Can curved screens get round the problem of ever-expanding smartphone screen sizes? Here are the gadgets that answer this and other puzzling questions...
HTC One Max
around £600 SIM-free
When does a phone become a tablet, or even a phablet? That’s the question posed by the Max version of the HTC One - and its 5.9in screen (the resolution remains the same as the HTC One - 1080p Full HD, 1920 x 1080). As well as its massive screen, this barely-pocketable monster features three significant upgrades over its smaller sibling: fingerprint scanner, bigger battery (3300mAh v 2300mAh) and a microSD slot to expand memory by up to 64GB. But, is the bigger screen, better battery and more memory worth trying to squeeze this behemoth into your clothing?
The ‘smartpen’ is one technology that should have taken off by now, but never quite has. Livescribe’s pens capture everything you write and everything you hear, with easy transfer from pen to tablet or smartphone. You can click on a text note to jump to what was being said at that moment. The latest Livescribe uses Bluetooth to instantly send what you’re writing to your iPad or iPhone (Android etc. in 2014), and is slimmer than ever before, but it gets that slimness by relying on the phone or tablet’s microphone rather than a built in one - which is far from ideal.
Apple iPad Air
Apple may be increasingly struggling to justify itself in the phone and phablet markets, but in full-size tablets, it remains king. And with the iPad Air’s launch, it’s not hard to see why - the 9.7in tablet is 20 per cent thinner, 28 per cent lighter than last generation, and far faster with its A7 processor - improvements on what was already the best tablet its size. Wi-fi is improved also, as is the FaceTime HD camera and battery life. And, unlike iPad Mini or iPhone, it’s not pricier than its Android rivals. If you want a full-size tablet, there’s not much competition then - for now, it’s the iPad Air.
LG G Flex
The G Flex takes a different approach to big-screen phones with the first ever curved screen smartphone. The 6in plastic OLED display may only offer 1280 x 720 720p resolution, but should fit much better around your face when making calls, and much easier into your back pocket. Other specs are more high-end than the middling screen resolution: 2.26GHz quad-core processor, 2GB memory, 13MP camera and whopping 3500mAh battery. But the real question is - how many of us fit our phones in our back pockets any more? And how will the G Flex feel in a suit jacket or jeans pocket?
Bose SoundTouch Wi-Fi range
Bose jumps into the multiroom home speaker fray, squaring up against Sonos, Pure Jongo and Philips Fidelio ranges, among others. These Wi-Fi speakers wirelessly draw music from iOS, Android and Windows smartphones and tablets, but also Internet radio and streaming services (Pandora is available immediately, Deezer and iHeartRadio are listed as future updates). The initial range comprises three speakers, including one portable, all of which can be set up to play the same music simultaneously, or different music - with more products coming into 2014, including a SoundTouch version of Bose’s iconic Wave system, outdoor SoundTouch speakers and a living-room system.
Stick your smartphone or tablet to just about any smooth, flat surface with this unusual backing. It’s a polyurethane epoxy that secures to the back of your device (or its case) with 3M adhesive. After it’s on, you can then simply place your device on any suitable horizontal or vertical surface - glass, plastic fridge doors, metal etc. - and it stays put. It takes getting used to, but your device will stay in place. Ideal for selfies, for a making sure your phone stays put on a table and for going hands-free while shaving in the bathroom mirror. Works with iPhones, iPads, Samsung Galaxy S3/4 and some other devices.