Does anyone want to be friends with the Facebook phone?
10th May 2013 | 10:00
Plus Nokia's new nightmare, a reboot for Windows and Google I/O anticipation
HTC First? HTC worst, more like! It looks like we were bang on the money when we said the so-called Facebook phone was only good "once you dial back all that Facebook": it isn't selling at US$99, so AT&T has dropped the price to just US$0.99 (AU$0.97, £0.64) on a two-year contract. AT&T says they do this stuff all the time, but that's PR nonsense: price cuts this dramatic this quickly mean the First clearly isn't first on people's shopping lists. If you want an HTC Android phone, you'd be much better off with the wonderful HTC One.
Could the Huawei Ascend Mate be the phone for you? We'd say no: as Joe Hanlon explains, not only is the "phablet" ridiculously big and heavy, but it's slow too. "We really wanted to love the Mate," he says, but where other firms have ironed out the "laggy bugs" in their systems, Huawei hasn't. It's "just a step too far towards tablet territory", and while "there is definitely a market for the Ascend Mate", we "don't belong to it".
X marks the spot
Maybe the Motorola X Phone is more up our street? We certainly hope so: the phone, the first handset to bear the Google brand and Moto's design, is expected to be unveiled at this month's Google IO conference. Apparently it will be "a real breakthrough, a game changer that will put pressure on Samsung and Apple."
Another phone that hasn't officially been announced yet is the Nokia 928, which Michelle Fitzsimmons describes as "one of the worst kept phone secrets of late". Nokia's been busy posting photography demos that pit the 928 against the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5, and you'll be shocked - shocked! - when you discover which one comes out best. That's right, it's the iPhone 5. No! We kid!
That's not all Nokia's got up its sleeve. This week, Nokia has been brimful of Asha. No, not the 1990s Cornershop classic - we're talking about the Asha 501, a funky little phone that bridges the gap between feature phones and smartphones. It's fun, friendly and affordable, with a sub-$100 (AU$97, £64) price tag.
Nokia headed back to hell?
Nokia's making some nice stuff, but that doesn't mean its shareholders are happy. At the company's AGM this week, one investor suggested that Nokia was on "the road to Hell". "The problem is pretty simple," Gary Marshall explains. "Nokia has bet the farm on Windows Phone, and the bet hasn't paid off yet." Calm down everyone, says John McCann. "The Finnish firm is almost fully back on track," he argues. "This Windows Phone ride is about to get exciting - finally."
The investors may be impatient, Marshall argues, but they do have a point. "Nokia doesn't have a Plan B, but its rivals do" - so if their Windows Phones don't sell, they have plenty of Android devices too. If Nokia's Windows Phones don't sell, "there's nothing else in the cupboard." Marshall still thinks that Nokia's embrace of Windows Phone was "an act of 'sod it! Let's go to THE MOON!' bravery", but he hopes the moonshot doesn't fall short. "If it does," he says, "Nokia hasn't packed a parachute."
Is Microsoft as confident about Windows 8 as Nokia is about Windows Phone? Perhaps not: it's already making quite a bit of noise about Windows Blue. Blue is the next version of Windows 8, it's due later this year, and thanks to user feedback it's going to make Windows more Windows-y.
Into the Blue
Blue is likely to be called Windows 8.1, it's likely to bring boot-to-desktop back, it'll extend to other platforms including Windows Phone, and it might even bring back the much-missed Start button. We'll get a full look at Blue this June - and we're expecting to see Apple's iOS 7 that month too. Is that because mobile firm Onswipe says traffic from iOS 7 devices is starting to spike? No. It's because Apple says it'll be showing everyone "what's next in iOS and OS X" at WWDC 2013. Sherlock Holmes, eat your heart out.