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It appears Google's Android and Apple's iOS are about to face some new competition: Ubuntu. Canonical, the primary organization who backs Ubuntu, has announced a mobile-centric version of the OS which aims to debut on two different smartphones. The devices are slated for a late 2013 release.
The two new smartphones include an "entry level" model powered by a 1GHz Cortex A9 with 512-1024MB of RAM and 4-8GB of flash storage. The second model, a "high-end superphone" handset, will feature a quad-core A9 or Intel Atom APU, 1GB or more RAM and pack 32GB of internal storage.
Ubuntu for smartphones appears to take some cues from Palm OS or even BlackBerry 10, favoring gestures like finger swipes and taps to intuitively reveal settings, display features and switch tasks.
Interestingly, Ubuntu mobile should work on any Android-based device, as both operating systems share the same driver module support.
Ubuntu has already been adapted to run on chipsets using the ARM and Intel x86 architectures relevant for mobile devices, with the core system based around a typical Android Board Support Package (BSP). So chipset vendors and hardware manufacturers do not need to invest in or maintain new hardware support packages for Ubuntu on smartphones. In short, if you already make handsets that run Android, the work needed to adopt Ubuntu will be trivial.
Ubuntu is also pushing its boundaries beyond just PCs and smartphones though, hoping to land itself on your television or even alongside your existing Android device. Canonical is touting its OS as the only truly "universal" OS that can find a home on virtually anything.
The iPhone 4S looks identical to last year's model but comes in a new 64GB flavor and upgrades the camera to include an 8-megapixel sensor with improved low-light performance and 1080p video capture. In terms of performance the new iPhone is reportedly up to 2x faster and is also capable of running on faster HSPA+ networks, reaching theoretical download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps.
The Apple iPhone 5 features a 4-inch display retains the same 326 PPI density as its predecessor with an effective resolution of 1,126 x 640, and a new Lightning connector. The new handset now features 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi with 802.11n supporting dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. Bluetooth 4.0 is back in addition to GPS and GLONASS for location services.
The Google Nexus 4 features a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor, a 4.7-inch 1280 x 768 IPS display, 2GB of RAM, dual cameras (1.3MP front, 8.0MP back), and either 8GB or 16GB of internal storage. Google also baked in NFC support and a wireless charging feature that lets you power the phone by setting it down on an inductive “Charging Orb”.
The Google Nexus 7 has the distinction of being the first device to run the Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" operating system. It measures 198.5mm x 120mm x 10.45mm in size, weighs 340g, and features a 7-inch IPS display that is protected by scratch-resistant glass. The Nexus sports a 1280 x 800 pixel display. It runs a quad-core Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM, it also comes in 2 versions: 8GB and 16GB capacities.
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