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MWC 2017: Everything you need to know

The 15 most exciting devices and winners from MWC 2017

Monika Dimitrova
MWC 2017: Everything you need to know© 2017 Mobile World Congress 2017

The 30th edition of the Mobile World Congress brought new flagship smartphones, like the much expected LG G6 and Huawei P10, tablets, laptops, and wearables. Samsung Galaxy S8 didn’t make an apparition, as many mobile enthusiasts were hoping, but the Korean company showcased device prototypes with 5G capabilities. However, the star of the show was a retro device, which doesn’t even support 3G. The iconic Nokia 3310 made a comeback and it was one of the most talked about devices, which is quite fitting taking into account that this year’s MWC marked 30 years since the event first debuted. Like every year, the GSMA association gave the famous Glomo awards for the best devices and most innovative technologies.

We have compiled the devices released by the most famous brands that took part at the MWC 2017 and the winners for each category.

Nokia

Nokia released its first Android smartphone in China earlier this year and it had a huge success: 1.3 million Nokia 6 devices were sold in only 4 days. At MWC, Nokia announced that the phone will be available worldwide and introduced two budget-friendly options, Nokia 5 and Nokia 3.

The Nokia 6 is made out of one block of 6000 series aluminium and protected with Gorilla Glass, promising great durability. After all, Nokia is the creator of the unbreakable phone, so durability is one thing the brand is famous for. The device doesn’t have outstanding specs compared the the average flagship (a 5.5” full HD screen and a Snapdragon 430 processor), so it’s no wonder that it wasn’t the star of the event. The device everybody was excited about was the new Nokia 3310. Nokia decided to bring back the unbreakable phone, re-designed and improved with a full color display and a 1200mAh battery which guarantees 22 hours of battery life in use and 30 days of battery life in stand-by mode.

Sony

Sony announced its newest flagship, the XZ Premium, which was designated the best smartphone of MWC 2017 at the Glomo awards. Building up on the Xperia Z5 Premium and the Xperia XZ announced last year, the XZ Premium is basically an upgraded version with the latest Qualcomm chipset, the Snapdragon 835. Just like the Z5 Premium, it has a 4K HDR display (3840 x 2160 pixels) with an astonishing pixel density of 807 pixels per inch. The camera module is improved compared to the one Xperia XZ, featuring the new Motion Eye technology.  Using this technology, the camera can capture videos in super slow motion, at 960 frames per second. The 19-megapixel main camera has predictive phase detection autofocus and electronic image stabilization.

Sony also announced the Xperia XZs, a smaller flagship with a 5.2” screen and the same camera as on the premium version, and two mid-range devices, Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra.

LG

The new LG G6 has all the features you would expect from a good phone: a 5.7" screen with a resolution of 2880 x 1440 pixels and two 13-megapixel cameras, one with a wide-angle lens and 125° field of view and another one with optical image stabilization. LG's goal with the G6 was to bring a large screen with high resolution in a compact form factor: "the screen that fits in your hand". The device has two standout features: a 18:9 ratio display (2:1), which means more screen in a smaller body, and a HDR display with Dolby Vision and HDR10 support. The LG G6 is the first phone to have these features, which practically allow you to watch videos with a great contrast ratio or use a split-screen with two squares on top of each other.

LG G6.jpg

BlackBerry

Initially announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, the BlackBerry KeyOne is an attempt to bring back the original BlackBerry design in a powerful flagship. The device has the famous QWERTY keyboard, improved with new functions. Unlike the company’s previous flagship, BlackBerry Priv, which had a sliding keyboard, the KeyOne brings back the classic keyboard design. The keys are touch sensitive and can be set up as shortcuts for different apps. For example, you can just press ‘F’ and open the Facebook app or ‘W’ for WhatsApp. As mentioned in the keynote, messaging has become one of the main activities of smartphone users. BlackBerry thinks that a physical keyboard can make messaging easier and faster, especially if the keys can help you navigate and quickly access apps. However, it’s unlikely that the BlackBerry KeyOne will be successful. The specs are mediocre: a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset, 3GB of RAM and a standard 12-megapixel camera. Taking into account that the device is priced at approximately $550, it is unlikely the KeyOne will be prefered over other flagships.

