ipad-5Apple is in the news again this week (when aren't they?) as speculation starts to circulate about possible design and spec details for the next version of the iPad, the iPad 5. Depending on what you read, some reports reckon that it will be available in the next few months whereas others believe it is likely to be released in the Autumn. There is more consensus regarding the iPad 5’s specifications – it’s expected to be styled along the lines of the iPad mini with a 9.7-inch display which will be more efficient as well as lighter and thinner than the iPad 4.

Rumours are also aplenty regarding the iPhone 5S too, which will apparently look very similar to the current iPhone 5 but is expected to include a new Sony 13 megapixel camera (there are digital SLRs that don't offer that level of pixels) and a bigger flash. A release date of July is being anticipated by some in the industry – watch this space.

Talking of iPhones, if you’re one of the lucky iPhone 5 users on a 4GEE tariff, you're going to get a nice surprise.  That surprise is the ability to access EE’s new ‘visual voicemail’ service which will enable you to display all of your voicemail messages at the same time without having to dial a number. This great new free service allows you to listen to your voicemails in any order you like as well as enabling you to control the playback of your voice messages using the play and pause buttons. Existing iPhone 5 EE customers can activate this service by text and any new customers can get this set up in-store or online when they sign up for a new plan.

Samsung-GALAXY-Xcover-2-Front-BackTalking of surprises, Samsung took a few people by surprise this week by unveiling details of their Xcover 2 a few weeks ahead of the industry’s popular Mobile World Congress. The robust handset is aimed at those who love the outdoors who need a practical and fairly indestructible phone which has all the usual smartphone assets.

As well as being sand and dust-proof, the Xcover 2 is impressively water-resistant in shallow water (up to 1 metre in depth) for a period of up to 30 minutes and can be used for underwater photos.  It comes pre-loaded with Google Maps, has enhanced GPS, an LED flash which can be used as a torch and 570 hours worth of battery capacity. It will also tailor make a fitness work-out for you, if exploring the great outdoors isn’t quite enough, with its Cardio Trainer Pro app as well as featuring a 4-inch display, a 1GHz dual-core processor and 5 megapixel camera.

On the subject of Samsung, we have more on the eagerly awaited Samsung Galaxy S4 with a release date expected in mid-April and its official launch anticipated in March at a dedicated Samsung Unpacked event. Following on from our blog last week, we have some more snippets on the S4’s spec so expect to see a 4.9-inch full HD 1080p screen, a powerful eight-core processor and superior features including 2GB of RAM and a second camera, alongside the main 13-megapixel camera, for video calling. We’ll update you with more details on the S4 as we get it.

Also aiming to be indestructible and also sharing an ‘X’ in its name is the so called ‘X Phone’ rumoured to be the latest smartphone offering from Google. Claimed to be the most advanced Android handset around, sources expect it to boast a ‘bendy’ screen similar to the one Samsung recently unveiled. Google are apparently concentrating their efforts on developing super-strong mobile phone hardware which will withstand being broken when dropped or accidentally trodden on. They are also keen to improve battery life and are investigating the possibility of wireless charging capabilities so charging your handset will be as quick and easy as accessing the web.