Not all companies had high-profile announcements at the Mobile World Congress 2015, but many smaller brands caught our attention around the Congress floor with their innovative tech.

It’s now time for us to spend some quality time with what could very well be the next major companies in the industry.

We gotta give it to them, some of these brands aren’t all small. Most of the Chinese originating ones are very popular in their domestic market, but are yet to make ripples in international waters.

Some of the brands you should be familiar with – ZTE, Motorola, Jolla, Gionee and Nokia. All of them showcased very interesting devices, which you can see below on the following pages (the list below should help you navigate).

  • Nokia N1 hands-on
  • Gionee Elife S7 hands-on
  • ZTE Grand S3 hands-on
  • Jolla Tablet hands-on
  • Motorola Moto E hands-on
  • Saygus V2 hands-on
  • Yezz Project Ara prototype hands-on
  • Oaxis Star.21 and O2 fitness trackers hands-on
  • BlackBerry Leap hands-on
  • Wiko Highway Star 4G hands-on

We'll be adding more as we continue our tour around the Mobile World Congress 2015 showroom floor.

Nokia N1 hands-on

After Microsoft took over Nokia's devices business we felt we'd never hold another Nokia device again. But as it turned out the company wasn't done. It's not exactly clear how much of Nokia there is in the Nokia N1 but after handling it we feel reassured that this is indeed a product of the quality-driven Finish brand we know and love.

The Nokia N1 launched in China solely while the rest of the world is aching to see the low-cost high-end slate launch elsewhere. However the Nokia rep we talked to assures us that the Nokia N1 is coming to Europe - so here goes a sneak peak at what to expect.

The Nokia N1 is not your average Nokia device. For starters it runs Android - but not a fork - it's Google's Android. The slate uses Nokia's own Z Launcher (the one available from the Google Play store to other devices) tailored for tablets and everything sits on top of stock Android 5.0.2.

Performance is snappy as you can see in the video below.

While handling the Nokia N1 we couldn't escape the reference to the Apple iPad mini. The Nokia N1 is very similar with an aluminum unibody, the same 7.9" display of the same aspect, along with the identical 1536 x 2048px resolution equaling the same 324ppi sharpness. The display is also fully laminated, meaning there are no layers or air between the surface of the glass and the display itself. This should give it better contrast and viewing angles.

We can say that the Nokia N1's display is great. The panel is sharp and colorful. It's also impressively bright. We'd need to put it side by side with a retina iPad mini before we can say which is better but we left the booth impressed.


Nokia N1

The aluminum body of the Nokia Lumia N1 feels premium and well made like the iPad mini 2 and 3 but doesn't feel the same. It feels as if the Nokia N1 is lighter but not as thin.

Still securing the device in one hand is easy enough and we could easily use it this way - with one hand free to navigate the display. Android really sets the Nokia N1 apart from Apple's compact tablets and one thing that reflects this in the most prominent way are the on-screen buttons that pop up wherever you need them, contrary to the iPad's stationary physical home button.


Nokia N1

Another aspect of Android that separates the N1 is customizability. Nokia preloads its Z Launcher to the N1 but you can always install Google's own launcher or any other you like.

Powering the Nokia N1 is a 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 with four 2.3GHz cores, 2GB of RAM and the PowerVR G6430 graphics chip. We'd really like to test it against the best tablet SoCs out there - the Apple A8X and Nvidia's 64-bit Tegra K1 but we weren't allowed to perform benchmarks. But we'll remedy the situation as soon as we get our hands on a final Nokia N1 tablet.


Nokia N1

Nokia wasn't clear about the price of the N1 once it comes to Europe but we'd wager it will be slightly higher than the $260 price in China.

Gionee Elife S7 hands-on

Gionee has become known for its ultra-thin phones, but with the Elife S7 it also wanted great battery life from a _phone_ that doesn't overheat. The result is an elaborate and fairly unique design.

The metal frame of the _phone_ is built from aircraft grade stainless steel. The sides of this frame are grooved, something quite deliberate.