BlackBerry KeyOne_article.png

Huawei

With the P10 and P10 Plus, Huawei created a sleeker version compared to its predecessor. Due to the new 'Hyper Diamond Cut' and the new range of colors (8) the phones look different than any other phone. The fingerprint sensor, that you find now on the front, enables you to quickly navigate around the interface of your phone. The P10 Plus is an optimized version of the P10, offering more battery and storage and a 5.5-inch QHD panel, while the P10 has only a Full HD display of 5.1-inches. Both models have a dual sensor, which is created in a partnership with Leica and run on the Kirin 960 chipset, the same processor that the P9 is running on. The P10 Plus is available in two versions with an increased internal storage and an microSD slot and provides additionally a memory optimization which learns from your usage behavior and delegates RAM where you need it the most. Neither the P10 nor the P10 Plus will be launched in the US.

Huawei P10.jpg


The ones who were hoping Huawei’s new smartwatches would be slimmer and have upgraded features will probably be disappointed. The design of the Watch 2 is rather bulky, but there have been many improvements on the inside, like the increased pixel density and battery capacity. Both watches come with the Android Wear 2.0, include a GPS and a heart rate sensor and feature the Snapdragon Wear processor, while it is still not clear if the Classic also runs on the 2100 version. Looking at the integrated sensors and the design, as well as the big reduction in weight, Huawei’s Watch 2 is made for sport enthusiasts or athletes, while the Watch 2 Classic is a more stylish watch with less sporty features. The Watch 2 Classic is thinner than the Watch 2 and its predecessor, but also limited in its functionality. For instance it doesn’t have LTE, so that you always have to take your phone with you, but it will run the Google assistant at launch.

Huawei Watch 2 line-up.png

Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, Samsung Galaxy Book + 5G

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 and Samsung Galaxy Book were presented as one of the most premium tablets on the market, targeted towards business professionals and people who are always on the go and need to get things done fast. So, let’s look at the specs and see if these people might have better alternatives than the latest Samsung tablets.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 gives us a mixed feels. On one hand, it is one of the best Android tablets we have seen in a long time, but on the other hand we think Samsung can do much better.

1. Starting from the processor – Samsung chose to run the tablet on an older Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset, instead of using the latest 835 chip, which should have been the case if it wanted to show premium class performance. Surely enough, paired with 4GB of RAM, the tablet would powerful enough for playing games smoothly and for performing multiple operations on a daily basis.

However, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 supports the new Vulkan API, aka the "next generation OpenGL initiative", which could be very critical for people who are always on the go due to the fact that the older processor doesn’t promise premium power efficiency.

2. Battery power – The main competitors of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 are the Apple iPad Pro 9.7’’ and the Pixel C tablets, both having considerably better battery power. The iPad Pro 9.7’’ has a battery power of 7,306 mAh and the Pixel C has 9,243 mAh, compared to only 9,243 mAh for the latest Samsung Android tablet.

3. TouchWiz – Another drawback of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is the TouchWiz software. The TouchWiz launcher, a product developed by Samsung to give a personal feel to the Android operating system, has lost its edge, especially compared to new Android launchers or even to a pure Android UI. Even though Samsung denies it, the TouchWiz might be the reason why Android updates are slightly delayed for all Samsung devices and why the Tab S3 tablet runs on Android Nougat 7.0, instead of the latest 7.1, which was quite disappointing.

Samsung Galaxy Book.jpg

Samsung Galaxy Book

The Samsung Galaxy Book 2-in-1 tablet is a story of itself.

This device shows off some serious specs, which have taken on some of the tricks of the last year’s Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S, but it is definitely more sophisticated in execution. The Galaxy Book is undoubtedly the best of the Samsung event at the MWC 2017. The device has the specs to be a great alternative for all fans of the Microsoft Surface Book.

The Galaxy Book will arrive in 10.6-inch and 12-inch configurations, which are quite different from each other, as the bigger sibling definitely wins the spotlight. Both tablets run Windows 10.

The flagship device is powered by the latest Intel Kaby Lake Core i5 and can be combined with either 4GB or 8GB of memory. The Galaxy Book 12’’ is paired up with a 256GB SSD and the smaller 10,6-inch version with a 128GB SSD, as both versions have a microSD slot that supports up to 256GB of storage.

