Apple, Motorola lead upcoming parade of shiny new gadgets

Aaron Pressman
The Most Exciting Gadgets To Look Forward To In 2014
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Federico Ciccarese A concept design for the iPhone 6 alongside the iPhone 5s It’s almost fall, which means tech companies are gearing up to release their newest smartphones, tablets, and wearable gadgets in time for the holiday season. Most manufacturers haven’t even unveiled these devices yet, but we already have a pretty clear idea of what the most popular smartphones and tablets for 2015 will look like. It’s important to keep in mind that these devices haven’t been confirmed yet, so there’s a chance that some of the phones and tablets on this list may not make it to market in 2014. However, based on numerous rumors and leaks over the past few months, we feel strongly enough to include them in this list.  The iPhone 6 Apple’s next smartphone, presumably called the iPhone 6, is probably the most anticipated gadget of 2014. The phone is expected to come out at the end of September, and Apple will reportedly unveil it on Sept. 9. Based on various leaks and rumors, it seems like the iPhone 6 be a noticeable upgrade from the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 6 will reportedly come with a larger, sharper 4.7-inch screen and a completely new design that looks similar to the iPad Air than an iPhone.  An even larger 5.5-inch iPhone It’s been widely reported that Apple will unveil two new smartphones this year — one with a 4.7-inch display and another with a 5.5-inch screen. It’s unclear if they’ll both launch at the same time, however. Some reports have indicated that Apple has run into production issues with the 5.5-inch iPhone, hinting that it could be released in late 2014 or early 2015.  The second-generation iPad Air In years past, Apple has unveiled its new iPads in October, leading many to believe that an update to the iPad line is coming this fall, too. We haven’t heard too much about the second-gen iPad Air, but a report from Korean news source ET News suggests Apple may already be working on its components. If the report holds up to be true, we could expect to see a new iPad with the same design as the first Air, a faster processor than Apple’s current tablet, and a better camera. French blog Nowhereelse.fr also posted a leaked image that claims to show the ipad Air 2.  Apple’s iWatch Apple has been rumored to be working on its first wearable device for more than a year, and a report from Re/code suggests it could finally debut this October. The iWatch is expected to focus on fitness, and will supposedly be able to track the number of steps you take, how many calories you’ve burned, and your heart rate, among other information. If Apple does unveil the iWatch in October, we can probably expect to see it go on sale by the end of the year. Google’s Nexus 6 (or Nexus X) Google is also reportedly preparing to release a new smartphone this fall. A report from TKTechNews suggests that it could launch in September, and that Google may call it the Nexus X rather than using its traditional numbered naming convention. Google’s new Nexus phone is expected to be more premium that the company’s previous Nexus phones. It may cost somewhere in the $499.99 range (unlocked) compared to the $349 Nexus 5. Naturally, it’ll ship with Android L and is rumored to feature a 13-megapixel camera, a 2K display, and a Snapdragon 805 processor.  A new Nexus tablet from Google Google is also rumored to be working on a new gadget with HTC, and many believe this will be Google’s new Nexus tablet. From what we’ve heard, it sounds like this new device will be a tablet version of HTC’s One smartphone. Codenamed “Volantis,” the tablet is expected to come with a super sharp display, HTC’s aluminum design that’s become the staple of its new smartphones, and Android L right out of the box. There’s no word on when it will come out, but Google has previously unveiled its new Nexus hardware in the fall.  The Moto X+1 There’s a strong chance that Motorola’s next flagship smartphone, presumably the Moto X+1, wil debut in September. The company is holding an event on Sept. 4, where it’s expected to officially take the wraps off its new phone and a few other gadgets, too. The Moto X+1 is expected to come with a larger, sharper display than the Moto X, a faster processor, and a dual-flash camera.   The Moto 360 Motorola’s Moto 360 is one of the first devices to use Google’s new software for wearables, Android Wear. It made headlines back in March when Motorola unveiled it thanks to its circular design, which is unusual for a smartwatch with a touchscreen. The Moto 360 is water-resistant and supports wireless charging. There’s no word on how much it costs yet, but Motorola is expected to unveil more details about availability on Sept. 4. Rumors suggest it will retail for about $250 and will be sold through big box retailer Best Buy.  The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Samsung is reportedly getting ready to unveil its new Galaxy Note smartphone in early September. Like the Galaxy Note 3, the Note 4 is expected to come with a giant 5.7-inch display. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a Galaxy Note 4 that looks like a giant version of the Galaxy S5 — which means it could come with the same dimpled back and a heart rate monitor. We won’t know for sure until Samsung makes an official announcement, which is expected to happen on Sept. 3.  The BlackBerry Passport BlackBerry’s new square-shaped smartphone is expected to officially launch in September. Other than its unconventional design, the keyboard is expected to be one of its key features. The keyboard comes with touch sensors that allow you to swipe to insert numbers and characters rather than pressing a key. The phone hasn’t even launched yet, but BlackBerry fans seem to be excited about it.  Now check out some of the biggest misconceptions about tech products… 8 common tech myths you should stop believing today >> Read more stories on Business Insider, Malaysian edition of the world’s fastest-growing business and technology news website.

