Luxury choice: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3, €999.99 from FNAC
When Samsung launched its range of foldable smartphones all the geeks focused exclusively on the techtastic Fold3 with its book structure that opens into a tablet. However, it is the Flip3 with its powder-puff shape that allows it to be folded into a small box that has taken the public fancy.
It is obvious when you think about it – for all its amazingness, the Fold3 is a brick when it is folded and a not-very-big tablet when opened out. The Flip3, on the other hand, is a great smartphone when opened out and a small, cute, pocket-friendly cuboid when folded up.
Cutting the price by a third also helped, although the Flip3 remains a costly item for a phone with cameras and screen that are excellent but not quite as good as you would get in a similarly priced Galaxy S21, for example.
Samsung clearly understands the Flip3’s appeal to style addicts, because they have just launched the Flip3 Bespoke Studio, where you can personalise your phone with a range of exclusive colours and frame options. The palette of 49 colours is designed to ensure that every combination will work. You can even register your phone so you can change the colours in the future.
The drawback is that the phone must be ordered from Korea and it takes a month. And it costs a good few hundred more.
Real World Choice: Nokia G20, €202 from FNAC
The Nokia G20 is a mid-range smartphone at a budget price, providing a lot of style for the money. The 6.5in screen is bright and vivid, and the battery should keep going for three whole days. The plastic back features an engine-turned finish that is nice. The camera has a 48 megapixel sensor and a lot of AI processing but is a bit slow – expect a lot of blurring of fast-moving objects.
OXO audio is provided so you can shoot videos with spatial surround sound – ideal for TikTok or Instagram.
The phone uses Android One which means it is blessedly free of unwanted apps. All in all, a great value phone.
SOLID STATE MEMORY
Luxury choice: SanDisk Extreme Pro 500GB €115.99, Worten
Every traveller should have a solid state memory device to store essential data just in case the laptop or phone gets damaged in transit. Solid state (chips rather than rotating discs) is totally robust and can be written and accessed very fast – and small enough to slip it in your suitcase without risking your allowance.
The SandDisk Extreme Pro is not only rugged enough to survive airport baggage handlers, it is actually rather stylish with its characteristic black with red flashes, and features the new ultra-speedy USB-3.2 Gen 2×2 data transfer standard, but your laptop will need to be compatible to gain that extra speed. Otherwise, ordinary USB-C sockets will work just fine. A terabyte version is also available.
Real world choice: Western Digital My Passport Portable 500GB, €86.04, Worten
A nicely styled unit with a high speed USB-C port, My Passport features hardware encryption enabled by password to keep out hackers should the device go missing. Higher capacity units are also available.
Luxury choice: Apple AirPods Pro, €229, Amazon.de
They are things of beauty, with a luscious sound with noise cancellation technology that eliminates external irritants such as aero engines while enabling you to switch easily to ‘transparent’ mode so you can hear the aircrew offering you a glass of something. AirPods Pro are also light, waterproof and come in a battery case that extends your listening time to more than 24 hours between charges.
The only downsides are the usual issues with Apple products – the cost and the fact that they only work with other Apple products.
Real World choice: Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro, €89, Amazon.de
Anker’s sonic sub-brand Soundcore have built up a solid reputation recently for great sounds at reasonable prices, and the Liberty Air 2 Pro buds carry this process on. Stylishly designed with six colour options available, they are water resistant and contain an effective active noise cancelling system. The sound will blow your socks off.
The charging case gives a listening time of 26 hours. A considerate touch is the range of sizes of earbuds provided – no fewer than eight pairs so whatever the size of your lugholes you should get one to fit nice and snuggly.
Luxury choice: Sonos Roam, €199.99, FNAC
The sound that very small speakers can produce now is amazing. In the bad old days you would have needed a mains-powered behemoth the size of a filing cabinet to produce the sound from the tiny Sonos Roam, a tribute to digital music and the latest magnet technology.
The Roam has both WiFi and Bluetooth so you can listen to your phone playlist when you are out and connect to streaming services when you are at home. And, being a Sonos, you can incorporate it into your Sonos home sound system, perhaps in the bathroom (it is waterproof).
Real-world choice: JBL Go 3, €35.99, Worten
The JBL Go 3 takes miniature speakers to a ridiculous extreme – it is barely the size of a pack of cards. But the sound is awesome, with a particularly surprising bass. The stylish fabric covering is waterproof and it has a carrying loop built-in. Bluetooth connects it to your device.
Words: Chris Partridge