When I saw the prototype YotaPhone last year at CES 2013, I was legitimately impressed with the concept - a smartphone with a standard, full-color display on the front, and a black and white e-ink panel on the back. The applications, functional and aesthetic alike, were not difficult to see.
But the original YotaPhone was quite hefty, both displays were a bit small at 4.3", and the e-Ink panel wasn't actually touch-enabled, but rather was controlled by a capacitive touch panel along the bottom of the device.
Samsung has announced a slew of improvements to its KNOX enterprise security product at this year's Mobile World Congress. For starters, users can now manage two separate secure containers per device, ideal for consultants with multiple clients or people who just want to better separate work data from personal files.
The total list of changes goes much deeper.
Two separate secure containers per device, for example, for consultants who work for several companies or doctors who work for several clinics.
A few days ago, we published a story about Google's possibly upcoming smartwatch. Current rumors suggest that the watch may be ready in time for Google I/O, and that it might be made by LG. We also mentioned that we had heard of a Motorola prototype previously - a prototype that may have been scrapped in favor of a new design from the manufacturer who made the Nexus 4 and 5.
Motorola Mobility held a Q&A session at Mobile World Congress today, and while there wasn't much in the way of spectacle to coincide with the event, there were quite a few substantive announcements. For starters, the company is working on a watch that will be available some time this year. This won't be the first thing Motorola's tried to strap onto our wrists, but the company says style and battery life are two things it intends to address, and it would prefer to create a piece of jewelry rather than ugly tech.
Hardware demos don't get much worse than this one. Archos CEO Loic Poirier wanted to demonstrate just how much punishment one of his company's smartphones could take, but he didn't get quite the results he wanted. He was able to drop the phone just fine, but when he placed the device in a glass and filled it with water, apparently the handset had taken all it could handle.
My love of devices with built-in kickstands is well-documented. So it's no surprise that Lenovo's Yoga Tablet line, which is more or less built around the kickstand (or at least a big, rounded, multi-purpose hump that holds the kickstand and several other neat things) would catch my attention. The first versions were brought down by sub-par hardware, but Lenovo is back with the Yoga Tablet 10 HD+, which addresses a lot of the issues with the original.
I've long had no issue admitting my inability to get excited about Sony's smartphone products. Often, they're too late to market here in the US, have specifications that while competitive are rarely groundbreaking, and really do very little on the software feature front. When I saw the Xperia Z1 at IFA last year, I just wasn't all that impressed - Sony's flagship still suffered from ridiculous screen viewing angle issues, and the UI felt almost no different from what Sony shipped with Ice Cream Sandwich.
You've probably read by now that Nokia's making Android phones. Sort of. And I'm sure there are all sorts of analysts, experts, and other people trying to scream at you collectively that this means something. Nokia's changing directions. Nokia's making Android a backup if the Microsoft merger doesn't go through. Nokia's Android is going to finally end Google's dominance in the world of cheap smartphones!
Let's leave all that aside, because those are frankly annoying and pointless conversations to have.
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.