Gionee says the rail-like design makes the frame more rigid, improves grip and also prevents accidental presses of the side buttons, which are recessed into the groove.

This makes handling the phone a little strange, but we have to say it felt quite cool. It helps that it's very thin, just 5.5mm. It's not the thinnest dual-SIM phone they make it to be (that honor goes to the vivo X5Max), but it's still stunning in person.



The unusual rail-inspired design of the Gionee Elife S7 frame

The whole phone is a looker, with Gorilla Glass 3 panels on the front and back. We were quite partial to the Black color option, but it's an absolute fingerprint magnet. The Elife S7 is also available in White and Blue, the White didn't look as smudgy as the Black one.

Anyway, on the front is a 5.2" AMOLED display courtesy of Samsung, which Gionee says is 20% more efficient than regular AMOLEDs (like the one on the Elife S5.1 perhaps). The screen has great side viewing angles, contrast and legibility. The colors lean towards oversaturated though.

To further help the 2,750mAh battery, the company has included a Dark theme. Using that instead of the default light colored theme reportedly draws 30% less energy.


A high-quality 5.2" 1080p AMOLED display

The Gionee Elife S7 is powered by a MediaTek MT6752. The heat produced form the 1.7GHz octa-core Cortex-A53 processor and the Mali-T760 GPU is distributed around the phone and radiated away. We still felt some heat when handling the phone, but it was kept in check.

Gionee took a swing at Apple and all other companies that make thin phones but cheat with protruding cameras. Like we said, the company loves thin so it used the thinnest 13MP camera module (built on a Sony sensor), which fits snugly into the phones slender 5.5mm body. The phone also boasts an impressive sounding 8MP selfie camera.


The thinnest 13MP camera on the back • impressive 8MP selfie camera on the front

The company wanted the Elife S7 to offer a great audio experience so it endowed it with one oversized speaker. No, it fits just right in the body of the phone but Gionee says it's much larger than competing speakers. It's powered by an NXP amp and there's also DTS audio processing.

The phone is dual-SIM enabled, both cards going on the same tray. There's nowhere for a microSD card to go though, so 16GB of storage is all you get. Anyway, the phone boasts connectivity up to 4G LTE with support for the local Chinese flavors of 3G and 4G.

The Gionee Elife S7 will cost the hardly palatable €400 (it's great phone, but not €400 great). It's going to India and Macau soon, but will also reach Europe. Not under Gionee's own brand but instead as Kazam in Western Europe and AllView in Eastern Europe.

ZTE Grand S3 hands-on

ZTE Grand S3 went official just yesterday as the company's latest flagship, which introduces Eyeprint ID biometric security service. ZTE is indeed the first manufacturer to implement this kind of technology into a mobile phone.

The ZTE Grand S3 packs a 5.5" 1080p display and runs on the Snapdragon 801 chip with quad-core Krait 400 CPU at 2.5GHz, Adreno 330 GPU and 3GB of RAM. It also offers 16GB expandable storage, 16MP rear camera with dual-LED flash and an 8MP front selfie snapper. There is also LTE connectivity, Wi-Fi ac, Dolby Sound and a 3,100 mAh battery.

We went to see the smartphone at ZTE's booth and we found it to be quite pretty with slightly curved glass on its front.

The Grand S3 shell is all-plastic but we like the silver accents around the frame. It isn't as good looking as other flagships, but it's still a very nice looking device.

There is nothing out of the ordinary around the sides and the back of the ZTE Grand S3.


ZTE Grand S3

The most important feature of the phone is the front 8MP snapper, which is used for the eye-based biometric security via the Eyeprint ID. The innovative tech is developed by EyeVerify and can be used for authorizing mobile payments, unlocking the screen or accessing secure content.

Scanning your eyes isn’t as fast as the fingerprint sensor, but it is even more secure than the fingerprint recognition technology - probably because the phone needs to scan both of your eyes.

Since the scanning is done by the front 8MP camera, which has no LED flash, unlocking the screen or authorizing payments with your eyes in low-light conditions won't be possible.

