IFA is one of the largest consumer electronics trade shows in the world, and it’s also one of the most unique. The annual show, held this week in Berlin, has a knack for announcing new washing machines, sewing machines and kitchen appliances alongside the latest smartphones, smartwatches and tablets. Here at Engadget, we’re primarily focused on the latter (though who doesn’t love a free fruit smoothie sample from time to time?), and there’s a lot to cover. Let’s head straight into what new gadgets and devices we can expect to see announced at this week’s event.
Before 2011, very few companies launched smartphones or tablets at IFA. Only a handful of phone makers bothered showing up with new devices, and in most cases they were mid-range at best. That all changed after Samsung launched the Galaxy Note at the show — and turned the practice into an annual IFA tradition. Now, as the company prepares to release its fourth large-screened flagship phone in as many years, several manufacturers have followed and now use IFA as a launching pad for the latest and greatest gadgets.
Samsung has made it no secret that it plans to follow precedent and announce the next entry in the Note series, thanks to a series of teasers leading up to this week’s unveiling. It’s done a fantastic job of preventing major leaks, however; nobody knows for sure what it looks like, because the company’s managed to keep images and specs of the Note 4 close to its chest so far. Chances are, Samsung won’t be ready to ship the device for a few more weeks, which would follow the same pattern set by the Galaxy S5 this spring.
The rumor mill is pretty dry for other Samsung phones. We’ve seen recent reports that Samsung has filed a trademark with the USPTO for something called the Galaxy Note Edge, but we can’t take this as a guarantee that the company will introduce such a product at IFA. We’re also excited to see the Galaxy Alpha, which is a sleek device with a metal frame that was officially announced a couple weeks ago.
Whereas Samsung has done a fantastic job at keeping quiet about its upcoming Note phone, Sony’s the complete opposite. Unless the company has something new up its sleeve, we’ve likely seen its entire holiday roadmap. At IFA, plan on seeing the Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact: As you might expect, the former is the flagship, while the latter is a smaller version. If the rumors are true, the Z3 Compact will be just as close in specs to its larger brother as the Z1 Compact was. This is fantastic news, because it means that users who prefer smaller screens won’t be forced to endure midrange hardware.
Microsoft Devices — y’know, Nokia’s phone division — will also come to Berlin with at least one or two smartphones. The company hasn’t been shy about showing it off internally to employees, as we’ve heard several reports indicating that Stephen Elop has been proudly talking up the devices at recent town hall meetings. The higher-end of the two is the Lumia 830, which will be the most affordable PureView-branded device. If the leaks are accurate, we can expect the 830 to look similar to the 930 and come with a 10MP camera. There’ll also be a “selfie phone,” presumably the Lumia 730, which will focus on bringing a solid front-facing imaging experience to mid-tier buyers.
LG’s already announced most (if not all) of its product lineup, which includes the G3 Stylus. It’s a less-expensive version of the G3 that comes with a 5.5-inch qHD screen and — you guessed it — a stylus. We may also see the Gx2, a followup to a device that landed exclusively in Asia last year, and a couple of low-end L-series devices designed for emerging markets.
IFA will house several other manufacturers, so there will be plenty of other smartphones on display. Acer, ASUS, Alcatel OneTouch, HTC and Lenovo will all be there, so be on the lookout for some of their wares. Lenovo’s made the most noise from this group, thanks to its Vibe X2 teaser mocking Apple’s iPhone event invites. (And yes, that is indeed a lollipop in the teaser.)
Smartwatches have been around in at least some capacity for several years — it all started with Microsoft SPOT and has continued on through Sony, Pebble and others — but people didn’t seem to notice or care until Samsung came out with a “mainstream” product known as the Galaxy Gear. The Android-based watch came out alongside the Galaxy Note 3 at last year’s IFA. It’s amazing how much can change in twelve months: Samsung is showing off its sixth watch, LG will have its second on display, Sony will have two more and ASUS will join the party with its first.
