Rain and chill blanketed Berlin last week, adding a gloomy hue to a cityscape that, even in the nicest of weathers, can be described as austere. But there was no gloom in the buzzing halls of Messe Berlin, the sprawling exhibition venue where IFA takes place every September.
A spectacle of light, color, and sound, IFA is Europe’s biggest electronics expo, and the place to show your products, if you’re a mobile company looking for exposure ahead of the crucial holiday season.
From boutique case makers to the biggest tech giants, hundreds of companies hawked their newest products at IFA 2015. The Android Authority team has sifted through the most interesting mobile announcements from the show, to bring you Our Best of IFA selection. Let’s see them, shall we?
Huawei Mate S: the finest phone at IFA
Huawei is not yet a household name in the West, but it’s fast becoming one. The Chinese company is about to enter the very select Nexus club, and its self-branded smartphones are increasingly valued by customers and reviewers. In this context, we were eager to see the new Mate S in action, and we weren’t disappointed.
The Mate S is a beautiful beast. Featuring the metallic design that Huawei has come to be known for, the Mate S is compact, sleek, and attractive. The fingerprint sensor on the back is new and improved, and once you get used to it, it will be really hard to go back to phones that lack this feature. A gorgeous AMOLED screen and strong performance complete the portrait of a true flagship that is worth its salt.
Yoga Tab 3 Pro: versatility redefined
Tablets are boring, right? Wrong, says Lenovo, and the company has a pretty strong dissenting argument in the Yoga Tab 3 Pro. Billed as the ultimate video tablet, the Yoga Tab 3 Pro shows that tablets don’t have to be indistinct slabs of metal and glass. Sure, the asymmetrical design and above-average weight are not for everyone. But that distinctive spine hides some very interesting features, including a full-blown video projector and a multifunctional stand (it even has a hanging hole!).
Unique features aside, this ultimate media consumption machine can stand against any competitor when it comes to its fine QHD display and excellent performance, powered by Intel. Plus, the Yoga Tab 3 Pro offers what’s probably the best sound we’ve ever heard coming out of a tablet.
- Lenovo YOGA Tablet 3 Pro hands-on and first look
- Lenovo announces YOGA Tablet 3, YOGA Tablet 3 Pro and several new smartphones at IFA 2015
LG Rolly Keyboard: simply clever
It’s not often that we’re impressed by a tablet accessory, let alone a Bluetooth keyboard. But LG managed to do just that with the clever little Rolly, a keyboard you can roll into a wand of sorts and carry in your pocket. It’s a little gizmo that you may be inclined to dismiss as an exercise in gimmickry, but playing with it turned us into converts.
The clever Rolly transforms into a wand with a satisfying click, but LG didn’t sacrifice functionality for the sake of the compact form factor. The keys actually have a nice travel (for a keyboard of this type), so you don’t feel like you’re tapping on a slab. There’s also a built-in stand that lets you prop up a phone or tablet, so you can get in productive mode just about anywhere and anytime.
- LG Rolly wireless keyboard folds into a stick you can fit in any pocket
- LG G Pad 2 10.1 hands-on and first look
Samsung Gear S2: color us impressed
Tizen has a pretty bad reputation with the Android crowd, and for good reason. Samsung’s would-be Android replacement OS has failed to impressed us so far, and the various wearables that make use of it the more so. But the Gear S2 is different, and in a very good way. Samsung took its time bringing a new wearable to market, and this atypical restraint seems to have paid off.
The Gear S2 looks great, feels great, and thanks to the use of a rotating bezel, it actually works pretty nice too. Rotating the bezel with your index is an intuitive and simple way to go through a redesigned UI and for picking just the right app. It’s so good that, in most cases, it will replace tapping and swiping, which can be a pain on a small screen. It remains to be seen if Samsung can make Tizen work, but our initial impressions are very good.
- Samsung’s new Gear S2 coming in October, will play nice with other Android devices
- Samsung Gear S2 hands-on
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium: more than just 4K
Sony launched a world first at IFA: 4K resolution on a 5.5-inch display. Despite the almost casual manner in which this breakthrough was announced, we were impressed – and pleasantly surprised – by Sony’s 4K Xperia Z5 Premium. The sheer technical achievement of shipping a 4K display deserves plaudits, even if you probably won’t be able to tell the difference.
It’s good to see Sony holding a technological lead in smartphones, but the Z5 Premium is more than just a pretty display. It feels as premium as the name implies; it’s fast, despite the added pixels; and it comes with a great camera that pushes the envelope in terms of resolution and quality.
- Sony Xperia Z5 Premium hands-on and first look
- Sony Xperia Z5 Premium vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5 quick look
- Sony Xperia Z5 Premium officially announced: what you need to know
There you have it: Android Authority’s Best of IFA 2015. Let us know your thoughts, thanks for following our IFA coverage, and see you at the next show!