The GSMA Mobile World Congress is a combination of the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry and a conference featuring prominent executives representing mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors and content owners from across the world. The event, initially named as GSM World Congress and later renamed as the 3GSM World Congress, is still often referred to as 3GSM or 3GSM World.
The curtains have come down on Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017 in Barcelona, and by and large, it was an event that stuck to its theme. While the biggest names in the business now hold separate launch events for their flagship phones of the year, MWC remains a great platform for other manufacturers to step up and show off their goods. Here’s a round-up of the announcements made at the event.
Nokia unveils three new Android phones and Nokia 3310 makes a comeback
As well as resurrecting the popular Nokia 3310 , Nokia also unveiled three new Android handsets at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The Nokia 6, Nokia 5 and and Nokia 3 all run on Android Nougat software and will include the AI-powered Google Assistant.
Previously only available in China, the Nokia 6 has a 5.5-inch full HD display and is crafted from a single block of 6000 series aluminium. Made by Finnish firm HMD under the Nokia brand, the flagship boasts dual speakers designed for deeper bass along with Dolby Atmos for immersive sound.
LG makes a bang in Samsung’s absence
LG had a mixed 2016. The company’s flagship G5 smartphone, an experiment in modularity, didn’t get a great response, and the V20, which showed a more mature, focused approach, was received better. At MWC, LG decided to beat Samsung to the punch and revealed the G6 – a large-screened, near bezel-less slab made of great engineering, enhanced with knowledge from past attempts. The one drawback could be that the early launch denied LG the use the latest Snapdragon 835 processor, which is likely to power all other 2017 flagships. On the plus side, the G6 has become hardier, with an IP68 dust and water resistance rating that will allow it to shrug off dusty environments and short dips in the pool.
Huawei’s next generation
The Nexus 6P put the international spotlight on Huawei, and the company followed it up with the robust P9, with dual cameras and some fancy Leica branding. At MWC, the P9 saw its successors take the stage, the P10 and P10 Plus. The Leica camera set-up is back, as is the home-baked Kirin 960 chipset. The smaller P10 sports a 5.1-inch display, while the P10 Plus comes with a 5.5-inch QuadHD screen, over its smaller sibling’s 1080p one. Both phones are finished in a diamond-cut style, with a textured coating on the back and come in a variety of funky colours.
Huawei also brought along the second generation of their smartwatch, and unlike the P10, which capably follows the path carved by the P9, the new watch is a far cry from the elegant first-generation Huawei Watch. Smartwatches these days focus on one of two things – elegant aesthetics or sportiness. Huawei seems to have fallen midway, with the Watch 2 looking like a sporty companion for a run, while the Watch 2 Classic tries to take a more subdued approach, but fails to reach the standards set by the original. The silver lining here is that they are packed to the gills with hardware. The Watch 2 comes with Android Wear 2.0, packs a Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, inbuilt GPS and has a 435mAh, battery – substantial by watch standards.
The old guard returns – in a new avatar
Among all the high-flyers we’re used to seeing on the MWC floor, were a few giants of a past era, revived for modern times. Enough has been written about how the Nokia 3310 has staged a comeback, with HMD Global, who have the license to make products under the Nokia brand, presenting a colourful take on the old classic. It looks modern, still has only basic connectivity, lasts about a month on standby, is quite cheap, and even runs Snake. You probably don’t need it, but seeing as it costs the same as some fancy smartphone cases, it’s not the worst when it comes to impulse buys.
Nokia also launched a line-up of new smartphones aimed at the low to mid range in terms of price and performance. The Nokia 3, 5 and 6 are no-nonsense, well-built phones that run a near stock build of Android, which makes them a very attractive proposition. All these are scheduled for India release in Q2 this year.
BlackBerry too, decided to make an appearance. With TCL handling manufacturing duties for the struggling company, which has put out some decent devices in the DTEK series, BlackBerry needs a win, and they’re going for it by bringing back the physical keyboard. The BlackBerry KeyOne, a re-imagined Priv, feels like an evolution of the devices of old. It comes with a 4.5-inch touchscreen, the latest Android 7.1 Nougat, an efficient Snapdragon 625 processor, and a full keypad, the entirety of which works like a trackpad to swipe on, with a space bar that doubles as a fingerprint reader. BlackBerry’s Hub is also on offer, and the textured back takes you back to the days when BlackBerry was a force to reckon with.
Sony was at the show too, and the Xperia XZ Premium continued to push the display envelope with a 4K screen complete with HDR, whose utility is questionable at best. Living Box, a start-up from Israel, showed off a small modular, solar-powered greenhouse that helps grow plants in tiny apartments. Circulus showed off a cute little robot named piBo, geared toward fostering better family interaction, with Softbank Robotics’ NAO robot performing similar functions.
There was a lot of talk about 5G as well, which, interestingly, is under discussion in India, with the ongoing telecom war between the major service providers. Airtel, for instance, is already in talks with Nokia to formulate a roadmap to improve upon 4G and pave the way for the new standard.
That’s MWC 2017 in a nutshell, and it’s been a promising start to the year for mobile. With the Samsung Galaxy S8 set to launch later this month and Apple reportedly planning a massive overhaul for this year’s iPhone, the momentum is only building up.