Presenting the best of the best from Berlin's annual show!
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, gather 'round, for it's time to announce the inaugural Android Central Best of IFA Awards! We've been bringing you the best fare from Berlin's annual trade show all week, and now it's time to honor the best of the best. These are the companies and products that really stood out to us, and so they should stand out to you, too.
Enough fanfare. These are our 2014 Android Central Best of IFA Awards winners!
The Asus ZenWatch caught our eye with an exceptionally classy design. Leather straps and a simple, curved display with deep blacks come together for one striking smartwatch. It's not slump when it comes to functionality, either. A heart rate monitor is built right in, plus Asus has their own take on secure Bluetooth implemented, not to mention all of the functions Android Wear has to offer.
The Asus ZenWatch comes to Europe in October for €199, though there's no word on American availability just yet. For more impressions, read up on our hands-on time with the Asus ZenWatch.
The HTC Desire 820 follows closely in the footsteps of its mid-range predecessor, the Desire 816. The 820 marks the first use of Qualcomm's 64-bit octa-core processor, the Snapdragon 615. A smattering of design changes make the Desire 820 easier to use one-handed than the previous generation. Though the specs are middle-of-the-road, we found the HTC Desire 820 performed well in our brief time with it, and comes very close to the experience you'd expect in higher-end devices.
For more info, read our hands-on impressions of the HTC Desire 820 here.
The Huawei Ascend Mate 7 earned high marks from us by nearly eliminating the bezels along the sides of the 6-inch 1080p display. The body is big and solid, but also slim. The Ascend Mate 7 has more than good looks on its side, though. The rear-mounted fingerprint scanner has performed admirably so far, and there's a lot of potential for the camera.
Be sure to take a gander at our thoughts of the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 here, and stick around for our review coming soon.
LG really impressed us with how they stepped up their hardware design with the G Watch R. The stainless steel body boasts bold lines and a variety of strap options, and an equally generous variety of digital watchfaces.
Expect the LG G Watch R to ship sometime in Q4. There's more on the LG G Watch R from our hands-on time here.
Samsung's latest iteration in its venerable phablet series continues to refine a winning formula with the Galaxy Note 4. The upgrade to a quad-HD display is palpable, and the heart rate monitor from the Samsung Galaxy S5 has found its way over to the Note 4. A new quick-charging mechanism can fill the removable battery half-way after a mere 30 minutes. In terms of aesthetics, Samsung has wisely ditched the faux leather stitching on the rear, though you'll still get a bit of leatherette styling back there. The body construction is now metal, which is a much-needed upgrade for Samsung's top-of-the-line devices.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will be available in the U.S. in a variety of colors starting in October. Read more on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 from our hands-on time at IFA.
Samsung partnered up with Oculus to make their own virtual reality headset powered by the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. With the Samsung Gear VR, You're basically strapping a phone to your face to view customized software through a few adjustable lenses, but the end result was quite immersive. A touchpad on the side of the Samsung Gear VR lets you get through various interface elements, while audio is piped through either stereo Bluetooth or the Note 4's integrated speaker. The headset sold through retailers and carriers will come with an SD card chock-full of dedicated video and interactive content. The burgeoning market for VR-friendly content is promising, and Samsung's early landgrab there is a smart move.
Release date and pricing information is sparse, but we're excited to see more of the Samsung Gear VR. We've got plenty more thoughts on the Samsung Gear VR from our IFA experience here.
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
Sony shrunk down their recently-announced flagship Xperia Z3 for IFA, and we were amply impressed with the results. With the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, a few compromises were made bringing the down the Z3's 5.2-inch 1080p display to 4.6 inches and 720p, but all of the core functionality and performance was held intact in the transition. You'll still find an outstanding 20.7 megapixel camera on there, 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, overall hardware design, and software loaded on the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact.
There's more to say about the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact over here.
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
Sony also offered a more portable 8-inch slate dubbed the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact at IFA. It's packing the same horsepower as the Z3 with a 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 CPU and 3 GB of RAM, only it puts a larger 1920 x 1080 display on the front. Between the small bezels, slim profile, and extremely lightweight build, we're pretty excited to give the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact a spin
Read up more on our hands-on time with the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact here.
Congrats to the winners! We've got some shiny new hardware headed your way. Readers, what were your favorite devices coming out of IFA?