The ZTE rep demoed the technology in front of us and it is indeed really cool though it works rather slow. Hopefully it improves in the future, because ZTE promises to implement the Eyeprint ID on all of its upcoming Grand smartphones.

Fujitsu is demoing a similar sounding eye-scanning tech at the MWC 2015, but they claim theirs is faster than using an on-board fingerprint reader/scanner.

Jolla Tablet hands-on

Founded by former Nokia employees, Jolla is a company that aims to carry on the MeeGo legacy. Its open-source Sailfish OS has now reached version 2.0 and it’s getting ready to debut on the crowd-funded Jolla Tablet. We had a chance to spend some time with the slate so we now have a better idea of how the eccentric platform behaves on its reasonably capable hardware.

The Jolla Tablet comes with a 7.85” display of 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution which we found to be rather good. Its brightness levels are very high and the viewing angles were great – despite some contrast compression we were still able to make out what’s on the screen even at extreme angles.

Jolla Tablet
Jolla Tablet
Jolla Tablet
Jolla Tablet

Jolla Tablet hands-on photos

Reflectivity isn’t quite as impressive and while we didn’t get a chance to try it, we suspect the slate might struggle when taken in the sun despite its strong backlight.

The general build of the tablet is really good – the materials feel nice to the touch and the whole thing looks well put together. Styling is pretty cool too – the logos are nicely subtle and there aren’t too many elements so we’d say this is one of the better looking slates out there. It’s not among the lightest though – it weighs as much as the just unveiled Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet and that one is a full-size 10” tablet.

Jolla Tablet
Jolla Tablet
Jolla Tablet
Jolla Tablet

Jolla Tablet hands-on photos

As for the Sailfish OS itself, we find its interface rather intuitive on the slate. There are a few gestures you need to remember and you are good to go. Here’s the quick walkthough as provided by one of company’s representatives here at MWC.


Powered by a quad-core Intel Atom CPU, the Jolla Tablet performs nicely, although not being quite the snappiest around. We can probably attribute that to the fact that the software isn’t quite finalized yet – we are still over two months away from the moment the device actually ships. Given that there are only a few things that need polishing now, we are pretty confident, it will do pretty well when it hits the shelves.

Jolla was particularly keen to point out that Android apps runs as well as if you had an actual Android slate with Sailfish introducing no unnecessary overhead. It’s hard to say that without running a few benchmarks, but it does seem plausible given the performance of the apps that were preinstalled on the demo units.

Better yet, the Android apps get their own cards on the homescreen/task switcher so you can enjoy the cool Sailfish multitasking interface with them too.

Overall the Jolla Tablet is a pretty cool device that we rather liked even if just because it’s always refreshing to see a new take on smart platform UI. It’s currently available for $219 for its 32GB version on IndieGoGo with a shipping slated for May or June. It’s not the easiest recommendation to make based on its hardware alone and Sailfish still has lots of catching up to do, but if you want to support Jolla’s commitment to privacy (the company is keen to point out it will never sell user data, be it anonymous or not), you might as well take the plunge.

Motorola Moto E hands-on

The Moto E was one of the best phones you can buy on a budget, but now we have its successor in our hands. The Motorola Moto E (2015) has grown in size and we like the design better than the original. Plus, it's more customizable, like a simple DIY Motomaker.

With increased competition from Microsoft and Chinese Androids, Motorola has to stay on top of its game if it wants to remain popular in the entry-level segment.

The Moto E (2015) maintains the same thickness at 12.3mm and practically, the same weight, 145g. The battery capacity has increased by about 400mAh and now stands at 2,390mAh. The extra juice goes to feed the slightly bigger display and the new, faster chipset.

Speaking of the screen, it still has qHD resolution (540 x 960px), but now measures 4.5" in diagonal (up from 4.3"). The drop in sharpness is not perceptible, but you gain about 10% of screen surface area. Better yet, it's an IPS LCD with good viewing angles and Gorilla Glass protection.

The bezels around the screen are on the chunky side and the screen quality isn't amazing, but good for the price class.


