The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), in Las Vegas, USA, is arguably the biggest consumer electronics trade show of the year, but with the major mobile industry event -- Mobile World Congress (MWC) -- following less than two months after, many mobile companies may choose to keep their cards close to their chest regarding major announcements. Nonetheless our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) team will be in Las Vegas this week and expect there still to be a fair bit of handset news, including:
1. The rise of the 5-inch phone. Every year it seems that the largest practical size of screen for a handset goes up, and this year will be no exception. It’s quite possible that the majority of flagship smartphones announced at CES 2013 will have screens of at least 5 inches in size.
2. Phablets snowball. The phablet (a hybrid of ‘phone’ and ‘tablet’) was one of the success stories of 2012, which means a lot more handset manufacturers are likely to jump on board. This is set to be the year of the phablet for many players.
3. The Samsung Galaxy S4. Samsung was comfortably the world’s number one handset vendor by shipments in 2012, thanks in large part to its very popular Galaxy S Android family. In order to hit the aggressive shipment targets Samsung has set for itself, it will need to launch the latest member of this family -- the Galaxy S4 -- as soon as possible. However we wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung held this launch back until MWC, choosing to focus on the recently-launched, 5-inch Galaxy Grand for this show.
4. The Sony Xperia Z. Sony also has some 2012 smartphone momentum to build on, and thanks to the company’s strong consumer electronics heritage it tends to prioritise shows like CES and IFA higher than many other mobile vendors. We expect to see the launch of a 5-inch Sony Xperia Z phablet, which will also continue Sony’s strategy of increased consumer electronics convergence for its mobile devices.
5. 4K compatibility. While ‘smart TVs’ will once more be a major theme at this year’s CES, one of the hottest trends for TVs will be 4K displays. The name references a horizontal resolution in the region of 4,000 pixels, and the technology offers four times as many total pixels as ‘full HD’. While it’s debatable how useful that many pixels would be on a 5-inch handset display, it will increasingly be found in larger TVs and projectors. This creates a new opportunity for handset vendors to differentiate themselves by offering 4K support on handsets for functions such as video streaming.