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REUTERS/Albert Gea - RTS104LX
With all the major events covered a day before and on the first day, the Mobile World Congress 2017 (MWC) in Barcelona has come to an end. While Samsung steered clear and revealed very little about its upcoming flagship, the Galaxy S8, Sony and LG became favourites on the floor for a variety of reasons. There were a few revivals as well. BlackBerry announced its KeyOne, a smartphone that could be its best BlackBerry to date, and Nokia literally rose from the dead and even brought back something from the past in the form of the 3310. So lets take a look at the highlights at this year’s MWC.
BlackBerry literally kicked off the MWC a day before the event started with TCL introducing the BlackBerry KeyOne. Codenamed the ‘Mercury’, the smartphone was first showcased at CES 2017. The official KeyOne model name was then set in stone and announced at the MWC. And with that announcement also came the official specifications of the device. The KeyOne features a 4.5-inch display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 with 3GB RAM and comes with a 12MP rear shooter along with an 8MP front-facing camera for selfies.
Also announced was the price tag at 599 EUR (roughly Rs 42,000) which for some reason seemed a bit more considering that buyers will get a smaller display, an under-powered chipset (for a flagship). But hey, it looks good, and that capacitive physical QWERTY keypad that now comes with a fingerprint reader built into the space key, should keep owners and fans happy.
LG announced its much awaited G6 flagship smartphone. The device features a 5.7-inch QHD FullVision display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, dual cameras and an IP68 rating.
While fans would be happy that LG stuck to the basics and seems to have delivered a straightforward flagship smartphone sans the modular mess, there are others who thought that it just wasn’t impressive. This is in part, thanks to the rumour mill. We have been hearing one too many rumours about the Samsung Galaxy S8 and upcoming iPhone for a while now. With so many new features expected in these premium flagships, LG’s G6 smartphone although sturdy, spartan and reliable may lose consumer interest when it is launched a few months later.
Huawei at the MWC this year announced its successor to the Leica-branded P9, called the P10. Also announced was a P10 Plus model that could do a bit more and came with top-of-the-line specifications like 6GB RAM and a wider f/1.8 aperture lens.
Huawei indeed seemed brave to fight off Qualcomm and introduce its new flagship once again using its own HiSilicon Kirin 960 chipset. While the company did not confirm, we also expect Amazon Alexa integration, but for certain markets. The design is nothing new although Huawei focussed a bit too much on its colour choices. What will be interesting to see is how the OIS on the back performs when it comes to imaging.
The Nokia 3310 came with the basic specification an had everyone’s attention thanks to the nostalgia factor. While many were excited about playing Snake on the an older-looking 3310, the enthusiasm died out pretty quickly since the device was indeed a dumbphone with just 2G bands and was only headed to emerging markets.
Indeed, there is market for feature phones even today in India. But with the Nokia 3310 priced at 49 EUR (roughly Rs 3,500) it’s easy to say that many would not be interested since many smartphones, with Android sell in a similar price bracket. Adding on the nostalgia factor, Nokia also announced a Snake game on Facebook Messenger.
ZTE played rather quiet and announced the world’s first Gigabit capable smartphone, that was capable of download speeds reaching up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) – up to 10 times faster than the first generation of 4G services widely in use today. The sad reality was that the device was not for the consumer, but just a concept to give consumers an idea about a 5G future. The device allows for 360-degree panoramic Virtual Reality video and fast downloads of ultra Hi-Fi music and videos. But with 5G still far away, we can expect the first large-scale commercial deployment of the technology to happen only by 2020.
Sony indeed had a slew of products to be showcased at their stand at the MWC. From projectors to headphones, the highlight of the Sony launch was indeed the Xperia XZ Premium. Sony showcased what is claimed to be the world’s first smartphone with a 4K HDR display. The product would complete the circle for Sony that is looking to offer end to end 4K solutions to its customers. It also happened to be the only smartphone at the MWC (“courage”) with a Snapdragon 835 inside.
Qualcomm was present at the Sony stand and was proud to announce its Gigabit capabilities that will work well for both 4K content streaming (thanks to Amazon Prime) and 4K video uploads as well. Another highlight was Sony’s new Motion-Eye camera with 960 fps super-slow motion recording and Predictive Capture. Then again the was that the smartphone would not arrive until after summer. But it still has a lot more going for it than the G6 when the Samsung Galaxy S8 arrives by the end of this month.
Gionee carried on with the selfie trend. The Chinese smartphone maker announced the launch of two smartphones from its new flagship A series. The smartphones features standard run of the mill hardware with the usual massive batteries that are popular among its Chinese customers. The A1 Plus was the more interesting one of the two with a 20MP selfie camera and a dual camera (13MP + 5MP) camera set up on the back. The smartphone will be powered using a massive 4,550 mAh battery while running on MediaTek Helio P25.
While this year’s Mobile World Congress was not as star-studded as the previous one with many manufacturers like HTC and Samsung dropping out, the theme was pretty clear. The smartphone spec race at least for 2017 seems to have taken a breather with manufacturers focussing on nostalgia, design, construction and function over performance.
Complete coverage of the Mobile World Congress 2017 can be found here.
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