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iPhone 5 to Use In-Cell Touch Panels, Provided by Japanese and Korean Manufacturers

29 Jul

From Apple’s supply chain, TrendInsider has confirmed that the new iPhone will be utilizing a single in-cell touch screen panel rather than combining a traditional touch-sensor layer with an LCD panel. The approach will allegedly help reduce the touch display’s production cost by a significant amount, provided that in-cell panels become mainstream after undergoing mass production.

At the moment, TPK, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of traditional touch screen panels, has yet to receive any lamination orders from the Cupertino tech giant. This confirms TrendInsider’s earlier observation concerning Apple’s decision to try the aforementioned technology, and explains the company’s increasing orders for in-cell panels from Toshiba Mobile Display (TMD) and LG.

Given that in-cell technology allows a single layered panel to fulfill the roles of both a display screen and a touch sensor, a manufacturer avoids the hassle of having to attach an extra touch screen layer on top of a TFT LCD panel. This, in result, helps to trim off a portion of the thickness from the iPhone’s screen, in turn allowing the mobile phone’s display panel to be around 30% lighter and slimmer. The cost of in-cell touch panel technology will reduce in future.

Apple’s iPhone 5: Rumor Roundup

29 Jul

With the iPhone 5’s October launch date inching closer and closer, tech enthusiasts and casual consumers alike are no doubt anticipating the details that are set to be unveiled for the new handset. Unfortunately, considering Apple’s tendency to be extremely secretive about its unreleased products, little, if anything, can be reliably confirmed at the moment. What we have at the center of the whole iPhone 5 affair, instead, are a multitude of wild rumors, semi-plausible speculations, and suspicious photographs that may or may not be indicative of the final product.

To get a general idea of what to expect during October, we have assembled a list of possible rumors that have been reported by various sources. Due to the varying credibility of the speculations, the new iPhone’s alleged features have been ranked based on their validity and have been grouped into one of the following three categories: “Very likely,” “Somewhat likely,” and “Unlikely.”

Very Likely to Happen (80% to 100%):    

1. Bigger, taller screen
From what appears to be an authentic series of leaked photos, it seems that the iPhone 5 will sport a much larger display compared to the 4S, and will assume a somewhat elongated figure. The current speculation is that we will be seeing a screen that measures to 4-inches and features a 16:9 aspect ratio (which is the standard ratio seen in films, minus the bars). Considering the current trend in which smartphones are increasingly getting bigger, we are convinced Apple may indeed be serious about sizing up the new iPhone.

2. Light-weight, slimmer body
In addition to larger size, a series of reports from Wall Street Journal suggest that Apple will take advantage of an “in-cell display technology” and may attempt to create a smartphone body that is a tad thinner than its predecessors. Rather than using two different panels for the iPhone 5’s LCD and touch sensors, Apple will supposedly apply a single touch enabled LCD panel instead. With this component, analysts from KGI Securities predict that the overall thickness of the iPhone 5 will decrease by approximately 1.3mm, in result giving the device a slightly lighter mass. At the moment, that are a number of pictures out there –some showing convincing side by side comparisons of the 4S model and a suspected iPhone 5– that provide a lot of credibility to the speculations about the iPhone’s reduced thickness.

3. 4G LTE support
Though not officially confirmed yet, it is widely believed that the iPhone 5 will, similar to the new iPad, begin featuring 4G support. Such feature will allow for significantly faster download speeds in addition to a number of network related benefits. Since a handful of smartphones and network carriers out there are already taking advantage of 4G LTE, it is not unreasonable to assume Apple too will seize such an opportunity and provide iPhone 5 consumers a key network feature that was sorely lacking in the 4S model.

