7 New Devices Aiming to Challenge the New iPhones
With the launch of Apple’s next-generation iPhone models expected to be less than a week away, consumer excitement about the so-called “iPhone 6” debut has reached fever pitch. In case you haven’t heard, Apple is supposedly unveiling two new iPhone models with larger screen sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches at a media event scheduled on September 9. The devices are expected to feature the usual incremental hardware improvements — such as a faster processor — but may also include previously unseen elements, such as a sapphire-covered screen.
As if the prospect of a new iPhone and a new iOS operating system wasn’t enough to get an Apple fan’s heart racing, the latest rumors also suggest that the fabled iWatch may make an early appearance. According to sources cited by Re/code who are supposedly in the know, Apple will unveil its long-rumored wearable tech product alongside the new iPhone models at the same media event on September 9. The wrist-worn device is expected to work in conjunction with the HealthKit health data storage platform, as well as HomeKit, the connected home framework that Apple unveiled at the last Worldwide Developers Conference. Finally, Apple is also expected to refresh its iPad product line sometime in October.
While Apple’s latest products will likely dominate the tech news coverage for a while, there are several non-iOS-based products that are expected to make their debut this fall. Here are seven soon-to-be-released products from Apple’s competitors that may give the Cupertino, California-based company a run for its money — or at least offer a distraction from the upcoming slew of Apple products.
7. Samsung Galaxy Alpha smartphone
While Samsung has long been accused of imitating the design of the iPhone, the Korea-based company has never embraced the use of metal casings like Apple has. However, the recently unveiled Galaxy Alpha is the first Samsung smartphone to prominently feature metal elements in its design. As stated on Samsung’s official website, the Galaxy Alpha is “the first Samsung Galaxy smartphone with a high-quality metal frame and luxury look and feel.”
So will Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha steal the limelight from Apple’s upcoming iPhone models? Despite the “luxury look and feel” of the Galaxy Alpha, there don’t appear to be any substantial improvements offered in the device that would lure consumers away from the rumored features of the iPhone 6. The technical specifications of the 4.7-inch Galaxy Alpha actually fall below the current flagship Galaxy S5’s specifications, which makes Samsung’s newest smartphone model less about its features and more about its appearance. According to the latest rumors reported by the International Business Times, Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha will be released on September 12, although it is already available for pre-order in the U.K.
6. HTC/Google Nexus 9 tablet
Besides launching a new version of its operating system, Google will also soon be launching new versions of its Nexus tablets, which could be viable competitors against Apple’s iPad line in the high-end segment of the tablet market. Made in partnership with HTC, the Nexus 9 is rumored to feature an 8.9-inch, 2048 by 1440 resolution display. According to technical specifications obtained by TK Tech News, the device will feature a 2.5GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra K1 Denver processor. On its official blog, Nvidia noted that the K1 Denver will be the “first 64-bit ARM processor for Android.”
This would give Google’s tablet a processor that is more comparable to the 64-bit A7 processor that Apple already uses in the iPhone 5S, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display. Although an official release date has not been announced, a Chinese leaker cited by BGR reported that the HTC Nexus 9 tablet will be released before October 9, putting it in direct competition with the rumored iPad Air 2 and iPad mini with Retina display 2.
5. Motorola/Google Nexus X (6) smartphone
Tablets won’t be the only market in which Google will be hoping to draw attention away from Apple this fall. While previous rumors suggested that the next-generation Nexus smartphone would be called the Nexus 6, the latest information reported by BGR suggests that the device will be called the Nexus X.
According to technical specifications obtained by TK Tech News, the device will feature a 2.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor and a 13-megapixel rear camera. However, as noted by PhoneArena, there have been conflicting reports about the device’s size, ranging from 5.2 inches to 5.9 inches. While the device will ostensibly compete with Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6, retail sources cited by TK Tech News suggested that the Nexus X would not hit store shelves until October, about a month after the expected debut of the new iPhone models.
4. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phablet
While Apple is rumored to be making its first entry into the phablet market with its 5.5-inch iPhone 6 in September, it looks like Samsung will be refreshing its own long-running line of phablets with another Galaxy Note device. While details about technical specifications of the Galaxy Note 4 are scarce, Samsung recently released several teaser videos that concluded with a date of September 3, 2014. This launch date will give Samsung a little less than a week to woo fans of oversized smartphones before Apple unveils its own device.
So what will Samsung’s newest phablet feature? According to the latest rumors reported by TechRadar, most sources have indicated that Samsung will be sticking with the 5.7-inch screen size used in the Galaxy Note 3, although there are some rumors about a possible increase to 5.7 inches. More interestingly, some sources have suggested that the next-generation Galaxy Note could include a curved screen. There is also a chance that the Galaxy Note 4 will include the 64-bit processor that Samsung previously said it was working on. Other rumors have hinted at the inclusion of a retina scanner and a wireless charging capability. Finally, the Galaxy Note 4 will likely feature the more luxurious metal frame chassis design that was recently unveiled with the Galaxy Alpha smartphone.
3. Motorola Moto 360 smartwatch
One of the most anticipated upcoming iOS-based products is Apple’s so-called “iWatch.” However, fans of Android-based wearable tech have their own smartwatch to look forward to. According to TechRadar, Motorola recently sent out invitations for a September 4 media event where it will launch its highly anticipated smartwatch.
The wrist-worn device will run Android Wear, the wearable tech-optimized version of Google’s mobile operating system. According to technical specifications leaked by Best Buy and highlighted by PC Mag, the device will feature a 1.5-inch 320 by 290 resolution screen and Bluetooth support. Like Apple’s rumored iWatch, the Moto 360 will also feature some health-tracking capabilities with a built-in heart-rate monitor and pedometer.
2. Samsung Gear S smartwatch
While Samsung has yet to find much success in the wearable tech market, it won’t be for lack of trying. The Korea-based company recently announced Gear S, its sixth smartwatch. According to Samsung’s press release, the wrist-worn device will feature a 2-inch Super AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) 360 by 480 resolution screen, a dual core 1.0 GHz processor, 512MB RAM, and 4GB of internal memory. The Gear S will also feature multiple sensors, including an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a compass, a heart rate sensor, an ambient light sensor, a UV light sensor, and a barometer. The device will provide users with update notifications via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and 3G connectivity. Users will also be able to make calls directly from the device or receive forwarded calls from a paired smartphone.
Gear S users will have the option of combining the device with the Gear Circle, a pair of connected headphones that, as stated by Samsung, can be used to “receive calls, listen to music, and make voice commands in style through a Bluetooth connection.” Like Samsung’s latest Gear devices, the Gear S will run the company’s native Tizen operating system, rather than an Android variant. Samsung announced that both devices will be made available in October.
1. Google Android L mobile operating system
Along with its next generation of mobile devices, Apple will also be releasing iOS 8, it latest mobile operating system iteration. Android, the open source operating system made by Google, will also soon get an update. Currently known only as “Android L,” the latest Android iteration was first unveiled by Google at its I/O developer conference in June. At the conference, Android L was revealed to have a new interface design language called “Material Design.” The latest Android iteration also features a slew of other improvements, including increased connectivity with wearable tech devices running Android Wear, improved battery life via the “Project Volta” initiative, and compatibility with the Chrome OS platform.
Although several developer builds of Android L have already been released, the mobile operating system is not yet available to the public. According to the latest rumors reported by TK Tech News, the operating system’s official name will be “Android Lemon Meringue Pie 5.0.” Although the exact public release date is not yet known, Google revealed at its I/O developer conference that the new operating system would be released sometime this fall, possibly around the same time as Apple’s iOS 8.
It remains to be seen if any of the fall product launches from Apple’s competitors will generate enough consumer excitement to draw the media’s attention away from the iPhone maker’s expected new product launches. However, with so many companies releasing comparable devices in the same product categories that Apple is entering this fall, it appears that the company is in for an evenly matched fight for consumers’ money.
Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS