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No more texting? The big trends in mobiles for 2013

As we approach the end of 2012, looking back we've seen a lot of big transitions alongside a few significant firsts in the world of mobile tech.

2012 saw the true arrival of laptop-style quad-core processors in smartphones kicked off by the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S3. Camera performance saw dramatic advancements with Nokia's PureView technology responsible for squeezing a 41-megapixel sensor into a cameraphone.

So what will 2013 bring? Here are our top mobile predictions for the 12 months



1. Super-powerful Androids will arrive in Spring

An abundance of new technology will emerge at the Consumer Electronics Show taking place in January. Sony is expected to reveal its first quad-core smartphone, rumoured to be called the Sony C6603 Yugi. Suggested hardware includes a 5-inch 1080p HD display on the front, a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor (like the one currently used by the LG Nexus 4 and LG Optimus G), 2GB of RAM, an HD front-facing camera, an all-glass back much like the iPhone 4 and 4S.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 (as we’re expecting it to be called) is rumoured to be breaking cover one month earlier than the current flagship did (in March) this year too. Little is known about this new smartphone except that it’ll probably feature a 5-inch 1080p HD display, a 12-megapixel camera and one of the first 2GHz quad-core processors around. Expect this to be one of the biggest handsets of 2013.




2: Screens will get bigger


In 2012 flagship smartphones had larger screens. The Samsung Galaxy S3 has a 4.8-inch and the HTC One X a 4.7-inch screen and rumours persist that next year we'll see 5-inch screens in flagships. 

These screen sizes are closer to Samsung's 'phablet' category encompassing the Samsung Galaxy Note and successor the Note 2, which had 5.5-inch screens and each came with an stylus. Following the success of these, HTC and LG are rumoured to be introducing their own versions in 2012.


3. BlackBerry will make a comeback!

Following delays throughout 2012 BlackBerry manufacturer RIM says it will be able to pull the wraps off their new BlackBerry 10 handsets in Q1 2013; which translates as any time between January and March.

The first handsets are expected to be an all touchscreen and a hardware QWERTY bar phone (like the more conventional BlackBerry's we currently have), running  BB10, which from our first glance seems very impressive. With intuitive movements (or flows) to complete tasks, it's easy to use and could be a comeback for the fallen giant.

If RIM gets the phones to market quickly to prevent its customer base switching to iOS or Android, it should be able claw back market share. If there are any more delays it could prove fatal.




4. 4G will spread to all major UK carriers


In 2013 Vodafone and O2 will finally be able to initiate their own 4G networks here in the UK, bringing some much needed competition to EE's current monopoly on 4G-compatible smartphones and tariffs - once the technicalities of the 4G auction which is currently underway, are finished off.  Three has already bought a portion of EE's spectrum and by June the network too, is expected to launch its 4G service.

This means greater 4G coverage across the UK on all leading networks, up to five-times faster data speeds that current 3G handsets, new more powerful phones and - crucially - more competition.  If you are considering a 4G phone, it might be worth waiting six months until there are more tariffs to choose between.

5. Mobile multiplayer gaming will become more popular

Based on the 3D mobile games like N.O.V.A 3 and Shadowgun, the gap in quality between mobile and console is already closing fast and with the processing and graphical hardware at work in next year’s smartphones and tablets likely to increase performance in both these areas dramatically. Titles coming to next year’s smartphones will likely push our expectations of what it is to be a mobile gamer.

Pair this with the aforementioned nationwide, cross-carrier 4G infrastructure that’s on the cards and you’re looking at console quality online multiplayer gaming that could potentially give the next Xbox and PlayStation a run for their money.

What’s more, following what we’ve seen from from games like Kinectimals on the Xbox and Windows Phone, they’ll be more console/smartphone crossover titles in 2013.




6: We'll be browsing more and texting less

The way we're using our mobile phones is changing. Smartphones are cheaper than ever (the ZTE Kis is just £60 on PAYG), while data tariffs are cheaper (the giffgaff £12 goody bag includes unlimited data), so it’s more affordable than ever to go online.

Next year the popularity of messaging services that use WiFi or data, will eclipse traditional SMS messaging.

iPhone users currently have access to iMesssage which uses WiFi to send messages,  as do apps, What’s App Messenger,  Skype and Facebook Chat.  People will use these free services to send messages and communicate, rather than paying for a text, which will impact the PAYG market.