Our tech guy Colin Moors steers you in the right direction for your gadgets this Christmas.
If you’ve looked into buying the latest ‘flagship’ devices from either Samsung or Apple recently, you’ll have noticed something very special about them. The price. Both the iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 retailed at launch for exactly €999. Now, I don’t know about you but for me, that’s a thousand euros. A thousand euros for something to send smiley faces to your friends on. As a regular writer on tech, I do love my gadgets but I’m squarely in the camp of the many nay-sayers on the internet that believe that the thousand-euro mark is a line in the sand we won’t be crossing without some coercion.
The good news is that, prior to Christmas, both companies will offer massive ‘savings’ as they try to hit their sales figures by the end of the year. You may well get either of them cheap, or bundled with 3D units or a ‘free’ tablet for the same price – it depends on what you call a bargain, I suppose. At the time of writing, the price of the Note 8 is stable at €999 in all leading electronics boutiques but Apple has responded to heavy demand and limited supply by increasing the base price along with selling you a charger as an extra. You may have to wait until the second quarter of 2018 to get any deals.
So what to do if you are one of those who feel that a grand is a bit of a stretch for something to look at cat videos on? Sadly, not a lot. If you’re an Apple aficionado, your only option for a high-end, large-screen iPhone is the 8 Plus model – basically you pay less but your phone is less sexy. Android lovers have a much wider scope when it comes to changing brands. A lot of the Chinese models, while excellent and very well appointed, come with their own version of Android, which is not a deal-breaker if you love to tinker with the settings but can be restrictive and confusing for stock Android users.
If you’re prepared to put up with the strange operating system, Huawei are making some high-end phones just recently. Their best-of-breed P10 model packs a lot of punch for around €650, missing out on only the waterproofing and the HDR support of the big two. The Xiaomi corporation too, have something if you feel size is important. Their Mi Max 2 model boasts a 6.44 inch screen, bridging the gap between the smartphone and the tablet – a true ‘phablet’ in every sense. It’s got dual SIM support (or an SD card, you can’t have both), fingerprint sensor, enhanced audio and a whole lot more. The camera is passable. The specification is OK but won’t win any awards and the only things you’ll need to own this behemoth are around 180€ and a very large pocket indeed.