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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Key features of recent models

An overview of the innovative features for the latest and upcoming smartphones.
The Straits Times - April 5, 2013
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Key features of recent models

Samsung Galaxy S4

Price to be confirmed, available this or next month

A larger screen, higher display resolution, faster processor and a more powerful battery were to be expected when Samsung announced the Galaxy S4 two weeks ago.

But they were not show-stoppers.

Taking a cue from the earlier Galaxy Note II LTE, the new phone gives you a preview of your images and e-mail messages when you hold a finger above the icons on the screen.

Samsung has added more gesture controls. Wave your hand across the screen to skip songs or take calls.

The Erase feature for its camera is useful when you need to remove unwanted objects in your photos.

Group Play, which links up with and uses another Samsung device to extend the audio output or compete in a multiplayer game, is one of the features that sets the S4 apart from its rivals.

LG Optimus G

$798, available since February

LG has added features to Google's latest Nexus smartphone that should give it an advantage in the market.

While its pop-up video widget is not new - some might think it dangerously similar to Samsung's - LG's Q Slide video widget lets you watch a video and interact with the user interface at the same time. It also has a slider that adjusts the opacity of the widget, so you can see what is hidden behind the video widget. The Quick Memo feature has also been improved. Now you can write on Quick Memo even while accessing the main user interface.

Asus PadFone Infinity

Price to be confirmed, available in the second quarter of the year

Keep the same set of Android apps for the smartphone and tablet with this Asus hybrid device.

Slot the phone into the pad and it transforms into an Android tablet - a feat yet to be emulated by any other device in the market. The tablet dock is also a battery pack, keeping the phone juiced up for a day or more.

Connect a Bluetooth headset to the phone and you can take calls even when it is docked.


$968 (32GB), available at the end of the month

Design-wise, the HTC One and its aluminium unibody design gets my stamp of approval.

As for features, this HTC phone has a Flipboard-like news aggregator, called BlinkFeed, parked on the main page.

New features that let you take 20 images and a three-second video concurrently and save them as a single file make this a stand-out device.

The option to control your TV or set-top box with the phone's built-in infrared sensor is just as appealing, and absent from other smartphones.

Nokia Lumia 920

$899, available since December last year

The user interface for Windows Phone devices might not be as heavily customised as Android phones, but that has not stopped Nokia from adding novel features to its Lumia smartphones.

Nokia Here (previously Nokia Drive) lets you download maps and voice guidance for offline use.

Think of the data roaming charges you will save by not needing to download maps and navigation data while you are travelling.

Wireless charging is another plus point for the Lumia 920, with a comprehensive list of accessories, including a JBL Powerup Wireless Charging Speaker. It works wirelessly as a speaker when you switch on the near-field communication feature on the Lumia 920; tap and connect to the speaker via Bluetooth.

Sony Xperia Z

$988, available since last month

High dynamic range or HDR is a term more commonly associated with still photography. It describes the ability to capture a wider contrast range and produces an image with a more balanced contrast.

Now HDR imaging has made its way to smartphones. Sony has upped the ante by including this feature for video recording on its flagship Android device, the Sony Xperia Z.

The smartphone's impressive exterior is matched by its chassis, shielded by durable tempered glass in front and at the back.

Like most Xperia smartphones, this device should survive being submerged for up to 30 minutes in water a metre deep. It is also dust-resistant.


Smartphone smarts