Innovate

What to expect from the cutting edge of consumer electronics this season

PhoneOnePlus One plus you
Chinese smartphones just keep getting better. Brands like Huawei, ZTE and Xiaomi have figured out how to make Android phones as good as the best from Sony and Samsung, and for less. Now the latest breakout star from the East is rolling out worldwide: the OnePlus One phone has gone on open sale in India. Previously, the 5.5-inch superfast smartphone was sold in limited supply through invite only, but now anyone with US$354 to spare can pick up a handset that’s as powerful as rivals twice its price. And with an Android 5.0 update on its way it’ll have all the same software too.

New Nintendo
Gaming giant Nintendo has struggled to make an impact this generation, with lacklustre sales of its Wii U console. Some critics have put that down to its reluctance to make games for mobile phones, but that’s about to change: Nintendo has announced that it will finally bring Mario and friends to smartphones, through a partnership with Japanese games publisher DeNA. Not only that, but it’s also confirmed for the first time that it is working on a Wii U successor for the living room, codenamed the Nintendo NX.

HTC Vive
There’s a good chance you’ve heard of Oculus Rift by now, the virtual reality headset revolutionising immersive gaming. It’s inspired several imitators including a Sony headset designed for the PlayStation 4. Enter its toughest contender yet – smartphone maker HTC has teamed up with games developer Valve to create a VR headset of its own, the HTC Vive, which will work with PC games purchased from the Steam download service. Each eye uses a full HD screen and built-in sensors mean you can tilt your head and even walk around in a game without any cables getting in the way. There’s no word of a commercial release just yet but developers can sign up now, so we’ll begin to see lots of experiments with it very soon.

Great design – Apple watch
Apple’s eagerly awaited smart watch is finally on sale. Starting at US$349 for the smallest ‘Sport’ edition, and soaring up to US$17,000 for the 18-Karat rose gold ‘Watch Edition’ model, it’s an ambitious debut in a rapidly developing market. Its real test will be in the months and years to come. Apple will have to prove that customers really need a watch that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. It’s working hard with developers to do just that, so that whatever information you need, be it emails or alerts from your favourite app, you’ll get the ones you need without even having to pull your phone out of your pocket or bag. But will a smart watch that only works with iPhones take off, when rivals like the Pebble can work on both Android and iPhone?