IFA is Europe's big annual gadget show, and it increasingly plays host for new phone announcements. We're expecting news from Sony, Samsung, Lenovo, ZTE, and more. We're in Berlin all week bringing you in-depth hands-on reports.
IFA is Europe's big consumer tech show. Every year we head over to Berlin to check out everything in person. This year, we're also honoring the standouts with our Best of IFA award. This year, five products really caught our eye.
The LG X mach is all about raw performance. This phone has a 1.8GHz processor and blazing fast CAT9 LTE. Here are our first impressions.
The LG X max handset's claim to fame is its huge 5.5-inch screen. This rather vanilla-looking smartphone is meant for unending video streaming. Here are our initial impressions.
LG announced the X series devices earlier this year, but IFA afforded us the first opportunity to take a look at LG's mid-range devices. The X power packs a huge 4,100mAh battery for extended use.
Huawei churned out two mid-range handsets in Berlin, the Nova and Nova Plus. The phones share most features, but the Plus is a bit bigger thanks to the larger screen and battery. Here are first impressions of Huawei's new hardware.
ZTE aimed a shrink-ray at the Axon 7 and created the Axon 7 Mini. This smaller, more hand-friendly phone is nearly as powerful as its larger predecessor. Here are our first impressions of the Axon 7 Mini.
ZTE today showed off the Axon 7 Mini, a smaller version of its flagship handset. Like the original, the Mini features an aluminum unibody chassis in silver or gold with 2.5D glass on the front and a fingerprint sensor on the back. The screen drops from 5.5-inch quad HD to 5.2-inch full HD, and the battery decreases from 3,250mAh to 2,750mAh. Similarly, the Snapdragon 820 processor of the Axon 7 is replaced with a Snapdragon 617 in the Mini, which also drops the RAM to 3 GB and the storage to 32 GB. Last, the Mini has a 16-megapixel main camera where the Axon 7 has a 20-megapixel camera. The Mini carries over the Axon 7's Dolby stereo speakers, Quick Charge battery, USB-C port, dual SIM tray, 8-megapixel selfie camera, and radio configuration. The Axon 7 Mini will be priced at $299 Euros and will go on sale in October. ZTE says the phone will be made available unlocked to U.S. buyers via its web site.
Sony's newest flagship-class device is the Xperia XZ. This phone builds on the design and features we saw in the Xperia X earlier this year and makes strides with the camera and video camera tools. Here are our first impressions.
Sony's compact flagship manages to pack a lot of technology into its tiny frame. The most compelling feature for most potential buyers is likely to be the 23-megapixel camera. Here are Phonescoop's first impressions of the Sony Xperia X Compact.
Sony today showed off the Xperia XZ smartphone, a high-end follow-up to the Xperia X series devices from earlier this year. For the XZ, Sony said it concentrated on improving the camera and video camera performance, as well as further refining its design language. The XZ features what Sony calls the "loop" design, which relies on a seamless polycarbonate frame, glass display, and metal back plate. The screen measures 5.2 inches with includes 1080p full HD resolution and Gorilla Glass 4. The XZ is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor with Adreno 510 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The main camera has a 23-megapixel Exmor RS sensor with a variety of technologies added to help the phone take better pictures. It uses triple image-sensing and predictive hybrid autofocus to capture sharp images. It relies on electronic image stabilization and delivers 5x digital zoom. The video camera's SteadyShot feature measures 5-axises of movement and captures 4K video. The 13-megapixel selfie camera has an aperture of f/2.0 and a wide-angle 22mm lens. Other specs include CAT9 LTE; 2,900mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 and Qnovo adaptive charging; high-resolution stereo audio capture and playback; and IP68 certification for protection against water and dust. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and will come in forest blue, black, and platinum. The Sony Xperia XZ will be sold to U.S. consumers unlocked beginning October 23. Pricing was not disclosed.