Both Samsung and LG officially announced their watches last week — curiously, within just a few minutes of each other — and the two devices are completely different from each other. The Samsung Gear S is a Tizen watch that comes with a curved display and built-in SIM slot, so you can either pair it to a phone or use it as a phone. On the other hand (wrist?), LG’s newest Android Wear watch steers closer to a truly classic look thanks to its circular display. It’s called the G Watch R, and despite the clunky name, it’s got enough chops to give the Moto 360 some tough competition.
Sony hasn’t made any announcements yet, but the leaks for its watches, the Smartwatch 3 and SmartBand Talk, are just as prominent as the company’s phones. The former is a squarish Android Wear watch, while the latter is a fitness band with E-Ink display and a mic. Finally, ASUS’ first watch will be an Android Wear device called the ZenWatch, and the company will reportedly sell it for under $200, which will be aggressively priced against its competitors.
VR and everything else
A few months ago, we broke the news that Samsung was working on its very own virtual reality headset called the Gear VR, and reported that it would likely launch at IFA. Sure enough, plenty of leaked images and renders have followed; given the number and strength of the rumors, we’d be surprised if Samsung didn’t release the product at this year’s show.
There’ll also be a few tablets, but they seem like much more of an afterthought. Sony’s leaked Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is a horrible name, but looks like a good 8-inch tablet; Huawei’s got a Mate 7 tablet inbound; and per tradition, ASUS will have at least one or two tablets there.
Finally, expect to see some news on the chipset and Chromebook fronts. For the former, Intel is planning to introduce hardware — likely tablets and laptops — running its new Core M chipset based on Broadwell architecture. Additionally, Qualcomm teased a new HTC smartphone with a 64-bit processor inside. As for Chromebooks, at least a couple new models from Acer and Toshiba will pop up, although we wouldn’t be surprised to see a few other options showing up.
As always, these are simply a few products we expect to see at the show, and let’s face it — events like this hardly ever go exactly as planned. There’ll be new TVs and Smart Home products, and we’re sure a new washing machine or two. We’ll be liveblogging Samsung’s and Sony’s product launches, and we’ll be there to cover everything else that happens in Berlin, so keep our event page bookmarked!
Relations between Google and Samsung are already a little tense, but the Korean smartphone maker may just have elevated those frustrations a little further. Extending its existing deal to provide mapping data on Samsung’s Tizen wearables, Nokia (the part that wasn’t sold to Microsoft) today confirmed that it will bring HERE Maps to Android for the first time, giving Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners advanced access to its own Google Maps alternative.
After Nokia jettisoned its smartphone division, the company doubled-down on HERE, striking deals with a few of its former rivals, including Amazon, Jolla and, of course, Samsung. The app itself comes with many of the features you’d find in Google Maps, but also excels in some areas where Google doesn’t. A couple of examples include true offline maps, which are currently supported in 95 countries, and LiveSight, which lets users navigate to landmarks by following virtual signs on their screen. If you don’t own a Samsung smartphone, don’t fret, Nokia says that HERE Maps will come to other Android devices by the end of the year (note: you can still use Google Maps, even on a Samsung handset). The HERE Maps beta will make its way to Galaxy phones when the 3G-enabled Gear S smartwatch goes on sale, which is expected sometime in October.
Google and Samsung have the weirdest relationship. The on-again, off-again nature of their partnership seems perilous at the best of times and this latest move from Samsung probably doesn’t bode well. Samsung has announced that Nokia‘s HERE Maps, previously announced to be available on Samsung’s Gear wearables, will also become available exclusively to Samsung Galaxy smartphones in the form of HERE Maps for Android for free. This is at direct odds with what Google wants, who have previously told Samsung to back off with proprietary apps which try to emulate the function of Google’s own apps. And adding an app from Android’s competitor, Windows Phone poster-child Nokia, which obviously competes with Google Maps, is surely Samsung just asking for trouble.
Regardless of what happens between the tech giants, HERE Maps for Android is definitely being released, and its timed release is scheduled for when the Samsung Gear S is released in October. HERE Maps features some pretty nifty features including offline navigation and Nokia say all of HERE’s features can be utilized without an Internet connection. This is thanks to the downloading of maps onto your phone, of which there are currently more than 200 to choose from.
