Welcome to Counterclockwise, our weekly trip down memory lane. It's good to look back at years past to put new events into context. This year was, of course, defined by the iPhone event and so were the two years before that. Actually, the second week of September two years ago got quite busy.
This week the major event was the unveiling of two iPhones, a year ago we were busy with much the same thing – two new iPhones in the form of iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. Arguably the new devices this year were more interesting as Apple finally embraced the large screen.
The iPhone 5, announced the same week two years ago, was the company’s first tentative venture into increasing the screen size, going from the original 3.5" to 4". This year the jump was much bigger though – the iPhone 6 has a 4.7" screen and the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5" display. That makes it Apple's first phablet.
Apple also quietly acknowledged the failure of the iPhone 5c strategy – introduce a new phone for the lower price point instead of just dropping the price of the old one. The iPhone 5c is still alive (at $0 with contract) but tellingly there's no iPhone 6c.
The iPhone 5 was unveiled two years ago but that week proved much busier than the one we're concluding now. All three major platforms saw flagship launches – Apple showed the new iPhone, Nokia unveiled the Lumia 920 and Motorola showed the DROID RAZR HD.
The all-caps champion, the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX HD, measured just 9.3mm (not bad for 2012) and packed a massive 3,300mAh battery. That's good even for today, especially when you consider that the Moto X (2014) has only 2,300mAh in its tank. And it's 10mm thick, not to mention taller and wider than the MAXX HD.
The Lumia 920 launch deserves special attention because of the controversy that the promo campaign caused.
A demo video shot with the new PureView camera of the Lumia 920 looked too good to be true. It was meant to show the awesome prowess of the new optical stabilization module but a reflection in the video revealed that a semi-professional camera was used to record the footage.
It wasn't just the video either, the Nokia Lumia 920 was supposed to take great shots at night. Except the photos originally published by Nokia were shot with something else. Afterwards Nokia published real Lumia 920 photos though the damage was done.
An investigation was launched but this proved to be a terrible way to advertise the key feature of the new flagship. Thankfully, Nokia had learned its lesson and there were no repeats when it the time came to advertise the Lumia 1020.
Early on Google decided on a sweet (literally) naming scheme for major Android releases. We started with Cupcake and Donut but in late 2011 it was revealed that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will be replaced by Jelly Bean.
If you haven't spotted the pattern, it's various desserts in alphabetical order. Except then Google broke the pattern a bit by keeping the Jelly Bean name for versions 4.2 and 4.3. It was decided the changes they brought weren't big enough to warrant a new name.
Then came 4.4 Key Lime Pie... or should have anyway, a last minute deal with Nestle changed the name to KitKat.
Coming to the present day we have Android L. Just L, no version number, no dessert. The full name is expected to be revealed soon - we've seen teasing images with lollipops but another suggestion is Lemon Meringue Pie, fittingly a pie-based name.
The iPhone 5s and 5c last year announcement brought out the sense of humor in competitors. They poked fun at the colorful-but-plastic iPhone 5c, the gold color option of the iPhone 5s, the camera, the fingerprint reader and the perforated cases for the 5c.
Both Nokia and HTC took aim at the camera – "8MP is still 8MP" said Nokia, HTC crowed about its bigger UltraPixels. We have to wonder what Nokia would say about Apple using the 8MP camera for a fourth year in a row.
HTC stuck with a 4MP camera for a second year, so when the eight generation iPhones were announced the company didn’t mention the camera and took the gentlest of swings.
Samsung was a lot less subtle – Apple's new-found love for big screens came as a vindication for Samsung, which is largely responsible for the phablet craze it started with the original Galaxy Note. Asus also took a shot at Apple over the screen size.
For most of smartphone history there was a single application processor* but four years ago LG adopted the NVIDIA Tegra 2 and a few months after the company launched the LG Optimus 2X.
Samsung was trying to keep the pace and that same week presented the Orion chipset, which was later renamed Exynos 4210. The 4210 had a dual-core processor, though the Exynos 4 family would later grow to accommodate quad-cores too.
The successor, Exynos 5, doubled the number again and brought octa-cores. Initial difficulties in design meant that only half of the cores could be active simultaneously but last year Samsung enabled Heterogeneous Multi-Processing (HMP), the final piece of the puzzle for true octa-cores.
* note that some early phones were listed as "dual-cores" but in reality that was a second processor-core that ran the baseband, the user couldn’t interact with it in any way