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CES & MWC 2014: Rumours, launches and all you need to know

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It’s that time of year again where we’ve barely lifted ourselves from the couch and wiped the Christmas gravy from our mouths before being hit by the New Year double-barrelled barrage that is the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January shortly followed by Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February.

Because of their close proximity on the calendar, it’s somewhat understandable that many rumours in the run-up to the two events cover both bases and place a “possible” appearance for a device at “either CES or MWC”. Of course frequently handsets and tablets which appear at CES make a second appearance at MWC anyway.

While many of the murmurs emanating from the rumour mill in the last quarter of 2013 do adopt this vague approach, some whisperings have been more precise than others and there are certain up-and-coming devices which we’re more confidently expecting at one show or the other.

Read on to get a full run-down of what devices to expect across the two shows. We’ll be updating this article over time so do check back for more info!

Samsung Galaxy S5

It was already something of a surprise for Samsung’s next flagship to be coming so early in the year, but the Galaxy S5 has variously been rumoured for both major expos. However, most recent rumours have leaned further towards MWC 2014 in February.

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While it was originally thought the Galaxy S5 would be a major overhaul it seems there are a few technologies under development for Samsung’s stable which won’t appear until well after the Galaxy S5’s expected launch. Case in point is the rumoured 20-megapixel ISOCELL camera Samsung is building itself, this will apparently not turn up in devices until the second half of the year. Instead, the Galaxy S5 is thought to be getting a 16-megapixel equivalent, though whether it will feature optical image stabilisation (OIS) is still up in the air with conflicting rumours disagreeing on the point.

Also on the cards is a 64-bit eight-core Exynos chip thought to be much more powerful than its predecessors. There is talk of heterogeneous multiprocessing, essentially meaning the chip can run all eight cores at once for particularly intensive tasks.

Much of the talk around the Galaxy S5 concerns whether it will still be made from plastic or if there’s a switch to metal, or possibly both as some leaks would have it. The most recent bits of info say it will use a composite plastic and fibreglass or carbon fibre material. We’re also hearing plenty about a 2K display resolution at over 500 pixels-per-inch (ppi), although various sources claim the phone may or may not feature a curved flexible OLED screen, while others say LCD.

Update:

A Samsung executive has confirmed the Galaxy S5 will arrive will arrive “around March or April”, suggesting that a February launch at MWC 2014 is highly likely.

The executive also confirmed that the Galaxy S5 would look quite different from the Galaxy S4, as the company believes consumers were dissatisfied with the similar designs of the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4.

There’s now talk of Samsung using Sharp LTPS LCD screens and diamond-coated steel bodywork. Interestingly, these reports also refer to the rumoured Galaxy F (see below) as being a premium edition of the Galaxy S5 and that there may also be a “fashion” edition with a mangesium and/or aluminium unibody.

Samsung Galaxy F

Recent rumours have talked about the Samsung Galaxy F, said to be launching alongside the Galaxy S5 which again would suggest February at MWC. The only major snippet of information known about the Galaxy F is that it’ll be made of metal. Indeed it’s thought that many of the early rumours and leaks surrounding a possible metal build of the Galaxy S5 may actually be to do with the Galaxy F.

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Apart from this, however, it’s not known what kind of spec it might feature and whether it’ll be a high-end or lower range device.

Samsung Galaxy Gear 2

Another gadget pegged to appear alongside the Galaxy S5 at MWC is the Galaxy Gear 2, the second generation Samsung smartwatch.

Samsung may have surprised many by replacing the flagship Galaxy S4 as early as Q1 2014 but we’re potentially looking at an even quicker turn-around as the original Galaxy Gear only arrived in September 2013 and another is already thought to be on schedule to arrive shortly.

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At this stage all we know is that it’ll be around 20% thinner than its predecessor. There’s no further information about specs or design.

Update:

As per the information mentioned above regarding the Galaxy S5, a Samsung executive has confirmed that a Galaxy Gear 2 successor will arrive in April or March in tandem with the new flagship. While a MWC launch has not been confirmed, it is heavily implied by this arrival date bracket.

