Want to know how the latest smartphones look and work? Thinking about treating yourself to a new iPad?
Kai Man Wong, SCMP.com’s new tech reviewer, will be bringing you video reviews of the latest must-have gadgets with his monthly TechSmack. To get you going, SCMP.com brings you a bumper selection of his thoughts on some of 2013’s hottest gadgets.
The LG-G2, edge to edge edginess
The G2 is apparently “Inspired By You,” according to LG’s marketing bump. It certainly has taken the trend to use tablet-like phones to another level by squeezing a massive 5.2” screen into its package. Add to that the device's speedy processor and surprisingly good battery life, and you’ve got a smartphone with hardware that’s more than enough for the usual things people use smartphones for: internet, video, games. Oh yeah, it has the ability to make phone calls and send texts too. However, the slightly cheesy quasi-carbon fiber finish, rear key and Knock On feature seem more inspired by LG’s own design aspirations, unless you like phones that look like Fast & Furious wing mirrors, like fumbling around to find a button on the back of a phone and want to look like Derek Zoolander trying to wake a phone from sleep. Still, the G2 is a fantastic smartphone with features that try a bit too hard to be smartypants.
Apple's iPhone 5C & S
The iPhone 5 was a significant change from the 4, and as Apple's marketing said, it was “So much more than before. And so much less, too.” With the size slimmed-down and elongated to make the body more svelte and lighter yet providing a bigger screen, the 5S is an extension of what the 5 has laid down, giving just a little bit more and nothing less. Still, this is the world’s first 64-bit smartphone, which is nice, and, since iOS7 was designed for 64-bit, the pairing of the current software and hardware go hand-in-hand. To be honest though, there isn’t that much else to shout about. It has Touch ID - a fingerprint identity sensor thing - to unlock your phone using the same process as you do when going through immigration at Hong Kong airport. There's one key difference - you can also register other body parts with the 5S Touch ID, and I don’t remember using other body parts to go through immigration often. Other than that, the camera is better in low light and better for capturing fast moving things. If none of that means anything to you, then all you need to know is: it’s shiny; comes in gold now; space grey is the new black; it has leather cases and it’s still the best looking phone on the market.
As for the iPhone 5C, let’s face it: when brands have cheaper alternatives to their higher-end products, the raison d’être of these lower-end products is to make you feel lower-end to be even considering something cheaper and to make you think that your life just hasn’t worked out quite so well, forcing you to go buy the more expensive one. The 5C is a recycled 5, with pretty much the same guts of the 5 albeit with improved battery life (not difficult), image stabilisation and a cheaper plastic back. Still, why not have a cheaper iPhone option? This does seem to be aimed at a younger market, what with the colourful options and hole-y silicone cases of questionable taste. With that said, there’s something still very likeable about the 5C. I like the fact that the plastic back will take much more force to smash than the part glass back on the 5, and I like that the plastic is funky-coloured. It seems like the 5C is made for clumsy people like me, but I’d go for the 5S because it is better. It’s nice to have cheaper options for younger markets or for people on a budget, but this is Hong Kong: nobody will ever go for the cheaper option in this watch-obsessed, luxury brand-loving city where shop assistants and students wear more expensive things than you probably do.
Huawei Ascend P6, an Apple iPhone parody?
Designed in China, made in China. Well, that’s not something written anywhere on the box or product itself, but I would’ve loved to have seen that printed somewhere. I mean, there is so much about the Huawei that feels like a parody of something from Apple that they might as well have gone all the way and given a cheeky nod to Apple with the “Designed in.., made in…” proudly emblazoned somewhere on the product. From the moment you open up the box, it feels like they’ve tried to imitate Apple’s slick product packaging, albeit losing out on the slickness a bit. The supplied all-white (but not-so alright quality) accessories look a bit like an iffy Apple; even the bezel of the phone looks like that of the iPhone’s. However, turn it on and you’ll find that it’s a decent-performing Android phone. There’s nothing offensive about how it operates and how it performs; if only they had made it look a bit snazzier and they would’ve had a seriously desirable mobile phone on their hands.
The iPad Air, as light as
Apple has released the iPad Air, and with an “Air” in the name it implies that it might be air-headed like the MacBook Air. Fear not, however, as this is an improvement on the previous iPad…erm…”Fat”. It sports a 64-bit processor, an a7 chip, a m7 co-processor, and is generally thinner, slimmer and lighter. The concept of any tablet is that it’s all screen, but the iPad Air feels like more screen than before despite using the same 9.7” retina display. Generally, the thinner bezel makes the screen appear larger. Other than that, the tablet's actual improvements aren’t a huge step ahead, and even though it has a new processor, it’s not like the old one was a sloth-like performer in the first place. So, really, the key benefit of the iPad Air over the 4th generation iPad is that it’s thinner, slimmer and lighter. I guess that’s why they called it the “Air”.