Early September is a favorite time of year for both smartphone makers and reviewers – many of the most interesting phones for the second half of the year are unveiled during the press days leading to the start of the IFA tech show held annually in Berlin. In case you weren’t paying attention to the last couple of days, here’s a recap of what you might have missed.
The Sony Xperia 5 reveal marks the return of the Compact series. The petite flagship packs almost the same set of features as the larger Xperia 1 – it has the same triple camera with Eye AF, the same Snapdragon 855 chipset, stereo speakers, waterproofing, microSD card slot, you name it.
Only two things changed – the screen is now a 6.1″ OLED with 1080p+ resolution (instead of the 6.5″ 4K screen) and the battery is smaller (3,140mAh vs. 3,330mAh, but keeps the 18W fast charging). As you can read in our hands-on review, the phone is perfect for one-handed operation. It’s narrower than both the Galaxy S10e and the iPhone XS, but its screen has more surface area and the phone packs one more camera on its back.
Speaking of the camera, the hardware may be the same, but Sony improved the software so we’ll have to re-evaluate its performance (the updates are coming to the Xperia 1 as well).
The Sony Xperia 5 will go on pre-order next week, however the price is still to be announced. Shipping is scheduled for October, but if you order before then, you’ll score a free pair of Sony’s truly wireless noise-canceling headphones, WF-1000XM3.
HMD’s schedule was busier than most as it announced 5 new phones, starting with two Android One handsets. The Nokia 7.2 is the leader of the pack with a 48MP sensor on the back. This is a first for Nokia phones (if you don’t count the China-only X71). The phone also packs an 8MP ultra wide-angle cam (118°) and a depth sensor, which enables ZEISS-branded bokeh effects.
The Nokia 6.2 is the same phone – same 6.3″ LCD with 1080p+ resolution, same composite chassis, same 3,500mAh battery – except the rear camera drops down to a 16MP sensor (also the selfie cam went from 20MP to 8MP).
Besides the camera department, the other major difference between 7.2 and 6.2 is in the choice of chipsets – Snapdragon 660 and 636, respectively. They are very nearly the same chipset, the 660 just runs at higher clock speeds.
Watch our video with these two and read more about them in our hands-on review.
HMD also bolstered its KaiOS portfolio. The Nokia 800 Tough is a rugged phone (IP68 and MIL-STD-810G) with a long battery life (2,100mAh, 40+ days of standby). Jokes were made about it being the next 3310, but this is a modern device with 4G, VoLTE and a built-in GPS receiver and Google Maps navigation.
The Nokia 2720 Flip brings back the clamshell form factor – it has a 1.3″ screen outside, plus a 2.8″ screen and large tactile keys inside. You can chat on WhatsApp and Facebook, call on VoLTE and VoWiFi, use Google Assistant and so on, all part of the Kai ecosystem.
Finally, the Nokia 110 (2019) offers entertainment on a budget – just $20. That’s $5 than the Nokia 105, but you get a microSD card slot with MP3 support and a basic camera, plus several games (Snake for free, plus a few demos). The you can find more about the Nokia 800, 2720 and 110 in our hands-on review as well.
The Asus ROG Phone II is the ultimate power user phone. It’s the first with the Snapdragon 855+ chipset and the only one with a 120Hz 10-bit HDR screen. It will be available from September 20 for €900. The Ultimate Edition edition doubles the storage to 1TB, speeds up the LTE connection and raises the price to €1,200.
There are too many accessories to recap here, you’ll have to check our hands-on review for that – there’s everything from a Nintendo Switch-like dock to a desktop dock with wireless TV out. You can also watch our unboxing video of the insane reviewer’s kit:
While it was announced a few days before the show, the Samsung Galaxy A90 5G made an appearance at IFA as well. It’s the first flagship of the A-series – it’s powered by a Snapdragon 855 chipset and is the first phone outside of the Galaxy S and Note series to feature DeX mode. And yes, it’s a 5G phone, Samsung’s third handset to support next gen networks. While we didn’t get to test the 5G connectivity, we did spend some time with the phone and wrote up a hands-on review.
Samsung officially confirmed the relaunch of the Galaxy Fold, but if the situation wasn’t messy enough, Samsung also canceled US pre-orders. People got $250 in store credit for their trouble and if they still want one, they can join the new pre-orders.
Samsung also unveiled a new tough tablet, the Galaxy Tab Pro Active. It features DeX mode and an S Pen – no touchscreen supports thick work gloves. And the Pro Active is aimed at professionals out in the field, being rugged (IP68 and MIL-STD-810G) and featuring a user-replaceable battery.
Moto unveiled its best Android One phone yet – the Motorola One Zoom. It’s based on the Moto Z4 (same 6.4″ OLED screen and Snapdragon 675 chipset), but the 48MP camera on the back is now joined by a telephoto cam with 3x optical zoom (hence the name), an ultra wide camera and a depth sensor.
This is Moto’s first quad camera phone, its first to feature a tele camera too. Despite early leaks about Amazon integration, the unit we tested for our hands-on review ran clean Android.
You can still expect better battery life, however, as the Plus comes with a 12nm Helio P22 chipset (up from a 28nm Snapdragon 435). Also, storage was doubled and there’s an option with 4GB of RAM. Finally, the 13MP camera on the back got a depth sensing friend.
Huawei’s IFA event was just an appetizer for what’s to come. The company unveiled its new Kirin 990 chipset. It will be split into two versions – 4G and 5G. The 5G chip will be built on a more advanced 7nm+ EUV process, will run its CPU at higher clock speeds and it have an additional NPU core. It’s no secret that this is the chipset to be used in the upcoming Huawei Mate 30 flagships.
However, the company faces a problem – it can’t license Android for the new Mates. The Huawei P30 and P30 Pro are safe, however, they will even receive EMUI 10 based on the new Android 10. To keep things fresh, Huawei unveiled two new color options for the P30 Pro.
LG unveiled a larger version of the G8. There’s a bit more to it than that, the LG G8X ThinQ has a 6.4″ OLED with 1080p resolution. Compare that to G8‘s 6.1″ 1440p screen and the 6.21″ 1080p screen on the G8S. Anyway, the fingerprint reader on the G8X moved under the display and the notch shrunk, despite getting an improved the selfie camera (with a 32MP Quad Bayer sensor).
However, the main focus here was on the Dual Screen accessory, which adds a second 6.4″ OLED panel. LG build an impressive demo wall covered with G8X ThinQ phones with Dual Screens, showing off the various uses for the second screen – check it out (and more) in our hands-on review.
TCL and alcatel
TCL unveiled its first self-branded phone. The company has mostly been trading under the Alcatel brand, but the TCL PLEX bears its own logo. It’s a solid mid-ranger with a 6.43″ screen, Snapdragon 675 chipset, 48MP main and 16MP ultra wide cameras.
There were three new alcatel-branded devices too. The alcatel 3x (2019) is an entry-level phone with a 6.5″ 20:9 screen (720p+) and a triple camera on its back. The alcatel 1v (2019) runs Android Go and will go for a modest price of €80. There’s also the basic Smart Tab 7 tablet, which is aimed at kids and features a built-in kickstand. It will also cost just €80.
This about wraps it up for IFA 2019. We’ll regroup at the office and work on full reviews for the best of the newly announce phones, expect them soon.