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Weekend Roundup: Samsung Galaxy S4 latest, CES 2013 predictions, and HSPA+ vs 4G LTE

CES 2013 countdown gets under way

It's that time of the year again, and no, we don't mean Christmas. We're talking about the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is set to kick off in Las Vegas in just over two weeks' time. The countdown to the 2013 edition of the technology bonanza is now well and truly underway and speculation is rife about what to expect when punters and pundits alike descend on the Strip in early-January.

To that end, ITProPortal has launched a dedicated CES 2013 hub and there's plenty of juicy gossip from last week to consider. Huawei has confirmed it is launching its Ascend D2 and W1 devices in the US next month, bucking the general mobile migration to February's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Similarly, Internet giant Google is rumoured to be launching a cheaper, slimmer Nexus 7 tablet in early-2013 in a bid to cause further market disruption. For more, check out our editor, Desire Athow's key predictions for CES 2013, or just read on - much of the early gossip relates to Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung, and as always, the ITProPortal Weekend Roundup has you covered.

Steady on, Samsung

CES 2013 figures prominently for Seoul-based Samsung, but the firm's activities haven't been confined to trade show chit-chat this week. Mobile is somewhat inevitably the main area of consumer interest heading into the new year and the fire was really stoked when Samsung officially unveiled its latest smartphone, the Galaxy Grand.

The 5in handset features a good-standard of specification by 2012's outgoing standards: a dual-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz supported by 1GB of RAM, HSPA+ (but not LTE) support, an 8-megapixel primary camera, and a microSD card slot for easy storage expansion beyond the 8GB capacity found on-board.

It's a nice sounding proposition, for sure, but what mobile-hungry punters really want is the next instalment of Samsung's famed Galaxy S range, and there have certainly been a number of tasty morsels making the rounds on the rumour mill of late. We're starting to get a fuller picture of how the Galaxy S4 is shaping up, so make for our recent "Samsung Galaxy S4: all you need to know" guide for a roundup of the latest speculation regarding the forthcoming flagship handset - and be sure to bookmark the page, because updates are likely to come in fast and furious in 2013.

But the real eye-catcher from Samsung this week was the Korean firm's confirmation that it will use its platform in Las Vegas to show off the bendy screen, or "Galaxy Skin", technology it has been linked with as far back as 2011. All of the world's leading manufacturers will be donning their best bib and tucker for the showcase, so it's really no surprise that Samsung will unveil 5.5in and 55in flexible displays at CES 2013 in a bid to steal the headlines, just like it did back at IFA 2012 with the Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy Camera.

3G HSPA+ vs 4G LTE showdown

ITProPortal readers no doubt know that high-speed mobile connectivity is one of the industry's hottest topics at the moment. But even the most clued up consumer could be forgiven for thinking that it's all about 4G, such is the bravado with which EE launched its exclusive LTE spectrum not long ago. The playing-field is set to be levelled again soon, with Ofcom confirming the participants for its January 4G auction this week. But lost amidst all this LTE frenzy is the arrival of a newer, faster, and all-around better standard of 3G connectivity, HSPA+.

There's little doubt that LTE is the quicker of the two, but it's also no secret that monthly contracts for 4G networks come at a serious premium and won't suit everybody's budget. Hence, it's important to assess the viability of the new HSPA+ spectrum as well, and that's just what Riyad Emeran got up to earlier this week when he conducted a 3G HSPA+ vs 4G LTE speed test showdown. Taking a device running on Three's HSPA+ network on a spin round London and comparing it against the performance of his iPhone 5 running on EE's 4G spectrum, he found that that the latest 3G offering can turn in some hugely impressive speeds, but that its distribution across the capital is patchy at best. Find out more detailed results and data by clicking on the above link - it looks like Three could be on to something pretty good with HSPA+, but that it needs to get its act together if it hopes to be a real LTE alternative in 2013.