This past week myself and Alex Dobie represented AC over at the IFA show in Berlin, joined by Derek Kessler and Mark Guim from Windows Central. Oh, and that Phil guy. He was here. It was my first time in Berlin, and the city is unlike any other I've visited — I definitely want to come back.
So often when we attend trade shows the real benefit for us personally and you, the readers, isn't even the actual news from the show. It's what happens surrounding the show, wandering through the halls and spending time after hours with colleagues. It's also the news that happens to land elsewhere, and how we cover it when we're all sitting here together away from home. This year it was the amazingly quick progression of Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 recall.
The news cycle can be funny, I think we all know. Samsung unveiled its latest wearables, the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic, just a couple of days earlier to a rather positive reception. I got to look at them for a while and am actually really impressed with them — even though I'm worried they're just too darn big for some people. But that was quickly buried by the international story of Samsung instead recalling just about all of the Note 7s it has made and sold.
Often the most valuable part of a show is just being together, no matter where the news hits
Though things seemed a little slow from our perspective inside the tech news echo chamber, the reality is that Samsung reacted incredibly fast on this matter. Moreover, it took on the blame — rather than calling out a supplier or downplaying things, it simply said that for the best safety of everyone it was going to recall every phone and issue replacements. U.S. carriers didn't all react so swiftly or smoothly, but most got the point: chances are you're going to get a replacement phone, different phone with a difference in price or a full refund. That's the right way to handle things.
No matter how a recall is handled it's always going to be a black mark on a company's reputation. How it handles things can go a long way to helping mitigate the loss of reputation, and generally I think Samsung did well here. Most Note 7 owners seem to be happy with their purchases and are likely to just get a straight-up swap for a fresh unit. How will consumers react the next time they go to the store to buy a high-end Samsung phone? We'll find out.
Now, how about what actually happened at IFA?
- We were all pretty caught off guard by the ASUS ZenWatch 3. It came out without any leaks, and looks to easily be the best ZenWatch yet. It's also rather inexpensive, but still looks and feels nice. That represents a big chunk of the smartwatch market.
- Sony is back, kinda, with the Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact. Both phones are solid complete packages; they're just missing a few things — namely fingerprint sensors in the U.S. I'm worried about pricing, and how much phone buyers in the U.S. have just moved on from even considering Sony.
- The Moto Z Play looks like a fantastic value, and maybe even a better choice for many than the Moto Z proper — I can't quite say the same about the Hasselblad camera Mod.
- Then there was the Lenovo Yoga Book. I had seen and used it before it was released and was super intrigued — color me even more so now that it's going to be on sale for just $499. I'm setting myself up for disappointment, I know, but I just have to use the Yoga Book some more.
- Huawei's Nova and Nova Plus are somewhat interesting, but not from my U.S.-tinted glasses. They look like good mid-to-high-end phones for Europe and elsewhere, and I'm constantly amazed by Huawei's hardware design and quality, but they're going to be a little spendy for what they actually offer.
- Then there's the MediaPad M3. Meh.
- Acer's new Chromebook R13 is easily the best it's ever made, but really only brings it up to what the Dell Chromebook 13 did last year (plus USB-C). It inches us closer to the ideal "solid mid-range Chromebook" the Chrome OS enthusiasts all want. (Right now, that's the HP Chromebook 13, I guess.)
That's all for now. A little bit less than a day left in Berlin, then I'm on a long flight back to Seattle. Enjoy the dwindling hours of the weekend, wherever you are. See ya Monday.