What do you think about Samsung’s decision to make a Nokia product exclusive for Samsung Galaxy smartphones? Let us know your thoughts.
The post HERE Maps for Android will be exclusively available to Samsung Galaxy smartphones for free appeared first on AndroidSPIN.
By design, tablets are less about work and more about play — though you’ll find some notable exceptions in our roundup of top slates for the back-to-school season. Among them are Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, which features a keyboard case that makes typing on the go bearable, and the ASUS Transformer Book, which also gives you hardware keys via a bundled dock. Of course, there are still plenty of slates made for enjoying your downtime. Click through the gallery below to see them all, and don’t forget to check out the rest of our guide!
Today, we visit Seattle’s Living Computer Museum, go hands-on with the Lumia 930, ponder remote-controlled moths, learn about Sony’s plan to reclaim “20 lost years,” and more. Read on for Engadget’s news highlights from the last 24 hours.
Filed under: Misc
Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia is now bearing fruit, but as often happens when big companies merge, there aren’t enough jobs to go around. More than 10,000 former Nokia employees are due to be laid off by the end of the year, but their legacy will live on for a time in the Lumia 930: one of the last all-Nokia creations. If you live in the UK, then you already know where to get the flagship Windows Phone, but the more important question is whether you want one. We’ve already taken a deep dive on the 930 in our review of the Lumia Icon, which is essentially the same phone, just exclusive to Verizon in the US. Let’s revisit the good, the bad and the competition.
The Lumia 930 won’t leave many wanting when it comes to raw specs, but it could leave the more design-focused buyer a tad underwhelmed. It’s a fairly inconspicuous marriage of Gorilla Glass 3, aluminum and polycarbonate, with the latter adding a dash of Lumia color to brighten up the proceedings. If you’re not a fan of Nokia’s more playful, plastic-clad models, then the 930′s utilitarian look might be right up your alley. The aluminum band spanning the perimeter of the phone is a nice reminder you’re dealing with a top-end device that deserves a dose of premium materials. A slight pillowing of the back panel makes the 930 comfortable to hold, and with a 5-inch display, it has much more agreeable dimensions than the 6-inch Lumia 1520. The smaller device is still relatively heavy at 167g (or sturdy, depending on how you look at it), but well within most people’s tolerances.
|Nokia Lumia 930|
|Dimensions||137 x 71 x 9.8mm|
|Weight||5.89 oz. (167g)|
|Screen size||5.0 inches|
|Screen resolution||1,920 x 1,080 (441 ppi)|
|Screen type||OLED ClearBlack; sunlight readability enhancement; high brightness mode; Gorilla Glass 3|
|Battery||2,420mAh Li-Ion (non-removable)|
|Rear camera||20MP Zeiss, OIS, f/2.4, wide-angle lens, AF|
|Front-facing cam||2MP sensor (1.2MP stills)|
|Video capture||1080p/30 fps (rear); 720p (front)|
|NFC||Yes (with secure element on SIM)|
LTE Bands 1, 3, 7, 8, 20
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974)|
|Miscellaneous||FM radio, GPS/GLONASS, micro-USB 2.0 HS, four-mic setup|
|Wireless Charging||Yes, Qi standard|
|Operating system||Windows Phone 8.1, Lumia Cyan|
The Lumia 930 launched already running Windows Phone 8.1, but the Icon, its US doppelganger, was built before Microsoft eased up on design requirements with the release of 8.1. As a result, the 930 is probably the last phone you’ll see with capacitive navigation keys and a physical camera button alongside the standard power and volume rocker arrangement. Undoubtedly, one of the best bits of the external hardware is the 5-inch display: a 1080p AMOLED ClearBlack panel nestled under a sheet of Gorilla Glass 3. It’s hard to fault, what with its great sunlight readability, viewing angles and color saturation.
