Three devices that really pushed the envelope this year

Game changing handsets and smartphones that stood out in a competitive market
Three devices that really pushed the envelope this year
By Saad ElKhadem
Wed 03 Dec 2014 11:54 AM

In such a competitive age, technology companies are constantly faced with the need to stand out in the market. There are far too many devices that look and perform in the same manner, so merely following the crowd is not enough. Against that backdrop, let's take a look at a few devices that have steered clear of the norm.

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

The Samsung Galaxy Note line can be credited with popularising the phablet smartphone form factor. When it was released, the notion of a 5+" display was hard to fathom; however, despite the arguments against such a large screen, the phone quickly became a huge success for Samsung. As a result, many vendors — including the previously skeptical Apple — now directly compete in this space.

So how does Samsung consolidate its position in the phablet segment? This year, the company released its much-anticipated Samsung Galaxy Note 4. This latest flagship phablet features a new design and metal build, along with a QHD display, fresh features, and souped-up specs.

However, Samsung didn't stop there. Along with the Galaxy Note 4, the company unveiled the Galaxy Note Edge, a 5.6" device with a curved display that dips on the right-hand side of the phone. The edge that curves, though a continuation of the screen, effectively acts as a separate section displaying notifications, favorites, shortcuts, and widgets that users can interact with.

With increased competition and growth in the segment, Samsung's latest edition to the Galaxy Note line will help keep its reputation for innovation intact.

Next up is the Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro...

Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro

Lenovo — along with its high-profile 'product engineer', actor Ashton Kutcher — recently unveiled the new generation of YOGA tablets, with several iterations running both Windows 8.1 and Android 4.4. The new tablets sport the same cylindrical grip that helps users hold the tablet in one hand, while simultaneously enhancing the tablet's built-in kickstand, which enables users to either prop up or angle the device at their desired orientation. The kickstand also now includes a cutout, should users want to hang the tablet on a wall or even in their car. These tablets come in either 8" or 10" variants.

While these may seem familiar, the model that really stood out from the company's recent unveiling was the YOGA Tablet 2 Pro. Lenovo's latest tablet houses a 13" QHD display and runs Google's Android KitKat operating system. Many of the previously discussed designs and features have trickled down to this model, including the built-in kickstand and cylindrical grip, but this tablet also includes one huge difference besides the 13" screen. It comes with a built-in projector that is capable of mirroring on-screen content onto any surface up to 50". This feature will be a welcome addition for both delivering presentations and watching media. Whatever its intended use, the built-in projector will definitely help make the Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro a standout tablet.

Next up is the BlackBerry Passport...

BlackBerry Passport

BlackBerry's latest business smartphone, the Passport, is named to reflect its 5.5" by 3.5" dimensions: wider than both the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Apple's iPhone 6 Plus. However, what it loses in ease of one-handed use, its gains in physical presence.

Bravely eschewing the standard rectangular display, the Passport device houses a unique, square 4.5" screen with a 1440x1440 resolution. The dimensions will not be optimal for watching media, but this isn't the Passport's proposed purpose. Instead, the device is tailored for the serious businessperson intending to see and do more with their device's mail, spreadsheet, and other productivity tools.

The physical keyboards on BlackBerry's devices had long been a key differentiator before being dropped in 2012, and the Passport brings this widely appreciated feature back, with three rows of physical keys that are now touch enabled, allowing the keyboard to effectively double-up as a laptop-style trackpad.

The BlackBerry Passport alone cannot return the company to its glory days. However, given its notable dimensions, nifty features, and clear target market, the company has succeeded in putting itself back in the limelight by drawing up its own rules for engagement.

Creating a unique device, no matter which one, is no guarantee of success. However, the buzz and excitement that they create is priceless. Consumers are looking for something different, something new. And one of these ideas, as different and out of place as they may seem right now, might just be the change that they are looking for, the change that they need.

* Saad ElKhadem is a research analyst at International Data Corporation (IDC), an independent global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets.

For all the latest mobile phone news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.