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The biggest disappointments of 2014

We've had enough of talking about everything that's been good this year, now it's time to focus on the things that haven't been so great.

As with every year, the last 12 months has seen some disappointments in the world of tech, with unfulfilled hopes and dashed dreams cropping up every now and then to keep us on our toes.

But don't just take my word for it, here's what our all-knowing writers thought were some of the biggest disappointments of 2014.

No new cheap Nexus - Jamie Hinks

As a Google Android phone owner, it would be very easy to reserve this section for Apple’s “groundbreaking” iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices that do much of what the likes of Samsung and HTC have been doing well for some time.

That’s too simple and nowhere near as disappointing as Google’s decision to stop bringing out low-priced Nexus smartphones with high-end specs and instead hit the costly top echelon with the huge Nexus 6 (opens in new tab).

In other years Google has released the Nexus 4 and 5 that have both been at the sub-£300 price point and the fact they are Google’s own smartphones meant that they were the first to receive Android updates.

Now the only option on the table is to buy last year’s Nexus 5 (which is often out of stock) or hit eBay.

The other choice for those of us that want one of the latest handsets with stock Android is to invest in the Motorola’s Moto X Pure Edition, which brings the Nexus 6 specs (opens in new tab) into a device without a phablet-sized screen.

Nexus 6

Apple Watch at 12 O'Clock - Darren Allen

The biggest disappointment for me this year was Apple’s “next big thing”, the Apple Watch (opens in new tab), which was unveiled back in September.

I was expecting great things from Apple with this gadget. The firm’s iPad is on the slide, and we’ve seen nothing truly new since, well, the iPad - just new versions of iPhones, tablets, Macs and the usual.

During the unveiling, my first impressions were that Apple’s smartwatch doesn’t look as attractive as I thought it might. I was expecting something truly breath-taking in the aesthetics department, with all the assembled ranks of fashion editors (opens in new tab) invited to the launch to goggle over this new creation.

And while it’s certainly not a bad looking piece of hardware, it’s a little chunkier than I anticipated, and I was really expecting something that looks sleeker on the wrist (to truly capture that status symbol appeal).

But forget looks for the moment. What about features - it’s those that are really important, right? Well, the Apple Watch doesn’t exactly score on that point either.

What exactly does it do that other smartwatches don’t? Uhh… well… umm, okay, so there’s a very smart looking UI system, and some neat trimmings - but there are no killer features which make you sit up in your seat and pay attention.

Apparently Apple even recognises this fact, and has let slip that it is planning to add further sensors and more in-depth health features down the line, such as sleep or blood sugar monitoring. But this sort of thing should have been in the device from the get-go.

In fairness, there may be more revelations on the feature front next year as the launch nears, but don’t hold your breath for anything spectacular.

And there’s also the price. While nothing is confirmed, even the stainless steel version is likely to be very expensive going by reports (let alone the gold watch, although we’d expect the latter to be astronomical, naturally).

Is this really the device that will kick-start the smartwatch revolution (opens in new tab) next year, as many analysts seem to be predicting? Not from where I’m stood…

But then, this is an Apple product, and that’s perhaps all it needs to be.

Apple Watch

Amazon Fire fails to set the world alight - Barclay Ballard

There was much hype in 2014 surrounding Amazon’s first foray into the smartphone market, but unfortunately the Fire Phone (opens in new tab) never really set the public’s imagination alight.

It’s hallmark characteristic, the “Dynamic Perspective,” which uses four front-facing cameras to give a pseudo-3D impression of depth, came across as more of a gimmick than a must-have feature.

While the handset does boast some decent specs, with a launch price of £480 off-contract for the 64GB model, surely consumers could have expected more than that?

The Firefly shopping app, which enables users to scan items to search for them online, was also reported to have its fair share of problems.

Considering that this is the company that revolutionised the publishing market with its Kindle ebook range, the Fire Phone has been disappointingly similar to other phones on the market, without benefitting from their extensive library of apps.

Amazon has responded to criticism of the device’s poor sales figures (opens in new tab) by reducing the price and stressing that it is a long-term project. However, I’m sure the online giant has learned a valuable, if expensive, lesson from the Fire Phone launch about how difficult it is to break into the already congested smartphone market.

Amazon Fire

It's hard to pick just one - Fadil Pašic

As much as there were great technological releases that really made me say WOW (Still waiting on that Oculus Rift, and Half Life 3, though), there were also some let down's.

Among the most disappointing things that happened this year, I'd like to single out Destiny, as probably the biggest let down in the gaming industry this year (or maybe ever?), along with wearable "smart" gear, especially watches, and the poor, poor, Nokia phones.

Destiny, the "biggest" game to date in which more than $500 million (£320 million) was invested, turned out to be just a mediocre, generic FPS marred by pointless DLCs, boring gameplay and limited content.

"Smart watches" (opens in new tab) that everyone thought would revolutionise the way we use our phones, turned out to be just a wearable notification bar that costs a lot of money. Luckily for the devs, smart watches still have a chance to prove worthy, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Nokia phones, the epitome of quality phones, completely lost the battle (opens in new tab) with Samsung and Apple. Once a phone industry giant, Lumia got sold to Microsoft, which struggles for a piece of the market pie, but offers mediocre phones, and a digital store with little apps.


No star performance from Samsung Galaxy - David Curry

Samsung has had a poor year all around, and a major contributor to the failure has to be attributed to the Galaxy S5.

Billed up as the next step for Samsung, the Galaxy S5 did not bring any major improvements over its predecessor, and failed to compete against some amazing smartphones released in 2014.

The end result is lacklustre sales (opens in new tab) - under 15 million in over six months - and almost nobody considering the Galaxy S5 as a top ten smartphone of 2014.

Effects of the Galaxy S5’s failure are far reaching, Samsung has changed its mobile division leadership, will remove 30 per cent of all smartphones in 2015 and is apparently working on an all-metal Galaxy S6 (opens in new tab).

Hopefully, the failure of the Galaxy S5 can spur Samsung’s design team to make something beautiful, to compete with the iPhone 6 and HTC One M8. Everyone said this was the plan last year, but Samsung is now coming off a huge market loss, so it should push the phone giant to be innovative.

Samsung Galaxy S5