CES 2015: Everything we got to see at this year’s show

Another year, another International Consumer Electronics Show behind us. Was 2015’s one that will go down as a banner year in the annals of history? We didn’t see any huge show-stopping announcements, nor surprise reveals of everyone’s-talking-about-it hardware, but the show we did see unfold over the course of last week was still a totally solid offering, packed with lots of great phones, tablets, wearables, and accessories that all came together to place us on some solid footing as we get ready for the rest of this quarter’s launches. As we start thinking about gearing up for MWC in another few weeks, we’re taking a moment to reflect on our CES 2015 experience; come with us now as we look back on all the mobile technology we got to check out.

Phones · Tablets · Wearables · Tech · Accessories

Phones

Ah, our meat and potatoes: the industry has come a long way over the past decade, introducing new mobile form factors that have forced us to look at our relationships with gadgets in new ways, but it all keeps coming back to phones. At CES 2015, handsets were in no short supply, and made up the bulk of our coverage. Let’s start with some of the high notes.

g flex 2LG came to Las Vegas armed with the G Flex 2, the sequel to 2013’s curved-screen experiment that we’ve been looking forward to ever since. Arguably the highlight of the expo’s major launches, the G Flex 2 appears to improve on the original in a number of important ways, not the least of which being its price tag.

We dove into its no-compromise specs, saw how it compared to flagships like the G3 and Galaxy Note 4 (not to mention the original G Flex), and gave you a primer on all the reasons you might actually want to consider a phone with a curved display.

Even the team back home was very impressed with what LG had to share, making this an early contender for 2015’s best phone.

And while it’s not really being promoted as a proper LG smartphone, the LG-made Firefox Fx0 that just launched in Japan made an appearance at CES this year, and we stopped to take a look at its eye-catching translucent design.

Of course, LG wasn’t alone when it came to raising a view eyebrows with its next-gen hardware, and ASUS managed to deliver some pretty noteworthy hardware of its own. Maybe the biggest headline-grabber there is the ZenFone 2 that manages to pack a massive 4GB of RAM into its circuit boards. Make no mistake: we’re just getting warmed-up to this idea, and we’re likely to see 4GB of memory in several more smartphones before the year’s out. You can get a closer look at this first one, though, in our hands-on video.

The company’s other big handset of note is the ZenFone Zoom, and while it doesn’t repeat that 4GB RAM trick, it does squeeze a full 3x optical zoom mechanism into a body under 12mm thick – chunky by some standards, sure, but still impressive for it is.

desire-826-cesHTC is waiting until a little later in the year to introduce its next Android flagship, but CES still provided it with the opportunity to unveil a new upper-mid-ranger, the Desire 826. Of course, we gave this guy the hands-on treatment, shooting some video of our first encounter with the smartphone.

Neither Samsung nor Sony used CES to make any big launches, and while that means having to patient until they’re ready to break silence (which will almost certainly fall around the time of MWC), not everyone remains in the dark – at least, to hear some of the CES gossip, the GS6 and Z4 were lurking behind closed doors for private showings with industry execs.

On the plus side, CES did give us the chance to get up close and personal with some previously-announced Samsung gear, and we used the opportunity to take a look at the Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5.

zte-grand-x-max-plus-780ZTE came ready to announce the budget-priced Grand X Max+ for Cricket, and we took a look at the phablet in the flesh.

We’ve got something of habit for checking in with Yota Devices at trade shows, and while last year the YotaPhone 2 was more of tease, now it’s finally time for the dual-screened smartphone to start going up for sale. We took a look at both the phone itself, as well as its packaging – and that’s all leading up to a more in-depth review, currently on the forecast for the end of the week.

BLU brought quite a few of its many smartphone options to CES, and we had the time to take a closer look at the stupid-thin Vivo Air, the more-battery-than-phone Studio Energy, and both the Life One and jumbo-sized Life One XL.

Smartphones with close ties to camera-makers played an unexpectedly large role at CES, starting with the launch of the first Kodak-branded handset, with a 13MP camera and a lot of picture-related software.

polaroid-selfieIn addition to that one, Polaroid had some of its own hardware up for display, but Oppo took issue with the alarming extent to which the Polaroid Selfie phone seemed to rip-off the design of Oppo’s old N1.

The final of these camera-centric models is an older model that launched a few months back, but CES gave us our first chance to go hands-on with the model: Panasonic and its Lumix CM1.

We may not have seen anything new from Motorola (though it did announce a Nexus-6-of-sorts for China while CES was underway), but parent company Lenovo was at CES in force, launching the P90 with its massive battery and the stripey Vibe X2 Pro with its unusual front-facing flash accessory.

