2016 in Review: Smartphones and Gadgets

It’s been a really long and awesome year, when it comes to Smartphones and Gadgets. We seen mobile manufacturers like Apple Inc., Samsung Corp., Huawei Corp., Sony Inc., Google Corp., and so forth all innovating and coming up with more advanced and upgrades in their mobile phones.

Thus, in this review, we’re going to look at the latest and the newest flagships these competitors had for us in 2016 smartphone markets. And we shall also talk about who got where, who lost what, who achieved more, and so forth.

Note; that we’re not going to look at all the phones these companies had this year, but only the latest or the newest at the moment.

Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

On September 7th, 2016, Apple Inc. announced two new iPhone models; iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus along with a their new Apple Watch at their media event in San Francisco.

Apple being the leading smartphone manufacturers in the world, came up with a new innovative idea of getting rid of it’s headphone jack! So if you don’t any of the two phones and you are planning on buying one, you might want might consider being more careful with your “AirPod Headphones” because they’ve the habit of being out of market.

The AirPod Headphones have a chip inside that controls on-board accelerometers which are sold separately for $159.

The iPhone 7 coming at 4.70-inch is priced at $649 for the new 32GB, doing away with the 16GB model. While the 5.50-inch iPhone 7 Plus is priced at $769 for the 32GB storage. Apple has also doubled the storage variant on other models, with 128GB and 256GB models now rounding up the lineup.

One other phone Apple released this year was the iPhone SE.

Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

Okay! we didn’t have to mention the Note 7 on this list, because you probably might know what happened to the phablets, so we decided to go with the S-series.

Early this year on Feburary 21st, 2016 Samsung Electronics announced their phablets; Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge as the newest additions to the Galaxy family of products at their Unpacked event.

The phablets have a refined design, more advanced camera, streamlined software functionality and unparalleled connectivity to a galaxy of products, services, and experiences created for today’s user lifestyle, improved 3D glass and metal – all in a sleek design with durability and ergonomic curves for a comfortable grip, a Dual Pixel camera delivering brighter and sharper images even in low light, have increased utility with IP68 water and dust resistance, deliver fast wired and wireless charging technology plus significant hardware and software updates to optimize gaming performance.

Additionally, users can record their gaming experience or share their screen to play with others.

Released in March, the Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge are priced at $549.99 and $649.99
respectively. However, the prices stated here, are for the unlocked versions only.

Huawei Mate 9 and Porsche Design Mate 9

Huawei Corp. on November 3rd, 2016 unveiled two of it’s latest high-end flagship phablets in the Huawei Mate series; the Mate 9 and Porsche Design Mate 9, during a global event that was held in Munich, Germany.

Mate 9 specs
The Mate 9 is built of metal around a big 5.9″ IPS display of 1080p resolution, the screen being covered with a piece of the 2.5D glass and it’s 7.5mm thick weighing 190g, runs on Kirin 960 chipset, has 4GB of RAM on-board, 64GB ROM, and microSD support up to 256GB, dual-SIM and LTE connectivity, a 4,000 mAh battery, rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, Android 7.0 Nougat and the latest EMUI 5.0, and dual rear 12MP and 20MP camera modules, that is powered by Leica and 8MP front camera.

The phones are available in; China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Thailand, and United Arab Emirates, priced at $729.97, and $1456.80 for the Huawei Mate 9 and Huawei Porsche Design Mate 9 respectively.

However, during the launch of the phablets, the company mentioned that the two phablets will be available at retail outlets globally at the end of December 2016 into January 2017.

Other Huawei smartphones that were released this year include; Huawei Mate 9 Pro, the P-series; Huawei P9, P9 Lite, and P9 Plus, Huawei Enjoy 6s, the Y-II series; Huawei Y6II, Huawei Y5II, and Huawei Y3II, and so forth.

Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL

Google announced the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones on October 4th, 2016 during the #MadeByGoogle event. The phones come by default with plenty of pre-installed features like  Google’s Assistant software, and Google’s latest messaging app ‘Allo’ and video calling app ‘Duo’ which I might say is pretty awesome.

