And so we continue with our review of the year's first half. Today's topic – flops and disappointments. Yup, we'll be talking about the underwhelming products and solutions that we dealt with at some point during the past six months. And most of them involve some big names with plenty of recognition respect in the industry, which goes to show that nobody is immune to flopping every once in a while.
Samsung, for example, made it on our list with not one but two features found on its current flagship smartphone – the Galaxy S5. As much as we like Samsung's phone, we can't overlook the fact that some of its features lack in practicality. HTC is also about to be mentioned. The company decided that it wasn't going to abandon its UltraPixel camera technology for its 2014 flagship, so the HTC One (M8) launched with a slightly improved and pimped up version of the M7's 4MP snapper. And let's not forget about Nokia and its entry into Android territory. Earlier this year, the company launched its first Android-based devices, but neither of them seems to have caught the attention of critics or consumers.
Flick through the slideshow below for more flops and disappointments of H1, 2014.
Flops and disappointments from H1 2014
Flops and disappointments from H1 2014
1. The UltraPixel camera on the HTC One (M8)
As a whole, the HTC One (M8) is a wonderful phone, but there's one thing that's not so great about it – its UltraPixel camera. Sure, it is fast, and the secondary Duo cam enables it to apply fancy effects to some images, but the low resolution of the sensor and the software's imperfections often cause it to yield mediocre photos. Need proof? Take a look at our recent camera comparisons between the One (M8)
and other high-end phones.
2. Samsung Galaxy S5's fingerprint scanner
When the Galaxy S5 got announced, we were glad to hear that it had a built-in fingerprint scanner. But then we used the phone for a while and found out that the scanner wasn't very reliable. Unlike Apple ID, which is the best fingerprint sensor implementation on a phone that we've seen so far, the S5's scanner is of the swipe kind. This makes it uncomfortable to use, especially with a single hand. Plus, its accuracy needs serious improvement.
3. Samsung Galaxy S5's heart rate monitor
And speaking of the Samsung Galaxy S5, at first we were excited about its heart rate monitor, but after using it for a while, we realized that it served little to no practical purpose. If a user really needs reliable heart rate data for their exercise, they'd want something that would measure and provide data in real time, something that won't require them to stop their exercise and fiddle with their smartphone. And besides, the S5's monitor is about as reliable as those heart rate apps you can get on other smartphones.
4. The limited availability of OnePlus One at launch
The folks at OnePlus had our expectations set pretty high with their bold claims of how they had created the perfect smartphone. Then the official announcement came, and we were all wowed by the OnePlus One – it had the hardware of a 2014 flagship, yet the price of a value menu in BK. Okay, it wasn't that cheap, but it started at only $299, which was a jaw-dropping price for that kind of specs. Yet there was a bitter catch. To get the "flagship killer" OnePlus One, you needed an invitation, and these were pretty limited. So yeah, the One was a great smartphone, but the process of getting one was simply too frustrating.
5. Nokia's Android phones
Nokia kind of surprised us when it announced that it was launching a phone based on Android. In fact, it has launched three so far – the Nokia X, the Nokia X+, and the Nokia XL, with the Nokia X2 about to hit the shelves as well. We were hoping that the phones would be decent low-cost offerings, especially coming from a name like Nokia, but they couldn't impress us with anything beyond their low price. Nokia's X phones are slow, with weak hardware, and with limited selection of applications even though that's Android hiding under a layer of customization slapped on top by the manufacturer.
6. Pros VS cons of QHD (1440 x 2560 pixel) displays
Okay, we know that it is cool having a QHD display on a smartphone – graphics are super crisp and you can brag about it in front of your geeky buddies. But the cons of having so many pixels on a smartphone screen make us wonder whether we really should go beyond 1080p territory. Judging by what we've seen so far on phones like the LG G3 and the Oppo Find 7, a QHD screen takes a noticeable toll on a phone's performance and battery life – a hefty trade-off, if you ask us.