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IFA 2014: what were you most impressed by, any disappointments?

For this week's Friday Debate we take a look at how this week went. What were you impressed by, what disappointed you?
September 5, 2014

With the big announcements of the week behind us, what were you most impressed by? What would you have liked to see that you didn’t? How to you feel about the new flagships from Moto, Sony and Samsung?

While IFA is still technically going on, the biggest announcements have already happened and we’ve seen quite a few exciting things from Sony, Samsung, Motorola, Asus, HTC and many others. As IFA starts to wind down, we want to take a look back at the week and discuss what we found most impressive and if there was anything we were disappointed about.

In typical fashion, we’ll start by sharing the opinions of a few members of the AA team, and we’ll then follow with  a few polls this time around. After that, feel free to keep the conversation going in the comments below!

Joseph Hindy

It has been an amazing week for mobile technology. Far more so than I could have hoped. We saw a VR headset, a flagship phone with good specs and a curved screen, probably the most attractive smartwatch yet in the Moto 360. The Xperia Z3 and the Moto X 2014 are both very solid offerings that serve to extend the portfolio of their OEMs. The Moto G 2014 is an excellent budget phone and even the Moto Hint looks interesting.

I really honestly couldn’t be happier with all of it. The Note Edge and Gear VR were total surprises for me and after years of listening to Samsung haters challenge Samsung to innovate, I feel like they actually did and that was a total surprise to me. By this point, I expected solid flagship offerings out of Samsung (who thought the Note 4 was going to be a flop? No one) but nothing too ridiculous. Then they go and announced two ridiculous products at the same time.

Despite their (now typically) weird and socially awkward Unpacked event, I finished watching it with a glimmer of hope for the future. Not only has Samsung gone out and done some truly interesting and actually innovative things, but they have now challenged other OEMs to think outside the box. Even if I never own a Note Edge or a Gear VR, I know that eventually the likes of Sony, LG, and Moto will eventually start playing with similar concepts and provide choices for everyone. That’s a serious win for all of us.

The only thing I didn’t see that I would have liked to have seen was more enthusiasm out of people. I did see some people who were genuinely excited about the things Moto, Sony, and Samsung were doing. However, more often than not, I saw a proverbial blank stare of boredom out of people and that’s actually really depressing. Here we have four of the most cutting edge smartphones ever created (plus the best budget phone of all time and the most attractive smartwatch ever) and people are yawning or complaining about small things like the overuse of the word “innovation” in press releases and press events.

At what point did people stop just enjoying this wave of technology and start caring how companies presented it? It’s like watching a kid open a gift on Christmas, getting the most expensive, popular electronic available, and then tossing it aside and immediately start chastising Santa about how it wasn’t wrapped properly. Jeff Marek of Sportsnet said it best, “Some people are just in it for the paycheck and don’t care about what they’re covering anymore.”

If you were excited about these awesome products, you’re doing it right!

Edgar Cervantes

Phew! It has been one hell of a week. We have been going nuts here, but it’s time to stop writing, step back and take a look at all that just happened. September has just become the most eventful month of the year (and more is to come).

We have jumped into a new era. Manufacturers are no longer going nuts with crazy specs and silly gimmicks (at least most aren’t). They seem to have finally found their perfect equations and are following them to the tee. What people want is simplicity, performance and a good design/build quality.

Let’s take Sony as an example. They have managed to release a whole new set of devices that are all impressive, yet closely resemble their predecessors. These new devices are simply better versions of already-awesome products. The same applies to Motorola’s new smartphones.

Of course, we can’t forget all those smartwatches, which were also among the most exciting products we saw this week. In the midst of all these wearable announcements, we only saw one circular smartwatch, though – the LG G Watch R. This makes for two circular smartwatches all together, a number that is disappointing. We know there is a demand for this form-factor in the Android Wear world. People are going nuts over these round displays! Why aren’t more manufacturers creating them?

Regardless, it was a good week for mobile. We even had a little bit of crazy coming from Samsung (of course). You know how I feel about the Moto X and the Xperia Z3, but Samsung really took it home with their Galaxy Note announcement. Aside from the Note 4, which does seem great, they showed us the odd Galaxy Note Edge. It has an edge display that offers extra functionality. It’s crazy, weird, and dare I say, somewhat ugly. And for some reason I love it!

Andrew Grush

Considering that I’m a full-timer here at AA and spend countless hours covering all matter of rumors, news and leaks — I expected and eagerly anticipated just about everything announced at IFA. The only real surprises were the Note Edge (I didn’t think it would be unveiled until sometime after Note 4) and the fact that Sony’s Smartwatch 3 is ditching Sony’s ecosystem in favor of Android Wear.

Still, even if I had a good idea of what was coming, I’m still very impressed by just everything that arrived. Even though I’m not necessarily a big Samsung fan, I’d say that the Note 4 was probably one of the most impressive devices shown off at IFA. Great specs as always, but also a jump up in build quality and some truly useful additions to their multi-tasking and S-pen features. I also am curious about Gear VR and Note Edge, which both have the potential to be a big deal if Samsung executes their releases correctly.

Really though, there’s nothing that I can say “sucked” about the products announced. Sure, there are folks complaining that the Z3 isn’t a big step forward, but it does make some meaningful changes in the camera, display and design department. It’s a refinement, and that’s really all we can hope for in six months after the release of the last flagship. Yah, Snapdragon 805 would have been awesome, but it really won’t make a huge difference (if any) in real world performance.

I’m also glad to see Motorola is continuing in the same direction they started with the original Moto X and Moto G. And the Moto 360 looks just as impressive as we thought it’d be.

Overall this was a big week in tech, and a shadow of what the years to come will bring with innovations like virtual reality, next-gen wearables, and edge displays — all of which were seen at IFA this week.

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