The 32GB Google Pixel is available from $738.99 at Google Play, while the 128GB version is $862.36. The Pixel XL is, unsurprisingly, more expensive at $887.03 and $1010.40 respectively, making it the same price as the iPhone 7 Plus.

Phone specs

  1. Display: 5.0″ AMOLED display with 1080×1920 pixel resolution (Pixel); 5.5″ AMOLED display with 1440×2560 pixel resolution (Pixel XL).
  2. Processor: Both have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821.
  3. Storage: 32 GB or 128 GB.
  4. Memory: 4 GB RAM.
  5. Cameras: 12.3MP rear camera and 8MP front camera.
  6. Battery: 2,770 mAH (Pixel) and 3,450 mAH (Pixel XL), and both are non-removable and support fast charging.
LeEco Le Pro 3

Chinese technology firm LeEco on September 21st, 2016 launched its latest flagship smartphone, the LeEco Le Pro 3 predecessor of the Le Pro 2.

The smartphone comes in four variants; 4GB RAM with 32GB inbuilt storage priced at $270, 6GB RAM with 64GB storage priced at $300, 4GB RAM with 64GB storage priced at $375, and finally the 6GB RAM with 128GB inbuilt storage priced at $450.

Le Pro 3 also for-went the 3.5mm headphone jack, and instead uses the single USB Type-C port on board, running on EUI 5.8 based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, sports a 5.5-inch full-HD display with 2.5D curved glass, has a pixel density of 403ppi and powered by a 2.35GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC that’s coupled with the Adreno 530 GPU, while it also sports a 16MP rear camera and 8MP camera, bears a 4070mAh battery, measuring 151.4×73.9×7.5mm, and weighing 175 grams.

In terms of connectivity, the LeEco Le Pro 3 supports 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS and Bluetooth v4.2, apart from USB Type-C.


Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro

Sony Corp. on Wednesday September 7th, 2016 unveiled it’s high-end model, previously code-named “PS4 Neo” now called “PS4 Pro,” during a presentation at the PlayStation Theater in New York’s Times Square. The console features a faster processor, and enhanced graphics for 4K resolution games and video, and is shipped with a 1TB hard drive.

During the launch of the console, Sony confirmed that games from PS4 would definitely work on the PS4 Pro. Meanwhile, Sony’s rivals are also planning to introduce new high-end gaming machines come 2017.

PS4 Pro is priced at a cost of $399 (roughly 1.4 million UGX).

Microsoft’s Xbox One S

On June 13th, 2016 Redmond-based software firm, Microsoft Corp. unveiled a new XBox console ‘XBox One S’ which was dubbed, ‘Project Scorpio’ and a slimmer version of its Xbox One, at the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles.

The console, brings new features such as streaming support for 4K videos, which provides four-times the resolution of high-definition content. In addition, Microsoft also announced a number of new games at the conference, including Gears of War 4 and Forza Horizon 3 that would be available on for the console.

The console and its base model are priced at $299.

Sony’s PlayStation VR

Sony; Japanese electronics and gaming giant has unveiled a prototype virtual reality headset to be used in conjunction with its PlayStation 4 video game console. This was revealed during a Tuesday talk at the Game Developers Conference.

Codenamed Project Morpheus, the headset was set to feature a head-mounted display with 1080p resolution and a 90-degree field of view. Sensors built into the headset can track a wearer’s head movement in concert with a PS4 camera.

Users would be able to interact with the virtual world displayed on the headset with the gesture-detecting PlayStation Move controller, as well as the standard DualShock 4.

The PlayStation virtual reality (VR) headset will launch globally in October for 399 USD, a move that challenges its biggest competitor by hundreds of dollars. The company said more than 230 developers built content for PlayStation VR, from smaller independent teams to larger studios at the industry’s top publishers, expecting to have more than 50 games available until the end of the year.

Happy Holidays!!!

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