It’s shaping up to be an especially interesting September for mobile gadgets, and for the companies that make them. Rumored new phones, tablets and smartwatches from Apple (AAPL), Motorola (GOOGL), Sony (SNE) and others could shake up the market and offer consumers a wider range of choices, possibly with compelling new features.

The leading companies are aiming to prove wrong analysts who say there’s not much excitement or innovation left in the smartphone arena as sales growth slows and competition from cheaper, Asian manufacturers intensifies.

Apple, Motorola and other top mobile gadget makers are lining up to unveil new devices next month.
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Apple, Motorola and other top mobile gadget makers are lining up to unveil new devices next month.

Apple overhauls the iPhone’s physical design every other year, making 2014 a potentially exciting year for the company’s many devoted fans. Based on numerous media reports, Apple is expected to unveil two larger-screen models at a September 9 event. A smartwatch or other wrist-worn device is also a possibility, according to some reports. The company has not confirmed the rumors, however.

Upping the iPhone’s screen size from 4 inches to 4.7 and 5.5 inches will give customers a lot more space to play their favorite games and watch Youtube videos. It should also help boost Apple’s market share at the high end of the smartphone market, where larger-screen models have captured an increasing proportion of sales.

The new phones, and rumored wearables, will also be compatible with Apple’s new HealthKit and HomeKit initiatives. HealthKit will store a user’s biometric and exercise data while HomeKit will connect iPhones to home automation systems.

Will Apple sell on the news?

For investors, the question is whether Apple’s shares will repeat their prior pattern of rallying ahead of an announcement and then selling off once the news is disclosed. Shares of Apple gained an average of 8% in the month ahead of the past two iPhone announcements, then lost an average of 4% for the following month. Apple shares have been strong of late, gaining 33% since the end of April and hitting a split-adjusted record of $101.98.

Five days before the Apple event, Google’s Motorola division is expected to take the wraps off its newest phones, also including models with larger screen sizes. Moto has been steadily gaining critical acclaim – and sales – for new models it started rolling out last year, including the high-end Moto X and less expensive Moto G and E. But the once dominant mobile phone maker hasn’t made any profits since Google bought the company in 2012. Lenovo agreed to buy the unit for $2.9 billion in January, but the deal hasn’t closed yet.

The rumored Moto X+1 is expected to arrive with a 5-inch screen, up from last year’s 4.7 inches, while the Moto S is expected to compete among phablets with its almost 6-inch screen.

Most of the other announcements, including from Samsung and Sony, will happen around the annual German tech conference, Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin, known as IFA.

Samsung had been the hottest smartphone maker until this year. In the premium market, the Galaxy S5, introduced in February, has sold relatively well but not as well as the company hoped. And Samsung has been rapidly losing ground to Lenovo, Huawei and other Asian makers at the lower end of the Android market.

But expectations are muted for Samsung’s scheduled September 3 press conference. Analysts don’t think the expected new phablet, a 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 4, will help Samsung claw back much of the lost ground.

Sony has also struggled lately. In July, the company slashed its smartphone sales forecast to 43 million devices from 50 million for its fiscal year ending next March, representing only 10% growth.

On Facebook, Sony teased a new mid-range phone, the Xperia M2 Aqua, and a waterproof version of its Smartband fitness tracker. That won’t be enough to reverse the company’s fortunes but should give swimmers a new choice for activity tracking. It's also expected to make official its much-leaked new flagship phone, the Xperia Z3, and possibly new tablets and watches.

With rumors swirling about a possible smartwatch from Apple, LG and Asus are moving to pre-empt. Asus touted its September 3 event by tweeting a quote from Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran: “Time has transformed and we have changed.”


LG, which introduced a square-shaped smartwatch earlier this year, is expected to go round at its event; a round watch with step counting and a compass is clearly visible in LG's promotional video.

But smartwatches have garnered few sales so far this year, and analysts aren’t much excited about the prospects of the upcoming debuts. Still, with all the announcements coming in September, gadget lovers will have a host of new options to consider.