Somewhat Likely to Happen (50% to 80%):

1. Mini-dock connector
For the past couple of months, various sources close to Apple, along with a number of leaked online pictures, are suggesting that the dock connector on the new iPhone 5 may be a lot smaller than the ubiquitous 30-pin connector that appeared on all the previous models. According to CNET and ibiTimes, the smaller dock could either end up as a thunderbolt port or, as many are hoping, an industry-standard Micro USB connector. While a changed dock connector size is sensible for the purpose of redesign, the switch would be a risky move considering that much of the company’s existing accessories will end up being incompatible with the new iPhone. As such, even if shrinking the dock connector is a rational design choice, it is hard for us to be certain whether Apple will truly opt for such a risky, radical change.

2. A Liquidmetal Body
A particularly interesting rumor that has also been spreading around is that portions of the new iPhone will be composed of Liquidmetal (Vitreloy), an amorphous metal alloy known for its sturdy properties, corrosive resistance, and the ability to withstand extremely high temperatures. Years ago, Apple has been granted exclusive rights to Liquidmetal technology and, since then, has been toying with the idea of using the material in a “breakthrough product.” As it remains unclear whether the company has mastered the technology enough to apply it on a massive scale, many believe that it is only moderately likely that we will see a liquidmetal iPhone released this fall.

3. Quad Core Processor
By now, one might not perceive the use of the quad core CPU as anything new, considering that the processor has already appeared in a variety of mobile phone devices and tablet computers out there. In the case of Apple, though, things are a little less predictable. While it was expected the Apple would be working on its quad core CPU following the acquisition of PA Semiconductor, the Cupertino firm surprised a lot of people when it decided to release the new iPad using only the A5 dual core processor. While it is by no means impossible that the next iPhone will launch with an embedded quad core processor (allegedly called the “A6”), sources like 9toMac believe that we are equally likely to see just another variation of Apple’s A5 dual core CPU.

Possible, but unlikely (under 50%):

1. Significantly Increased Battery Life
“Dramatic battery life” is amongst the few phrases that will almost never appear in the same sentence as “iPhone.” To this day, unimpressive battery hours remain a nagging issue that continue to disappoint many casual users as well as loyal iPhone customers. Whether Apple will turn things around with its next iPhone and bestow upon the device a much needed long battery life remains highly debatable.

2. Flash Support
Like the case with battery life, flash support is a feature that Apple consistently avoids for its tablet and mobile phone devices. It seems some arduous supporters of the format are still somewhat hopeful that the Cupertino firm may one day include a flash-capable iPhone. Looking at Apple’s current record (along with its apparent dislike for the format), however, the chances of that happening are very low.

Related:

iPhone 5 Housings?

HTC-Facebook Smartphone Expected to Surface in 2013

26 Jul

According to a recent breaking report from Bloomberg, It appears that consumers will in fact be seeing an official HTC- Facebook smartphone. While the social networking giant and the Taiwan-based smartphone company have yet to respond to Bloomberg’s statement, CNET reports that the alleged handset is set to be released during mid-2013 or 3Q13.

Rumors of the two companies’ smartphone have been circulating since 2010, and resurfaced again during 2011 and 2012 (as we covered in an early article). HTC did previously release two facebook-oriented handsets—called HTC Chacha and HTC Salsa, although the two devices were technically just HTC phones with “dedicated Facebook buttons.”

As TrendInsider reported months ago, the social networking pioneer’s alleged partnership with HTC is aimed at creating a smartphone that further utilizes the facebook ecosystem, provides flexible customization options, and takes advantage of a novelty called the Facebook App Center. The partnership is expected to propel the two companies’ statuses as well as to increase their dominance in the mobile industry.

Until further details are revealed, it remains to be seen how just much of the rumored features will show up on the Facebook phone and whether consumers are in fact looking forward to such a device. Interestingly, according to CNET, a 2012 survey of 875 consumers revealed that only 12% are interested in a Facebook oriented-handset.

2012 Smartphone Shipment Numbers to Drop to 600M

19 Jul

Perhaps due to the unpromising outlook for the world economy, the number of high-end smartphones orders for the second half of 2012 have, as observed by TrendInsider, begun showing clear signs of dropping.

