CES isn't the mobile show it once was. Most of the big flagship devices these days are announced at dedicated events or at Mobile World Congress, which begins in just a few weeks. HTC has sent out invites to its MWC event where we will apparently, "see what's next."
Love it or hate it, the Galaxy S5 will almost certainly be the best-selling Android phone in 2014. Whether or not the hardware actually warrants those kinds of incredible sales figures is largely irrelevant, thanks to Samsung's marketing machine and consumers' general willingness to buy things they're familiar with. And "familiar" is certainly an excellent way to describe the phone's hardware. While it isn't quite the ho-hum upgrade that came with the GS4, and there are some significant hardware features that add to its value, the GS5's overall design probably won't win it any new fans.
The smartwatch craze has gotten a little out of hand, if you'll pardon the pun. Various manufacturers and innumerable crowdfunding campaigns seem ready to leap into the shallow waters already populated by Pebble, Sony, Fitbit and the like. Just because Samsung's Galaxy Gear is the most mainstream of these wearable devices doesn't mean it's the best - on the contrary, in addition to general dissatisfaction with the somewhat rushed hardware, many reviewers found themselves questioning the need for a relatively powerful and feature-filled device on their wrist.
One year ago we took a look at the original Grand Memo, ZTE's mid-range entry in the bustling "phablet" market. Fast forward and ZTE is back at Mobile World Congress, showing off a new and improved version called the Grand Memo II LTE, that's better in every way... but still not really good enough to elicit a "wow" of surprise. Check out our hands-on video below.
The Grand Memo II bumps up the screen size to 6.0 inches, putting it squarely in between the largest of the conventional smartphones and low-cost tablets.
Sony announced its new Xperia Z2 Tablet here at Mobile World Congress, so we swung by their booth on the show floor to get a hands-on with the next tablet flagship. This is the successor to the Tablet Z, now more fully aligned with the leading Sony phone in both name and hardware.
The first thing you notice when you pick up the Z2 Tablet is that it is thin. Crazy thin - 6.4mm, in fact, thinner than the previous tablet, thinner than any phone you're likely to get your hands on in the United States, thinner than the iPad Air by more than a millimeter, and lighter as well at only 425 grams.
The phablet market is exploding, and just about every manufacturer wants a piece of the oversized pie. Here at Mobile World Congress ZTE has just announced the Grand Memo II LTE, the successor to last year's Grand Memo. It ups the screen size to a full 6 inches of IPS goodness. Well, maybe goodness - they aren't saying what the resolution is just yet, just "HD," which I'll assume means 720p.
Along with a new flagship phone, Sony has raised the curtain on a new high-end tablet at Mobile World Congress. Like previous Sony designs, the Xperia Z2 Tablet takes its name, looks, and general hardware from the Z2 smartphone. The most impressive part is the Snapdragon 801 processor, which should be able to take all comers with its 2.26Ghz quad-core architecture.
The rest of the tablet is lagging a little bit when compared to newer offerings from Samsung.
We've been seeing quite a lot of Sony's "Xperia Sirius," and it looks like Sony is ready to take the wraps off of it here at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. As expected, it's the flagship successor to the Z1, somewhat disappointingly named the Xperia Z2. Sony is also announcing the Xperia M2 today, a more midrange phone with Sony's standard industrial design and dual SIM card slots.
The Z2 improves on the Z1 with a 5.2-inch 1080p LCD display, matching LG's G2.
We're back in Barcelona once again at Mobile World Congress - thanks to our sponsor Avast! - and this year is shaping up to be one for the books. And by the books, I mean Samsung's books - Galaxy S5 speculation has reached a fever pitch, and the world's #1 Android OEM has all but spelled out at this point that they'll be Unpacking their latest flagship at this year's show.
New phones and tablets aren't the only thing that Samsung will unveil in Barcelona. A recent Twitter post indicates that the company will reveal a new line of Exynos mobile processors, cryptically titled "Exynos Infinity." The post from the official Exynos account omitted any other details, but a debut during the Samsung Unpacked event on February 24th (concurrent with, but technically distinct from, Mobile World Congress) is a safe bet.
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