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CES 2014 Roundup: Best smartphones and tablets unveiled at the tech show

By Simon Thomas on 09th January 2014

CES 2014 Roundup

CES 2014 is now drawing to a close and the majority of announcements have already been made. It's been a hectic few days where a plethora of dazzling new smartphones and tablets have been unveiled.


Noticeable absentees from the event included Samsung's Galaxy S5, HTC's M8 and Sony's new flagship smartphone, while smartwatches didn't feature as prominently as we expected. We can only assume that a lot of manufacturers are holding back their latest creations until next months Mobile World Congress.


But a whole host of important devices were still unveiled at CES 2014 and we've put together a list of what we believe are the most 5 most significant new arrivals. And just for good measure, we picked a couple of other devices that were also worthy of a mention.


Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

 Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

The Sony Xperia Z1 was one of our favourite smartphones of 2013 and at CES 2014 the Japanese company unveiled the smaller Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. The new 'mini' version of Sony's flagship smartphone is now our most desired smartphone of 2014.


We've long bemoaned manufacturers who make compromises with the specification of compact versions of flagship smartphones, but Sony have made no such sacrifices with their Z1 Compact, because it incorporates all the features of its bigger brother and puts them in a smaller form factor.


You get the same quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM and 20.7 mega-pixel camera. The only differences between the two smartphones is that the Z1 Compact's 4.3-inch runs at the lower 1280*720 pixel resolution, but fear not because it's still a stunning Triluminous display that utilises Sony's Mobile Bravia 2 engine.


Sony's waterproof 4G-ready smartphone is already available to pre-order in the UK. You can pickup the Xperia Z1 Compact from Phones 4U with prices starting at just £21 a month.



Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 and TabPRO range

 Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2

Samsung may not have unveiled the eagerly-awaited Galaxy S5 or the more-affordable Galaxy Note 3 Lite, but they did unveil a range of next-gen tablets which all feature amazing 2560x1600 resolution displays.


The Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 (pictured above) has a whopping 12.2-inch display and incorporates Samsung's much-loved S-Pen interface. The tablet has a high-end specification and marks the start of a new breed of larger- tablets, including the 12-inch Apple iPad Pro which is expected to be unveiled later this year.


Samsung also unveiled the new Galaxy TabPRO range made up of 12.2, 10.1 and 8.4 inch models. The largest tablet in the range is identical to the NotePRO 12.2, but doesn't feature the S-Pen interface and the TabPRO 10.1 has the same industry leading spec but with a smaller 10.1 inch display.


The smallest of the new tablets is the 8.1 inch Galaxy TabPRO which does make some sacrifices compared to its bigger brothers when it comes to specification, but still includes the same high resolution display. All in all we loved every one of Samsung's new tablet, especially the NotePRO 12.2!


Asus ZenFone range

 Acer ZenFone 6

CES 2014 is normally dominated by expensive technological marvels, but Asus have unveiled a trio of affordable Android smartphones that start from just £60.


The largest of the new smartphones is the Asus ZenFone 6 (pictured above) which - as you might have worked out - comes with 6 inch 720p IPS display. It costs just £100 and is powered by a Intel Atom 2.0GHz processor and has a stunning 13 mega-pixel camera.


The £80 Asus ZenFone 5 has a very similar specification, but the camera has been reduced to 8 mega-pixels and it has less RAM. But its 5-inch display still runs at the same 720p resolution, giving it a higher pixels-per-inch rating than it's bigger brother. The £60 Asus ZenFone 4 compromises on screen resolution, power and features but offers great value for money.



ZTE Grand S II

ZTE Grand S II

High-end Android phablets often incur a huge premium, with Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 and Sony's Xperia Z Ultra both having recommended retail prices around the £600 mark. But that's about to change after ZTE unveiled their newest device, the ZTE Grand S II.


ZTE's 4G phablet has a 5.5 inch 1080p display and is powered by a Snapdragon 800 processor, has 2GB of RAM and a 13 mega-pixel snapper. It's also ZTE's first 'high-precision voice phone' which can be unlocked and take pictures using voice command alone.


No price has been unveiled, but it's got a great specification and is sure to offer a more affordable way to get your hands on a high-end 4G ready tablet. And it's voice control features are a sign of things to come.



Huawei Ascend Mate2 4G

 Huawei Ascend Mate 2

Chinese manufacturers have been making a big splash in Western markets in recent times and none have made more of an impact than Huawei. At CES 2014 they unveiled the Huawei Ascend Mate2 4G, which is an affordable 4G phablet.


The 6.1 monster is the successor to the Huawei Ascend Mate and it improves on the original in a number of key ways. It features a faster processor, improved cameras and most importantly adds support for 4G LTE.


We still don't have details on the price in the UK, but it should offer an more affordable way to be part of the 4G and tablet revolutions. And for that reason alone the Huawei Ascend Mate2 4G is a significant release.



Other noticeable announcements:

  • NVIDIA announced their very latest system-on-a-chip (SoC) which brings console quality graphics to mobile, offering graphics performance equal to the XBOX 360 and PS3.Read more here.
  • Asus unveiled a trio of new tablets comprising of two Android tablets and one that runs on the Windows 8 platform. Read more here.
  • Chinese manufacturer Lenovo unveiled their first 4G smartphone, called the Vibe Z. Read more here.
  • Acer also unveiled the mid-range Liquid Z5 which is priced at just £140. Read more here.
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