If there’s one event which is guaranteed to signal the start of a new year in tech, it’s the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which took place this year between January 6th and January 9th in Las Vegas.
Spread across a sprawling 2.4 million square foot space, with more than 3,600 exhibitors and over 170,000 attendees, plus a hot mess of off-site meetings in various hotel suites through Vegas, we were but a small dedicated group among hundreds of thousands of people who descended upon Sin City to see the latest and greatest in technology, from retailers big and small alike.
The Android Authority team has been on the ground for the past week and we’ve sifted through the products available from thousands of exhibitors at the show to bring you our Best of CES 2016 selection. Which products make the cut and win a coveted Android Authority award? Let’s take a look, shall we?
Huawei Mate 8
While Huawei isn’t a household name in Western markets, the company’s partnership with Google has allowed it to gain a stamp of approval that was arguably lacking before the launch of the Nexus 6P. CES 2016 saw Huawei launch its latest flagship and the Mate 8 is the first smartphone to run the new Kirin 950 processor, which results in an ultra smooth experience. And, simply put, the Huawei Mate 8 is an extremely elegant, premium high end device.
The Mate 8 is about more than just the Kirin 950 however, as the all-metal build and best-in-class fingerprint sensor offer an ultra premium experience. The Mate 7 offered a large battery that definitely delivered in the battery stakes and the Mate 8 looks set to continue this, with the 4000 mAh battery expected to deliver one and a half days or more battery for heavy users and over two and a half days battery life for the average consumer.
For times when the battery is running low, the Mate 8 also offers Rapid Charging and Huawei says that a single 30 minute charge can deliver an entire day’s battery life. It’s certainly not perfect but the Mate 8 is definitely one of the highlights of CES 2016 and could yet set the benchmark by which flagship devices are defined this coming year.
While the Mate 8 was Huawei’s big flagship announcement, the other key piece of news from the Chinese manufacturer was the launch of Honor in the USA. As we reported a few weeks ago, Honor has finally decided to launch its products natively here in the States and this means you’ll be able to buy Honor (and Huawei) products directly from Huawei’s online store, complete with returns and warranty policies.
What is the Honor 5X? It’s simple: Huawei’s definition of what an affordable flagship is, with a particular emphasis on affordability. Offering a specs list that is synonymous with much more expensive phones, the Honor 5X offers a Full HD display, premium all-metal build, excellent fingerprint sensor, microSD card support and more. All in a device that costs just $199 unlocked and SIM free.
Smartphones are meant to be the replacement for the PC but Lenovo believes there’s a place for both of them together when implemented correctly and the Lenovo Link aims to do just this. A small dongle that costs just $40, it allows your computer to become an extension of your smartphone and vice versa, with one end featuring a standard USB port and the other, a microUSB port to plug into your smartphone.
What really sets the Lenovo Link apart however, is Lenovo’s virtualization software that lets you extend or mirror your smartphone screen onto your computer. In this virtualization mode, you’re able to use your smartphone natively using your computer’s input controls and actions such as Copy & Pasting from your computer to your phone, using your mouse and playing games such as Candy Crush all felt seamless in our usage compared to wireless and software alternatives.
Casio WSD-F10 Android Wear Outdoor Smartwatch
One of the biggest selling points and criticisms of Android Wear is that manufacturers are not able to innovate and tweak the software experience. This means they are limited to hardware innovation but Casio has decided to break the mould with a new Outdoor Android Wear-based smartwatch that definitely stands out from the crowd.
Designed for hikers, cyclists and other active types, this is no ordinary Casio or Android Wear watch: Casio is the first manufacturer to successfully combine the traditional timepiece with the modern smartwatch and the watch is able to transition between a fully fledged smartwatch – minus a GPS antenna – and a traditional timepiece with the press of a button.
This means it goes from offering 24 hours battery life when using Android Wear to 30 day battery life in the traditional mode and is the one watch that’s able to satisfy the needs of almost all users. Casio’s Outdoor smartwatch has left a lasting impression and is a wearable that other Android Wear OEMs certainly need to be inspired by.
HTC Vive Pre
Virtual Reality is the latest buzzword in technology and one of the best VR experiences comes from a company that’s known for making Android smartphones. The HTC Vive offered one of the best VR experiences of last year and at CES, the company unveiled a more streamlined model that builds on this excellent experience.
Shown alongside the HP Envy Phoenix PC – which is the first computer made specifically for the Vive – the HTC Vive Pre is a smaller and more streamlined version of the HTC Vive and more closely resembles the final consumer version of HTC’s VR headset. A key addition on the front is a new camera, which ensures that users won’t run into any obstacles during usage and overall the HTV Vice Pre continues where the Vive left off by offering one of the most immersive VR experiences currently available.
LeTV Le Max Pro
A new year means a new generation of chipsets and we’ve not had to wait very long for our first look at Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 820 SoC. What is surprising is the company who delivered the first smartphone running the new SoC; rather than a traditional OEM, it was LeTV who delivered the world’s first Snapdragon 820 powered smartphone.
Dubbed the Le Max Pro, the smartphone offers an impressive large 6.33 inch Quad HD display which is perfect for the Live streaming video content; a key part of LeTV’s EUI experience is access to lots of live streaming video content and this coupled with the large display, a premium all-metal build and a great fingerprint reader means the Le Max Pro is a smartphone to be reckoned with.
Alcatel OneTouch Xess
The tablet market is becoming ever more saturated and company’s are having to find new ways to make their tablets relevant to the consumer. We’ve already seen Samsung try to differentiate with the impossibly large Galaxy View and Alcatel OneTouch have also decided that there is a need for a super large tablet for use in the house.
Dubbed the Alcatel OneTouch Xess, it is “made for the kitchen” and features an integrated kickstand and carrying handle which is a necessity given the 17.3-inch big display. To make the tablet experience more suitable for the bigger display, Alcatel OneTouch have designed a new launcher that splits the home screen into a webpage and smaller other segments.
Inside the large tablet is an exceptionally large 10,000 mAh battery which is quoted as delivering always-on battery life. While the launcher is ideally suited towards recipes and searching for culinary inspiration, it also makes an excellent media device and the inclusion of dual rear JBL speakers and USB ports means it has plenty of uses in your home.
There you have it: Android Authority’s Best of CES 2016! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, thanks for staying tuned and following our coverage and we’ll definitely see you at the next show.
Mobile World Congress is just a few short weeks away and with so many products likely to be announced, we’ll be on the ground bringing you the very best in Android mobile coverage live from Barcelona.