Tech industry veterans will tell you of a boring electronics show they used to attend in Cannes. In time it came to be called 3GSM World Congress and was still boring. Executives from Siemens and Nokia met in back rooms in scenes straight out of Mad Men. Then, the smartphone hit. Phones, tablets, now watches. The show moved to Barcelona, got a makeover and is now the place to go. We bring you the best from this year’s show.
Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge
Running the latest and greatest processors, both the phones come with eye-popping 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED screens which in the Edge’s case slightly wrap around the phone. The two edges that are thus formed are nothing more than a gimmick as they are supposed to be used for showing different colours for notifications from different contacts. Gimmick or not, the edges succeed in producing the best looking Samsung phone ever. Both the phones will be available in black, white and gold along with blue for the S6 and emerald green for the S6 Edge. Both the phones have a fingerprint sensor and so come with Samsung Pay, the mobile wallet that lets users pay in shops with their phones. To top it all off, the phones will run a restrained version of Samsung’s take on the Android Lollipop and will come with free Microsoft apps. The next big iPhone 6 rip-off is here. OK, that was a little unfair. The next big cross between a Galaxy S5 and an iPhone 4 is here. For the last two iterations of its flagship Galaxy S series, Samsung tried to go the original design route and it did not work out so well. That is probably why with the Galaxy S6, it has chosen to follow the strategy that made it immensely successful in the first place. Rip-off Apple while adding some totally useless gimmicks. While the Galaxy S6 takes care of the former, the Galaxy S6 Edge takes care of the later. Don’t get us wrong. They are beautiful phones.
HTC One M9 with Grip
HTC, the Taiwanese smartphone maker, is famous for making exquisite-looking metal bodied phones that are not copies of Apple products. With the M7 and M8, the company has found a design that has quickly become one of the most iconic designs in the history of the smartphone. Its latest phone, M9 takes the design to the next level with a full metal body that has been double anodised to give two different finishes and colours to the chassis which is given a ‘jewellery grade’ finish using a thin brushed aluminium finish. Running on the latest processors with 3GB of RAM, the M9 does away with its predecessors camera scheme, instead opting for a simpler 20 megapixel sensor on the back while bringing the Ultrapixels camera to the front to make a formidable selfie camera. The company’s version of Android Lollipop, Sense 7 UI gets a complete overhaul to reflect the material design philosophy of Google.
The Huawei Watch
The newest watch from the Chinese giant Huawei, called the Huawei Watch, premiered in Barcelona is, at least not ugly. It has a circular display, leaving aside the discussion about how suitable circular displays are for smart watches. Unlike the Moto 360 which boasted but in fact did not have a 360-degree display, the Huawei Watch indeed comes with a circular display. A 1.4-inch OLED display to be precise. However awkward it may be to get and read Android notifications which are cut at the edges due to the circularity, the watch is capable of showing time using some 40-plus nicely-done watch faces. With the ability to change straps—choices include a Milanese loop and a leather strap among others—Huawei Watch is the clearest indication yet that Apple is changing industry’s thinking about smart watches.
Lenovo Vibe Shot
The latest entrant in the Chinese smartphone that looks like an iPhone is the Lenovo Vibe Shot. It looks eerily like an iPhone 5S. The Vibe Shot is either a camera dressed up like a phone, or a phone dressed up like a camera. Accordingly, there is a 16-megapixel camera on the back and a dedicated physical camera button rare nowadays for a phone. The button has a 2-stage shutter release so users can activate autofocus when the button is pressed halfway. Another dedicated physical button is a slider that lets the users choose between a smart mode and a pro mode. Choosing either will completely change the camera UI. In the smart mode, it acts like a typical camera on a smartphone doing everything on automatic, but when switched to the promode, the users will get access to controls that make professional photographers go weak in the knees. Change white balance, exposure, ISO level, or jump into the settings to go very photography geeky. The camera on the back is supported by a tri-color flash and optical image stabilisation so shots are super clear even in very low light conditions. The screen is a standard 5-inch affair, the Android skin looks like a rainbow coughed up by a unicorn.