The world of Android was pretty exciting in 2012, but prepare yourself for even more come next year. We welcome a whole new generation of 1080p quad-core smartphones, flexible AMOLED displays, tons of Android devices, and surely round after round of rumors. Expectations will undoubtedly be high, and we're expecting a strong start at CES in just a few weeks. Read on for our thoughts and expectations for the first half of 2013.
There really is no telling what to expect in late 2013, since technology is moving at such a rapid pace. However we can look into the depths and have a pretty good feel for the first half of the year. Many of the expectations and predictions make sense, given the natural evolution of smartphones and current trends, but lets break it down and take at look at what to expect from 2013.
1080p True HD screens and beyond
It wasn't very long ago that we had screens never exceeding 4-inches, low 480x800 resolution displays that were horrid to view in sunlight, and battery life that seriously needed help. Android phones now range from 2.8-inches in screen size, to 5.5-inch beasts.
In 2013 Android will be all about who has the biggest, best, brightest, and most colorful HD smartphones and tablets. Personally I feel 4.7-inches like the One X is the absolute perfect size, but many manufacturers feel very different. Samsung already has leaks confirming a 6.3-inch Galaxy Note III, a 4.99-inch 1080p HD Galaxy S IV, and that's only the beginning. We know Huawei has a 6.1-inch Ascend Mate coming soon, and almost every manufacturer since HTC released the DNA has had some sort of larger than usual 1080p smartphone leak.
It's safe to say Android in 2013 will be all about 1080p True HD smartphones and tablets of all shapes and sizes. Now if we can only continue to improve outdoor usage, then I'll be happy.
Quad-core processors... and even Octa-core!
This upcoming year will be very competitive in the mobile processor space. This area has slowly but steadily been picking up heat but in 2013 it will reach an all-time high. It was only a few years ago that most phones were powered by Qualcomm, Hummingbird, or TI OMAP 3 series chipsets, but now we have an entirely new wave.
NVIDIA had a breakout 2012 with their Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 quad-core processors powering the most popular smartphones and tablets. Samsung and their Exynos processor line, while not too big at first in the US due to not supporting LTE, has came on extremely strong and their own chipset powers the best selling smartphone in the world. That being the Galaxy S III. Samsung's new Cortex-A15 based 5250 is already here in the Nexus 10, and we expect the extremely powerful and efficient A15 platform to be the future of Android next year.
Qualcomm is also leading the pack as well. These main three all have awesome products, each with their own pros and cons, but 2013 will really set them apart. The race to 2.0 GHz quad-cores that are efficient, yet powerful, will determine the race. Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro is already running strong to end 2012, and we already know of a handful of devices all to rock the same in 2013. Qualcomm has some seriously efficient and powerful chipsets, NVIDIA knows how to play like a true gamer, and Samsung brings raw power to the table. It will be a very fun and exciting 2013. Oh and ZTE claims they'll release an Octa-core (8 core) smartphone in the middle of 2013, so stay tuned for that.
Android for $99
What will really help Android continue to grow, excel, and blaze past any and all competition in 2013 is the entry-level or budget friendly market. We can't really call it "entry level" with powerful $199 quad-core Nexus 7 tablets and $299 quad-core LG Nexus 4 smartphones, but this trend will only get stronger next year.
This year Motorola released their $99 impressive DROID RAZR M smartphone and really performed well in the budget market. Only it rocked a 4.3-inch edge-to-edge display, dual-core power, 4G LTE, and awesome battery life. All of that for $99 makes it hard for others (like the iPhone) to compete. We are expecting a RAZR M HD next year, and surely HTC, and Samsung will have similar lower priced devices to compete in that space.
Oh and we can't forget about Google. They've been changing the game in this front with both their Nexus devices this year. Reports claim they have a $99 tablet in the works again with ASUS, and surely we'll see a few more Nexus devices in mid 2013 with Android Key Lime Pie.
Motorola RAZR Nexus on ALL carriers
We could make an entire post and argue this one for hours, but we know it's coming. It's only a matter of time until we see a Motorola branded Nexus device. Will it be a DROID (Verizon) exclusive, no way. Instead we can expect a Motorola RAZR Nexus with full support for all US carriers, and a true global device supporting CDMA, 4G LTE, GSM and everyone can have their chance at the next Nexus.