Sony today revealed the Xperia X Compact, a smaller but still powerful Android handset. The X Compact is similar to the XZ in many respects, particularly the camera and design. The X Compact uses Sony's "loop" design, which relies on a seamless polycarbonate frame, glass display, and polycarbonate rear plate. The screen measures 4.6 inches with 720p HD resolution and Sony's TriLuminos processing for clarity. The X Compact is powered by a Snapdragon 650 processor with Adreno 510 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The main camera has a 23-megapixel Exmor RS sensor with Sony's triple image-sensing, predictive hybrid autofocus, and electronic image stabilization to capture sharp images. It delivers 5x digital zoom. The video camera's SteadyShot feature measures 5-axises of movement and captures full HD video. The 5-megapixel selfie camera has an aperture of f/2.0 and a wide-angle 22mm lens. Other specs include CAT6 LTE; 2,700mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 and Qnovo adaptive charging; high-resolution stereo audio capture and playback. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and will come in mist blue, black, and white. The Sony Xperia X Compact will be sold unlocked online beginning September 25. Pricing was not disclosed.
Huawei today announced the Nova and Nova Plus handsets, two mid-range smartphones that feature curved metal designs, diamond-cut bezels, and 2.5D glass for a seamless in-hand experience. The devices share almost all features, expect for the screen, battery, and camera. Both run on a Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The Nova phones include a rear-mounted fingerprint reader that doubles as a trackpad and can be used to scroll through pictures as well as answer calls. A memory card slot accepts microSD cards. The devices have 8-megapixel f/2.2 selfie cameras with a "beautiful skin" tool to remove blemishes. Another tool called Knuckle Sense can automatically put the photo editor in cropping mode with the tap of a knuckle. The software includes a night reading setting that filters out blue light. The Nova has a 5-inch screen, 12-megapixel main camera, 3,030mAh battery and compact body, while the Nova Plus has a 5.5-inch screen, 16-megapixel camera, 3,340mAh battery, and larger profile. The phones will be sold in gray, silver, gold, and pink. The Nova will cost 399 Euros, while the Nova Plus will cost $429 Euros. It's unlikely either phone will be sold in the U.S.
HTC today announced the One A9s, a less-expensive follow up to last year's A9. The A9s is a mid-range device that makes use of HTC's signature metal chassis design, but it dumbs down the specs a bit. The phone features a 5-inch 720p HD LCD screen and an octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 processor with 2 or 3 GB of RAM and 16 or 32GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel BSI sensor with an aperture of f/2.2 and RAW photo support. The front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with beauty mode and full HD video capture. Other specs include a 2,300mAh battery, Bluetooth 4.2, fingerprint sensor, BoomSound for the 3.5mm headset jack, and CAT6 LTE. HTC said the One A9s will be priced affordably. It will be sold worldwide, including in the U.S.
Lenovo today said it will offer unlocked GSM variants of the Moto Z and Moto Z Play handsets later this fall. Pre-orders will kick off on September 15, with availability expected in early October. The Moto Z will cost $700 and the Moto Play will cost $450. Both devices will be compatible with the Moto Mods ecosystem of attachable modules.
Here are our first impressions of the mid-range Lenovo Moto Z Play Droid smartphone and the new True View camera mod from Hasselblad.
Hasselblad and Motorola today announced the Hasselblad True Zoom mod for the Moto Z Play Droid. Like other Moto Mods, the Hasselblad True Zoom attaches to the rear of the Z Play via magnets. The Hasselblad is a full camera that covers and replaces the Z Play's built-in camera. The True Zoom has its own 12-megapixel sensor with 10x optical zoom lens and optical image stabilization for photos. It can capture full HD video with electronic image stabilization. The mod includes a grip for easy holding, a hardware zoom dial, and physical shutter button. Moreover, the Hasselblad True Zoom has a xenon flash for brighter lighting. Last, the Hasselblad True Zoom has a unique camera application for the Z Play that allows it to shoot in RAW mode. The mod will be compatible with the Z Play Droid out of the box. Motorola says the Z Droid and Z Droid Force will receive a software update on or about September 15 that adds compatibility with the mod. The Hasselblad True Zoom will be available in the U.S. for pre-order starting September 8 and in Verizon stores September 15 for $249.99. For a limited time, when you buy a Moto Mod, Verizon is offering 50% off another Mod of equal or lesser value. The Hasselblad True Zoom will also be sold on Motorola.com for $299.
