LG's just announced the G Flex 2 here at CES, and we had a chance to go hands-on with the company's next curvy smartphone. First, though, let's get the technical bits out in front.
The G Flex 2 is one of the first officially announced phones from a major manufacturer to have a Snapdragon 810 processor, an octa-core chip in ARM's BIG.little arrangement, with 4 high-power cores offering speed when you need it, and four lower-power cores suited for standby tasks and other low-overhead operations.
Google's inexpensive Chromecast is already popular for streaming audio from sources like Play Music and Pandora to your television, but now it looks like the company wants a more specific approach for music. To that end Google has announced "Cast for audio," an audio-only version of the system that streams directly to connected and certified speaker systems, no extra hardware required. The first compatible speakers should reach the market in the spring of this year.
Dell has been making Android tablets for a while, but none of them have been terribly interesting. The new Venue 8, on the other hand, stands out in a sea of freakishly similar slates. This is the thinnest tablet in the world at only 6mm (a whole one-tenth of a millimeter thinner than the iPad Air 2) and it showcases some neat camera tricks thanks to its Intel hardware. It's been vaporware so far, but now you can get one at Best Buy for $399.99.
Parrot usually arrives at CES with a swarm of consumer-oriented drone aircraft, but this year it's also showing off the RNB6. What is the RNB6? It's an in-dash head unit running its own version of Android 5.0, but it also has support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
NVIDIA has been the first few pebbles of the landslide that is CES for the last few years, and 2015 is no different. To kick off the world's biggest consumer tech show, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang started with mobile. The company announced its successor to the Tegra K1 mobile processor, the Tegra X1. This chip includes an octa-core 64-bit CPU married to a 256-core GPU. And that second chip is the killer: it's based on the same architecture as the latest full-sized NVIDIA desktop graphics cards, Maxwell.
The user experience on Android is never standing still, which is no more evident than in the Play Store itself. It seems Google may be trying out a new behavior for search queries that match the names of the Play Store's predefined categories. Instead of presenting a list of apps, searching for a term like 'action' or 'puzzle' can bring up structured lists like those that would appear in the category itself.
Xiaomi doesn't have much of a presence in the US, but it's one of the most prominent smartphone makers in Asia. After plenty of rumors, the company has finally announced the Redmi 2, an affordable smartphone with LTE and a 64-bit Qualcomm chip.
It's really hard for hardware manufacturers to stand out once CES starts, especially if they're promoting budget devices that don't grab headlines. So those without eye-popping gadgets are starting to announce them earlier and earlier - for example, if Archos hadn't exercised a bit more restraint with this new budget phone and a trio of tablets, it would have technically been a year before its Las Vegas debut. Meet the new Archos 50 Diamond smartphone and three Archos Helium 4G tablets.
Much of the innovation in Android right now is happening on the budget side of things. At a time when high-end phones are making largely incremental improvements over previous models, low-end handsets have gone from being barely functional iPhone sales pieces to compelling devices that make for great starter phones.
The original ZTE Imperial was certainly not top-of-the-line, but the phone was affordable and its specs weren't particularly embarrassing at the time. Now a successor is available from US Cellular that delivers more phone for even less money.