The Samsung Photoshop demo on the event proved that the Galaxy Book tablets were designed with Microsoft Surface Book in mind. The Galaxy Books run pretty smoothly and with ease. Another great thing to ease work is the S-Pen, which is the first for a Windows device and can be used as a versatile tool. The Pen is very light and does not require a charge at all.

Overall, the Galaxy Book tablets are premium 2-in-1 tablets. The 12-inch device has 3:2 aspect ratio, which can make one think that this tablet was designed to be a laptop first. The Super AMOLED display has a 2160 x 1440 pixels resolution which can really make one reconsider their decision of buying a laptop. The smaller model features a FHD 1080p LCD screen.

5G

At the Barcelona event Samsung only launched the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 and Galaxy Book, but not the Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone flagship. The Korean company is going to have an event in March, where we will see the new big rival to the iPhone 7. On this Sunday event however we also heard about the new 5G wireless technology Samsung is developing and currently trying out with Verizon. The bad news is that this technology will not be available to consumers for at least two more years for phones.

Winners of the MWC

Category 1:The Connected Life Awards

  1. R/GA and Owlet Baby Care for Owlet for best mobile innovation for health
  2. Robi Axiata Ltd for Robi-10 Minute for best mobile innovation for education & learning
  3. Cisco Jasper Control Center for Connected for best mobile innovation for automotive
  4. EcoNet Wireless and Mahindra Comviva for EcoCash for best mobile payment solution
  5. Shell and MOBGEN, part of Accenture Digital, for Shell Motorist App for best use of mobile for retail, brands & commerce 
  6. what3words for 3 word addresses for best use of mobile for travel, leisure & hospitality
  7. Orange and Danal Inc. for Check & Go MC for best use of mobile for travel, leisure & hospitality
  8. KT for KT-MEG (Micro Energy Grid) for best use of mobile for smart cities

Category 2: Best Mobile Services 

9. Airbus and Accenture for Wearable Technology Seat Marking Solution for best mobile service or solution for enterprise

10. PHD Media for Kheloge Toh Jeetoge for best use of mobile for advertising or marketing

11. VMware for VMware Workspace ONE for best mobile cloud service or app

12. Vodafone Group for Vodafone Smart Pricing for best mobile network solution for serving customers

 Category 4: Best Mobile Apps

13. MINDBODY for MINDBODY App for best mobile app for the connected lifestyle

14. Blippar for Blippar for best mobile app for virtual or augmented reality

15. SK Telecom for oksusu (Jointly with SK Broadband) for best mobile video, tv or film app

16. Salesforce for Salesforce1 for best mobile app for business

17. Sliide Airtime Africa for Sliide for most innovative mobile app

18. Niantic Inc. for Pokémon Go for best overall mobile app (judge’s choice)

Category 5: Best Mobile Handsets & Devices

19. Samsung for Galaxy S7 Edge for best smartphone 2016

20. Amazon for Amazon Echo for disruptive device innovation award

21. Orange for Orange VR1 for best wearable mobile technology

22. R/GA and Owlet Baby Care for Owlet Being for best connected consumer electronic device

23. Sony for Sony Xperia XZ Premium for best new mobile handset, tablet or device at MWC 2017

Category 6: Best Mobile Technology

24. Huawei for Active Antenna Unit (AAU) Network System for best mobile infrastructure

25. Altiostar for Altiostar vRAN (Virtual RAN) Solution for best mobile technology breakthrough

26. Huawei for NFV Solution for best technology enabler

27. Samsung SDS for Samsung Mobile Security Management for best mobile security or anti-fraud solution

28. Huawei for the Evolution from 4.5G to 5G for outstanding contribution for lte evolution to 5G

29. Nokia for Nokia end-to-end IoT Solution for best iot innovation for mobile networks

30. Altiostar for Altiostar vRAN (Virtual RAN) Solution for outstanding overall mobile technology – the cto’s choice

The Mobile World Congress was both nostalgic and futuristic, but definitely positive with an outlook for many new more exciting devices to come in the near future. We saw how well accepted the iconic Nokia 3310 revival went, as well the physical QWERTY keyboard on the new BlackBerry flagship, the KeyOne. Followers of the show were also very excited about the new camera technologies from Huawei and Oppo, as well at the new great flagship from LG, the LG G6. Now, waiting for Samsung Galaxy S8.

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