By the end of the year, we predict that production orders for high-end smartphones will amount to an estimated 600 million units. Of these, approximately 22% are expected to come from Apple’s mobile phone devices, the soon-to-be-launched iPhone 5 included.

New turn of events are likewise expected for the middle to low-end smartphones. Recently, the semiconductor company MTK has introduced the new MT6575 dual core chip (MT6577 with quad core will release in Q4, 2012), which makes it possible to create cost effective smartphones that are of a comparable level to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon-powered devices. In spite of the mass usage of these chipsets from China-based manufacturers like ZTE and Huwei, these companies do not appear to be immune to the slowing growth of China’s market. As observed, ZTE and Huwei’s smartphone shipment orders, like those of many other companies, are following a gradual, downward trend.

iPhone 5 Update:

In preparing for the iPhone 5’s launch date, Apple’s supply chain team is currently ramping up production output and coordinating the massive deliveries of individual components. Not only is the number of back up components expected to vastly increase from July to August, the increasing trend is also expected to continue until October. It is currently believed that Apple has already stocked up 30 million units of the iPhone 5 so far. By the end of 2012, that number is likely reach 50 million.

Adjusted New iPad Model Due around September or October, 50.3 Million iPad Series Shipments Expected for 2012

13 Jul

Although the new iPad is currently the hottest tablet device on the market, Apple appears to have no intention of slowing down iPad 2 production. As TrendInsider noticed, the Cupertino-based company has actually placed more orders for the previous-gen iPad model, whereas production orders for the new iPad have been put to an unexpected halt. It is still unknown at the moment whether Apple plans to raise the new iPad’s shipment numbers anytime soon.

In adjusting our yearly forecast to include this recent production development, we estimate that the 2012 shipment numbers of current iPad models will amount to approximately 37.5 million units. Including the iPad Mini, Apple is expected to release a total of 50.3 million iPads for 2012.

Surprisingly, the new predicted numbers fall considerably short of our initial expectation that a total number of 60 million iPads would be shipped before the start of 2013. While a number of possible factors are suspected to have contributed to Apple’s production-related decisions, we believe that the recent torrent of global economic problems may have been the main culprit behind the uncharacteristically low shipment numbers.

With the continual setbacks experienced by the world economy, it’s not surprising that the iPad 2 would eventually become one of the few Apple products to be subject to rumored price cuts. A popular conjecture is that either the 8GB or 16GB version of the iPad 2 will be released at a retail price of $349 USD.

The new iPad, for the time being, is expected to retain its original price tag, although rumors are spreading that the model will be re-released with a few minor hardware adjustments. As always, Apple remains secretive about the release date and has yet to publically address details relating to the new tweaks. The fact that the adjustments are probably only minor, however, makes it unlikely that they will heavily impact the iPad’s price or sales performance.

While the new iPad is certainly a sensational and hotly pursued item in the tablet market, there is no denying that the global economy has taken a toll on Apple’s current tablet device. From a market standpoint, the new iPad has put up reasonably good numbers, but failed to meet expectations in terms of worldwide sales.

iPhone 5、New iPad

The iPhone 5, newly tweaked iPad, iPad Mini, and discounted iPad 2 are all expected to be released sometime during this September and October. Whether Apple will decide to release these new products separately or together remains to be seen in the months to come.

7.8-Inch, Longer-Lasting iPad Mini Eyeing October Release

12 Jul

According to TrendInsider’s sources, Apple’s next iPad, rumored to be called the iPad Mini, is set to be released sometime during October 2012. The device will reportedly utilize a 7.8-inch screen – making it a tad larger than Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire 2 – and feature a 1024×768 resolution. Other than the obvious screen size difference, the iPad mini will have an extremely slim body, and is expected to weigh only about half as much as its 9.7-inch counterpart.

