The 2017 Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona, was not a bag full of surprises, thanks to the leaks and rumours that inundated the tech industry before the event. However, MWC ’17 was definitely something that invoked a lot of mixed emotions. It gave us a glimpse into what the industry will be, while paying homage to where it started from. We saw legendary revivals, shrinking bezels and expanding screens, the refusal to let go of certain technologies, and yes, a step forward towards AI/Machine Learning and 5G technology.
If you’ve missed the buzz of all that’s happened since last weekend, here’s a round-up of everything significant that happened at 2017 MWC.
BlackBerry announced its latest device, the BlackBerry KEYone at its own press event preceding MWC. As this is the last device to be designed by BlackBerry itself, the Canadian phone company decided not to let go of the physical QWERTY keyboard, and produce one last device with hardware keys. The BlackBerry KEYone also features a 4.5-inch touch IPS LCD display, and a keyboard that acts as a trackpad too.
The KEYone also features the company’s security blanket, the DTEK app as seen on DTEK 50 and DTEK 60, layered on top of Android 7.0 Nougat. The BlackBerry KEYone has been found listed online in India for a retail price of Rs 39,990.
LG’s announcement of the new LG G6 was a very grand event that confirmed all rumours that we had reported up to the launch of the device. The G6 brought with it an 18:9 FullVision display in a compact form factor, a water and dust resistant body with IP68 rating and dual 13-megapixel rear camera.
The 5.7-inch display, as claimed by LG, fits in a form factor which feels like that of a 5.2-inch smartphone. The LG G6 is powered by a Snapdragon 821 processor, along with a 4GB RAM unit. LG says that developers are will be providing a lot of content to be consumed on the FullVision display, and is also offering $200 worth of in-game content. It is also one of the first phones apart from the Google Pixel to support Google Assistant in its complete form.
The announcement of the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus was a burst of colours, as the manufacturer showcased the new P10 in 8 different shades, each picked out carefully in collaboration with Pantone. The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus both come with a HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor. However, the 5.1-inch P10 comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, while the bigger 5.4-inch P10 Plus comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.
The dual-cameras on the back and the selfie cameras on the front on both the devices have been made in collaboration with Leica, and Huawei has also tied up with GoPro to use the latter’s expertise in using video highlights. With the P10 and P10 Plus, Huawei has also introduced H.265 codecs on mobile platforms for better video compression.
Lenovo-owned Motorola took the stage to announce their latest budget smartphones, the Moto G5 and the Moto G5 Plus. Both of these devices will have splash-proof metal bodies, which is an improvement over the predecessors in this lineup, and will have different screen sizes. These devices will be formally launched in India on March 15.
The smaller 5.0-inch Moto G5 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC, along with 2GB/ 3GB RAM and 16GB/ 32GB internal storage. It also features the microSD card expansion up to 128GB. The bigger Moto G5 Plus with a 5.2-inch features a Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 chip, and RAM variants that include – 2GB/ 3GB/ 4GB RAM and 16GB/ 32GB/ 64GB internal storage. Both phones have fingerprint sensors below the display
The biggest announcement from the Nokia camp at MWC was that of the Nokia 3310, which is a reboot of the popular basic phone of the same name. The nostalgia-invoking device grabbed many eyeballs, but the company’s real move forward into the future was with its three new Android-powered smartphones. These devices will be available globally later this year, and you can read our full coverage here.
The Nokia 6, which was already available in China was announced to become globally available, and at the same time HMD Global and Nokia also announced two new budget smartphones, namely the Nokia 5 and the Nokia 3. Both Nokia 6 and Nokia 5 come with Series 6000 Aluminum bodies, and feature Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processors. The Nokia 3 has a polycarbonate body encased in a metal frame and comes with a MediaTek processor.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 was the big elephant in the room where the Samsung press conference was being held. However, the Korean manufacturer did not make any kind of product announcements about the upcoming flagship smartphone until the very end of the event where it just showed a small teaser video.
However, it did take the opportunity to announce the Galaxy Tab S3, a 9.7-inch tablet with a Super AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset coupled with 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage which is expandable, and a 6000mAh battery. It will also be shipped with an S-Pen.
Samsung did drop a surprise, but it was in the form of the Galaxy Book 2-in-1, a Windows that device come with a S-Pen and Keyboard. The tablet-cum-PC comes in two different screen size variants – 10.6-inch (1920×1280 pixels) and 12-inch FHD+ (2160×1440 pixels) AMOLED display. This device is powered by a 7th Gen Core i5 7200U processo, 4GB or 8 GB of RAM and a 128GB or 256GB SSD.
Sony beat Samsung to officially announce the first device to be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. The Japanese manufacturer announced 4 smartphones at MWC, the first of which is the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, the first device to be announced with a Snapdragon 835 chip. The Xperia XZ Premium also features a 5.5-inch 4K HDR display, and a Motion Eye camera system.
The other device to be launched at this event was the The Sony XZs, a limited market release, and a skimped down version of the XZ Premium. The Xperia XZs doesn’t come with the 4K HDR display, but instead has a more modest Full HD panel. It is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 paired with 4GB of RAM and a 2900mAh battery. Interestingly, the XZs will ship with the same Motion Eye imaging system like the one on the XZ Premium.
The event also saw the unveiling of the Xperia XA1 and the XA1 Ultra, which will come with 1/2.3 inch sensors with a resolution of 23 megapixels. The XA1 has a 5-inch edge-to-edge 720p display while the XA1 Ultra has a full HD 6-inch panel. Both the phones are powered by Mediatek’s Helio P20 SoC along with 3GB RAM on the XA1 and 4GB of RAM on the XA1 Ultra.
The Chinese manufacturer Oppo was at MWC too, but not to unveil a smartphone. However, the company which has been relentless in showing off its prowess in imaging, especially selfies, took the opportunity to show off something different. Oppo took the wraps off a new camera technology that brings optical zoom to smartphones, without the camera bump at the back. The new system also employs a dual camera setup, but uses a very clever trick to keep the whole module thin. To put things in perspective, the iPhone 7 Plus with its dual lens setup offers just 2x optical zoom; Oppo takes that number up to 5x.
Meizu too did not announce a new device at MWC, but instead showed off a new fast charging technology. Meizu claims that the new ‘Super mCharge’ technology can fully charge a phone in 20 minutes.
The Super mCharge technology uses something called the Charge Pump Principle, which increases charging efficiency by 9 percent to 98 percent, while ensuring stability in performance and reduced heat- dissipation. The results from Meizu’s tests claim that a 3000mAh ATL battery, after over 800 charge and discharge cycles using Super mCharge, retains over 80 percent capacity. Meizu’s Super mCharge is claimed to be much faster than Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0, with a claimed charge rate of 0 to 80 percent in 35 minutes.