Moto E (2015) has a decent 4.5" qHD screen

The chipset is a more difficult matter. If you get the Moto E (2015) LTE - yes, LTE is an entry-level feature now - you'll get a Snapdragon 410 with a 64-bit Cortex-A53 1.2GHz with 1GB of RAM and Adreno 306. There will be a 3G version soon, which drops to Snapdragon 400 (32-bit Cortex-A7 + Adreno 302).

Either way, both are better than the dual-core processor of the original. It goes without saying, but the Moto E (2015) comes with a pristine Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box.

The newly-found processing power enables 720p video capture from the 5MP camera. There's even a VGA front-facing camera - not exactly a selfie machine, but better than nothing.

The build quality of the Motorola Moto E (2015) is pretty good. There's a strip of plastic running around the sides of the phone, Motorola calls these Bands. They come off easily so you can add a splash of color to the device.


Changing the band on the Moto E (2015)

The bands cost $20 for a pack of three and the current options are Red, Blue & Yellow and Turquoise, Purple & Raspberry. The Moto E is available only in Black and White, but the Bands multiply your options and give you a taste of what's possible through the Motomaker if you want to upgrade to one of the higher-end devices.

Saygus V2 hands-on

When we first heard about the Saygus V2, we immediately warmed up to the idea of a smartphone with a duo of microSD card slots and wondered why anyone haven't done this before. Having insufficient storage on a smartphone is right next to the issue of small batteries for us and the Saygus V2 could easily become a trendsetter.

The two microSD card slots can hold up to 128GB memory cards each. Combine this with the 64GB internal storage and you get a maximum of 320GB total space. But the Saygus V2 isn't just storage and has a lot more going for it.


Saygus V2 in person

In fact, it's a quite decent high-end smartphone with a Snapdragon 801 chipset and 3GB of RAM. This package is delivered in an all-plastic body, which is quite thick. The back is done in Kevlar and isn't too bad to the touch.

The phone is offered in black, pink and white for $599. That's a hefty price, but keep in mind that the phone is also IP7X-certified and features fingerprint scanner and a 3,100mAh battery.

Overall, Saygus managed to pique our interest quite a bit and we can't wait to see the company try to break the mold with its future smartphones, too.

Yezz Project Ara smartphone prototype hands-on

Most of you surely remember Google's project ARA - the ingenious modular phone concept, that started out as "Phoneblocks", way back in 2013. Well, it is pretty much alive today it seems to be coming up quite nicely.

Project Are has drawn so much attention that there have been numerous conferences on the subject, as well as an official Project Ara Module Developers Kit and even a few actual Project Ara prototypes.

While roaming around the MWC yesterday we stumbled upon Yezz Mobile's take on a Project Ara phone. But before you get overly excited as well, it was not a functioning unit, but rather a model, showcasing what the first Ara devices should look like, once they become a reality, hopefully some time later this year.

A working modular phone would have been a veritable sensation, but that is not too say that the Yezz team had nothing interesting to show, quite the contrary. As Ara fans surely remember, Yezz is currently one of Google's top third-party partners on the modular handset and the company is primarily involved in developing modules, or rather imagining them, as there were some pretty ingenious concepts on display at that booth.

Yezz Ara modules
Yezz Ara modules
Yezz Ara modules
Yezz Ara modules

First thing we noticed is the frame or the endo-skeleton of the phone - definitely the heart of the project. It, however is not made by Yezz themselves, but is a brainchild of Google's own ATAP team. It is dubbed "Spiral" and its design has gone a long way since the project started. The latest version - Spiral 3 - employs magnets and phone antennas built straight into the frame itself, instead being separate modules.

From the looks of things this is precisely what Yezz has brought to Barcelona - the modules themselves. The frame we saw can house a total of 10 modules - eight on the back and two on front, including the screen and the folks at Yezz have figured out ingenious ways to use each and every one of them, for a total of over 100 unique combinations.

