Love it or hate it, the Galaxy S5 will almost certainly be the best-selling Android phone in 2014. Whether or not the hardware actually warrants those kinds of incredible sales figures is largely irrelevant, thanks to Samsung's marketing machine and consumers' general willingness to buy things they're familiar with. And "familiar" is certainly an excellent way to describe the phone's hardware. While it isn't quite the ho-hum upgrade that came with the GS4, and there are some significant hardware features that add to its value, the GS5's overall design probably won't win it any new fans.
My love of devices with built-in kickstands is well-documented. So it's no surprise that Lenovo's Yoga Tablet line, which is more or less built around the kickstand (or at least a big, rounded, multi-purpose hump that holds the kickstand and several other neat things) would catch my attention. The first versions were brought down by sub-par hardware, but Lenovo is back with the Yoga Tablet 10 HD+, which addresses a lot of the issues with the original.
One year ago we took a look at the original Grand Memo, ZTE's mid-range entry in the bustling "phablet" market. Fast forward and ZTE is back at Mobile World Congress, showing off a new and improved version called the Grand Memo II LTE, that's better in every way... but still not really good enough to elicit a "wow" of surprise. Check out our hands-on video below.
The Grand Memo II bumps up the screen size to 6.0 inches, putting it squarely in between the largest of the conventional smartphones and low-cost tablets.
Sony announced its new Xperia Z2 Tablet here at Mobile World Congress, so we swung by their booth on the show floor to get a hands-on with the next tablet flagship. This is the successor to the Tablet Z, now more fully aligned with the leading Sony phone in both name and hardware.
The first thing you notice when you pick up the Z2 Tablet is that it is thin. Crazy thin - 6.4mm, in fact, thinner than the previous tablet, thinner than any phone you're likely to get your hands on in the United States, thinner than the iPad Air by more than a millimeter, and lighter as well at only 425 grams.
Following in the footsteps of Samsung, HTC, and Sony, LG has announced a "mini" version of their G2 flagship, and they're showing the phone off here in Barcelona. The G2 Mini uses a smaller screen than the 5.2-inch G2, but it's also got considerably weaker hardware.
At 4.7 inches, there's nothing really "Mini" about this device, but you'll definitely notice the lower resolution on the LCD (960x540). The hardware inside is also less than inspiring, with just 1GB of RAM serving the 1.4Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 400.
At this point, I've gone hands-on with several Blu phones, including the Life Play, Life View, Life Pro, Life Pure, and Vivo 4.8 HD, so I'm pretty familiar with what type of stuff they're putting out these days. I didn't think much about the Life One X (aside from the fact it's another One X phone and they'll probably get into some hot water over that), but after getting some hands-on time with the phone, I think this is my favorite Blu handset yet.
Do we need another streaming music service? There's Pandora for people who always want to listen to something new, Spotify for people who want access to a large number of music as soon as it comes out, and All Access for Android users who want to combine streaming new music with the albums they've already backed up to Google Music. Then there's Rhapsody and Rdio for, I guess, the same people who like Spotify.
It's been nearly two years since Blu announced a new member to the Vivo line, but the company is gearing up to release the Vivo 4.3's successor, the Vivo 4.8. Stylistically, it has a similar look to the 4.3, albeit on a slightly larger scale due to its 4.8 inch display. Also like the 4.3, the 4.8 has a Super AMOLED panel with Blu's Nex Lens and Infinite View technologies. This is in contrast to other Blu devices of late, which all use IPS panels along with Nex Lens and Infinite View.
While mobile announcements aren't generally a major thing we expect to see at CES, Samsung decided it would be generous and throw out a handful of new tablets in between its 4K TVs and new smart appliances. I'm talking of course about the new Tab Pro and Note Pro series – a premium lineup of new Samsung kit in a variety of sizes with a fresh new UI.
This quartet of tablets should look pretty familiar for anyone who's seen Samsung's 2014 Note 10.1 or Note 3 – they're stylistically identical, including the faux leather backing, stitching, and aluminum banding.