Consumer Electronics Show, more commonly known as CES, is set to officially kick off tomorrow, January 5th. CES is a showcase of new tech, gadgets, and gizmos that we expect to see over the year from companies such as Samsung, LG, ASUS, Dell, Qualcomm, and much more.
CES focuses on a wide range of technology with smartphones representing a small part of it. Smartphone enthusiasts can anticipate announcements and previews from BlackBerry (now TCL), LG, ASUS, Huawei, ZTE, Qualcomm, Samsung, and, for the first time, Xiaomi.
So what exactly can we expect from these companies over the next few days? Here’s a breakdown of what we know:
Chinese company TCL recently purchased the rights to the BlackBerry brand name and has already unveiled a detailed preview of their new smartphone under the familiar branding. Codenamed “Mercury”, the new smartphone aims to please veteran BlackBerry users by including a candybar-like design with a physical QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard has a fingerprint sensor on the spacebar and also has the same capacitive-touch features as seen on the Passport and Priv’s keyboards. It will run on Android Nougat and will have an increased focus on security, and the device charges via USB-C.
Not much was revealed about Mercury other than the way it looks and some of its functionality. TCL plans to release more details on the device during Mobile World Congress in late February, but wanted to give people a preview of what the company is working on.
LG also already unveiled a host of mid-range smartphones ahead of CES, including the LG Stylus 3 a new line of K-series smartphones which include the K10, K8, K4, and K3.
The Stylus 3 is stated to be the most powerful of the lot with a 5.7-inch display, MediaTek 1.5GHz octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, 8-megapixel front-facing camera, and a 3,500 mAh battery. The Stylus 3, as the name implies, focuses on features that make the most out of the stylus that can be neatly tucked away into the phone itself when not in use, similar to the Note 7.
As for the K-series, things are fairly straightforward: they’re mid-range, but have varying degrees of power. The K10 is the most powerful spec-wise and highest quality design-wise with a 5.3-inch display, fingerprint sensor, metal frame, and slightly curved display. Specs and design are slightly lower in the K8, even lower in the K4, and lowest for the K3. The K10 and K8 will come with Android Nougat, while the K4 and K3 will still use Marshmallow. These devices will be available in the U.S., although dates and specifics haven't yet been revealed.
Huawei unveiled their new device, the Honor 6X, yesterday promising “iPhone 7 features” for a budget price. The Honor 6X features a 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 display, Kirin 655 octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage with microSD card slot, 8-megapixel front-facing camera, fingerprint sensor, and will run on Android 6.0.
The Honor 6X’s defining features are its 3,340 mAh battery, which is stated to give users up to two days of battery life. It also features a dual-camera set-up on the rear with a 12-megapixel main camera and an additional 2-megapixel camera to capture depth of field.
Probably the best thing about the Honor 6X is its affordable price point, which will start at just $249.99 and is available for pre-orders starting today.
Samsung typically waits to unveil their flagship during Mobile World Congress, but they still had something for smartphone enthusiasts at CES with the unveiling of their latest Galaxy A variants, the A3, A5, and A7; the A3 has a smaller screen and lower specs compared to the A5 and A7, and the A5 and A7 only differ in size and battery capacity.
These models are meant to emulate the design and some features of last year’s popular Galaxy S7 flagship such as a metal frame, 3D glass back, enhanced camera modes, Always On Display, and an IP68 rating. Of course, as mid-range flagships, there were some cutbacks made to the processors and storage options, but those cutbacks also warrant a cut in price as well.
ZTE’s new mid-range Blade V8 Pro smartphone made an unexpected appearance recently. Specs include a 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 display, Snapdragon 625 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage (supports up to 256GB additional via microSD), dual 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, 8-megapixel front-facing camera, 3,140 mAh battery, and will run on Android 6.0.1, Marshmallow. Price is unknown but with mid-range specs, the price should be less than $400.
ASUS will be holding a “Zennovation” event starting at 11:30 PST (2:30 EST), and may unveil two devices. The two devices that have been rumored and leaked are the ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom and the ASUS ZenFone AR, a Google Tango and Daydream-ready smartphone. At any rate, whatever they announce is said to be powered by the “world’s best processor”, which possibly means that it’s powered by…
Qualcomm has already released details on the latest Snapdragon 835 processor, and this upgrade appears to be a big one. With a 35% smaller footprint than the Snapdragon 820 and 821, 27% higher performance, and 40% lower power consumption, this chipset could go down as one of the greats if all goes as planned. You can find the skinny on the Snapdragon 835 here.
Nobody is entirely sure what Xiaomi has in mind for CES, but rumor has it that their new product will have global market appeal. Some reports state that a white version of the Xiaomi Mi Mix will make an appearance, and may even be available globally (the device is only available in China at the moment). Whatever it is, we will find out tomorrow, January 5, at 11 A.M. PST (1 P.M. EST).
That’s pretty much all we have in regards to mobile, but as mentioned, CES covers a lot more than just smartphones. The next several days should be full of announcements and previews of new tech we can expect to see in the next year, which will be refreshing after the lull we had over the holiday season.