It’s day one at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 and most of the major announcements have already been made before the opening. One striking trend at the MWC this year has been the attention to toys that accompany the smartphones or tablets. Whether it’s LG G5’s Rolling Bot, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge’s Gear 360 camera or Huawei MateBook’s dock, companies have paid extra attention to the gadgets and peripherals that accompany their flagships. In fact, ZTE went as far as putting a tablet in its projector instead of following Lenovo’s idea of the opposite. Windows, considered to not been doing too well, received some much needed backing from Huawei and HP in the form of a 2-in-1 PC and an all-in-one phone. So, here are the five announcements we found most exciting.
Samsung’s Galaxy S7, S7 Edge and Gear 360
Samsung revealed all its cards at its unboxing event on S7 with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg making a guest appearance, Samsung’s Head of Research -- Pranav Mistry -- introducing the Gear 360 and unveiling of their latest flagships -- Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Besides the virtual reality capabilities, the S7 series is also claimed to be a serious gaming companion with a dedicated game launcher, better at taking pictures in low lighting than the latest iPhones and sport besides the always on display because we check our phone too often for time and pressing a button to do that is apparently inconvenient.
LG’s G5, Playground and Friends
The LG G5 is one of the most practical steps in the direction of modular smartphones that any company has take but also, a radical one. The company has needed to show buyers that their latest flagship was worth investing in and with the G5, they did exactly that. The phone despite having a metal uni-body, boasts of a removable battery. The detachable bottom can be swapped for modules, or as LG calls them, “Friends”. The Friends include a HiFi audio output module built with Bang & Olufsen; camera module with dedicated shutter button, scroll wheel for zoom and LED indicator; Roller bot that’s a home surveillance, pet care and IR remote robot that resembles Sphero; a 360 degree camera.
ZTE’s tablet-projector thing
The Spro Plus from ZTE is a tablet with 8.4-inch AMOLED screen that runs Android Marshmallow 6.0 with the help of a Snapdragon processor connected to the internet by 4G and juiced by a massive 12,100 mAh battery. That isn’t even the fascinating part. Under the tablet’s screen is a chunky metal enclosure that sports the 500 lumen projector and two 4W JBL speakers. If that isn’t a portable home theatre with the easiest mode of operation -- the Android tablet on top -- I don’t know if we’ll ever see one.
The Huawei MateBook is a device that probably exists because someone at the company really lived the design of Apple’s iPad Pro, but wanted a Windows 10 device. The resemblance is apparent to the size, weight and purpose. As you might have already guessed, it comes with a stylus with thousands of degrees of pressure sensitivity, great battery life, a 12-inch screen and a dock that connects via the single USB Type-C port. The specifications and features of the Windows 10 Tablet from Huawei were so unoriginal that the only exciting feature was a fingerprint sensor at the centre of the volume rocker for faster unlocking.
HP’s phone that’s also a desktop and laptop
It isn’t a great time for Window on phones with their adoption rate coming to a stand still and barely phone manufacturers treating it like a secondary option -- Xiaomi Mi 5 is expected to run both Android and Windows. HP is fighting the trend with its latest Elite X3 phablet. With a a nearly 7-inch screen, the phone sports innards powerful enough to put most mobile devices to shame. As uncle Ben said, with great power comes great responsibility and HP realises that. It wants the Elite X3 to be your everything -- phone, tablet, desktop and laptop. When paired with a dock, suing Windows’ Continuum feature, the phablet is capable of running a PC that does support the popular desktop applications and all Windows store applications. Will the lifestyle appeal to buyers? It does appeal to me, but I wouldn’t leave the vast ecosystem of apps on Android or iOS.