These are sleek, fast and beautifully designed. A review of Samsung, Huawei and Apple's latest releases.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

Samsung is back with a bang (not literally, this time).

Price starting at around R13 000

Let’s be honest, 2016 will be the year Samsung wants to forget following the disaster of the Note 7.

No surprise then that at the launch of their flagship new devices the S8 and S8+ in New York in March, Samsung’s head of mobile, DJ Koh, emphasised safety, quality and craftsmanship in the new devices. This includes an 8-point safety check on batteries.

These are sleek, fast and beautifully designed phones. They feature what Samsung calls an “infinity display”, which manages to push the screen right up against the bezel, giving you the impression that you are holding a piece of glass in your hands. Quite extraordinary! The home button is gone and is now embedded into the glass display at the bottom. Samsung has also introduced the Bixby intelligent assistant to the new phones. Bixby is a smart assistant similar to Apple’s Siri, which recognises your voice and even has the ability to recognise photographs. Samsung hopes to embed this personal assistant into all their appliances so ultimately Bixby will be in almost everything you do on the phone. Samsung has also increased security on the device: optionally, the front facing camera can scan your retina to unlock it. This is over and above using a password or the fingerprint scanner. The S8 is a 5.8 inches in size whereas the S8+ is 6.2 inches with a bigger battery and display. Samsung have a considerable amount riding on these devices and consumers will not be disappointed.

Ninebot miniPro 

A new way of mobility

Price R10 000

I had so much fun with the Ninebot miniPro! It may sound like a toy but believe me it isn’t. This is serious kit. You’ve already probably come across the big brother - the Segway human transporter used mostly by security personnel in shopping malls. The miniPro is the Segway’s baby brother and it’s a sophisticated robot. It takes a few minutes to learn how to manoeuvre and keep your balance. In my case, based on my clumsiness track record, it took me double the time. But once you get the hang of it, it is an amazing experience. It has dozens of sensors that are measuring the movement of your body as much 200 times a second to help you maintain balance. Using your knees to guide from left to right and your body’s slight forward leaning motion to move straight the miniPro can travel at around 6km per hour - 4 times faster than we walk. It has a range of around 30km on a single charge! It also works with an app that can be used to guide the Ninebot remotely. This is not designed for young kids but more for adults who want to be young kids again. Or for people like me who never quite made the transition into adulthood.

Huawei Mate 9     

The workhorse of the smartphone world

Price R11 000

Huawei’s focus on efficiency, engineering and build quality is very evident in the new Mate 9. This phone is a beautifully designed workhorse. Crafted in a solid aluminium body, Huawei’s flagship device is designed for users who demand performance. The large 4000mAh battery is designed to give you two full days of work and also has SuperCharge technology built in to give you a full day with just a 20-minute charge. The 5.9-inch device is packed with every feature you could ask for in a phone, making it a proper work tool that is solid and delivers on performance especially on connectivity. It also has the latest Leica Dual Camera system that takes fantastic photographs and shoots 4K video. Huawei have also focused on voice quality. The Mate 9 is equipped with four microphones with built-in noise cancelling technology to eliminate background noise and improve voice quality.

If you’re looking for a stylish phone packed with features, a big screen and an impressive battery then the Huawei Mate 9 is for you. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of mobile phones.

Apple Airpods

Wireless functionality with ease

Price R2599

When Apple announced the Wireless Airpods last year many had their doubts about usability. Let’s be frank here…they do look awkward and takes a few days to adjust to wearing them and putting up with the stares from people quietly saying to themselves “that’s the guy with the weird looking things in his ears”. It’s called envy. They are simply like hens’ teeth right now. People have realised they are actually quite functional. Once you start wearing them you forget they are in your ears. They come in a small container that also charges them. As soon as you open the container and take them out, your phone automatically recognises them and as soon as they’re in your ears they are ready to use. This is the magical genius of Apple products – they just work seamlessly. Inside the actual headphones is where the magic happens to give you that 5-hour listening time. They have Apple’s W1 chip that does all the noise cancelling and wireless connectivity. And if you’re brave enough to wear them at the gym, or go running with them, don’t worry, they stay on, even when you get sweaty.


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