facebook page. Luckily, it was there long enough for the world to see.
Rumors claim the device will be announced at CES on January 5th, with the release of the device later in the month.
Sony Ericsson X12 Anzu – Sony Ericsson’s new flagship Android smartphone. It will be very thin, shipping with a 4.3-inch display, 1080p video capture, a front facing camera and a built-in HDMI port.
HTC Incredible HD – There’s not much known about the HTC Incredible HD, a.k.a the HTC Mecha, other than it will likely ship with HTC’s new Sense UI and be a device that will operate on Verizon’s 4G LTE network.
Altek Leo – Altek’s Android-powered Leo smartphone has a “real” 14 megapixel CCD with “real” 3x optical zoom and 720p video, launching Q1 2011 in Europe.
iPhone 5? – Chances are we will see an update to Apple’s wildly popular iPhone 4, whether its a completely new device or the iPhone 4.5 we don’t know. Knowing Apple, it will feature enhanced hardware specifications and have iPhone 4 owners looking to upgrade whether they want to or not.