5 bits of new tech for July

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Next-level fitness trackers, truly wireless headphones... and smart scales: this month's wish-list gadgets

Huawei P9 Plus

£450; £15-£140 on contract

The big brother of Huawei’s top-of-the-line P9 handsets, this Android-based iPhone lookalike boasts a big screen, big storage and big sound. Amid the mind-numbing sameness of mobile phones, this shaves a couple of millimetres here and there off the iPhone 6S Plus (height and width) and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (thickness), the leaders in the ‘phablet’ class of large phones. Which keeps it in the running, at least, and, with its premium styling, makes it good to have in the hand. Its big sell is the fact it has two rear-mounted 12 megapixel cameras – one in colour, one in black and white, both featuring Leica lenses, which combine to produce a single remarkably high quality image. This is what sets the P9 Plus apart. The black and white lens can also be used alone, to produce beautifully lit and focused monochrome shots. There are various other nice camera touches, such as adjusting the focus, blurring the background around, and applying filters after the shot has been taken. Apart from that, the screen is bright, although not best in class, and it packs a power punch with its Kirin 955 octa-core processor, backed by 4GB of RAM.


Atlas Wristband 2 

$200 [c. £150]

A next-generation tracker that does more than just count steps, strides or swimming strokes. It does all of these things very well, but it is really designed as a gym buddy – to help you make the most of your workouts, improve fitness, and tone and build muscle. It packs in a heart rate monitor and a suite of sensors to track your movements in 3D, distinguishing between straight push-ups and triangle push-ups, say, and between bicep curls, squats and dead lifts. Essentially, it will gauge whatever gym moves you pull, and guide you, set by set, to keep you on track – the moment you hit your rep goal, it vibrates and a rest timer kicks in, before buzzing you for your next set. Exercises are logged and counted, and its attendant smartphone app sifts through the data to analyse your form in terms of calories burned and muscle usage. This is a serious piece of kit, for your archetypal gym nuts.


Bragi Dash


The world's first truly wireless set of earphones, and then some – this is the kind of smart bundling of clever technology that makes you blow out your cheeks. The Dash combines the functionality of any number of standard workout accessories into a single earphone set. Much more than just a set of wireless earphones, it also incorporates a music player and an activity tracker – to keep you on song when working out. The earphones themselves are discrete, in ergonomic silicone sleeves to fit the ear and stay in place. They feature an optical sensor to monitor heart rate and oxygen saturation, and can play music from either an embedded 4GB player, or from your handset itself, via Bluetooth. Touch buttons on each earpiece allow control of the music functions, and ability to shut out ambient noise. Connected to a smartphone, they also work as a Bluetooth headset, using bone conduction technology for taking and making phone calls. The Dash is waterproof, so it can be used for swimming. Feedback on your vital signs – heart rate, oxygen saturation, body temperature, calories burned – can be reviewed in a companion app for both Android and iOS devices. Smart tech doesn’t get much niftier.


VQ Blighty


A pocket-sized portable radio? So what? Well, this one is fetching in red or grey, with a nod to yesteryear’s Sony Walkmans, and handy to catch up on a jam-packed summer sports schedule while touring around the country, or catch the festivals on 6 Music, or listen to the unfolding political narrative... The DAB/DAB+/FM settings mean you can tune into both digital and analogue services. It also has 10 presets so you can jump between shows, and a decent 10-hour battery life, with a standard micro USB charging port, so you don’t have to cane your phone battery to get a radio accompaniment while putting the tent up, or building sandcastles.


Withings Body Cardio


The smartest scales out there. In case you haven’t come across this new breed of techno-charged weighing machines, these blighters do more than simply confirm that last buttered croissant was one too many. They also provide data about your BMI and body composition – your ratios of fat, muscle, water and bone. And this particular model goes a step further, and gives a full read-out of your cardiovascular health. How? Well, sensors in its tempered glass top pick up your ‘pulse wave velocity’ from the soles of your feet. Basically every heartbeat produces an ebb and flow in your precise weight. The Body Cardio detects the speed at which these waves, generated by your heartbeat, travel along the arteries, and gauges this measure against a healthy norm – where stiff arteries and high blood pressure raise the speeds. It’s clever stuff, and the Android / iOS Health Mate app that goes with it (and syncs with Withings activity trackers) makes the data understandable, and your progress visible, and also provides prompts, tips and coaching, as required, to improve your scores and health. The unit is elegant, and it works on any surface, whether a hard floor, sprung floor or thick carpet. Its one-night charge lasts a year, and up to eight people can use it on individual accounts.



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