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro

It wasn’t exactly a surprise, but the rumours and leaks ahead of CES were true. Samsung was prepping the now-announced Galaxy Note Pro line of tablets.

The range includes the 12.2-inch Galaxy Note Pro, a 10.1-inch model and an 8.4-inch variant. Samsung also snuck in the Galaxy Tab Pro, a 12.2-inch device but without the stylus support.

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All of the tablets have 2560×1600 pixel resolution display, 8MP and 2MP cameras and Android 4.4 KitKat. The LTE-capable variants will feature Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processors while the 3G or Wi-Fi only models will use Exynos 5 Octa chips.

The 12.2-inch tablets will feature 3GB of RAM, a 9,500mAh battery pack and either 32GB or 64GB of onboard storage depending on how much cash you wish to splash.

The other sizes will have 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of storage and either a 4,800mAh battery or an 8,220mAh battery for the 8.4-inch and 10.1-inch models respectively.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Lite

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 Lite, an alleged cheaper variant of the Galaxy Note 3 phablet, has been rumoured a couple of times now and most recently has been pegged with an MWC 2014 launch.

It’s said it could hit retail as early as April and will feature a 720p display with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean onboard. Little else is known about the device at this stage but it will of course pack a lower spec overall than its premium counterpart. An image has also leaked online from a Samsung patent which could be the Galaxy Note 3 Lite, though other reports claim it’s the Galaxy Note 4.

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LG G Flex

The LG G Flex is already out in Korea but it’s been revealed to be on the way to other markets, so will more than likely be making an appearance at both CES and MWC respectively.

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To recap, the phone features a curved OLED display which is concave from top-to-bottom. The screen has an HD 720p resolution and the handset also includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and a 13-megapixel camera.

Is the world ready for a curved smartphone? We shall see.

LG G3/LG G2 Mini/LG G Arch smartwatch

There’s a handful of other devices LG is rumoured to be working on and all of them have been suggested for a possible reveal at CES or MWC, though there’s so little information about them that anything goes at this stage.

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Specs  have appeared for both an LG G3 successor to the current LG G2 flagship and an LG G2 Mini. The LG G3 is said to be packing an LG-made processor which may be ARM-based using Cortex-A50 architecture (and possibly will be 64-bit), along with a QuadHD display.

Meanwhile the LG G2 Mini is rumoured to have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and a 960×540 pixel resolution display with Android 4.4 KitKat onboard.

The last LG item is the so-called LG G Arch smartwatch, which is thought to be LG’s bid for the smartwatch space. Next to nothing is known about it at this stage, unfortunately.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

Sony’s officially unveiled its smaller Xperia Z1 handset and rather than being the Xperia Z1S or Xperia Z1 Mini, it is in fact called the Xperia Z1 Compact.

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Apart from the name, all the rumours were true. It has a smaller 4.3-inch 720p display which is still Triluminos TFT with Sony’s X-Reality Engine. The battery also has a lower rating than the original Xperia Z1 at 2,300mAh.

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The rest of the spec is identical to the larger flagship model, including a  Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor clocked at 2.2GHz, 2GB of RAM, an Adreno 330 GPU, 16GB of storage, microSD support up to 64GB and Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.

Check out our Xperia Z1 Compact hub here and check out our hands-on first look here.

Sony SmartWatch 3

Sony’s revamped SmartWatch 2 hasn’t been particularly well recieved, so it’s perhaps not surprising the company is taking another shot at the smart watch. Third time’s the charm?

At this stage all that’s known is it’ll support Bluetooth and NFC, according to the FCC filing which confirmed its existence when it appeared in December.

Sony Sirius/Canopus

A few leaks out of China have pointed to a couple of other possible handsets from Sony which may be destined for CES or MWC, dubbed the Sirius and Canopus. What’s known in terms of specs isn’t specifically associated with any particular name, but it’s thought we could be looking at at least one device with a display between 5.2-inches and 5.5-inches and possibly with a 2K or 4K resolution. Meanwhile, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor has also been mentioned.