Motorola today announced the Z Play Droid, a more affordable Android smartphone that is compatible with the company's Moto Mods system of modular attachments. The Z Play Droid is almost indistinguishable from the Z Force Droid: it has a thick profile with a metal frame and glass front panel. The device scales back specs in order to reduce the price. The Z Play Droid has a 5.5-inch full HD screen. It is powered by a Snapdragon 625 processor with eight cores clocked at 2 GHz. The processor is joined by 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The Z Play Droid includes a 16-megapixel main camera with laser autofocus and an aperture of f/2.0, while a wide-angle, 5-megapixel selfie camera with LED flash is around front. Like the Z Droid and Z Force Droid, the Z Play Droid has a fingerprint reader, water-repellant coating, and USB-C port. The Z Play, however, adds a 3.5mm headset jack. The Z Play is the first of the new Droids to be compatible with the new Hasselblad True Zoom camera module, which offers 10x optical zoom. The Moto Z Play Droid will be available in the U.S. beginning September 8 at Motorola.com and at Verizon for $17 per month on a Verizon device payment plan. The full retail price is $408.
Samsung is back with a new Tizen-based wearable. The Gear S3 takes last year's model and makes numerous refinements. Here are our first impressions of Samsung's latest smartwatch.
Samsung today announced the Gear S3 smartwatch, a Tizen-based wearable that will be available in several configurations. The Gear S3 will be sold in Classic and Frontier styles. The Classic style has a classier, more conservative look, while the Frontier has a thicker, more sport-centric look. Both the Classic and Frontier will be available as Bluetooth-only models, or with LTE for phone-free calling and data syncing. The Gear S3 features a 46mm face with 1.3-inch round display. An Exynos 7270 processor powers the phone and is accompanied by 768MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage. The battery has been enlarged to 380mAh and Samsung claims the wearable will provide three to four days of uptime. Software refinements are extensive. Tizen OS 2.3.1 brings with it new health and fitness capabilities that are aided by a bevy of sensors, including altimeter, barometer, speedometer, and GPS. The wearable can automatically recognize and track walks, hikes, runs, bike rides, and rowing. An SOS function allows owners to secretly call an emergency contact and send their location data. The device can stream music over LTE or WiFi (Spotify) and pair with Bluetooth headphones for music/calls. The watch offers more options for the always-on display, expanding the color palette from just eight to an unlimited number. Last, the Gear S3 adds full support for Samsung Pay, including NFC and MST for mobile payments. The Gear S3 goes on sale during the fourth quarter. Samsung plans to release an updated Tizen SDK to developers so they may prepare their apps ahead of time.
Asus today announced the ZenWatch 3, its third-generation Android Wear-based smartwatch. The ZenWatch 3 is the first round wearable from Asus and features a rose gold accent surrounding the watch face. The smartwatch is made from stainless steel and comes in gunmetal, silver, and rose gold. The chassis measures 9.95mm thick and Asus says it is strong enough to withstand the rigors of daily use. The watch will be sold with leather or plastic bands. There are three buttons around the exterior edge for controlling the watch, one of which can be customized to launch user-defined actions. Asus says the ZenWatch 3 will have more than 50 watch faces preloaded, many of which support complications, such as the weather, step counts, or notifications. A separate app will allow owners to design their own watch faces. A new health-focused app is better at counting steps and can remind people to move after long periods of inactivity. Last, Asus claims the ZenWatch 3 offers two days of battery life and can take advantage of rapid charging to reach a 60% charge in just 15 minutes. More details are yet to be announced.
Qualcomm today provided a more complete picture of the Snapdragon 821, a revision to its top-of-the-line processor. The company already explained how the 821 boosts the performance of the SoC with higher clock speeds and other refinements. Today, Qualcomm revealed that the processor includes support for the Snapdragon VR SDK, which will let developers target Google's Daydream VR platform on devices with the 821. The processor adds native support for dual-phase autofocus for faster camera performance under a variety of lighting conditions, as well as extended-range laser auto-focus for locking in focus quickly over greater distances. The 821 will also support Android 7 Nougat with additional security measures. Qualcomm says the Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe will be the first premium smartphone to ship with the Snapdragon 821.