Sure, you can get your iPhone 5s in Apple's own gold finish, but so can just about anyone else with a few hundred dollars to throw around. If you really want to stand out from the crowd of folks poking at their devices all day, you need the Apple Solid Gold iPhone 5S ($3,300). Instead of the typical gold finish, this one comes in solid, 24-karat gold covering the edges, top, bottom, and back. You can also choose the platinum or rose gold additions — and if you're really feeling like showing off, go ahead and upgrade it with Swarovski style embellishments on the logo, bezel, and more.
We've all been there — you get that shiny new smartphone, and it runs great for a year or two, but then you notice it's just not the phone it used to be. Games lag, apps aren't supported, the battery doesn't hold a charge like it used to, maybe the screen is cracked, and you think: if only I could just replace this, or that component, everything would be better. Well now the dream is a little closer to reality thanks to Motorola Project Ara ($TBA). While still in the early development phases, this project promises to allow users to swap out parts within a modular hardware ecosystem. So you can upgrade your processor, battery, screen, all just by plopping modular components onto an "endoskeleton" base. It's still a long way from a working prototype, but the future is bright.
In yet another attempt at differentiating themselves from the pack of other handsets available on the market, LG has introduced their latest innovation, a curved phone. The LG G Flex Smartphone ($TBA) features a curved design that's meant to better fit the average shape of a person's face, improving the usefulness of the speaker and microphone. The phone also sports their around-the-back button design introduced in this phone's predecessor, meant to make it more natural to adjust volume, turn on the phone, etc. Though if you ask us, their so-called innovations miss the mark by a long shot. Of all the things we do on our smartphones, actually talking on them probably ranks near the bottom of the list.
If you spend a lot of time traveling internationally, you know what a pain it can be to maintain a phone that works all over the world, without going broke doing it. KnowRoaming ($35) is an intelligent sticker and an iOS or Android app combination that makes traveling with your phone easier and cheaper. Just apply the sticker to the front of your SIM card, and it takes care of the rest — staying off until you need it, and switching on to prevent roaming charges internationally. The accompanying app lets you monitor your usage, while finding carriers internationally and allowing you to top up on minutes that never expire.
Things just got a lot more colorful in Cupertino with the iPhone 5c ($100-$200), Apple's first iPhone made for the entry-level market. Available in either 16GB or 32GB models, the new colorful plastic phones will come in green, white, blue, red, and yellow, with custom Apple-made perforated cases available to show off their colorful shells. While most of the insides are the same as the previous model, its polycarbonate construction features steel reinforcement that also acts as an antenna. Expect a somewhat-faster A6 chip, and an improved front-facing camera. Pre-orders start September 13.
For the release of the iPhone 5s ($200-$400), the folks at Apple focused on three key areas of improvement: its performance, the camera, and security. It gets an upgrade to an A7 chip — making it the first 64-bit phone in existence — while also receiving support for the latest graphics standards and motion processing without a reduction in battery life. An improved iSight camera has a 15 percent larger sensor, a larger f2.2 aperture, an improved flash, image stabilization, slow motion capture, and a burst mode perfect for taking action shots. Its security enhancement comes in the form of a fingerprint sensor built into the home button, called Touch ID, giving you one-touch access to your phone, and serving as a password replacement for your Apple ID. It'll be available for pre-order later this month, and yes, you can get yours in gold.
While none of you would dare leave your phone unprotected without a security pin, you also know what a pain it is to enter it every time you want to check new notifications. But, for those fortunate enough to pick up a Moto X, that pain will be a thing of the past, thanks to the Motorola Skip ($15). This small clip attaches to your clothing, and with a quick tap of your phone, you can unlock it — no more pesky pass codes. It will come in a range of colors to fit your customized phone, and will also include three Skip dots (which you can leave any place you frequently use your phone, and function the same as the clip).
Now that Motorola and Google are one, expect to see some impressive gadgets from the pair — case in point, the Moto X ($200-$250). It's completely customizable, with two front, 17 back, and seven accent colors available, and entirely assembled in the USA. It boasts touch-less Siri-like capability (just say "okay Google Now" to access maps, send texts, and more). And it's packed with battery-saving, experience-improving tech, like an ultra-light-sensitive 10 megapixel RGBC camera, an active display that turns on when you pull it out of your pocket, eight cores optimized for separate tasks, and a 4.7-inch AMOLED display.
Think of the Ubuntu Edge ($830) as a proving ground for next-generation mobile technology — most of the things you see here will likely make their way onto big-name handsets. The biggest of those technologies is convergence: hardware and software that seamlessly transitions between desktop and mobile. All you need to do to use it as a desktop PC is plug it into a display using HDMI, and pair it with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse. This is possible thanks to a fast multi-core CPU, 4 gigs of RAM, and a 128 gig flash drive. Other impressive features include the ability to dual-boot between Android and Ubuntu OS, a 4.5-inch sapphire crystal display, stereo speakers, and two LTE antennae.
Somewhere along the way the lines between a phone and a tablet became blurry, and our smartphones turned into hulking masses of silicon that barely fit in our pocket. The Android-powered HTC One Mini ($TBA) — at about five by two and a half inches, and just a third of an inch thick — aims to curb that trend. Made from polished metal alloy, the body of the phone fits comfortably into your hand. Dual front speakers, a 720p HD 4.3-inch screen, 16 gigs of storage, and a 1 gig processor make it great for entertainment and gaming.
Basically everyone has a smartphone these days — but have you ever given a thought to what's inside? No, we're not talking processors and megapixels, but instead the conflict elements required to make the components, and the cheap labor used to put them together. Well, the folks behind Fairphone (€325; roughly $435) have. This Android device aims to be the first phone built with a completely transparent supply chain, letting you know the source of each mineral used to make each component, the people who built them, and the social and ecological impact. Yet the phone itself is no slouch, sporting Android 4.2, a quad-core processor, an eight megapixel rear cam, and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing shooter. It even has dual-SIM trays to make travel easier — which is great, considering you can only buy it in Europe for the time being.
If you liked the features of the Lumia 920 but simply couldn't get behind the colorful, oversized polycarbonate body, you're likely love the Nokia Lumia 925 ($TBA). Like the 920, it offers an 8.7 megapixel PureView camera with optical image stabilization, a 1.5 GHZ dual-core Snapdragon processor with 1GB of RAM, a 4.5" WXGA screen, and 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera. But instead of polycarbonate, the 925's outer frame is made from metal, with the plastic stuff relegated to a white, black, or grey panel on the back, a feature that makes possible the optional wireless charging cover. Arriving next month.