Update:

According to reliable Twitter tipster @evleaks, the Sony Sirius will appear at Mobile World Congress with a 5.2-inch display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor.

GSMArena reports that the handset will sport a 2560×1440 pixel resolution – higher than the Xperia Z1 flagship, and it should have that handset’s 20-megapixel camera hardware.

Other specs improved from the Xperia Z1 are claimed with a 3,500mAh battery pack and 3GB of RAM. Even with these changes it’s a curiously incremental update and very soon after the Xperia Z1’s arrival. 

The catch on all of this is that if @evleaks info is correct it’ll be turning up on Verizon in the US. While the specific term “exclusive” hasn’t been uttered that is distinctly what this whole thing tastes like if you ask us.

Sony “Castor” tablet

Details are thin on the ground for this one, but according to @evleaks Sony is working on a tablet device dubbed “Castor”, which is taken to be a codename.

It’s presumed the Castor slate will be a successor to Sony’s Xperia Tablet Z, a slate which was received positively by reviewers but hasn’t really generated massive sales. This would mean it’s Android-based, although it remains plausible that Sony could be dabbling further with Microsoft Windows software.

The Castor is believed to be equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, like everything else high-end these days. However, it will apparently be the MSM8974-AB model which is faster than current iterations. The choice of chip would again suggest it’s Android, as although a Snapdragon would allow Windows RT, Sony’s previous Microsoft-based hardware has been full-fat Windows 8, which would require Intel silicon.

As with the Xperia Tablet Z, the Castor, which will likely have an Xperia name when it launches, will be available in either 4G/3G or Wi-Fi only variants.

According to reports, the Castor could make its debut at Barcelona’s MWC 2014 in February.

Asus Zenfone 4, Zenfone 5 and Zenfone 6 /Asus Padfone X/Asus Padfone Mini/Asus Transformer Book Duet TD300/ Asus VivoTab Note 8

As it turns out, Asus had a whole heap of goodies to unveil at CES 2014.

First up is a collection of Zenfone smartphones including the Zenfone 4, Zenfone 5 and Zenfone 6. The numbers correspond to the display sizes, but while the Zenfone 4 is a lower-range model the other two are a bit better equipped with 720p HD displays, bigger battery packs and higher rated cameras.

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All three handsets run on Intel Atom processors and use Android with a custom UI.

We previously reported on the Padfone Mini being available in select markets in Asia and Russia, amongst others, and the big question was whether the smaller phone and dock combo device would rollout elsewhere.

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Asus has confirmed it’ll come to Europe, but sadly our US cousins are still left out in the cold, for now at least.

As with previous Padfones, the Mini’s innards are all inside the phone unit and include an Intel Atom Z2560 processor at 1.6GHz. It’s a 4-inch smartphone and slots into a 7-inch tablet dock.

All of this is based on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with a custom UI, there’s 8GB of storage plus microSD support (64GB) and both 8MP and 2MP cameras.

Asus also revealed the VivoTab Note 8, essentially a challenger to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, with an 8-inch (surprise!) 1280×800 pixel display and a Wacom digitiser stylus pen. It’s another Intel based affair with an Atom Z3740 chip and 2GB of RAM but it’s a Windows 8.1 machine rather than another Android. There will be 32GB and 64GB storage variants with microSD support.

The last device mixes things up. The Transformer Book Duet TD300 is a hybrid laptop/tablet in more ways than one.

As well as having a detachable keyboard dock in true Asus style, the slab can boot both Android 4.2 and Windows 8.1 with the flick of a switch.

The 13.3-inch laptop offers a full HD touch display, an Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and microSD support.

Nvidia “Logan” (Tegra 5?)

Not a great deal is known about Nvidia’s project “Logan” although rumours claim it’s the codename for the Tegra 5 chip. We’ve previously spoken to Nvidia about its Tegra 4 hardware, with the company’s rep mentioning Logan and described it as having a “unified architecture” resulting in more efficient power consumption. We’ve also briefly seen Logan in action at IFA 2013 in September running on a reference tablet and it was pretty impressive stuff to behold, though we’re still none-the-wiser on its specific capabilities at present.

