I’m not really a hardware junkie. For the most part I can care less about what new phones come out and restrictive carrier contracts ensure that I care only 20-24 months or so. And I just got a new iPhone 5 last month (my first iPhone), so I’m not upgrading anytime soon. But while I was at MWC you kinda had to look around at the various handset vendors whose massive booths often dominated the halls.
As I noted in my previous post, MWC was decidedly Android-centric and that manifests itself here.
And the Winner Is…
…the HTC One. There was a lot to be impressed with. The hardware was really solid and the all-aluminum design is quite pleasing to the eye. But what really caught my eye was the next generation HTC Sense.
My last phone (I recently switched to an iPhone 5) was the HTC Thunderbolt. Aside from a nice widget or two I grew to hate Sense. It seemed to bog down the phone every now and again and was one of the many issues (damn you Verizon!) that contributed to the lack up OS upgrades. Worst of all, there was very little value added by Sense. It was just overhead.
But the new Sense UI is headlined by a new feature called Blink which creates a live, Flipboard –like experience to keep up with what’s going on in your streams (social, news, etc.). Kind of like Windows Phone live tiles. Here’s a short video of a demo by one of the HTC employees in the booth:
The other neat feature is the photo/video software called Zoe. Essentially the phone shoots video and stills at 20fps at the same time. Giving you the ability to pull out individual clips from live action and enhance them if you like. There’s also some pretty good editing software built in that allows you to create ‘short films’ with the video and stills using some pre-set filters and music. Given how smartphones are replacing digital cameras, this should have some appeal in the market.
That is not something I would have expected myself to say. Ever since the StarTAC and perhaps the original RAZR feature-phone, Motorola’s phones have been “meh” and their advertising mind-numbing. But the two new RAZR phones look really sharp.
Build quality seems excellent and the use of Kevlar on the back makes the phones light while not feeling cheap (I’m looking at you Samsung and ZTE). But what really set them apart for me was the almost edge-to-edge screens. This allows Motorola to fit larger screens in a much smaller footprint than other equivalent phones. The 4.3” RAZR HD was only marginally wider than my iPhone 5, but still small enough to use comfortably with one-handed operation.
The larger 4.7” RAZR MAXX HD still fit well in the hand though not really conducive to one-handed operation. But much smaller than similarly sized screen phones.
Making the phones even better is a move far away from ill-designed MotoBlur overlay skin. The Google influence is clear with an almost stock Android build, save for a few, more cleanly executed, add-ons and controls.
If you’re in the market, Motorola is definitely worth your consideration.
The world’s #1 mobile phone maker certainly had a large booth, but not much to show for it. They had a few new phones and a new 8” tablet plus a couple of cameras (one of which is powered by Android), but all in all, their presence was really underwhelming.
I did like the new Samsung Youth that sports a 3.3” screen and fits in your palm kind of like a Palm Pre.
ZTE isn’t quite ready for prime time
Unless you are looking for booth babes and then they stole the show. A dozen leggy women in short Grecian-style dresses adorned the booth, none of which (shockingly) knew a thing about the phones. It felt more like mid-90s COMDEX or a car show. I didn’t think serious companies did that anymore. Though ZTE was sadly not the only culprit at the show.
As pretty as the girls were the phones did not hold up their end of the bargain. Perhaps that’s why they felt they needed the girls. The gigantic, almost comical 5.7” flagship Grand Memo (though Huawei wins the absurdly large phone prize at a preposterous 6.1”) felt cheap. And 4 of the first 5 models that I picked up – the phones, not the girls – did not work at all.
Well that’s all I got. Thanks for reading.