While slightly larger than Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire 2, the iPad mini should easily trump its rivals in terms of battery life thanks to its superior polymer lithium battery. With regards to the device’s CPU, it is rumored that Apple will be opting for the A5 processor instead of the highly raved-about quad-core A5X. We suspect this choice to have something to do with the company’s pricing concerns, considering it will be actively competing with the likes of Google and Amazon in the 7-inch tablet market. Given that the normal iPad is offered at $499 USD, we believe that the iPad mini might be priced at somewhere around the $299 USD mark.

Updated:New iPad Mini Rumors

Little news has aroused as much curiosity as the rumored price range for Apple’s highly anticipated iPad Mini. We know that the prices of the new iPad and the iPad 2 are currently set at $499 and $399 USD, respectively. Judging from the price pattern, it is predicted that the miniature iPad should logically be priced at around $299 USD. This would make the iPad Mini the cheapest and most affordable of all the iPad models out there, next to the 8GB version of iPad 2.

Depending on a number of market-related factors, TrendInsider believes there is a possibility that Apple will offer its miniature tablet at a price lower than what many expect. Should price cuts cause the 8GB iPad 2 to fall under $349 USD, for instance, it is not impossible that Apple will charge the mini iPad for less than $299 USD in order to space out the pricing of its products. The lingering presence of Google and Amazon is another major factor that will heavily impact the pricing strategies associated with the iPad Mini. To deal with the tempting $199 price tags of both the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire 2, we may see Apple resort to cutting its mini iPad’s price to as low as $249 USD.

While somewhat uncharacteristic for Apple, extreme price cutting is far from an unreasonable strategy to pursue. With more and more potent competitors on the rise, the Cupertino-based company would no doubt want to implement any measures necessary to retain its influence in the tablet industry.

60-Inch TV for less than $1000 USD? The Beginning of a Polarized Era for Flat screen TVs

11 Jul

The sales of 3D LCD televisions, once believed to be the next big technological phenomenon, have been going through a bit of a slump coming into the third quarter of 2012. Perhaps due to the low number of 3D media and content available, market performances of 3D TVs in North American, Japanese, and Korean markets have not been as stellar as expected, whereas mainstream acceptance of the technology have yet to materialize in emerging market countries like China. Development related to 4K TVs, a recent LCD technical breakthrough promising to deliver four times the resolution of 1920×1080 HD TVs, is also experiencing a few setbacks of its own. As few TV programs are capable of exhibiting resolution greater than the 1920×1080 standard, at least two channels so far–BBC and NHK– have shown any apparent interest in testing with the 4K format. Looking at what appears to be stifled technological momentum in the world of LCD screens, we cannot help but ask: what is there left to improve for flat screen TVs?

(Photo Credit: Sharp)

With the seeming lack of major LCD innovations, it appears that the only thing left to do for most LCD makers is to find the most cost efficient way to develop flat screen TVs. A notable company that has successfully accomplished such a task is Sharp, which, with the help of OEM partners like Foxconn and Vizio, is on its way to delivering the first 60-inch flat screen television to be offered for less than $1000 USD. According to various sources, the unbelievably low priced TV is set to debut sometime during the second half of 2012.

Having long begun preparing for the development of its 10th Generation LCD panels, Sharp’s specialized plants now possesses highly sophisticated factory equipments as well as increased production capacity. Due to the known difficulties associated with disposing LCD panels, a lack of consumer demand for large, flat screen TVs would easily put Sharp in a highly disadvantaged position. Taking this scenario into account, the investors and partners of the Japan-based company, amongst them Foxconn, believe that a proper consumer strategy would be needed in order to achieve the most profitable outcome. The general consensus was that Sharp needed create a high profile LCD product that is cost efficient, easy to produce, and cheap for people to purchase. This gave rise to the idea of the highly affordable 60-inch TV, which they believed will become a major hit amongst many consumers.

Spec-wise, what TrendInsider currently knows about Sharp’s $1000, 60-inch flat screen TV is that it will heavily utilize a backlit LED display. The specific release date for the TV is expected to be sometime between October 2012 and December 2012.

