Today is Day One at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, where the great and the good of the tech industry – minus Apple – gather to launch and showcase their newest offerings. Throughout the week our Daily Mobile World Digest will keep you up to date with the latest products and company announcements and what they mean for emerging tech industry trends.
We’ve certainly got off to a lively start with major announcements from Samsung, Sony, Huawei and Nokia amongst others… not to mention angry protests greeting King Felipe of Spain on his first visit to Catalonia since the region’s failed independence bid in October.
Here is a snapshot of key announcements and a look at the trends and themes we are seeing emerge on Day One.
So far, the news has been device heavy, with major press conferences on Sunday and early Monday morning. A few new phones, a throwback from Nokia, a new laptop and a tablet all made their debut. Camera technology is a big focus again this year. This has truly taken new forms with innovative retracting selfie cameras and, in the case of Huawei’s new tech, a camera that withdraws at the click of a button.
Below are some highlights and a general overview:
- One of the first highlights is Nokia. They’re making us feel like it’s #ThrowbackThursday on a Monday. With the hype around last year’s 3310, Nokia is trying the same trick with the new 8110. The slider phone comes with Snake, 4G, an app store and a fast charger. However, the 8110 unfortunately does not come with ‘The Matrix’ sunglasses.
- It’s not just throwbacks with Nokia. The company announced several phones ranging from the affordable Nokia 1 featured with Android Go to the mid-range Nokia 6 and 7 and finally the Nokia 8 Sirocco. With the Nokia 8, the company is trying to say it “can still do high-end” and the media seems to be in agreement.
- And for all of us with a little sticky note or piece of tape on their webcam, Huawei’s new Matebook X Pro provides a more sophisticated answer. The camera pops up from the keyboard by a touch of a button, which is super cool, although pundits are questioning whether the camera angle might not hide double chins well in selfies ?
- Huawei also has a clear understanding of our need for entertainment on our handheld devices. The Huawei MediaPad M5 series features speakers tuned by Harman Kardon and Huawei’s Histen technology for immersive 3D audio. Not to mention the curved glass displays. And in other Huawei news, it will also demonstrate its AI smartphone-driven car during the congress.
- And of course, yesterday saw the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. Samsung redesigned the camera resulting in more detailed photos. The models have also seen a boost to the slow-mo function, which can now record at 960 frames per second.
Food for thought
Amongst the plethora of product announcements on Day One, there have been a number of themes emerging and an evident shift in how providers are communicating with their consumers. Gone are the in-depth specifications, as telecom giants are now focusing on how these devices make you feel and how they amplify fun and connectivity with friends and family.
5G – Can we keep up?
The topic of ‘light-speed’ connectivity has been discussed at MWC ever since the launch of 4G in 2009. Finally, we seem to have reached the point where instantaneous connectivity through 5G is ready to be released to the world. Qualcomm have today launched their data on how fast is ‘fast’ with staggering results. Using 5G, browsing speeds increased by 23 times, and 90% of all user download speeds increased tenfold, from 10 to 186mbs!
Added to this, Richard Yu, CEO at Huawei took to the stage today to announce the Balong 5G01 – The world’s first commercial chipset that meets 5G standards. It would seem we’re truly on the verge of light-speed!
Let’s slow down and embrace the experience
With the world seemly traveling at a million miles an hour, it’s ironic that one of the themes emerging from this year’s MWC seems to be ‘how slow can you go’. With the launch of Samsung’s S9 and S9+ the company is enabling consumers to take videos in super slow motion in a really easy way. While other slow-mo functions are manual, the S9 auto-triggers making this tech really consumer friendly.
Sony has also launched its Sony XZ2. Not only does it have slow mo ability, it also embraces the endless need of the consumer to be having ‘fun’ and fully immersed in the experience. Utilising the company’s knowledge of the gaming industry, this phone is able to vibrate in time with movies and TV action scenes in real-time.
Although these announcements are great for tech enthusiasts and help consumers make fun of boring commutes, only time will tell whether these are functions that will become a part of the ‘everyday’ smartphone.
Getting the basics right
At the end of the day, a mobile device should have the ability to be your companion wherever you go. And you should be able to trust it for at least 24 hours, rather than planning your day around the next charge. If you remember, 2017’s MWC was dominated by Nokia’s 3310 rebrand – we all loved this basic device and pre-orders outstripped all new devices launched that year. Nokia are back in 2018 with the same tactic, with the re-launch of its infamous Banana-phone; the Nokia 8110. Made famous by Keanu Reeves and The Matrix, this banana shaped phone simply connects you with those who you want to speak to. It does have a smattering of apps for email and texting but its main emphasis is its astronomical battery power. Reported to last for over 20 days or eight hours of continuous voice calls, you could use it throughout the working day and still have power for your commute home.
Nokia’s 8110 re-confirms, for the second year running, that what we want more than anything are: the basics done right and the ability to connect with one another easily and consistently.
Tomorrow there will be much more news to report from the keynotes. And we expect to see more significant announcements from both B2B and B2C players too.
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