Date:27 February 2017
LG found its stride again
This is a great thing: LG have forced themselves back on the map. The G6 is beautiful in the same way 2016’s best-designed glass sandwich phones were and the wide-angle lens gets an upgraded sensor. On the downside the wide-angle camera doesn’t have optical image stabilisation and LG’s claim to be the first non-Pixel phone to roll out with Google Assistant is a very tenuous claim because Big G just announced an over-the-air update to Marshmallow and Nougat phones with Assistant on board. On screen duty is a 5,7-inch, 2:1 (18:9) aspect ratio which supports HDR10 Dolby Vision. I somehow doubt that consumers are buying phones to watch HDR content on, but I have been wrong about phones being a primary video watching device before.
Bottom line: It’s the first flagship phone out of the gates for 2017 and sets a high standard for others to follow. Well done LG, you should win back a few fans this year.
Huawei go full arthouse
You know how I keep singing Huawei’s Leica dual camera system’s praises? Gird your loins for a year of the same. P10 inherits Mate 9’s 20MP monochrome and 12MP colour sensors, but ups the ante with f/1.8 aperture to pull in more rays of light. I would be all over showing off the camera’s prowess, but scheduling and a long-winded lecture on the colour green meant I couldn’t queue for a handset at the event – I am in discussions with the Huawei team regarding that, though. The manufacturer mostly steered clear of hard specs, but P10 does keep pace with the current frontrunners.
Bottom line: This is shaping up to be one of the best phone cameras on the planet and you should get it if you care about that sort of thing.
Nokia democratises Android
It didn’t take Nokia brand owners HMD Global long to get me excited about Android again. The words “pure,” “secure” and “up to date” is all I want to hear from any manufacturer wanting to make its mark in South Africa’s emerging market. Then a Google spokesperson gets up and says “Assistant” and “over the air updates direct from Google” and I was almost in tears. These mid-range to budget handsets are all beautifully designed and sensibly priced. That alongside the manufacturer’s promises of pure Android and Google underlining that with its own commitment is great. It feels like a realistic redo of the ill-fated Android One programme which was supposed to put the full power of Android in the hands of those who can’t begin to afford flagship devices. Thank you Nokia.
Bottom line: If you’re on a tight budget, but want to live the best Android life, Nokia has you covered. Keep an eye out for my interview with Nokia’s African head later this week.
Elsewhere at MWC 2017 in Barcelona:
Samsung are betting big on premium Android and Windows tablets. I fully support this move, but am willing to wait until the big flood of Windows 10 convertibles running on ARM chips. Galaxy Tab S3 and its Windows siblings do bring the excellent S-pen to the table, though. This is a good thing if you can’t afford or get your hands on a Microsoft Surface.
Motorola are bossing the mid-range camera game with the G5 Plus. You know that excellent Galaxy S7 camera? Very similar optics at play here, but at a cheaper price. Would’ve liked Moto Mod compatibility, but alas.