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The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.
pick of the bunch

Some great smartphones were announced this week, but what are they like?

All the big players revealed their latest editions at Mobile World Congress this week, and it’s quite a lineup.

AS WITH EVERYTHING at Mobile World Congress, there’s so much happening there, it’s easy to forget that the entire purpose of it is the mobile part, and this year brought with it some of the more exciting device announcements in recent years.

As always, there’s an opportunity to test them and we got to look at some of the biggest and interesting smartphones while in Barcelona. Here are the best ones and our first impressions of them.

Samsung S6 and S6 Edge
Release date: 10th April

We’re putting both here since the only differences between them are cosmetic, but from first impressions alone, Samsung appears to be back on form.

The metallic design makes it nice to hold, the camera boots up almost instantly and is better in low-light situations and the software has received an improvement in speed and efficiency (Interestingly, it’s prioritised Microsoft apps like Skype ahead of Google’s, but that’s a topic for another time).

It also comes with 32GB as the minimum, and 64GB and 128GB offered as well, likely a response to Apple’s insistence on offering 16GB and skipping 64GB.

Also, the S6 Edge does look and feel the nicer of the two devices. With a curved screen at both edges, it feels much nicer to swipe and navigate with this. The only problem with the metallic back is it ends up with a lot of fingerprint smudges which suggests you will want to clean it often.

Prediction: The S6 will sell really well while the S6 Edge will be to Samsung what the iPhone 6 Plus is to Apple.

HTC One M9
Release date:
Pre-order 16th March, Available 31st March

Another case of evolution than revolution for HTC, but when you’re improving on a device like the M8, that’s a good thing. Almost all of the M8′s specs have been improved, the camera’s quality seems to have gone up a notch, while contextual apps – displaying apps relating to work, home or on the go – could be a useful feature.

Combine that with a great unibody design, powerful speakers and its software and it looks like the M9 will be another hit with the critics, yet unlike Samsung, there’s nothing to suggest that this will be reflected by consumers.

However, HTC has a more exciting product in the form of Vive, its VR headset developed in partnership with Valve. The initial reception towards it has been very positive and if it lives up to its (incredibly short) reputation, it could be a breakaway hit for it.

Prediction: Will be another critically acclaimed product that won’t perform as well.

Sony M4 Aqua
Release date: Spring 2015

Sony decided to forgo releasing a flagship device this time at MWC – instead saying that it released two flagships this time: a mid-range device and a tablet – but that’s probably not a bad thing in this case considering one of its best devices, the Z3 Compact, was similar.

While it has a great camera – much like Samsung’s S6 devices, it boots up almost instantly and can take low-light photography – it looks like it’s a watered down version of the Xperia Z3. Again, this isn’t a bad thing, but it means we’ll have to wait until IFA in September at least before another high-range device is announced.

Prediction: Will continue to set the standard for all mid-range devices.

Sony Xperia / YouTube

Lumia 640 and 640 XL
Release date: March 2015

Similar to Sony, Microsoft is holding off releasing a flagship device until the release of Windows 10, what it hopes will be a catalyst for both its PC and mobile/tablet market.

There’s not a whole lot to say in these cases, they’re quite big devices – the 640 has a 5-inch screen while the 640 XL brings a 5.7-inch device and their specs are standard for devices like that. Also they will be cheap, if you go for the 3G version of the Lumia 640 and XL, it will cost €139 and €189 respectively. The 4G models will cost €159 and €219.

That said, the preview of Windows Phone 10 does have some nice touches and is certainly brighter and more streamlined than its predecessors. Both devices will be able to upgrade once it’s released.

Prediction: A stop gap until a flagship phone with Windows 10 arrives.

LG G Flex 2
Release date: N/A

Originally revealed at CES earlier this year, but the G Flex 2 is a bit of an oddity. The obvious one is the curved screen, which is really comfy to hold and sports a sharp 5.5-inch screen. It also has a scratch-resistant coating which keeps the back safe.

The specs behind this is a step up from the original G Flex so it properly competes against the bigger players in the market.

Prediction: An powerful and unique addition to the smartphone market (if it ever arrives here).

Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition
Release date: N/A

Alongside the usual suspects, there have been some other contenders in the market and the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition is certainly the most intriguing of them.

Using open-sourced software, the purpose of it is based on swipe gestures and does away with the entire concept of apps.

Instead, you have tabs which contain open services, a handy swipe menu for quick access and is relatively simple to navigate. That move away from the norm mightn’t be great for the average user who have become accustomed to apps, but for those who prefer a more streamlined navigation system will like this.

It’s not a high powered phone by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s trying to do something a little different, and for now, it’s best to see this as Ubuntu’s first steps in the market before it moves onto bigger and better things.

Prediction: Will be popular with more tech-savvy users.

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