2.2 lbs(1kg) or Less: The New Strategy for Ultrabooks

3 Jul

Now that many computer hardware companies are highly capable of developing their own brand of ultrabooks, creating a slim laptop that merely outperforms Apple’s 1.3kg MacBook Air is no longer the top priority. Much of the focus these days, rather, seem to be directed towards finding a way to develop the lightest, thinnest laptop possible, with the ultimate goal being to create an ultrabook that weighs less than 1kg (2.2 pounds).

Surprisingly, only one company so far has been able to accomplish this feat. About month ago, Japan based hardware company, NEC, is reported to have successfully created a 13.3-inch ultrabook that weighs a mere 875 grams (0.9 kg). The NEC laptop is currently lighter than any of the 13-inch ultrabooks out there, including Acer’s S5 (1.5kg), Sony’s VAIO Z (1.15kg), and Samsung’s Series 9 (1.19 kg).

NEC’s unique 13.3-inch ultrabook, a part of the company’s LaVie Z series, is composed of a material known as magnesium lithium, which is 1mm thinner than aluminum alloy, and weighs 60% lighter. The laptop utilizes a single-frame structure design to give the body a necessary sturdiness, and takes advantage of a “unified” keyboard frame that allows the computer to be 10% thinner than a typical ultrabook. With its light mass, slim body, and surprisingly powerful battery (8.1 hours per charge), the 13.3-inch LaVie Z is the ideal product for anyone looking for a light and highly portable computer.

The main appeal of NEC’s 13.3-inch ultrabook, according to TrendInsider, ultimately boils down to three essential qualities: light weight, long usage hours, and high power efficiency. Complementing these inherent qualities are the computers’ impressive specs, which includes a 1600×900 resolution screen, a highly functional HDMI port, two major USB ports (2.0 and 3.0), and a SD card reader. During August, NEC plans to release both the Core i7-3517U(1.90GHz) and Core i5-3317U(1.70GHz) versions of the 13.3-inch ultrabooks at a retail price of 160 thousand and 130 thousand yen, respectively.

Taking into account the potential success of NEC’s ultra-lightweight ultrabook, we believe it will only be a matter of time before big names like Sony, Acer, Asus, Fujitsu, and Toshiba jump onto the bandwagon and begin developing their own line of “ultra-light” ultrabooks. Before that happens, though, the trophy for creating the lightest notebook in the market rightfully belongs to NEC.

Peering into the Future: Android “Jelly Bean” 4.1 and Google Glasses

1 Jul

Android 4.1, also known as “Jelly Bean,” is amongst Google’s new sensations that made a strong impression at the I/O conference. The company currently plans to launch the updated operating system in July, along with its complementary SDK software.
For the time being, Android 4.1 will only be available on the Nexus 7 and a selective number of Android-powered mobile systems. Given Android’s well established reputation, various sources predict 2013 to be the earliest year by which Jelly Bean will be widely adopted by mass consumer mobile devices. A variety of modifiable upgrades, used for customizing the Android interface, will also be released within the same year.

As announced during I/O, the latest version of the Android OS promises a handful of new features as well as major improvements. Amongst the most notable upgrades is the120fps refresh rate, which allows media to stream seamlessly on smart TVs and motion capturing to be implemented more smoothly. To facilitate user-to-user interaction, Google also applied updates to common Android features such as photo sharing, voice recognition, offline management, and visual rendering. These improvements are intended to both make Jelly Bean accessible to the masses and fix a variety of issues that were prominent in Android 4.0.

In a move clearly inspired by the Apple’s Siri, Google has unsurprisingly decided to incorporate into Jelly Bean a voice based, interactive software known as “Google Now.” With this software, users can orally command their phones to perform functions such as system navigation, language exchange and location finding, or have it carry out simple tasks like email checking and instant messaging. Like Siri, “Google Now” can essentially be perceived as an electronic “assistant” for Android 4.1 users, and is likely to become one of Jelly Bean’s major selling points upon the system’s release.