Naturally, we have the standard components, which no phone can go without, like cameras and batteries. They come in a variety of sizes and can even be put in pairs, which is the case with the battery for example. Modular design extends as far as the even the charging plug itself. Along with the controller, there are separate modules that can be freely moved around the frame and placed just where you would like them to be.

Other interesting modules include dedicated media controls and some beefy camera and flash hardware and some even bundle a few smaller things together to save space. Then there are the really ingenious concepts that Yezz has come up with. Among these we saw a solar panel case, which can charge your phone, but is also a module and can be combined with the screen on the front or battery on the back. Another quite outlandish concept is the game controller module. It hooks up to a slot on the device and actually mounts a joypad to the phone, which can be used for playing games.

The possibilities are truly endless and we were very pleased to see all the out-of-the-box thinking Yezz has put into some modules. Now, this all sounds very tantalizing, but there are still a few downsides. Most notably, the whole concept is still far from consumer markets. We have already seen some working prototypes, but nothing complete just yet. And with Google still tweaking the base design and all of the third-party support and work that needs to be put into producing the right hardware for the device, there is still a long road ahead of project Ara.

Yezz Ara modules
Yezz Ara modules
Yezz Ara modules
Yezz Ara modules

Another major concern is aesthetics. And while most tech geeks definitely won't mind seeing a few connectors here and there, or compromising a little slick and style for the ability to swap out a dated processor with the latest beastly model, there are still a lot of people who find the device to be a huge eye-sore. With the latest Spiral design things are notable better in this department, but manufacturers may still have some thinking to do in this direction in order to come up with a better solution than the colorful sticker approach Yezz has used for its MWC demo.

There is some good news regarding Ara's future. If everything goes according to plan the first functioning units should be up for sale some time later this year in Puerto Rico. Google has chosen this mobile-first market as a suitable "testing ground" for the new technology. Furthermore, Google's new modular phone is aimed at a mid-price range. The company's intention is to produce a convenient ant eco-friendly product for the masses, rather than a pricy conceptual piece, so a lot of Phoneblock's original revolutionary spirit can still be felt in project Ara. Pricing for the device should start at about $200 for the low-end configurations. And the beauty is that you can always go bigger and better to suite your needs as they expand further down the road.

All in all, we were very excited to browse Yezz Mobile's booth at MWC and discuss the cleverly designed module that will hopefully one day make it on the a real game-changing device.

Oaxis Star.21 and O2 fitness trackers hands-on

We have to confess we had never heard of Oaxis before our meeting at the Pepcom event in Barcelona. The fitness tracking accessories have grown exponentially throughout the last year and we've already lost track.

Well, that's why industry events such as the MWC are so important. It turns out, the Oaxis Star.21 is an innovative fitness band, while the Oaxis O2 is more advanced tracker with display and heart-rate monitor.

Oaxis Star.21

Oaxis Star.21 got most of the attention at the Oaxis show. It's a smart wristband, somewhat similar to Sony's SmartBand, with fitness tracking abilities. The Star.21 name is important, as the band is working in cycles of 21 days. The first three days it learns your habits, then it sets you specific goals and starts guiding you to a more healthy life. After 21-day cycle ends, the band resets its statistics and starts again and thus you will be able to improve your performance by setting higher and higher goals.

The Star.21 rubber band has a shiny diamond-like surface with 21 leds, which are used for various notifications or showing you the time. There is also a vibration option.

The band is waterproof and is available in various color options. Its control app and receiver works via Bluetooth 4.0 and is available for Android and iOS.

I have to admit the Oaxis Star.21 band seems odd at first, but it looks like something you may get used to really fast.

Oaxis O2

Oaxis has an even more advanced fitness tracker of you need one - the Oaxis O2. It has a heart-rate sensor on its back, and LED display for the time and notifications.

The Oaxis O2 offers different straps and modular design, so you can make it just like you prefer it to look.

Both accessories offer 15 days of battery life on a single charge.

You can learn more about Oaxis products on their official website.

BlackBerry Leap hands-on

BlackBerry's latest smartphone aims to appeal towards the younger crowd. The company even cites a specific target group - start-up entrepreneurs. Naturally, we are all over the new BlackBerry Leap to find out if it has the necessary traits to inspire anyone.

