Wednesday , August 23 2017

Ausdroid’s 2016 Gift Guide – Smartphones and Tablets

2016-gift-guide

Welcome to the Ausdroid 2016 Christmas Gift Guide. This year we’ve split our usual long list into a couple of categories for you to refer to. Starting off the Christmas Gift Guide series is Phones and Tablets.

Obviously the most expensive devices you’ll use Android on are phones and tablets, but they’re also the most important. We’ve addressed most price points for the range of devices, we’ve got a recommendation if you’re starting at the bottom end of the market, as well as if you’re heading right to the top.

Phones

Oppo F1s


The Oppo F1s represents an entry level device at a great price for almost anyone looking for a good phone. It’s not even hampered very much by a poor spec list, it’s literally a great handset that runs well for a good price.

There’s two ways to get yourself an Oppo F1s, depending on which colour you want and if you wish to purchase a device unlocked to use on the carrier of your choice, or if you’re ok with using the Optus network.

Outright, the Oppo F1s will cost around $318 from places like JB HiFi where it’s available in Gold and Grey unlocked and ready to use on any Australian network. If you’re wanting to save a few dollars, you can also get the Oppo F1s as a pre-paid device from Optus for $259, which will get you a Selfie Stick as a bonus, though it’s only available in Grey.

The Oppo F1s impressed Phil in his review back in October with great battery life, impressive selife camera and of course that great pricing. There are some drawbacks with performance however so it’s not all sunshine and roses. That said, it’s a solid device and Oppo has been pretty good with their software updates so it’s a good choice for a budget range Christmas present.

Axon 7


Next up, we’re getting into the slightly higher end of the market with the surprise ‘flagship’ phone from ZTE. Launched earlier this year, ZTE Australia are still rolling this bad boy out with online sales on their Australian website but retail sales are expected to start next year. At $699, it’s not the cheapest, but it’s certainly not the most expensive device either.

The Axon 7 made a splash when it launched with ZTE claiming it as the first ‘DayDream’ ready handset to be announced. The phone will need a Nougat update for that functionality to happen, but ZTE have got the rest of the hardware just sitting waiting and from all accounts, Nougat is all but a certainty for this handset.
ZTE have been building their brand in Australia for some time now, and it’s paying off in spades, the interest in the Axon 7 has been an eye opener and for good reason it seems to be a great phone. Unfortunately we’re still waiting on our review unit, but the initial impressions from customers seem positive.

If you want to get your hands on one for someone in time for Christmas, check out their website and see how you go.

HTC 10


As far as the last few years are concerned, HTC hasn’t had the best ones really when it comes to launching phones. The HTC One line got a little stale, but when they dropped the ‘One’ branding and announced the HTC 10, a little spark of interest jumped back up in the hearts and minds of HTC fans around the world – and when it launched, they had good reason to celebrate, it’s a return to form for HTC.

The HTC 10 returns to HTC’s great design roots with a more refined look, it also fixes a number of issues that the HTC One M9 had last year, primarily the camera. The camera is finally great, the phone runs smoothly and it’s also very well priced.

HTC has been progressively dropping the price on the HTC 10 to the point where without even shopping around very much you can pick one up for around $700 from one of the smaller guys, or $750-$800 if you stick with Kogan or JB HiFi.

All up, the HTC 10 is a solid device, it’s in line for a Nougat update at some stage and well, it just looks the business. Anyone finding one of these delightfully designed handsets under the tree this Christmas will be well pleased.

Pixel XL

In a year that saw the traditional ‘Big’ handset we recommended actually removed from sale, Google happened to jump in with the best device they’ve ever launched…the Pixel XL.

It’s coming at the back of our recommendations, because at $1,269 it’s not the cheapest phone on the market…but in our opinion it’s the smartphone of the year. We’ve gone with the XL version of the PIxel (but really if you prefer the smaller the size you can’t go wrong with a Pixel), as it offers the larger battery, bigger (and more pixel dense) screen and well, it fills that Note shaped hole in everyone’s life this Christmas.

The Pixel XL sports a best in class camera, it’s got the best processor on the market and it also has a bunch of Android exclusive features built-in like Google Assistant which is being constantly refined by Google, it has Night Mode, a god send for anyone wanting to get some shut-eye and it has unlimited photo-storage at full resolution in Google Photos.

