IFA 2015 proved to be another spectacular show for the coolest new tech, especially smartphones. Major manufacturers like Sony, Huawei, Lenovo, and ZTE were present, but we had a chance to check out some really cool stuff from lesser known brands as well. All of these companies came to Berlin with high expectations and something to brag about.
If it was innovation you were looking for, IFA had it. The first smartphones with a 4K display and Force Touch technology left us absolutely speechless. There was a lot to get excited about at this year’s show, and these are the phones that grabbed our attention the most.
The Xperia Z line has always been the perfect combination of a quality design and high-end specs, and this year’s Xperia Z5 is no exception. It has a premium feel with its frosted glass finish and aluminum frame. To top it off, it’s completely waterproof. New this year is a fingerprint sensor that resides in the power button and is super fast. The Xperia Z5 features a 5.2-inch LCD IPS display with a resolution of 1080p (1920 x 1080). It’s powered by a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, and includes 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a MicroSD slot for up to 200GB of additional storage, 2,900mAh battery, and Android 5.1. The main camera sports a 23-megapixel lens and features an auto focus time of only 0.03 seconds and optical image stabilization. The 5-megapixel front-facing camera should be perfect for selfies too. The Xperia Z5 will be available starting in October.
If you’re looking for a phone with killer specs, the the Xperia Z5 Premium is the one for you. This is essentially the same phone as the Xperia Z5, but the display is dramatically different. It has a larger 5.5-inch display, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The Xperia Z5 Premium is the first smartphone to feature a UHD 4K (3,840 x 2,160) display. We’re not sure if you will notice a difference, but it’s likely to be spectacular in a virtual reality (VR) headset. The Xperia Z5 Premium also packs a bigger 3,430mAh battery. It will be available starting in November.
This is the perfect phone for the person who wants high quality, but in a smaller size. Most phones with displays under 5 inches fall into the mid-tier category, but not the Xperia Z5 Compact. The design loses the frosted glass and metal frame in favor of high-quality polycarbonate. The smaller “compact” display comes in at 4.6 inches with a resolution of 720p (1,280 x 720). The rest of the specs are identical to the basic Xperia Z5, other than the RAM, which drops to 2GB, and the battery is 2,700mAh. You still get the same high-quality cameras and the 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 810. The Xperia Z75 Compact will be available starting in October.
The Huawei Mate S could win the coolest smartphone award. This phone is all about the touch. It features Force Touch technology, which is likely to debut on the iPhone 6S next week, but Huawei beat Apple to it by debuting the first smartphone with this feature. This means the Mate S can tell how hard your “touching” the display for easier navigation features. The phone can even weigh small items. Unfortunately, Force Touch will only be available in select markets, but other cool touch features will be available everywhere. The backside fingerprint sensor not only unlocks the phone, but it can also be used to zoom in on pictures and scroll lists. The 5.5-inch Gorilla Glass 4 display has a 2.5D curve and a resolution of 1080p (1920 x 1080). The Mate S is powered by Huawei’s own octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 935 processor, and includes 3GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, a MicroSD slot for up to 128GB of additional storage, 2,700mAh battery, and Android 5.1. The rear camera comes in at 13-megapixels, while the front-facing selfie lens is 8-megapixels. Pre-orders for the Huawei Mate S start on September 15.
The ZTE Axon Elite is the international version of the ZTE Axon, which debuted in the U.S. in July. However, the Axon Elite can do something that the Axon can’t: It can be secured by your voice, fingerprint, or eye scan. How’s that for choice? The rest of the specs are the same as the basic Axon. It has a 5.5-inch display with a 2.5D curved glass and a resolution of 1080p (1,920 x 1,080). It’s powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, and includes 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a Micro SD slot for expanded storage, 3,000mAh battery, and Android 5.0. The main camera sports two lenses: a main 13-megapixel model along with a 2-megapixel for depth. The front-facing selfie camera comes in at 2-megapixels. The ZTE Axon Elite will cost €420 (£300) and goes on sale September 24 in the U.K., France, Spain, Italy and Germany.
We know the ZTE Blade V6 resembles an iPhone, but this mid-ranger packs some really nice specs. It includes a metal frame and it’s only 6.8 mm thick. It includes a 5-inch LCD IPS display with a resolution of 720p (1,280 x 720). The Blade V6 is powered by a 64-bit quad-core MediaTek MT6735 processor, and includes 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a MicroSD slot for expanded storage, 2,200mAh battery, and Android 5.0. The rear camera comes in at 13 megapixels, while the front-facing selfie is 5 megapixels. The ZTE Blade V6 will be priced at $280 in Europe.
These phones just reinvented the phablet with their enormous screens. The Phab sports a whopping 7-inch LCD IPS display with a resolution of 720p (1,280 x 720). It’s powered by a 64-bit quad-core processor, and includes 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a MicroSD slot for up to 64GB of additional storage, 4,250mAh battery, Dolby Atmos sound, and Android 5.0. The rear camera is 13 megapixels, while the front-facer is 5 megapixels. The Lenovo Phab is priced at only $180.
The Phab Plus is actually the smaller of the two, but it has a nicer display. It has a 6.8-inch LCD IPS display with a resolution of 1080P (1,920 x 1,080). It’s powered by a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, and includes 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a MicroSD slot for up to 64GB of additional storage, 3,500mAh battery, Dolby Atmos sound, and Android 5.0. It gets the same camera configuration as the basic Phab, which is 13 megapixels for the main rear camera and 5 megapixels at the front. The Lenovo Phab Plus will cost $300.
If you have been to any concert, you probably noticed a stack of Marshall speakers on the stage. Who would have ever thought that amazing sound could come to smartphones? But it has with the Marshall London. This phone looks very much like a Marshall speaker with its brass metal buttons and jacks. It sports a dedicated Wolfson chip, two front-facing speakers, and not one, but two 3.5mm headphone jacks, so you can share your tunes with a friend. The default music app supports FLAC and includes an equalizer. There’s even a DJ app that lets you remix queued tracks in the headphones before they play in the main speakers. Spec-wise, the Marshall London features a 4.7-inch display with a resolution of 720p (1,280 x 720). It’s powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, and includes 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, 8-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 2,500mAh battery, and Android 5.0. The Marshall London sells for 4995 kr ($600) in Sweden.
Lenovo Vibe P1
You can never have enough battery life, but the Lenovo Vibe P1 might be the closest thing to “enough” that we have ever seen. It sports a massive 5,000mAh battery, which promises 3.3 days of life. To top it off, it has quick charging capabilities, which means this beast can be charged up in a little over two hours. The Vibe P1 has so much battery that it can even charge your Bluetooth headset through USB on-the-go (OTG) connectivity. The Vibe P1 features a 5.5-inch LCD IPS display with a resolution of 1080p (1,920 x 1,080). It’s powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, and includes 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a MicroSD slot for up to 128GB of extra storage, 13-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front-facing camera, and Android 5.1. The Lenovo Vibe P1 will cost only $280, and it should be out in time for the holidays.
Acer Jade Primo
The Acer Jade Primo is the only Windows 10 phone of the bunch, and it also happens to be Acer’s first such offering. However this isn’t your normal run-of-the-mill Windows phone. The Jade Primo is being touted as a pocket PC, and it comes with a docking station, keyboard, and mouse. This means that it can act as your main smartphone, but it can also act as your desktop PC when docked. This magic is possible with Microsoft Continuum, which was unveiled earlier this year. The phone itself sports a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080p (1,920 x 1,080). It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, and it has a 21-megapixel rear camera along with an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. Acer didn’t divulge anything else other than the Jade Primo will launch sometime next year.