The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been running for a remarkable 47 years, and has seen the likes of the VCR, CD player, plasma TV and Blu-Ray player unveiled to the public for the first time.
Frankly, nothing as important as any of those things was unveiled at this year’s show. But we did get a look at a handful of intriguing new smartphones and tablets. Here’s a rundown of some of our CES 2015 favourites.
LG G Flex 2
Remember the LG G Flex? We’ll forgive you if you don’t – truth be told there wasn’t a lot about it worth remembering. It was a perfectly serviceable handset that wasn’t worth its price tag and was completely blown away a few months after its release by the superb LG G3.
If you do remember anything about it, it will most likely be the device’s curved display. It didn’t really serve much of a purpose and we were more baffled by it than anything else, but it certainly set the device apart from the competition somewhat.
Unsurprisingly the LG G Flex 2 still boasts its predecessor’s concave display, whilst offering a handful of improvements elsewhere. In an unusual move the device’s screen size has actually been reduced from a whopping 6 inches to a more reasonable 5.5. Combine that with the step up from 720p resolution to 1080p and you have a much, much improved display.
Inside it possesses what LG claims to be the first official use of Qualcomm’s latest processor, the Snapdragon 810. It’s an onto-core chipset with 2GHz of processing speed, which is a curious move away from the original G Flex’s quad-core Krait chip setup.
The G Flex 2 has also retained its ability to¦ well, flex. You can sit on it or bend it (within reason) and it won’t crack. It also has the latest version of LG’s ‘self-healing’ back casing, which can shrug off light scratches and scuffs.
ZTE Grand X Max+
The ZTE Grand X Max+ is a phone that absolutely tries its hardest to sound big. All four parts of that name bring mind an excess of size. As such it should come as no surprise that the Grand X Max+ has a sizeable 6-inch display, which is clearly meant to be the phone’s main draw.
Unfortunately that 6-inch display is only 720p, meaning a pixels-per-inch figure of just 240 for a noticeably poor resolution. We can forgive ZTE that shortcoming though, as this a handset designed to offer size on a budget. It will cost just $200 when it hits shelves, and the rest of its specifications are really rather good for that price.
Sure the processor is only a 1.2GHz quad-core, but you get 2GB of RAM, a 13MP rear-facing and 5MP front-facing camera, and expandable storage. Our only concern would be its 3,200 mAh battery which may not last terribly long with such a vast screen to power.
Despite the low-end market nearing saturation point there’s still very few options for those craving size on a budget, so the Grand X Max+ could definitely serve a purpose once it hits shelves later this year.
Samsung Galaxy A7
Any tech event without a new announcement from Samsung isn’t a tech event at al. Naturally the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer had its fair share of new gadgets to show off, and this was the one which intrigued us most.
The Samsung Galaxy A7 is the slimmest handset the company has ever produced. At a scant 6.3mm it’s 0.6mm thinner than the iPhone 6, and 0.4mm thinner than the Samsung Galaxy A5 (the company’s previous best).
It also has a metal unibody construction, which we’re extremely excited by. We’ve discussed Samsung’s build quality issues to the point where we’ve made ourselves sick of it, so it’s a breath of fresh air to say that the Galaxy A7 really both looks and feels the part.
The rest of the specs are a fairly middle-of-the-road affair: A 5.5-inch 1080p SAMOLED display, a 1.5GHz Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and a 2,600 mAh battery.
It’s set for a February release date in Malaysia at a price of RM 1,499 (or roughly £279). That’s a tempting figure, and one that hopefully stays intact should the Galaxy A7 transition to Europe.
Hot on the heels of rivals Panasonic, Kodak is the latest photography company to reveal a new smartphone – the IM5
Curiously, though, the camera isn’t anything to blow us away. You would think that the snapper would be the main draw on a handset made by Kodak, but at 13 megapixels it really isn’t anything to write home about.
Kodak claims that the IM5 possesses ‘unique image management software’, but we’ll have to wait to find out what exactly that entails. Is there software out there that could make a 13MP camera that much better? We’re sceptical.
The rest of the device is equally underwhelming: a 720p 5-inch display, 1GB of RAM, a 1.7GHz oct-core processor and a mere 8GB of internal storage (you won’t fit many photos on that).
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1 has our favour at the moment – it’ll take some spectacular revelations from Kodak to win us over on this one.
HTC Desire 826
The Desire 826 is HTC’s ‘midrange flagship’. We weren’t really aware there was such a thing either, but after being introduced to the phone we definitely approve of the concept.
It’s a direct sequel to mid-2014’s Deisre 816, which impressed us with a strong all-round performance. It wasn’t as excellent as the One M8 of course, but it was probably our favourite mid-range device of the year.
The biggest change here is the switch to an HTC UltraPixel front-facing camera. It was rather divisive when used as the main camera on the One M8, but as a selfie-snapper it has the potential to be the best on the market.
Like the 816 before it the 826 has a sizeable 5.5-inch display, only now it’s been boosted to full 1080p HD resolution. That’s great, although we are a little worried how that will impact battery life seeing as it’s equipped with a 2,600 mAh battery.
A 1.7GHz oct-core processor should help power management. It also has dual-SIM capacity, dual front-facing BoomSound speakers, as well as 2GB of RAM.
Let’s make one thing immediately clear – the Nokia 215 probably isn’t aimed at you. That said, it’s still an incredibly important revelation. Why is that? Because it will cost £19 off-contract upon release.
Of course that is a ludicrous price for a phone, and whilst it may not run full-fledged Windows OS it is internet ready, meaning you can browse the web and use apps like Twitter and Facebook.
It uses a classic hardware button configuration with a non-touch capacitive screen, and it has a basic 0.3MP camera on the back. Microsoft boasts that it has up to 20 hours of talk time on a single charge, and has a microSD expansion slot for up to 32GB of storage.
The 215 is aimed at select markets in the Middle-East, Asia and Africa, but could conceivably find a niche in the UK for those looking for a ‘burner’ phone when attending festivals or going on holiday.
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2
What puts you off most about owning a stylus-compatible tablet? For a lot of people it’s the inconvenience of being limited to said accompanying stylus. They can be easily lost, or never seem to be at hand when you need them most.
Lenovo has found a way to bypass this within its new Yoga Tablet 2. Amazingly, you can use just about any pointy object as a fully functioning stylus with it (as demonstrated in the bizarre press image above). We say ‘just about’ anything, as the only caveat is that the object must have an electrically conductive tip. It also works best if the object is relatively narrow or pointed.
Lenovo showed off fingertips, forks, pencils, and all sorts of other objects working fully with its new ‘AnyPen’ technology. And don’t worry about scratching the display – it’s made of an ultra-durable glass.
The tablet itself has an 8-inch 1080p display and runs Windows 8.1. It should cost around £170 when it launches.