The Letv Max Pro is the world's first Snapdragon 820 phone. And yes, I know: many of you have no freaking clue what Letv is, and until recently, I was just like you. Letv is a Chinese consumer electronics and software company, kind of similar in some ways (though very different in others) to Xiaomi. They've built smartphones before, but the Letv Max Pro is easily the most internationally paid-attention-to device they've produced.
The reason for that has literally nothing to do with Letv: it's all about Qualcomm. The Max Pro is the first phone with a Snapdragon 820 processor, a chip enthusiasts have been eyeing intently after a dismal year, in large part, for Qualcomm's Snapdragon portfolio.
We've had a chance to spend some significant time with the Huawei Mate 8 in the last 24 hours, and so I felt an intial impressions post was warranted. The "space gray" (yes, really) 32GB unit I've been using is technically preproduction per Huawei's own disclaimer, though the software feels largely finished and the phone physically feels ready for sale.
The Mate 8, by the way, is not a phone you'll be seeing in America. Huawei has taken a pretty careful approach in regard to its US device launches, and its most expensive handsets generally never make it here through any official channels.
CES always seems to have at least one major trend at the trade show, and this year's hot ticket is virtual reality. With a new HTC Vive headset, the announcement of the Oculus Rift's pricey consumer model, and all manner of smaller announcements, it's safe to say that VR is the belle of the ball on the show floor. But all of them have one thing in common: you can't fit them in a pocket. Even Google's super-cheap Cardboard system is about the size of a dSLR camera when assembled. Case maker Speck thinks it's solved that problem with a new design, which is about the same size as a phone.
Qualcomm gave a brief reveal of the upcoming Letv Max Pro smartphone, the first announced device equipped with the company's Snapdragon 820 processor. Few details about the phone were provided - basically none - but we know it has an 820, Qualcomm's nifty ultrasonic fingerprint authentication system (it's on the back of the phone), and WiFi 802.11ad, also known as WiGig.
Qualcomm provided a few updates on Snapdragon 820 generally, saying the chip has secured over 80 design wins at this point, which is no small number for such a powerful - and pricey - mobile SoC.
The Letv Max Pro remains largely a mystery until we hear more from Letv themselves, though Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkompf did briefly show off what looked like a functional device on stage.
Remember when a low-cost phone meant something you were kind of embarrassed to pull out in front of your judgmental in-laws? A tiny screen, a chunky plastic body, and a processor with about as much kick as a grasshopper with polio - you'd be lucky if you could get Angry Birds to run on the thing. That's no longer the case - there are plenty of phones available for under $200 that look downright swanky. Case in point: the new VIBE S1 Lite, which Lenovo announced at CES in Las Vegas. It's quite a looker, and according to Lenovo, it will sell for around $199 USD.
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.
Archos and I have some issues to debate over our definition of the words "power" and "cobalt." The company keeps on churning new devices every couple of months, seemingly content with the sales and reception it's getting by sticking to the low to mid range of the smartphone market. It just unveiled two new lines of devices for CES, named Power and Cobalt, with two new models on each line. However, it's not my understanding that 1900mAh (or 512MB of RAM) equates to power, or that dark grey is synonymous with cobalt. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
The new Power line has its eyes set on battery life (not performance) and it will be launched with the Archos 40 Power and 50 Power.
It's that time of year yet again: CES. Android Police has covered the Consumer Electronics Show for the last six years, of which I've attended five. This year, I'm back in Vegas again, this time with our teardown master Cody Toombs. We've watched CES go from a formidable proving ground for dozens of Android devices built by manufacturers both big and small to a show with a dwindling mobile presence, far more focused on connected technology, vehicles, and CES's more traditional niches (appliances, TVs, gadgets).
As such, what you can expect from CES 2016 is a lot like what you got in 2015: a few phones and tablets - not many - and a lot of gadgets that work over Bluetooth or IoT technologies to interface with your smartphone or tablet.
Samsung's Creative Lab, an outlet for their talent to work on external projects, is starting to bear fruit. Three of those projects will be shown off at CES 2016 next week and they are interesting to say the least. Samsung is treating these as startup projects, with one being manufactured by a new and technically separate company, and the units at CES will not be production quality but rather are being used to assess their market potential.
WELT is what the smart belt is being called. It will be geared towards the health and fitness crowd, tracking activities and daily habits with instant and continuous feedback on waist size.
When Fuhu announced the 20- and 24-inch Big Tabs, we all kind of chuckled and gave them a pass. Surely kids would like huge tablets, right? I think so. But now things are just getting out of hand - the company just announced 32, 43, 55, and 65-inch Big Tabs. Tablets the size of TVs. It's insanity, I say.
All of the Big Tab XL models are capable of doubling as TVs (thankfully), which makes them a little more justifiable. Unfortunately there isn't any info on pricing at the moment, but Fuhu expects them to be priced a bit higher than comparable HDTVs.