You can check out our Windows Phone 8.1 review if you’re unfamiliar with what the latest update to Microsoft’s mobile OS brings, but the biggest features to note are the addition of a notification center and virtual assistant Cortana. The latter is still in beta in the UK, but that in itself means we shouldn’t be far from a consumer-friendly release. Aside from the two main highlights that make for a much more competitive OS, the keyboard now supports swipe-based typing, and there are various other improvements to the core experience, like a new battery saver mode and redesigned calendar app, among others.
Being a Lumia, the 930 also reaps the benefits of Nokia’s Cyan update on top of Windows Phone 8.1, which includes enhanced Camera, Creative Studio and Storyteller apps. Packing the heaviest hardware in Nokia’s lineup, the 930/Icon and 1520 get some special treatment, like the Living Images photo feature that creates multi-frame moving pictures. Then there are the improvements to sound-recording quality when shooting video, as well as color temperature, low-light capture and autofocus when using the camera in general.
On the imaging front, the 930 has a more-than-capable 20-megapixel PureView camera with f/2.4 aperture. It’s not quite on the level of the Lumia 1020, but it’s also not as inferior as the raw specs would suggest. Low-light performance is especially good, and Nokia’s Camera app allows you to tweak deeper settings like white balance, ISO and shutter speed straight from the viewfinder — things you may actually find yourself doing on a mobile with such a large sensor. While picture quality may be impressive, video is of a slightly lower standard. The overly skittish autofocus noted in our Icon review is much improved with Windows Phone 8.1, but auto-exposure compensation is still somewhat overactive. The audio that accompanies the video is basically as good as it gets, thanks to four microphones that focus on the sound in front of the lens and while canceling out what’s behind it.
There’s nothing negative to be said about the overall user experience. Windows Phone is designed to run smoothly on super-cheap hardware configurations, so with a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 and 2GB of RAM to work with, the 930 does it better than any. All that power isn’t at the expense of running time, though, and the 2,420mAh battery will keep the 930 chugging along happily for at least a full day, even with intensive use. You can also juice it up wirelessly thanks to an integrated Qi coil — every 930 comes with a wireless charger in the box, too, which isn’t the case with the Icon. Incidentally, the Icon also doesn’t support any form of LTE roaming, making it well and truly a Verizon-exclusive handset. The 930, on the other hand, works on bands 1, 3, 7, 8 and 20, which should take care of all needs, foreign and domestic.
For now, the Lumia 930 is simply the top of the pile when it comes to Windows Phone handsets, and with flagship status comes flagship pricing. Unlocked, you can currently pick up a 930 for £395 in the UK, but search around and you’ll find the Apple iPhone 5c, HTC One M8, LG G3, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 all within roughly £50 of that price. As Verizon called dibs on the Icon, it’s unlikely we’ll see US carriers ranging the 930 any time soon. That said, if you’re keen on the 930′s wider LTE frequency support, unlocked models are available on Amazon from around $580.
Chances are you might not want to pay up front for the handset in the UK, and should you journey the contract route, there’s almost no delineation in prices across the top handsets. For around £30 per month, you’re free to pick your poison. And if your poison happens to be a top-spec Windows Phone with unmatched performance, a great display and a camera that’s practically as good as they get, well, prepare to get very sick indeed.
If you’re in the market for a new handset to accompany you on campus this fall, your timing’s just right. You couldn’t ask for a better selection of choices, and plenty of the phones in the gallery below are downright budget-friendly. That said, if you can hold off for a bit, you might want to see what Apple and Samsung have in store — both companies are expected to announce new smartphones within the next month. Note that we’ve listed devices based on their unlocked and contract-free prices, though you’ll pay less up front if you sign up with a carrier. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the rest of our Back To School guide for more product picks.
A year later, and strangers still ask.
“Is that the Lumia with the crazy camera? How do you like it?”
And, after a year, I still offer up the same basic response.
“Great camera, solid phone.”
The camera, of course, is the first thing waiters and passers-by ask about. That 41-megapixel sensor is still impressive and I don’t hesitate to sing its praises. The Lumia 1020′s rear shooter is certainly the main reason I decided to return to the Windows Phone ecosystem.
