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The tech at IFA: smartwatches, tablets, and more phones

Tom Pritchard Gadgets & Apps Leave a Comment

IFA has been going on for another day, and with it come a host of new mobile announcements. So today we’re looking at the new tablets, smartwatches, and phones that has been announced in Berlin over the past couple of days.

Moto G 2014

The original Moto G has become Motorola’s best selling smartphone of all time, so it’s hardly surprising that Motorola has gone and unveiled a sequel that will be released sometime next month. The Moto G (2014) will go for slightly more that the Moto G’s £89, costing £145 off contract. The specs aren’t really any different from the vast majority of other smartphones on the market (1.2GHz Snapdragon processor and 1GB of RAM), but that’s not exactly a bad thing. The big disadvantage is that this version isn’t 4G compatible, and it really should be. It’s 2014 for crying out loud.

That being said, it does come with 16GB of expandable storage, a 2,070 mAh battery, Android 4.4.4 (KitKat), and is expected to receive an upgrade to Android L once that version has been released. I suppose for those, and the price, it’s not a bad deal. 3G isn’t so bad is it?

Moto X 2014

Significantly bigger than last year’s Moto X, this year’s version has a 5.2-inch 1080p AMOLED display, and has some of the narrowest bezels of any touchscreen phone on the market. It also comes packing a 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, a 2,300 mAh battery, and either 16 or 32GB  of internal storage. It also comes with stock Android, meaning you’ll be able to get hold of the latest Android updates as soon as they arrive.

The major issue with the Moto X is that it still doesn’t support microSD expansion, and for a flagship device not to include that is a serious shame. We do, however, know what the price will be. The Moto X will cost £419 off contract and will be available at the end of September. While that’s not as cheap as, say, the Google Nexus, it’s still slightly cheaper than most flagship devices.

Moto 360

Motorola’s first smartwatch was also the first to be revealed to have a circular watchface, and that has had a lot of people very excited. It comes with a heart-rate monitor that’s working constantly and logging your activity with Google Fit. The wireless charging also means you dont have to worry about plugging it in with a cable all the time.

The problem is that the 360 doesn’t have an ambient mode, which means it’s on or its off. Add that to the fact that it has a power guzzling LCD display it doesn’t bode well for the devices battery life. Motorola have said that it should last all day, but ideally you’d want something that lasted a bit longer and gave you a bit of security. Oh and the very bottom of the display gets cut off for no reason, which is irritating as hell.

Lenovo Tab S8

This would be a perfect tablet for someone who is looking for something cheap and basic, the 8-inch tablet has a 1,920 x 1,200 resolution display, 2GB of RAM, a quad-core Intel Atom processor, a seven hour battery life, and runs on Android 4.4.4 (KitKat)

While the battery life could have been better, the fact that this costs $200 (about £120 directly converted) means it’s really rather cheap option. For that price you could do an awful lot worse.

Huawei Ascend G7

With a design clearly mimicking that of the HTC One M8, the Huawei Ascend is a 5.5-inch device with a 720p display, a 64-bit 1.2GHz quad-core processor, a 13MP camera, a voice activated front camera, 4G, a 3,000 mAh battery, and Android 4.4.2 (KitKat).

Disappointing as the screen resolution may be, this is a surprisingly well-speced phone, especially considering its £250 price tag. Unfortunately we can’t compare the RAM and storage specs to the competition because we don’t know what they are yet. Similarly we don’t kow if it will have microSD expansion or not, and two of those features could be deal breakers for a number of people — regardless of how good the price is.

Sony Smartwatch 3

Despite what the name suggests, the Smartwatch 3 is actually Sony’s fourth smartwatch, and the first one to opt for Android Wear as the operating system of choice. That’s handy because it means users then have access to ever increasing number of Android Wear apps. It’s got a 1.6-inch LCD display, a 1.2 GHz quad-core A7 processor, and a “transflexive display” which boosts contrast levels in harsh lighting, meaning you should always be able to see what’s going on on your screen. It also has a two day battery life, built-in GPS, and with a price somewhere around £160 it isn’t too expensive.

The major concern here is that its still a rectangular 70s-esque watchface, and while it may be practical for some things, it is a rather clunky design that most smartwatch makes ere moving away from.

Samsung Gear S

This is the smartwatch that a lot of people have been very excited about, namely because it’s a watch with 3G capabilities. Essentially the Gear S is exciting because its a smartwatch that doesn’t have to be within close proximity to a smartphone to achieve its full capabilities. Not only will the Gear S be able to connect to the internet, it will also be able to receive calls and text messages from your phone when they are nowhere near each other.

The real downside here is that the Gear S requires one of 20 Galaxy devices to activate it’s potential in the first place, and software updates can only be achieved by linking it up to one of the same few devices again. It’s irritating that that is the case, rather than being a completely standalone device. We also don’t know the price, which is very annoying.

Asus ZenWatch

While most smartwatches have been switching the 70s-esque rectangular watchface for a sleeker circular watchface. Not Asus as the ZenWatch plainly shows. Coming with a 1.63-inch AMOLED display, a 1.2 GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, a 369 mAh battery, a heart-rate monitor and IP55 water resistance which means that while it won’t last underwater it is showerproof. It also uses Android Wear as the basis of its software, but Asus has opted to layer a significant amount of its homebrewed software on top.

The problem with it is that it costs $260 (£159 before taxes and localisation), which is an awful lot for a smartwatch, espeically one that looks a bit clunky and rectangular without any defining features. Essentially this is a Samsung Gear Live, just more expensive.

LG G Watch R

LG’s second Android Wear smartwatch, and the first to have the very nice looking circular display. The G Watch R comes with a 1.3-inch OLED display with 245ppi, a 410 mAh battery that promises a day and a half of power in ambient mode, waterproofing, a heart-rate monitor, Google Now voice control, and the usual smartphone connectivity.

One issue with the G Watch R is that, unlike the Sony Smartwatch 3, it doesn’t have GPS built in, though it can piggyback off the GPS on your phone. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that if you want to use any GPS specific functions you’re restricted to having it connected to your smartphone at the time. Then again, most smartwatchs need to be connected to a phone to do very much at all, so its sort of a moot point.

We don’t know the price yet, but LG has revealed that it will cost more than the G Watch’s £159.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

The Z3 Tablet Compact is essentially a larger version of the Xperia Ze smartphone that it was released alongside, coming with a number of similar features like IP65/68 waterproofing, PS4 Remote Play, 3GB of Ram, and a quad-core 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor. It does have a, larger, 4,500 mAh battery though, which is always useful.

There’s not really much we can say that’s bad about it, Sony hasn’t released any pricing info so we can’t compare it to the competition. What I an say is that Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is a bit of a mouthful, would it be easier to skip the ‘Compact’? Unless we have a different, larger, Xperia Z3 tablet coming out soon it’s a bit unnecessary.

By Tom Pritchard | September 5th, 2014