Day 2 in Berlin: Tablet and smartphone surprises from Sony, ZTE and Huawei

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If day one at IFA 2016 was all about smartwatches, then day two has been dominated by smartphones and tablets. Huawei started Thursday off with the introduction of the Nova and Nova Plus, two midrange smartphones that have a sleek design and great specifications, but unfortunately high price tags. The company didn’t stop at the Nova phones, however. It also launched the MediaPad M3 tablet, which ironically is very reasonably priced, considering its design and specifications, when compared to the Nova phones. It also added two new colors to the Huawei P9 range, a gorgeous metallic red and a cool metallic blue. We love the former.

Sony quickly followed Huawei’s lead with the Xperia XZ and X Compact, two smartphones that shun the modern obsession with big screens in favor of 5.2-inch and 4.6-inch displays, respectively. The Xperia XZ is the more powerful of the two, with a Snapdragon 820 chip inside, but it’s the X Compact that impresses more in the real world. Both have the same 23-megapixel camera, but neither have an active fingerprint sensor, a feature irritatingly omitted on U.S.-bound Xperia phones.

Finally, ZTE showed off the Axon 7 Mini, a slightly smaller version of the excellent Axon 7 that has the same superb audio prowess and impressive camera. The tech inside isn’t as powerful, and the screen is smaller at 5.2-inches, but the resulting price drop means the Axon 7 Mini is a great value, and crucially undercuts the new Huawei Nova phones.

The IFA show officially opens its doors Friday, and while the big-name press conferences are all over, there will be plenty more to come over the next few days as we explore the show floor. We’ll be back again tomorrow.

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