There’s plenty I still love about this phone and, particularly, its camera. The xenon flash is properly powerful (and can trigger my external flashes if I wanted). Its low-light performance makes it the go-to shooter if I’m among friends in a dark restaurant or bar. Nokia’s camera software, with its suite of manual controls, is also a highlight, even if the UI can be a bit fiddly at times.
Meanwhile, the phone itself remains a solid performer, dutifully carrying out nearly all the tasks I need from a smartphone. While the still camera gets most of the attention, the 1020′s audio-recording chops are also astounding. Clips taken at live concerts have clear, full sound, whereas other smartphone mics seem easily overwhelmed. The recent 8.1 update also brings some great new features I’m still exploring.
You knew that was coming, right? As much I’ve enjoyed the past year, it hasn’t exactly been a trouble-free experience. That feature-packed camera software I love so much can take ages to load on the 1020′s Snapdragon S4 Plus-based hardware.
And by “ages,” I mean six to nine seconds from icon press to shutter snap, which is plenty of time for impromptu moments to come and go. For comparison, a colleague’s HTC One M7 can snap a pic within three seconds and my wife’s Nexus 4 manages similar times. Microsoft’s default camera app loads quicker, but I prefer the manual options in Nokia’s offering. Of course, camera specs and apps are different among phones, but the main takeaway is my 1020 can take impressively detailed images — if I’m willing to wait.
Beyond the sluggish responsiveness, I’m not even sure I need such a capable shooter on my phone anymore. Two years ago when the 808 PureView first piqued my interest, my main shooter was a bulky Nikon DSLR that weighed close to 1kg with a battery and lens. Having a crazy-good camera attached to my phone had a lot of appeal at that point in my life. These days, my Fuji X-E2 weighs a bit less and is much more discreet. In short, my phone’s picture-taking abilities aren’t quite as important now that my main camera isn’t such a chore to carry around.
And despite the ongoing ecosystem improvements and additions found in Windows Phone 8.1, there are still a few missing features and apps I would love to see for both work (HipChat) and play (Fujifilm’s WiFi image-transfer app, a whole list of games).
Overall, though, I’ve few regrets one year later. Having been an early adopter of WP7, I knew what I was getting myself into by picking up the Lumia 1020. I got a solid smartphone that’s capable of excellent image and audio capture, all wrapped in a can’t-miss-it shade of banana yellow polycarbonate. I’ll still be closely examining the upcoming range of smartphones to see if one of them makes more sense for me now, but these past 12 months have been time well spent.
You won’t have to wait long if you’re hoping for a new round of Windows Phones with powerful cameras. Microsoft has just sent out a save-the-date notice that asks the media if it’s ready for “more face time” at a Berlin event on September 4th, just ahead of the IFA technology show. There’s a Lumia 1020-style camera module not-so-subtly woven into the text, too. While there are no dead giveaways in the teaser, it’s not hard to figure out the references. Our hunch is that “face time” is an allusion to “Superman” (aka the Lumia 730), the selfie-oriented Windows Phone that leaked just a few days ago. The module is slightly more cryptic, but it might be hinting at the aluminum-clad, 13-megapixel “Tesla” (Lumia 830) that reportedly surfaced last month. We’re headed to IFA, so you should expect to hear much, much more about any new Lumias within a few weeks.
Like Samsung, Nokia’s smartphone strategy has always been focused around choice. Sometimes this results in products that are so very similar that it’s impossible to tell the difference. That’s not an issue with Nokia’s Lumia 520, the ultra-budget device that was totally swallowed in the shadow of the 620. Sharif Sakr swaddled the phone in derision, criticizing its poor performance, bad camera, unevenly-lit display and poor build quality. For many of you, we imagine you wound up getting this handset for price reasons alone, so the question that we have to ask is simple: what did you like, what did you hate, and what would you have changed? You can shoot the breeze in our forum, or why not write a review of the phone yourself?