Google Glasses: The Next Technological Breakthrough?

As was the case with Jelly Bean, Google Glasses is another major I/O conference highlight to receive vast amounts of attention. With the appearance of something that came right out of a sci-fi feature, this sleekly designed set of glasses gives users the ability to digitally record, capture, and share everything around them. While Google has not confirmed plans to distribute the product on a massive scale, the company has already begun offering several developer parties a chance to pre-order the glasses at a price of $1500.

Spec-wise, Google Glasses is equipped with a small camera-like projector, and has a tiny hardware component that can be controlled through the touch of a finger or by oral command. Next to the glasses’ camera is an embedded 800mAh battery, which, according to Trendinsider, will last about 5 hours per use. While the battery hours are not ideal as hoped, it should give users sufficient time to make the best use of the gadget in a given day.

Nexus 6 & Nexus 7 ?

Having talked about both Google’s Android 4.1 and Google Glasses, let us digress to an interesting discussion regarding Google’s 7-inch tablet. One question many seem to be asking upon the tablet announcement is, why the name “Nexus 7”?

Given Google’s tendency to be creative with its products, we believe the tablet’s name to be more than just a direct reference to its size. The company’s previous hardware products, in chronological order, are: Google G1, Nexus One, Nexus S, and Galaxy Nexus. Google’s 7-inch tablet is technically the fifth hardware device produced by the company. If so, why wasn’t the tablet granted the title of, say, “Nexus 5”? Or “Nexus 6”?

While we have no answer for Nexus 5, we believe Google’s decision to skip on “Nexus 6” may have something to do with Ridley Scott’s sci-fi thriller, Blade Runner. For those unfamiliar with the film, “Nexus 6” is the label given to group of human replicants considered to be a menace to society. Harrison Ford plays the main character in the story, and spends a good time of the film tracking down, as well as killing, the Nexus 6 replicants. Given the permanent “retirement” many of the replicants were put through, the term “Nexus 6” is understandably the last name Google would want associated with their new product.

New and Improved Amazon Kindle Fire to be Released in August

28 Jun

Now that Google has put everyone’s suspicion to rest with the announcement of its $199 Nexus 7 tablet (along with its confirmed July release date), we shift our attention to the other highly anticipated technological device: Amazon’s Kindle Fire 2. Next to Apple’s rumored mini-iPad, the next iteration of Amazon’s Kindle Fire might just be one of the few major contenders capable of competing against Google’s 7-inch tablet.

While no concrete details are revealed as of yet, Amazon’s recent production order placements suggest that the new Kindle Fire will be released at sometime during August of 2012. Like its predecessor, Kindle Fire 2 is expected to utilize both Amazon’s unique, personal interface and Android’s operating system, and will likely introduce a good variety of software options allowing users the freedom to customize the device as they see fit.

While Amazon’s first generation Kindle Fire features impressive hardware capabilities for its size, the tablet’s affordable $199 retail price is arguably what made it such a popular consumer choice upon its release. The tablet’s flexible operating system, which can be modified to enable the use of cross-platform applications like Google Play (formerly known as the “Android Market”), has been considered another one of its major strengths. Given that sales of the first Kindle Fire tablet, coming into 2012, are beginning to show signs of decline, Amazon faces the challenge of implementing just enough tweaks for the Kindle Fire 2 to stimulate, as well as maintain, public interest in its device.

What we can reasonably expect to see from Amazon’s Kindle Fire 2, hence, are a number of dramatic changes—for instance, a significantly improved battery life and a much more powerful processor. With about only a month until its release, it will be exciting to see just how Amazon’s new Kindle Fire will fare against Google’s Nexus 7.

According to TrendInsider’s source, Amazon Kindle Fire 2 will lunch 7 inch model first, the shipments in Q3’2012 will be more than 2 million units. The another 8.9 inch model, will not lunch so fast, or even suspend.