Technical knockouts: the best new handsets and gadgets from the Mobile World Congress
Our pick of the most exciting phones and other tech unveiled at this year’s MWC
The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona brought a lot of new products from well-established companies and the competitors snapping at their heels.
Samsung Galaxy S7 / S7 Edge
The new Samsung flagships were probably among the most leaked devices before the event even began. But to be honest, there wasn’t all that much to see. The changes in design were subtle, but welcome. There are spec bumps here and there, the SD card slot is back in, and the two new releases have upgraded processors: Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890, depending on region.
Admittedly waterproofing the phones without relying on any rubber and plastic flaps is a job well done. The S7 Edge, with its slightly larger 5.5” display, will also have a 3,600 mAh so it’s quite promising indeed.
The unveiling of LG’s G5 was truly one of the most revolutionary moments at MWC. Modular smartphone design has already been brewing in Google’s labs for two years now but LG has brought it to fruition. While the G5 itself is about spec bumps, again with the Snapdragon 820, it’s infinitely expandable because the bottom lip can be pulled out and modules of different functions can be swapped in.
It’s not hot-swappable as the battery itself is part of the module package, so changes would involve a shutdown and reboot. The modules showcased include a camera with dedicated shutter button and tactile zoom wheel with an additional 1,200 mAh battery tucked away, and also a Bang & Olufsen hi-fi amp module fully capable of 32-bit audio.
Sony Xperia X
Sony released its X line of smartphones at MWC and the company seems to have decided to end its biannual flagship updates. Most expected a Xperia Z6, because that’s just how Sony rolls – a spec update every 6 months. To everybody’s surprise, it came out with the X series instead:the XA, X and X Performance. The X Performance uses the latest Snapdragon 820 processor, is waterproof and has the same camera specs as the X.
HTC X9, Desire 530, 630, 825, Vive VR consumer edition
HTC announced its Vive VR consumer edition, which comes with a reasonable price tag of US$799. The package comes with the VR head-mounted display, two wireless controllers, the required base stations and link boxes and even the ear buds. Sadly, you would still need a VR-ready PC, which will likely cost another US$1,000. The company did showcase a few new releases: Desire 530, 630 and 825. The fourth device is the X9, is a metal-bodydevice that runs on the Helio X10 processor. The speed isn’t quite up there with the Snapdragon 810 – last year’s reference processor – but it’s close enough.
Xiaomi released its much-hyped Mi5 with top specs, a small price tag of US$300 and a promise of “200 per cent performance”. Superlatives aside, it’s encouraging to see Chinese manufacturers joining the fray all the way out there in Barcelona, especially one that is as competitive as Xiaomi. It will be interesting to see if it can sustain its top-spec low-price strategy. The Mi5 is slated for sale on the mainland from March 1, with release dates for other territories to be announced.