"Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. It's where the global tech industry - apart from Apple, which cannily prefers the level of control that comes only from hosting your own party and being the only guest - gathers to get excited about new smartphone launches, VR and AR developments, chipsets and wearables. The public show is open from February 27 but the big announcements happen on press day, on February 26.
Nokia 3310 re-launch
At HMD Global's MWC press conference, the company confirmed the rumours - the Nokia 3310 is back. And so is Snake.
The new Nokia 3310 is slimmer than the original and will be released later this year in gloss red and yellow and matte blue and grey. Other specifications include 2.4-inch colour screen, an FM radio, a two-megapixel camera and 2.5G connection.
At the same event, HMD revealed the Nokia 6, which went on-sale in China in January, will be launching worldwide in the second quarter of 2017 for €229. A limited-edition gloss black model will cost €299.
Additionally, HMD Global is releasing Nokia 5 and Nokia 3 both running almost pure Android.
Following last year's modular G5 with battery, camera and DAC add-ons, comes its successor, the LG G6. The LG G6 has 5.7-inch (2,880 x 1,440 resolution) so-called FullVision display, and an 18:9 screen aspect ratio - the first time this has been seen on a smartphone. LG claims the 18:9 format offers "more viewing space and a more immersive experience when streaming videos and playing games".
Other specifications include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, 4GB RAM, a 5MP front-facing camera with 13MP on the rear and a 3,300mAh battery.
The LG G6 runs Android 7.0 Nougat and has Google Assistant built in. It comes in Astro Black, Ice Platinum and Mystic White.
Apart from the G6, LG’s new Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches, watch for Android Wear 2.0, the Watch Sport and Watch Style, should be on display. The titanium Watch Sport is supposedly 14.2mm thick, with a 1.38in OLED screen, 768MB RAM, 4GB storage, 430mAh battery and a heart-rate sensor - plus 3G and LTE connectivity, GPS and NFC. Watch Style is smaller at 10.8mm, comes in titanium, silver, and rose gold with a 1.2in OLED screen, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage plus 240mAh battery.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
Focusing on video, the Galaxy Tab S3 has a 9.7-inch Super AMOLED display, while the Galaxy Book comes in two versions: a 10.6-inch TFT LCD model as well as a 12-inch Super AMOLED one. Both support HDR (High Dynamic Range) video content.
Pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 will be open March 17 on samsung.com and the tablet will be available from March 31.
Samsung Gear VR with controller
The Samsung Gear VR with controller powered by Oculus, to give it its full title, is the company’s first Gear VR headset with a controller.
With a thinner shaft and circular touchpad at the top, the controller looks a little like a simplified hybrid of the Oculus Touch and HTC Vive controllers. There is also a home button, volume rocker and back button, while a trigger button is on the underside.
Samsung's Creative Lab
Known as C-Lab, Samsung's innovation lab is exhibiting four new VR projects:
- Relúmĭno, a visual aid app that works with Gear VR for near blind and visually impaired people which should help them to read books and watch TV
- Monitorless, a device that looks like a regular pair of sunglasses but acts as a remote-control VR/AR solution letting consumers use smartphones and PCs without a monitor
- VuildUs, a home interior and furnishing app that lets users see what new furniture would look like in a room
- traVRer, 360-degree video aiming to give a realistic virtual travel experience before and after real-life journeys.
Samsung Galaxy S8
At the end of Samsung's Mobile World Congress presentation, the firm dropped a teaser trailer for its next handset, expected to be called the Samsung Galaxy S8.
While no official details about the handset have been announced, we now know at least one handset will launch at the Unpacked event in New York at the end of March and that Samsung's event will take place at the Lincoln Center from 11am EST (4pm GMT).
After BlackBerry, at the end of last year, awarded its handset manufacturing license to TCL, which also makes Alcatel phones, it was clear there was going to be a new BlackBerry blower. And so it was at CES the company showed off “Mercury”, a smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard and fingerprint scanner.
TLC used the 2017 Mobile World Congress, to showcase the BlackBerry Mercury as well as unveil the £499 KEYone.
The KEYone has a 4.5-inch display (1620 x 1080 resolution/434 PPI) and combines a touch display with a physical keyboard "to give users more useable space for typing than a typical 5.5-inch all-touch smartphone."
This Smart Keyboard responds to touch gestures and can be programmed to launch up to 52 shortcuts, such as pressing “I” for your inbox or “M” to access maps. There is also a fingerprint sensor built into the keyboard spacebar.
Elsewhere, the BlackBerry KEYone runs Android 7.1 and comes loaded with BlackBerry Hub, bringing all your messages into one consolidated place; including emails, texts and messages from any social media account.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Sony used this year's Mobile World Congress to announce its flagship Xperia XZ Premium as well as the Xperia XZs, Xperia XA1 Ultra and Xperia XA1.