Alcatel PIXI 3 GroupAlcatel Onetouch had quite a bit going on, and we saw it introduce new models in its Pop 2 series, flip the switch on an online storefront for US shoppers, and break through platform boundaries with the Pixi 3 family of hardware that supports Android, Firefox OS, and Windows Phone – user’s choice.

Archos was one of the first companies to announce its CES spread this year, and the highlight phone there was the 50 Diamond with its capable-looking specs and low $200 price-point.

acer-z410Acer also came to the party a little early, and the weekend before CES shared news of a pair of new Liquid-series Androids.

Finally, we got the Saygus V2, an unexpected treat with a pair of optically-stabilized cameras, waterproof construction, and the capability to outfit the phone with 320GB of storage with the help of a couple microSD cards. Giving the phone that much storage is one thing – what you might do with it all is another.


Tablets

remix-tabletDespite hearing rumors that we might see a new giant-sized tablet from Sony, the tablet landscape was pretty uninspiring at the show this year. Maybe the most talked-about model that did make an appearance was that odd Remix from Jide Technology, the Android tablet did everything in its power to come off looking like Microsoft’s Surface.

Wearables

Where tablets may have let us down, wearables more than picked up the slack, and this year’s CES brought us a bevy of new models to check out. Alcatel Onetouch got things started early with the announcement of its simply-named Watch (are those Apple lawyers we hear knocking?), one of the most affordable smartwatches to launch, at just $150. We took a look at it firsthand to learn what to expect from the custom OS Alcatel Onetouch is using to drive Watch.

While we were hoping to see a lot more from Sony this year, we did manage to check out an update to last year’s SmartWatch 3, with Sony bringing a desirable metal option to the wearable. This was one sleek-looking watch that deserved a closer look.

webos-watchLG wasn’t quite ready to launch its new smartwatch, but apparently the Audi boys didn’t get the message, and ended up introducing the world to a webOS-based model used as part of their connected car demos. Rumors claim that webOS is the future of LG’s watch efforts, and we could be seeing a number of these models released – even if they don’t start getting here until 2016.

Samsung taught us with the Gear S that there’s no reason to be afraid of smartwatches with integrated cellular radios, and this year at CES we spotted other manufacturers showing off similarly-equipped models of their own. The GoldKey Secure Communicator was one such model, armed with a suite of security-focused software to complement its flexible connectivity options.

Lenovo went the power-saving route with its Vibe Band VB10, a wearable with cross-platform compatibility that uses an e-ink screen to eke out a full week of operation on a single battery charge. And that sub-$100 price point doesn’t hurt, either.


Tech

CES isn’t just a place to see new commercial products, and it also gives us the chance to learn about technologies that will find themselves integrated into devices launching further down the line. For instance, while LG has a curved screen on the new G Flex 2, it’s been working on some curved-screen tech of a slightly different variety, too. Its so-called Active Bending panel offers a much more Note-Edge-like look, only with curves along both long edges.

nvidia-denver-k1In SoC news, NVIDIA had its latest silicon to announce, the Tegra X1. The company claims twice the performance of the existing Tegra K1, and while NVIDIA talked a good deal about X1 integration in advanced automotive systems, it’s only a matter of time before we see this guy make its way to tablets and other mobile devices.

Accessories

When you’ve got an expo full of mobile hardware, you had better believe that mobile accessories won’t be far behind. And at CES this year, manufacturers didn’t disappoint when it came to producing all sorts meant to be used in concert with our phone and tablets. We’ve already mentioned some, like the Lenovo Vibe Xtension Selfie Flash, but here are a few others that grabbed out attention:

HTC didn’t have an all-new accessory to launch, but it did manage to deliver a quite interesting update for last year’s RE camera, announcing the release of new software that would allow the camera to stream its video feed to YouTube in real time.

SPRO2-780Sometimes even the biggest phablet screen isn’t large enough to share content with a group, so ZTE’s introduced its new Spro 2 portable projector for when just that need arises. The 720p projector runs Android itself, and accepts input from a number of wired, wireless, and storage-card-based formats.

The folks at Aukey helped make Pocketnow’s CES 2015 coverage possible, so of course we stopped by their booth to see all their latest mobile wares. Those included speakers, chargers, batteries, and more, some of it so new that it’s still in active development.

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That’s about it for what we got out of CES this year! Did you get to hear about all the products you were expecting? If not, have a little patience, as it’s just six short weeks to go before we’ll be packing up for Barcelona to bring you all the news to come from Mobile World Congress 2015.

In the meantime, keep reading Pocketnow to stay on top of the latest mobile hardware, software, and services, and if you’ve got a few moments to kill, be sure and check out some of our CES 2015 outtakes – what actually made it on-camera was just a fraction of the good times we had. Thanks for following our coverage, and be sure and come back with us next year for CES 2016 and all that has to deliver.

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!