Mobile World Congress has become the premiere stage for new phones and tablet introductions, and since Lenovo saves its Motorola portfolio for the latter half of the year, it's time for the first-party devices to shine. Well, shimmer. Perhaps "gleam" would be a better word. Out of five new phones and tablets introduced on the show floor, none of them are particularly mind-blowing, and the phones are unlikely to make it to stores in the US or Europe. Anyway, let's take it from the top:
Archos has kind of fallen off the radar in terms of tablet sales. Maybe it's different in Europe (Archos is a French company), but these days you won't see any of its products on American shelves. And considering the relative paucity of Android tablets in general as of late, that's a shame. Especially when you hear that Archos is making three new tablets at a variety of sizes and, miracle of miracles, they're all running the latest version of Android at launch.
So it is with the new Oxygen series of tablets: the 70, 80, and 101b at 7-inch, 8-inch, and 10.1-inches, respectively.
Android news tends to focus on the flagship phones from the largest companies, if only because they inform the direction of phone design for the following year or so. But it's important to remember that giant corporations like LG release dozens of new models in the same timeframe. The first two LG phones announced for 2016 are the K7 and K10, both being revealed before the enormous Consumer Electronics Show (which doesn't technically begin until Wednesday).
Both phones are quite few steps down from flagships, but noticeably above the entry level, much like the older L series that they're based on.
Back in August LG announced new versions of its G Pad tablet in both 8 and 10-inch varieties. Aside from a couple of features like an integrated stylus on the former, they weren't all that interesting, just middling updates of the previous budget-focused models. Even when one of them showed up in the US for a little carrier-branded fun, it was met with a big fat "meh." The sequel to the G Pad 8.3, which was actually quite nice when it launched back in 2013, is likewise underwhelming.
LG announced the G Pad II LTE for its home market of South Korea yesterday.
Around this time last year Verizon released a self-branded tablet called the Ellipsis 8, a larger variation on the original 7-inch Ellipsis. We had some fun speculating on its corporate origins. But thanks to lots of discounts and package deals, there are actually a ton of these things in the hands of consumers, including some of my Verizon-using family members. So here we are again, with another, bigger Verizon whitebox tablet. This time it's a ten-inch slate called the (wait for it) Ellipsis 10.
Verizon and Motorola are announcing the latest entries in their long-running DROID series in Chicago today. The DROID Turbo 2 is the new flagship, and its "shatter-proof" screen is the clear highlight, but the partners also announced an updated version of the popular DROID Maxx from 2013. The new DROID Maxx 2 is a mid-range device that shares a lot of design DNA with the Moto X Play revealed earlier this year.
Mere hours ago we saw LG's new V10 phone leaked courtesy of @evleaks, and now LG has made it official.
The V10, which will be shown off at an event in NYC tomorrow, has the hallmark characteristics we've seen leaked and hinted before - a dual front-facing camera setup and a secondary display along the top of the device.
The dual front shooters, LG says, are for 120-degree selfies (or "standard" 80-degree selfies if you wish), capturing wide-angle photos with minimal distortion.
This morning at the Walter Reade theater in NYC, LG (re)announced the dual-display, triple-camera V10 phone, a device we heard all about last night. After today's (short) presentation, we got a few minutes to play with the V10 first-hand.
The phone is made of stainless steel and Duraguard silicone, materials that contribute to what LG says is superior durability, passing drop tests "from 48 inches at various angles." In photos, the textured, segmented back cover looks kind of weird, but in person it feels pretty nice and isn't too visually distracting. The overall device feels weighty and - because of the stainless steel strips along the left and right edges - smooth.
Google's Chromecast streaming gadget was a surprise success when the company introduced it in 2013 - although perhaps not so surprising when you consider that it plays web video from a variety of services and undercuts even the cheapest competitors from the likes of Roku and Apple TV. Chromecast hasn't had a major revision in over two years, perhaps because it hasn't really needed one. But now there's one available, a new hockey puck design with an "dangling" HDMI port, wider Wi-Fi support, and better video thanks to an improved antenna design.