The XZ Premium has a 4K HDR, 5.5in display, an ultra slow-mo mode that lets you record at an impressive 960fps, “Predictive Capture” that takes up to four photos a second before you even click the shutter button, all powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor.
Elsewhere, the nano-SIM Premium has a fingerprint sensor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, IP65/68 water resistance, USB Type C connectivity and a headphone jack.
Sony Xperia XZs and XA1
Sony also announced a smaller 146 x 72 x 8.1mm, 161g version of the flagship, the Xperia XZs, with a 5.2in Full 1080p HD screen, 4GB RAM, USB Type C and 2900mAh battery, alongside the Xperia 5in XA1 and 6in XA1 Ultra.
Sony is rumoured to be launching a slew of handsets but the latest rumblings are leaning towards there not being a new flagship. This may be because Samsung is thought to have exclusive rights to Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor up until the launch of the Galaxy S8, which is now unlikely to be unveiled at MWC as a result of extra rigorous testing needed after the exploding Note 7 debacle. This all means Sony has to wait if it wants to go chip-to-chip. As well as the Snapdragon 835, the next Xperia flagship is believed to have a 5.5-inch 4K display. Among the devices that are set to launch at MWC, expect to see fingerprint sensors, USB Type-C and competitive cameras front and back.
Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus
The latest Motorola phones follow a similar pattern to what went before: premium-feeling handsets for cut-price costs. The biggest difference from previous Moto handsets is the metal finish. No more cheap plastic means an altogether more high-end look and feel.
Both run Android 7.0 with Google Assistant, giving you Pixel-matching features from a sub-£200 handset – the G5 will retail for £169.
The G5 has a 5-inch, full HD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chipset, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage with a microSD card slot. The rear-facing 13MP camera has a f/2.0 aperture and autofocus; on the front is a 5MP wide-angle f/2.2. The battery is a sizeable 2800mAh.
The G5 Plus has a 5.2-inch screen, 2.0GHz Snapdragon 625 octa-core chip, 2GB or 4GB of RAM, 32GB of 64GB of internal storage and a microSD slot. The main camera is 12MP with an f/1.7 aperture. The front-facing camera is the same as the G5's. On the inside is a 3000mAh battery. All that will set you back £259.
The G5 will launch in March, the G5 Plus is scheduled for "mid-spring".
Huawei P10 and P10 Plus
Huawei has teamed up with GoPro, Leica, and Pantone for its P10 and the P10 Plus phones, unveiled alongside its latest series of smartwatches.
Like the P9, the P10’s big drawcard is its camera. While there’s no upgrade from 12MP, the collaboration with Leica to develop a dual lens back camera is now also available on the front.
2016 saw HTC bask in the glory of the launch of the Vive and HTC 10, and it has already released the U Ultra and U Play this year.
We were hoping to see the much talked about Surface flagship handset at MWC, but sadly this seems unlikely so keep an eye out later in the year for this one. However, it may well come in three flavours: a consumer model, a business one and a high-spec version for serious tech heads.
Ford used this year's Mobile World Congress to announce a partnership with Vodafone that will see 4G modems installed as standard into a select range of upcoming, European vehicles. The modem will bring 4G LTE connectivity over Wi-Fi, with up to ten devices able to connect at once, and will launch in France, Germany Italy, Spain and the UK before rolling out to more countries in Europe over the coming months.
Roborace unveiled the world's first self-driving electric car at this year's Mobile World Congress. Called Robocar, the racer was demonstrated by Denis Sverdlov, CEO of Roborace and Charge, and Daniel Simon, the car's designer. It features an array of impressive technological features that take advantage of the Nvidia's Drive PX2 brain - the open AI car computing platform capable of 24 trillion AI operations per second. Robocar is powered by five LiDAR sensors; 18 ultrasonic sensors; six AI cameras and GNSS positioning, and it reaches speeds of 199mph (320kph). This entire system uses deep learning for 360-degree situational awareness around the car, working to determine precisely where the car is and to create its trajectory.
Peugeot used Mobile World Congress to unveil its Instinct concept car – a four-seater saloon powered by a 297bhp plug-in hybrid system with four driving modes: drive boost, drive relax, autonomous soft and autonomous sharp. In short, this means an autonomous car that drives differently depending on your mood and needs.
To do this, the car connects to Samsung's Artik cloud service, allowing it to gather data from other connected devices. For example, in autonomous soft mode, the car could tap into your schedule and potentially even your heart-rate reading from a smartwatch to change seating angles and ambient lighting to calm you down on the drive home."
Source: Jeremy White, wired.co.uk
- Joseph Flaherty