Christmas gifts for tech lovers: the five best smartphones around ... unless you're Apple mad
LG’s V20, Lenovo’s modular Moto Z, BlackBerry’s handsome DTEK 60, Google’s ‘pure Android’ Pixel and Samsung’s pre-disaster S7 Edge are our top picks from 2016
Exploding phones aside – hello, Samsung Galaxy Note 7 – this year has seen the release of some high-quality, innovative and much anticipated gadgets.
Of all the flagship models released this year, the LG V20 certainly benefited the most from its competitor’s disastrous failure with the Note 7, not least because it was released soon after the global recall of the Samsung handset. (According to the US-based engineering firm Instrumental, the exploding battery issue was caused by “aggressive design”.) So with a removable battery, Android 7 operating system, a Snapdragon 820 processor and superb hi-fi audio, the LG (HK$5,998) is perfect for anyone looking for a top-of-the-range smartphone.
After its lacklustre G5, which came out earlier this year, LG can learn a lesson or two from Lenovo on how to make modular phones. With the Moto Z, users can just snap the modules – be that the Hasselblad camera or the JBL Sound Boost speaker – onto the back of the phone with little fuss. The specs are respectable (it runs on the Snapdragon 820), and with a minimalist design – just 5.2mm thick – and a metallic casing, the Moto Z (HK$ HK$4,999 including style shells but not the modules) should appeal to geeks.
BlackBerry has to keep reminding people that it is still in the mobile phone business, although its handsets will now be designed by partners, such as the Chinese company TCL that is behind the brand’s latest release, the DTEK 60. This is a good-looking phone, especially compared with BlackBerry’s previous models, which are, frankly, dull.
With its glass back and slim build (6.99mm thick), this handset feels and looks great in the hand. The DTEK series claims to be the safest of all Android releases so the DTEK60 (HK$4,488) is the perfect gift for anyone who is paranoid about their handset being hacked. A recent bug did hit all BlackBerry Android phones – users were suddenly told by their DTEK app that they were “not using a BlackBerry device”, but that was very quickly fixed.
We would have recommended the Apple iPhone 7/ 7 Plus were it not for the rumours that Apple is now working on a major redesign that is expected to be released next year to celebrate the iPhone’s 10th anniversary. Until then, it’s worth checking out the Google Pixel, which some have already labelled an “iPhone killer”. The Google Assistant – a voiced virtual assistant who can help you organise your life – is the major selling point here. The camera is fast and accurate and the video stabilisation works very well. It also offers the “pure Android” experience from Google and you’ll get updates before other Android users. The Pixel has not been officially released in Hong Kong yet, but you can order one online. If buying from the UK, that will set you back £599 (HK$5,870).
All is not lost for Samsung, as its S7 Edge, released before the Note 7 fiasco, is still popular and the model has recently come out in a new “coral blue” colour. It still has all the top specs and is water resistant. And since the model has been out for a while, the price has dropped to HK$4,998.