BlackBerry Leap live photo

Grabbing the Leap in hand immediately gives you a sense of its sturdiness. The phone is very well built, which we've come to expect from the company. The left and right sides are curved and this makes the phone sit very comfortable in hand. What's not that great is its thickness of 9.5mm.

Part of this thickness is due to the 2,800mAh battery. It's not removable, but according to BlackBerry, you'll have a tough time getting it flat throughout the day, as it's certain it can last 25 hours of heavy-duty workload.


BlackBerry Leap live photos

The back cover, as we mentioned, isn't removable and on first sight, it's not that good looking. Compared to the latest hot-looking Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S6, HTC One M8 and even the mid-range offerings from Alcatel, the BlackBerry Leap is, frankly, old school looking. Despite this, it's very nice to the touch as the soft plastic offers great grip and isn't a fingerprint magnet.

The BlackBerry Leap is built around 5" 720p display, which is good enough at 294ppi. It's decently bright and colors are fairly okay. What's not that great is the nearly ancient chipset that powers the phone. It's a Snapdragon S4 Plus with a 1.5GHz dual-core Krait CPU and 2GB of RAM.


BlackBerry Leap live photos

We realize that BlackBerry may have a lot of these chips leftover from the Z10, but we can't justify using 2013 hardware in a 2015 smartphone. Especially not in a one that's aimed towards young entrepreneurs.

Ranting aside, BlackBerry OS 10.3.1 runs buttery smooth on the Leap. It offers a great array of features including a comfortable and well-laid out keyboard, great email and messaging experience as well as neat gesture based navigation around the UI.

Finally, here are some camera samples from the phone's 8MP snapper. Lightning conditions aren't optimal, so we'll keep our judgement for when we get a retail unit.


BlackBerry Leap camera samples

Overall, the BlackBerry Leap is quite an average offering. It costs $275 off-contract and will be out in April. Sadly, we can foresee it having a tough time to compete against the very aggressively priced Android mid-range smartphones that are due to come out in the Spring.

Wiko announced two new smartphones yesterday and we have the hands-on impressions for you now. The Highway Star 4G and Highway Pure 4G are are both quite the lookers but also boast impressive specs.

The higher end of the duo is the Highway Star 4G and rocks a matte aluminum unibody with flat front glass. It also comes in various color options like Silver, Gold, Grey and Bleen (the cyan one).

Wiko Highway Star 4G

The Wiko Highway Star 4G is very thin and light and is among the easiest 5-inchers to handle. It's just 6.6mm thin and 123 grams light making it quite easy on the pocket. Still the Wiko Highway Star 4G boasts a 2,450mAh battery inside its metallic shell. The screen on the front is a 5" 1280 x 720px AMOLED display of 296ppi sharpness, deep blacks, vivid colors and superb contrast. Viewing angles are impressive on it as well. Covering the display is Corning Gorilla Glass 3.


Wiko Highway Star 4G

The Highway Star 4G has dual-SIM abilities courtesy of a microSIM and nanoSIM-slash-microSD card slot combo so you have to choose between expandable storage and a second SIM card. There's a 1.5GHz octa-core processor based on ARM's Cortex-A53 architecture, 2GB of RAM and nearly stock Android 4.4.4 with a drawer-less custom-made launcher on top.

Wiko has made the Highway Star 4G beautifully. The display on the front sits flush with the surrounding surface thanks to its AMOLED panel's deep blacks. The aluminum shell housing the entirety of the phone is matte and hard to slip out of your hands.

The display is gorgeous and at first could be easily mistaken for a higher-res panel. The surface is slightly elevated over the edges of the phone. This could potentially make it susceptible to scratches but you've got Gorilla Glass 3 there to keep it safe.


