What to expect from the cutting edge of consumer electronics this season
Samsung Gear S2
Samsung has recently announced a bundle of new portable devices, including a new Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Android phone and the TAB S2 tablet. But perhaps its most exciting new product is one that sits on your wrist rather than in your pocket. Also teased
at the same event was its new Gear S2 smartwatch, running its Tizen smart operating system and with a clear focus on fashion. Remarkably, it’s one of the first to sport a decent circular screen – there have been a handful of others but they’ve either been the size of two Rolexes taped together, or been marred by one straight edge, the better to hide all the components inside. There’s no price just yet, but if it can quietly deliver email alerts and let us swipe away calls, we’re in.
Google gets a new owner
Google is getting a new name. Or rather, its parent company is. Google is now a subsidiary of a bigger company, Alphabet Inc, headed up by Google co-founder Larry Page. Google/Alphabet now own several different tech companies including a healthcare research company, Calico, and Nest, a division that makes web-connected fire alarms and thermostats. By letting them focus on their own products instead of trying to tie them into the web product, they hope for a real burst of innovation from Alphabet.
Chinese smartphone manufacturers such as Huawei and Xiaomi have been nipping at the heels of giants like Apple, Samsung and HTC for years, but last year there was only one mainland startup analysts could talk about: OnePlus. Its first Android smartphone, the OnePlus One, was as powerful as any flagship handset but at around US$300 cost just half the price, and its invitation-only business model meant that word of mouth spread like wildfire. Now the company is back with its sophomore effort the OnePlus 2, and it’s even more tempting: for just US$329, you get 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and a 5.5-inch full HD touchscreen, as well as one of the fastest smartphone processors in the world today. You’ll still need to organise a referral to get the chance to place your order, but if you’re tired of paying too much over the lifetime of a smartphone contract, it’s worth asking all your contacts to see who can get you in under the velvet rope.