Another month, another range of new devices released outside of the UK. October’s highlights include a new flagship phablet from Phillips – the first device from the firm to come with a qHD resolution – and a big battery-powered beast from Motorola in the US.
Meanwhile, retail innovation is still running rampant in Asia as Indian manufacturer Xolo unveils the cheapest smartphone to carry a fingerprint scanner. Not to be left behind, LG graced its domestic market of South Korea with its first smartphone to come with its own Nuclun processor.
[alert type=alert-blue]Phillips I966 Aurora[/alert]
If you thought Phillips wasn’t big on smartphones, think again. The arrival of the Phillips I966 Aurora in China proves that it can manufacture flagships to compete with the likes of Samsung and Sony.
The smartphone is the first from the firm to sport a quad HD resolution, that’s 2560 x 1440 pixels on a large 5.5 inch display, to be precise. Overall, that equals a stunning 534 ppi, a big draw for visual purists – currently only a handful of devices carry qHD displays, including the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
Unlike with the Phillips W6618 (which came with a massive 5,300 mAh battery), the I966 Aurora isn’t reliant upon the one big feature. In fact, its specs combine to make it an all-round quality device. Inside the smartphone you will find a 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB RAM, 32GB storage and a more proportionate 3,000 mAh battery.
In terms of the camera, Phillips made the wise move of collaborating with Sony on a robust 20.7MP rear-lens. The Dutch manufacturer also has its ear to the ground when it comes to industry trends, as the front-facing snapper boasts 8MP and, dare we say it, could be referred to as a selfie camera – it’s also more powerful than the front lenses found on similar selfie-centric devices, such as the Sony Xperia C3 and Nokia Lumia 735.
Overall, it seems that Phillips hasn’t managed to put a foot wrong. But, wait a second, what’s that – the device doesn’t run Android? No, there’s no way it could bypass Google’s popular OS. In fact, Phillips has done exactly that. The firm has partnered with the Chinese retail behemoth Alibaba to carry its in-house YunOS, which is a forked but incompatible version of Android with cloud-based features. Alibaba created the YunOS to challenge Android’s dominant position in the Chinese market, hinting that the Phillips I966 Aurora may only be released in China. The phablet is currently available for 3,699 Yuan (£371).
[alert type=alert-blue]Xolo Q2100[/alert]
Indian smartphone manufacturer Xolo wants to teach the big guns like Samsung and Apple a thing or two about so-called premium features. The company has introduced a fingerprint sensor (a feature usually reserved for flagship handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Apple iPhone 6) to its new mid-range smartphone; the Q2100.
Elsewhere the Android handset’s specs are a mixed bag. it comes with a 5.5 inch HD display made of sturdy Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Inside the device is a rather average 1.3 GHz MediaTek chipset, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage and a 2,800 mAh battery. The camera continues its focus on standard specs, with an 8MP rear lens and a 2MP front snapper. All that for just INR 13,499 (£135).
Still, the big deal here is the fingerprint sensor, which brings with it an added layer of security and protection to the mid-range sector. With the recent launch of the slightly cheaper Android One range in India, it will be interesting to see whether other manufacturers – including Google’s partners Micromax and Karbonn – roll out the feature on future affordable devices. If so, the Xolo Q2100 could be heralded as a trendsetter.
[alert type=alert-blue]LG G3 Screen[/alert]
Following from the launch of the LG G3 Stylus in August, LG has revealed another variant of its flagship phablet. At 5.9 inches, this particular device is even larger than the original G3 but suffers from a similar downgrade as was applied to the G3 Stylus. Consequently, the LG G3 Screen doesn’t come with a qHD display, instead it’s simply full HD.
The main talking point for the smartphone is its LG-developed Nuclun SoC chipset, which features an octa-core processor based on ARM’s big.LITTLE core management technology. Rumours surrounding the Korean manufacturer’s chipset are troubling, with sources claiming it can’t handle a qHD display and will therefore be discontinued in the future.
In terms of its remaining specs, LG has wisely retained the 13MP rear-facing camera with laser auto focus and the 2.1MP front lens. It also comes with a similar 2GB RAM, 32GB storage, Android KitKat 4.4 and a 3,000 mAh battery.
It’s a good strategy to launch the large smartphone in the phablet-craving Asian market, especially since the LG G3 is already a bestseller in South Korea. The G3 Screen is also available in LG’s home country for 803,000 won (£472).
[alert type=alert-blue]Verizon Droid Turbo[/alert]
Motorola has been extremely busy manufacturing flagship devices for other firms of late. Hot off the launch of the Google Nexus 6, it has now teamed up with US network operator Verizon on the Droid Turbo.
Although it’s not quite as large as the new 6-inch Nexus, the Droid Turbo still boasts a 5.2-inch quad HD AMOLED display. Rounding out the smartphone are a series of solid specs across the board, including a 2.7 GHz Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor (like we saw on the new Samsung Galaxy Note 4), an Adreno 420 GPU, 3GB RAM and 32GB storage.
The smartphone has a sleek Kevlar back and is available in red and black. As we’ve come to expect from Motorola, the Droid Turbo also offers unbeatable battery power. The new smartphone packs a gargantuan 3,900 mAh battery, which Verizon boasts can last up to 48 hours on a full charge. It’s a beast of a device that will unfortunately remain in the US. It is available on contract from Verizon from $200 for the 32GB model or $250 for the 64GB model.
[alert type=alert-blue]Huawei Honor Holly[/alert]
Despite Google’s Android upper hand in Asia (its Android One devices will no doubt get OS updates before others), Huawei has entered the ring with its latest entry-level Android smartphone; the Huawei Holly.
The new device is part of the Honor range, which also include the Honor 6 (which launched in Europe this week) and the Honor C3. The Holly is lower down the scale in comparison to those handsets but still offers quality specs for its price point.
The Android smartphone features a 5-inch 720p HD display, a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB storage, an 8MP rear camera and 2MP front camera. As is the case with Huawei handsets, it carries the firm’s EmotionUI, which gives Android KitKat a bright, clean design upgrade.
Priced at an ultra-cheap INR 6,999 (£71), the smartphone is currently being sold via Indian e-retailer Flipkart. Its main competitor will no doubt be the similarly priced Xiaomi Redmi 1s, which continues to sell like hotcakes online.