IFA 2015 is traditionally the time when many companies announce their wares to a captive audience, both physical and virtual. There now seems to be a trend, however, of some of those opting to go ahead, perhaps to avoid clashing with other giants. This month, it seems that the stars have curiously aligned to make the last week of July filled with new toys and tidbits that we’ll be talking about in the days, weeks, or even months, to come. To better buckle up, sit back, and enjoy the ride.
July 27: OnePlus 2
OnePlus will be opening the week with a bang and perhaps rightly so because it is definitely one of the most ambitious announcements happening that week. The Chinese startup will unveil the OnePlus 2, which is tenaciously calls the 2016 flagship killer. Of course, companies are known to make such boastful claims, but for a company of its size, those become fighting words. But why does OnePlus think its second smartphone will be all that? Here’s a list of confirmed and leaked features to understand why.
• CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 (confirmed, sadly)
• RAM: 4 GB DDR4 (confirmed)
• Screen: FHD or QHD
• Fingerprint scanner, physical (confirmed)
• USB Type-C (confirmed)
• 13 MP f/2.0 rear camera (confrimed)
• sub $450 price tag (confirmed, unfortunately)
Give or take a few misses here and there, the OnePlus 2 does seem up to the challenge,. But a smartphone is more than just the sum of its specs. However, it will be some time before we can all verify the flagship killer claim, as OnePlus will again be using an invitation system to sell the OnePlus 2.
More than just the smartphone itself, the unveiling of the OnePlus 2 will also be equally ambitious, taking place in virtual reality. For that purpose, OnePlus has been handing out its own customized version of Google Cardboard, but the even will also be viewable without VR on a mobile app. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. PT
July 28: Moto X, Moto
There doesn’t seem to be any consistency with Motorola’s flagship announcements. The first Moto X was announced early August but the second one came in September. Now Motorola is going earlier, scheduling an event for Tuesday. It’s only hinting that it will be about smartphones, naturally, but everyone is already expecting that it will be all about the Moto X or at least theMoto G.
More love has strangely been lavished on the Moto G compared to the flagship, at least in terms of leaks. While we have almost a complete picture of what the mid-range device will be like both inside and out, most of the details about the Moto X are still shrouded in mystery. For the Moto G, here’s what we’ve all gotten so far:
• CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 or 610
• RAM: 1 or 2 GB
• Storage: 8 or 16 GB
• Screen: 5-inch 720p
• 13 MP rear camera with dual LED flash, 5 MP front camera
• IPX7 rating
• dual SIM, 4G network
• Moto Maker options for rear cover and accents
Depending on which set of specs match reality, the 2015 Moto G could either be a passable upgrade from last year’s model or a very tempting mid-range contender. We’ll definitely know once the clock strikes 9:00 AM Eastern on July 28.
July 28: Nokia VR (maybe)
This one is still unconfirmed. Sources are saying that Nokia has booked some very exclusive time in LA to supposedly reveal its plans to embark on the world of Virtual Reality. That alone might already send a few eyebrows rising. VR isn’t exactly what many would consider to be an already lucrative or even promising market. And it’s definitely not something one might associate with Nokia, who already seems to be at a loss in defining what its core business strategy really is. That said, if the Finnish giant really does want to spread its wings, VR might be a safer venture than others. Then again, Nokia has had many ventures already, and all but its HERE Maps remains to be even remotely stable.
July 29: Windows 10
And to seemingly cap off the insanity of the week, despite being smack in the middle of the week, Microsoft will formally launch Windows 10 on Wednesday. In truth, this is just the green light, marking the start of the OS’ roll out to the public. Only the luckiest Windows Insiders will actually be able to get a taste of it on that same day. The rest of us mortals will have to wait for the waves of updates to reach us. Unless, of course, you’ve bought a new Windows 10 PC that ships on that day.
Microsoft will be holding a huge celebration on that day, which is almost a bit anti-climactic because it is a party that will celebrate the year-long Windows 10 upgrade process. Still, if there was ever a reason for employees and fans to break out the champagne, this would be it.
Naturally, Windows 10 is Microsoft’s most significant OS yet. And we’re not just talking about the features. A lot of things are hedging on its success. Microsoft’s future, Nadella’s credibility, and the sustainability of the Windows platform, just to name a few. Feature-wise, Windows 10 tries to fix what Windows 8 has broken and to bring back the users that it had lost. But more than just a half step backward, Windows 10 is also huge leap of faith forward, with Microsoft putting almost all its eggs in the Windows 10 basket. In particular, the Universal App Platform will be the measure of its success and the instrument that could keep Microsoft from fading into obscurity in a mixed device (not post-PC) world.
However, the Windows 10 picture won’t be complete on July 29. A critical part of it, the phone part, won’t be arriving until months later, perhaps as late as the fourth quarter of the year. Though late to the party, Windows 10 Mobile will be an important litmus test that will seal Microsoft’s fate.
Though already packed, next week will just be a foretaste of the things that are yet to come, especially in the next two months. In August, we’re expecting to see Samsung’s next hand in the smartphone game, with the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 edge+ making their way to the market. Then in September, things really get hot with IFA 2015 in full blast, with all the new devices, gadgets, and oddities that it brings year after year. Even before the dust settles, we’ll be hearing from Apple as its finally reveals what the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will really have to offer. After that, we will probably circle back to Microsoft for what could hopefully be a flagship smartphone that can stand proud.