Fab ph­ablets

Smart­phones are get­ting bet­ter, slim­mer and sharper, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley Nicholson

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

SAM­SUNG GALAXY NOTE 3 $ 999 sam­sung. com/ au

SAM­SUNG makes a com­pelling case to up­grade the orig­i­nal ph­ablet. The third Galaxy Note, out tomorrow, has a new look with a faux leather back, a big­ger screen yet slim­mer body, 13- megapixel cam­era, faster 2.4GHz quad- core chip, 3GB RAM, 4G, and brand new skills. They in­clude a cus­tomis­able, built- in web mag­a­zine from Flip­board, an in­fra- red blaster for uni­ver­sal TV con­trol, and Air Com­mands that make its S Pen sty­lus worth grab­bing. Scrap­booker lets you cir­cle and save web con­tent for later, and Pen Win­dow brings up mini apps that fol­low you from screen to screen. But best of all, the Note 3’ s larger 5.7- inch screen is crisper, full HD and it’s all housed in a body a tad smaller than be­fore. Sam­sung’s TouchWiz has some quirks, such as fi xed home­screen short­cuts, but this phone is a clear win­ner.

SONY XPERIA Z1 $ 779 sony. com. au

SONY has poured a lot into its fl ag­ship smart­phone. Or­di­nar­ily, its 20.7- megapixel cam­era would steal the show with its large, 1- 2.3- inch sen­sor, f2.0 aper­ture for low- light pho­tos and 27mm wide- an­gle G Lens. There are also spe­cial cam­era modes, in­clud­ing Timeshift Burst that cap­tures 62 pho­tos in two sec­onds and So­cial Live that broad­casts video live to Face­book. But the Z1 has even more to it, in­clud­ing a wa­ter­proof body that can stay un­der­wa­ter for 30 min­utes, even with its head­phone port open, a 3000mAh bat­tery, full HD fi ve- inch screen, 4G and NFC con­nec­tions, and 2.2GHz quad­core chip to keep the cam­era fi ring. Its glass body is prone to fin­ger­prints and it’s heav­ier than some at 170g, but this phone breaks new ground.

AP­PLE IPHONE 5S $ 869-$ 1129 tel­stra. com. au

BIO­MET­RIC data isn’t used in many gad­gets but Ap­ple’s lat­est fl ag­ship phone is an ex­cep­tion. The home but­ton in the iPhone 5S dou­bles as a 500- dots- per-inch fin­ger­print scan­ner that cap­tures a de­tailed map of each fin­ger­tip. Your digit can then be used to se­curely un­lock this phone in sec­onds. It’s this scan­ner, an im­proved cam­era and a faster chip that sep­a­rate the 5S from last year’s iPhone. Im­prove­ments to its 8- megapixel cam­era in­clude a burst mode that can cap­ture 10 pho­tos in a sec­ond, a slow­mo­tion video op­tion, new fl ash and an f2.2 aper­ture for low- light pho­tos, while its 64- bit A7 pro­ces­sor speeds things up and may show a no­tice­able boost with fresh apps. How­ever, a 9 per cent bat­tery im­prove­ment, the same form and a higher price hold it back.

SONY XPERIA Z UL­TRA $ 799 sony. com. au

FANS of big phones are likely to be big fans of this big phone. It’s as if Sony is say­ing, “That’s not a phone. This is a phone!’’. The Xperia Z Ul­tra boasts a 6.4- inch screen, which is bound to be a boon to the short- sighted, tablet- minded, fat- fi ngered, and those with large pock­ets. Sony hasn’t scrimped on specs ei­ther, with a Triluminos full high- defi ni­tion dis­play, 4G con­nec­tiv­ity, 2.2GHz quad- core chip, 16GB mem­ory, wa­ter­proof body, 3000mAh bat­tery that sees the day out, and an eight- megapixel rear cam­era. The cam­era isn’t at its best in low light, un­for­tu­nately, and its girth re­quires both hands, but it’s a fab ph­ablet.

HTC ONE MINI $ 480 htc. com/ au

HTC’S lat­est smart­phone sits on the small end of the size de­bate. A shrunken ver­sion of the com­pany’s fl ag­ship phone, the One Mini steals many of its fea­tures and fi ts them into a more pocket- friendly form. Those fea­tures in­clude the Ul­traPixel cam­era that adapts well to low- light scenes, front- fac­ing Beats speak­ers and the news- ag­gre­gat­ing BlinkFeed home­screen. Some hard­ware has shrunk in power to meet the $ 480 price, how­ever, in­clud­ing the 4.3- inch screen’s res­o­lu­tion ( now 720p), its mem­ory ( just 16GB with no room to ex­pand) and its power ( dual- core chip, 1GB RAM). A solid, bud­get-meet­ing, pocket- friendly op­tion for midrange users.

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