IFA 2014 - this year's highlights
The consumer electronics industry descended on Berlin for the IFA 2014 conference yesterday, showing off a slew of new gadgets like smartphones, tablets and wearables.
While we're only a couple of days into the trade show, which runs until 10 September, it's already given us plenty to mull over – which Android device will throw down the gauntlet to the iPhone 6? Who will dominate the mid-range market? And whose smartwatch is the fanciest?
Read on for our roundup of the event so far, as well as our opinions on what looks most likely to make waves in the mobile space.
Samsung has been accused of not being very inventive as of late, with even the well-received Galaxy S5 criticised by some over its design and lack of unique features. Happily, however, the South Korean company has managed to create a massive buzz at IFA this year.
For one, it announced the Galaxy Note Edge – a new addition to the Note family of phablets that changes the formula in quite a big way. The device has a display that wraps around on the right hand side, providing an extra 160 pixels of space in which users can store shortcuts and widgets, as well as check notifications while the screen is locked.
Samsung also showed off the Gear VR, a virtual reality headset that affixes to the Note 4 to deliver an 3D, 360-degree viewing experience for video and games. It'd be easy to write this off as a gimmick were it not developed in collaboration with Oculus, a company widely regarded to be at the forefront of virtual reality research.
Microsoft's efforts to expand the reach of its Windows Phone ecosystem are in evidence at IFA this year. The company, fresh from swallowing up Nokia's devices business in April, has announced the Lumia 830 – an "affordable flagship" – as well as two mid-range stunners, the Lumia 730 and 735.
The latter are billed as 'selfie phones', packing high-resolution, wide-angle front-facing cameras. Considering that Windows Phone didn't even have Instagram a year ago, there's no doubt Microsoft is putting a lot of work into making the platform more attractive for the average user.
Motorola has teased us with images of its first-ever smartwatch – the circular-screen, Android Wear-powered Moto 360 – for months now. As of this week, the device finally has a UK pricetag and release date – it'll go on sale for £200 in October.
Of course, Android smartwatch buyers have more to choose from now than they did when the Moto 360 was originally unveiled, so it remains to be seen whether or not the device actually sets markets alight.
Perhaps a bigger win for Motorola's bottom line will be the next-generation Moto G, also announced this week. The budget-friendly smartphone – which grabbed a six per cent UK market share increase for the manufacturer in its current incarnation – is set to get a boost in screen-size from 4.5 to five inches, without an equivalent price hike.
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