Wiko Highway Star 4G

Wiko Highway Pure 4G

The lower end device has an angle of its own. The Wiko Highway Pure 4G boasts a 4.8" AMOLED screen, it is just 5.1mm thick and weighs merely 98g, making it one of the lightest devices of this size. Wiko has achieved this by using glass-like plastic on the back of the phone as well as a 720p AMOLED screen that requires one less layer compared to LCDs.

The Highway Pure 4G has a Snapdragon 410 chipset, 2GB of RAM, 16GB non-expandable storage built in. There's only one SIM card in the Wiko Highway Pure 4G. The thin frame still accommodates a 2,000mAh battery, 8MP camera on the back and a 5MP one on the front.


Wiko Highway Pure 4G

The Wiko Highway Pure 4G may be inferior to the Highway Star 4G but still boasts a lot of appeal. It feels incredibly small and very thin. If you're into thinner phones this one will grab your attention. It's also built with a lot of focus on design and colors. Its two-toned color options are aimed directly at feminine users. It will come in White and Silver, Black and Grey, Black and Gold and Black and Bleen.

The Highway Pure 4G runs the same Wiko launcher without a drawer, on top of Android KitKat 4.4.4. Its highlights are its vibrant colors and rounded icons. The preset wallpapers are also very colorful but carefully made so that they also boast a lot of blacks to accentuate the advantages of the AMOLED panel.


Wiko Highway Pure 4G

Still underlying the launcher is stock Android KitKat and you can always customize the Highway Pure 4G.

Wiko isn't saying anything about the price of its two new phones but we expect them to be priced in the midrange to upper midrange.

Nokia N1 hands-on

After Microsoft took over Nokia's devices business we felt we'd never hold another Nokia device again. But as it turned out the company wasn't done. It's not exactly clear how much of Nokia there is in the Nokia N1 but after handling it we feel reassured that this is indeed a product of the quality-driven Finish brand we know and love.

The Nokia N1 launched in China solely while the rest of the world is aching to see the low-cost high-end slate launch elsewhere. However the Nokia rep we talked to assures us that the Nokia N1 is coming to Europe - so here goes a sneak peak at what to expect.

The Nokia N1 is not your average Nokia device. For starters it runs Android - but not a fork - it's Google's Android. The slate uses Nokia's own Z Launcher (the one available from the Google Play store to other devices) tailored for tablets and everything sits on top of stock Android 5.0.2.

Performance is snappy as you can see in the video below.

While handling the Nokia N1 we couldn't escape the reference to the Apple iPad mini. The Nokia N1 is very similar with an aluminum unibody, the same 7.9" display of the same aspect, along with the identical 1536 x 2048px resolution equaling the same 324ppi sharpness. The display is also fully laminated, meaning there are no layers or air between the surface of the glass and the display itself. This should give it better contrast and viewing angles.

We can say that the Nokia N1's display is great. The panel is sharp and colorful. It's also impressively bright. We'd need to put it side by side with a retina iPad mini before we can say which is better but we left the booth impressed.


Nokia N1

The aluminum body of the Nokia Lumia N1 feels premium and well made like the iPad mini 2 and 3 but doesn't feel the same. It feels as if the Nokia N1 is lighter but not as thin.

Still securing the device in one hand is easy enough and we could easily use it this way - with one hand free to navigate the display. Android really sets the Nokia N1 apart from Apple's compact tablets and one thing that reflects this in the most prominent way are the on-screen buttons that pop up wherever you need them, contrary to the iPad's stationary physical home button.


Nokia N1

Another aspect of Android that separates the N1 is customizability. Nokia preloads its Z Launcher to the N1 but you can always install Google's own launcher or any other you like.

Powering the Nokia N1 is a 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 with four 2.3GHz cores, 2GB of RAM and the PowerVR G6430 graphics chip. We'd really like to test it against the best tablet SoCs out there - the Apple A8X and Nvidia's 64-bit Tegra K1 but we weren't allowed to perform benchmarks. But we'll remedy the situation as soon as we get our hands on a final Nokia N1 tablet.


Nokia N1

Nokia wasn't clear about the price of the N1 once it comes to Europe but we'd wager it will be slightly higher than the $260 price in China.

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