The Wall Street Journal just last week reported that Google and Motorola were in the final stages of what is being called the Google X Phone -- at least that's the inside codename. This next-generation device with cutting edge features will likely become the next Nexus, run Android 4.5 or 5.0 Key Lime Pie, and will probably be announced at Google I/O 2013 in May. If they can offer this on T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and everywhere else like Samsung's done with the Galaxy S III and Note II, it will be a smashing hit. We're betting on a June release for $249.
Key Lime Pie and eventually Licorice
Google will continue their streak of releasing a new and improved version of Android every 6 months, and will not shy to the yearly release plan. At IO 2013 we'll see Android Key Lime Pie and while it's too early for speculation, we have a few ideas in mind. Wireless Miracast technology will be a huge part of the next version of Android, as well as wireless in general. They'll continue to move towards the Google Cloud in all aspects of Android, and we have a feeling they'll blend Google TV, Android@Home, and the Android OS as a whole into one finely tuned machine.
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean really shows where Google's aiming. They've refined the user interface, polished the edges, improved battery life and increased performance with project butter, and Google Now is automating everything. Key Lime Pie will focus on speed across the board. The UI will get faster, their Play Store will see huge overhauls for performance, speed, as well as general look and feel. Then Google Now will continue to integrate deeper and deeper into Android. The notification bar and its expanding notifications will blend into Google Now to become the best experience we've seen to date. Google Now is extremely impressive but it still needs work, expect Google to focus heavily on that in 2013. Then of course to end 2013 we'll see what's next after KLP, and that will probably be Licorice. It's all about the deserts in Mountain View!
Oh and we can't forget Project Glass. Android Key Lime Pie and Google Glass will become one, with a voice-controlled Google Now at the helm. Welcome to the future folks!
While the Google Nexus 7 has been a major success, nothing can still truly match the sales numbers and social front of the iPad. Even my family calls my Nexus 7 an iPad. Drives me nuts! In 2013 along with KLP Google will push forth a new front on Android tablets. They'll push developers to aim at supporting tablets, their Play Store will have better vision, and the tablet app selection will finally start growing into its own.
Android tablets have still been the weakest link when it comes to the Android ecosystem as a whole, but in 2013 Google and their partners will gain ground on the competition, beat them in pricing, performance and options, and finally give Android tablets the attention it needs.
What would a predictions post be without some crazy rumors or dreams that will likely never happen -- but we all wish would. Well here's a few that are possible, as well as a few that are seriously doubtful. My first hope is that Google will snatch up T-Mobile and launch their 4G LTE service and become the perfect network I've always wanted full of delicious Nexus devices. Once I awake from that dream however, we very well could see Google and Dish Network launch their own option sometime in 2013. So be aware for that developing story.
Samsung will open multiple retail stores in the US, probably near Apple locations, and their own Samsung geniuses will be standing by to help you with that awesome new Galaxy S4. Speaking of Samsung, we're still hoping they'll reveal an actual smartphone with a flexible AMOLED display like they've teased at CES more than once. Will 2013 be the year of flexible displays? We'll see. Amazon will launch their first smartphone powered by Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, but you'd never guess because their Fire UI will plaster it with content, movies, music, books, and of course suggestions -- also known as advertisements.
Google Wallet, NFC, wireless charging, home automation and more will all be a strong focus in 2013. Manufacturers, partners, and carriers will all be looking to offer something different than the competition to be unique, and as a result the consumers will all benefit. When I can tag a poster at the airport for a free Google Music song, stop for a quick Starbucks, unlock my car, then have my TV set to Sportscenter when I get home all using NFC and Android@Home -- then we'll know things are looking good. #Firstworldproblems.
In the end there is literally so many things we could talk about, dreams we could think up, or devices we wish would become a reality. While many things here are expected, many are not. The next version of Android will surely push the limits as Android continues to be the number one mobile OS in the world, and we'll be here for the amazing ride. Obviously every moment has been exciting, but 2013 will be Android and Google's biggest year yet!
We'd love to hear your own thoughts and predictions for 2013. Drop us a comment below.