Nokia Lumia 635 “Moneypenny”

So far, much of the rumoured hardware has been centred around Google’s Android platform, but CES and MWC aren’t just about the little green guy and there are plenty of Microsoft Windows-based devices in the offing. As usual, however, pretty much all of them are coming out of Nokia’s stable.

One such handset is the so-called Nokia “Moneypenny”, of course this is a codename and the official name has been pegged by rumours as Lumia 635. According to reports this will be a relatively affordable 4G LTE handset with specs and price sitting around the mid-range bracket. It’s also reported to have dual-SIM capabilities but this is unlikely to be an active feature if the device hits the UK. It wouldn’t be the first handset to arrive in the UK with dual-SIM in other markets but lacking it on our shores, so the presence of dual-SIM doesn’t exclude it from a UK launch per se.

At present there are no clues on the spec, but as the handset is supposed to be a successor model to last year’s Lumia 625 it should be in a similar ballpark with better connectivity and possibly a more up-to-date chip.

Nokia Lumia “Goldfinger”

Keeping with the bond theme, the Lumia “Goldfinger” doesn’t yet have a number designation associated with it, but it is rumoured to be the higher-end counterpart to the Lumia 625 “Moneypenny”. Someone at Nokia is obviously a Bond fan.

There’s some suggestion it could sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core chip, like the Lumia 1520, along with a full HD 1080p display. It’s also said to be the first Nokia phone using the company’s “3D Touch” technology, which is thought to be similar to Samsung’s Air Gesture controls – allowing you to control the phone through gestures without touching the display.

Nokia Lumia “Illusionist

While it’s still early days for the Lumia 2520 Windows RT tablet, so far it seems to have largely been warmly recieved by reviewers. Nokia appears to be prepping a follow-up slate to fill the ever-popular smaller tablet category with the rumoured Nokia Lumia “Illusionist” pegged as an 8-inch Windows RT slate.

There’s no other information at present, but we can imagine the spec sheet could go either way. On the one hand, the Lumia 2520 featured a high-end spec line-up with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor and high-resolution display.

However, the smaller tablet market is awash with plenty of more affordably priced offerings such as the Nexus 7 2013, so it’s tempting to think Nokia could put a more mid-range spec onboard in a bid to shift more units.

Hopefully we’ll find out at CES shortly, but there could be a wait til MWC.

Nokia Lumia 929

Another rumoured device is the Nokia Lumia 929. This handset is thought to be a premium model in the vein of the Lumia 1520, but at a smaller, more conventional scale. If it does echo the Lumia 929, that should mean a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, a full HD 1080p display and possibly the same 20-megapixel PureView camera we saw on Nokia’s oversized beast.

The only slight concern here is that the immediate numerical precursor, the Lumia 928, was a US exclusive. Hopefully Nokia will push the Lumia 929, perhaps with a different name, to the rest of the world too.

Huawei Ascend Mate 2

Huawei has announced the Ascend Mate 2, a 6.1-inch smartphone with a 720p IPS display and a 1.6GHz Qualcomm processor. The phone has 16GB of storage space, microSD support and a curious feature which lets you charge other smartphones from its own sizeable 5,050mAh battery pack.

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ZTE Grand S2

Another Chinese handset maker, ZTE, announced a successor model with the ZTE Grand S2. This phone is a 5.5-inch model with a 1080p full HD display, 16GB of storage and a 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip.

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The party trick this time round is the built-in voice command capability, which will let you activate certain features similarly to Motorola’s Moto X and Google’s Nexus 5 with the phrase “Hello Grand S”. Allegedly you’ll even be able to activate the camera by saying “cheese.”

Alcatel POP C9

Alcatel added to its POP series of devices with the POP C9, a 5.5-inch handset with a 960×520 pixel display and a 1.3GHz quad-core processor.

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