Is this an exciting era in mobile phone development, or what?
Gone are the days of total Apple domination. Disappeared are the days of an Apple and Samsung monopoly on the high-end. In 2013, the competition is more fierce than ever before, with three or four big names all jostling vigorously for market share.
This week we’ve gone live with our full review of what we’re described as the best smartphone currently on the market – the HTC One. And of course, we’ve had our first play with the next big thing – the Samsung Galaxy S4. It’s mobile phone heaven!
So let’s get stuck in. Here’s our round-up of the hottest tech we’ve played with this week.
With an 8-core CPU, full HD Super AMOLED screen and a plethora of fancy new software features, the S4 is undoubtedly the best and most powerful Samsung handset ever. But is it the best smartphone ever?
We’ll reserve judgement until we’ve spent more time with the handset, but cosmetically at least the S4 is a bit of a let-down. It’s still plastic, and it looks mostly the same as the S3. Don’t be disheartened though – new software features like eye-tracking make it probably the most functional smartphone ever created. So give our first impressions a read and we’ll come back to you with a full-blown report very soon.
The HTC One missed out on a 5-star score by the skin of its teeth – and it doesn’t even have skin or teeth. That’s how close it was. If its battery could withstand a bit more usage without charge bleeding away, it would have garnered a rare top score.
But don’t let that put you off. This is still the best smartphone we’ve ever tested. It looks fantastic, its nippy and fast and it’s a dream to use. It’s the phone HTC should have launched to follow up the super-selling Desire back in the day. It’s quite a bit more expensive than the competition at the moment, but if you can stomach parting with the cash, this is the phone to get right now.
We liked XPS 18 – a 18.4-inch Windows 8 tablet. It’s far better than the Sony Tap 20 in terms of portability and it also has a terrific screen with an excellent viewing angle. We can see it being useful in family homes where the flexibility and multiple-user nature of Windows could be a real bonus. However, for those who already have an iPad and a laptop, it won’t appeal.
But we’re really interested to see how much Dell will charge for the Core i3 and i5 variants of the XPS 18. It’s those that people will actually want to buy, while the base price point is still high compared to many family-orientated laptops. We fear the price point will put many off. And that’s a shame, because this is a great device.
Panasonic has made some small, but much needed, changes to the Panasonic TZ35 when compared to its predecessor. Here we have a camera that arguably is the best compromise between functionality and price for the holiday and casual photographer, offering a huge zoom in a nicely sleek body. If you’re a beginner, this camera is very much suited to you, with its fully automatic and creative modes appealing to the novice.
Equally, if you’re a bit more at home with manual controls, the ability to change settings such as aperture and shutter speed is excellent. It’s a very good camera that should be one of the top considerations for those looking for the ideal travel compact that offers just a little bit extra than the bog standard options available on the market.
Fuji’s FinePix X10 really impressed when we tested it, so naturally we are pleased to learn that the Fuji FinePix X20 that replaces it is fundamentally the same, but with a sensor based on the one in the superb Fuji X-Pro1.
And the rest of this week’s reviews…