When you think of 'big flashy tech conference at the start of the year,' CES is what naturally comes to mind. However, on March 2nd, the 2017 edition of Mobile World Congress hosted in Barcelona, Spain, wrapped up. More than 108,000 attendees, from more than 208 countries, flocked to the exhibition halls to see what the technology giants had in store for this year's latest crop of next generation smartphones. And while for most consumers, staying on top of these flashy new phones is just what you do as a tech enthusiast, for developers and manufacturers of smart devices, staying current with these advancements are an industry must if you hope to stay relevant to your customers. If you're developing the next smart home or IoT (internet of things) product, the mobile app used to control it will be just as important to your customers as the item itself. For that reason alone, the inventors and manufacturers in this space need to hone their focus early on to the current capabilities of the mobile marketplace.
As was expected, 5G connectivity and its impact were a big buzz around the convention, although real-world implementation of the network is still more than a few years off. However, once 5G is implemented, it will fundamentally change the way we think about mobile. It won't just be about greater connection speeds; it will be a part of improved medical services, connected societies, smart cars, and more.
There was also a tinge of nostalgia at the show this year, with industry veterans like Nokia and Blackberry wading back into the mobile fray by re-introducing some beloved "retro" tech. The Nokia 3310, aka "The Brick," will once again be hitting retail shelves. The phone will feature a new, sleeker frame and color screen, but with the same solid build that made Nokia an industry giant in the early 2000's. Oh, and of course Snake will be making its comeback as well on the Nokia 3310. The phone comes with 16G of internal memory, a 2.4-inch color display, a microUSB port, and a 2MP rear camera. Blackberry decided to make a comeback of it's own, announcing the Blackberry KeyOne. The KeyOne is the first QWERTY Blackberry flagship phone since TCL took on its manufacturing license last December. It comes boasting a 4.5-inch display, is powered by an Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, and runs Android 7.1 Nougat. And although cynics may make the argument that you only refresh the old once you've run out of new ideas, it might prove fruitful and clever to open an alternate purchasing avenue for people looking to take a breather from the latest mobile tech trends. Amidst the whirlwind of new tech and old tech, there was one household name that was noticeably quiet on the phone launch front; Samsung didn't unveil a new phone for its Galaxy line. Rather, they took the opportunity to announce their conference happening March 29th, 2017 in New York. However, from the phones that were announced, here's our best in show.
The LG G6 takes the cake for the best flagship phone. Overall, the G6 is considered the total package. And while conference goers didn't necessarily love its older Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, or the glass backing, they very much adore the G6's slim bezels and sleek 5.7-inch screen. The LG G6's tall, but thin screen makes the phone easier to hold than most of it's larger screened competition. It also boasts a sleek design, and feels great to hold. LG definitely ramped up their design game from last year's modular G5, which had some interesting ideas, but it goes to show sometimes you can't beat a classic design with great execution.
For all the pure Android lovers out there, the Google Pixel is the best phone on the market...except for its killer price tag. If you're looking for a similar mobile experience at about half of the price tag, the Huawei P10 is the phone for you. It's not a wild re-design of the series, it's more of an elegant refinement of the P9 version. The Huawei P10 can be purchased in a variety of colours, including Pantone's colour of the year 2017: Greenery. This stellar mid-range phone boasts a 5.1 inch screen, dual camera technology from Leica, an updated EMUI 5.1 OS, HiSilicon's Kirin 960 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a brand-new front-facing fingerprint scanner; having dispensed with their hallmark rear-positioned scanner. This Android-powered, iPhone-esque smartphone just might be the mobile handset people will be itching to buy in 2017.
We've seen a lot of solid, well-performing mobile phones be announced at Mobile World Congress 2017. However, there's always going to be a phone that appeals to the tech demographic that crave the newest, fastest, most bleeding-edge device. For those technology consumers, there's the Sony Xperia XZ Premium....at least potentially until the new 10th anniversary iPhone gets announced. The XZ Premium continues with the squarish and boxy body that the Sony Xperia series is known for, and sits a top the list as best-in-show of the entire Xperia line. It has one sheet of Corning Gorilla Glass on the rear, and one on the front, creating a great and smooth finish that is a joy to hold. It features a 5.5-inch display and 4K resolution for a pixel density of 801ppi. Sony has taken HDR, the latest technology crazy for televisions, and introduced it to a mobile device. It runs on Snapdragon 835, has 4GB of RAM, and a base internal storage of 64GB, with a micro-SD slot for expandable storage. But, the real show-stopper with XZ Premium is the camera. The new camera is being called Motion Eye, and Sony is claiming it's the first memory-stacked sensor, which could mean faster scanning. It has a 19MP rear camera with a new G lens that claims to deliver more clarity in photos, and a 13MP front-facing camera. The coolest new feature however, might be the slow motion function. Most current-market smartphones offer slow-mo in 240fps. The Xperia XZ Premium, however, offers 960fps. Reviewers lucky enough to get their hands on one to test out said that the results were "very, very cool".
And so another year at Mobile World Congress comes to a close. Now we wait to see what Samsung has in store for the S8, and what Apple plans to bring to the mobile table for the 10th anniversary iPhone. We're definitely excited to see where 2017 takes us in the world of mobile.
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