The Pixel (XL) is also DayDream VR compatible and though it’s early days, that platform shows a lot of promise. The PIxel XL with its more pixel dense QHD resolution is also more suited for VR so you will see things a little more clearly in those virtual apps.

The design is a little pedestrian, but as a first year release – this is Pixel, not Nexus remember – the Pixel phones are the best Android experience you can give to someone, so if you want to give someone a good experience of Android, then the Pixel XL is our pick this year.

You can get one from Telstra, but if you want it from the source, the Google Store is selling them as well online.

 


 

Tablets

Ahh, Tablets. Are they really still a thing? Well, they are….and they aren’t. But the attraction of a good tablet can’t be denied, the attraction of a decently priced larger screen media consumption device is also attractive so we’re always looking at what’s available. Sadly in Australia the Google Pixel C is sold out on the Google Store, Asus still hasn’t launched their latest tablet, and Samsung’s A series tablets are over-priced (IMHO) for what they offer, so what else is around?

The answer is Lenovo! Lenovo has a great range of decently priced tablet options on the market, they also have another option in the YogaBook which will work as a tablet as well as a more traditional clamshell style productivity device – though with a few extras thrown in.

Lenovo Tab 3 8” and 10”

But back to those tablets, the Yoga Tab 3 8” and 10” are getting a little long in the tooth right now, but the Tab 3 series are still solid contenders for great media consumption devices.

Powered by Mediatek processors, the tablets aren’t the most powerful of beasts and in fact with only 1GB of RAM on the 8” model, you’ll be probably only wanting to do the basics on that one. They do both come with support for Dolby Atmos sound, so if you’re into a great sound experience they can certainly pump out some great audio.

The pricing is pretty decent, the Lenovo Tab 3 8” goes for $219 while the 10” model, which has better screen resolution, larger battery and of course more RAM goes for $399, and you can even get some better deals if you shop around.

Lenovo YogaBook


My pick for a tablet this year though is definitely the Lenovo YogaBook. It’s twin-panel setup is still thin enough in tablet mode to be light and easy to handle by even children, and it offers the functionality of a much higher end device. It also offers anyone with a business or artistic use case a highly accurate stylus experience on the Create Pad panel.

The software included on the YogaBook has a focus on productivity and pursuits more in line with those of an artistic nature, but they’re easy to use and quite functional. If you’ve ever had to take handwritten notes and transcribe them into a computer later the YogaBook with its character recognition is a gift from the heavens. Not only is the standard software load pretty greta, Lenovo has improved on the YogaBook since the first release as well, which shows Lenovo is committed to this platform.

Lenovo has created a wonderfully designed device with the YogaBook. It’s also quite well priced at $799 running Android but it’s packed full of specs and runs like a dream.

If you’re looking for a gift for a productivity, or Artistic focused person in your life then the Lenovo YogaBook is a very good suggestion. You can check them out on the Lenovo website and order from there.


 

So that’s our 2-cents worth on what you should be looking at this year for Christmas, there’s a lot to check over and it comes down to price and what the person you’re buying for really wants. Sound them out, see what clicks and go from there – I certainly wouldn’t be upset by any of these being under my Christmas tree come December 25th.

 

Daniel Tyson   Editor

Dan is a die-hard Android fan. Some might even call him a lunatic. He's been an Android user since Android was a thing, and if there's a phone that's run Android, chances are he owns it (his Nexus collection is second-to-none) or has used it.

Dan's dedication to Ausdroid is without question, and he has represented us at some of the biggest international events in our industry including Google I/O, Mobile World Congress, CES and IFA.

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4 Comments on "Ausdroid’s 2016 Gift Guide – Smartphones and Tablets"

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David Anderton
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David Anderton

g5 500 g4 300.

Really
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Really

who are the smaller players with the HTC 10 for $700? keen to grab on for the boss as she’s killed her S6

Member

Wow, Samsung bombed out this year. They didn’t update last year’s capable Tab S2 and I guess their phone happened earlier in the year and the Pixel has taken the shine off the S7 and Edge.

Nice to see HTC get a gong. I’ve not seen anything online about the 10 since just after it launched. I wonder if HTC might try the Chinese trick of releasing a “flagship phone at a mid range price”. It’s a strategy that seems to be working for One Plus, Huawei, Oppo, etc.

Rick
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Rick

I have no doubt the Note 7 would have been here, were it not for the small issue of the exploding batteries!

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