We're in Barcelona! And I'm struggling to stay awake. It's 3PM here in one of my favorite places to visit (I've been doing it five years now, after all), and I am jet lagged to an extent I've scarcely ever experienced. But 2016 is shaping up to be one of the busiest MWCs ever in terms of smartphone news, and we're just getting started. Over the next couple of days, you'll see big announcements from the likes of LG, Samsung, Alcatel, possibly Sony, maybe a few things from HTC, and likely dozens of smaller companies looking to get their share of the limelight.
Archos has kind of fallen off the radar in terms of tablet sales. Maybe it's different in Europe (Archos is a French company), but these days you won't see any of its products on American shelves. And considering the relative paucity of Android tablets in general as of late, that's a shame. Especially when you hear that Archos is making three new tablets at a variety of sizes and, miracle of miracles, they're all running the latest version of Android at launch.
So it is with the new Oxygen series of tablets: the 70, 80, and 101b at 7-inch, 8-inch, and 10.1-inches, respectively.
LG likes to do this thing where it announces devices and accessories before the trade show where they'll actually get announced or shown off, and late last night the company did just that with the new X series smartphones. Basically, this is a new line of mid-range phones from LG that will offer "one exceptional feature." It kind of doesn't make sense until you actually see what each of these phones is all about.
First off is the X screen. This phone takes the V10's unique "second screen" and makes it available in a more affordable model (though exact pricing hasn't been announced).
Right now a mobile payment system is kind of like a pair of Crocs in the mid-2000s: everyone has to have one and it isn't clear why. Of course Google Wallet has been around for years, but now that Apple Pay (and Samsung Pay, and apparently everyone is paying everything) is around Google needs something a little more competitive, perhaps using those newly-acquired Softcard assets. We've known about Android Pay, a new mobile payment API, for a few weeks. Google's SVP of Android, Chrome, and Google Apps spoke briefly on Android Pay at Mobile World Congress, officially confirming the service.
The Grand S3 isn't a beefed up version of the Galaxy S III, an easy mistake to make just from skimming the name alone. No, it's the latest version of ZTE's flagship handset. This time around, the company is using more than competitive pricing to draw attention to its kind-of-premium device. Anyone who buys this phone in the future will apparently be able to unlock it using their eyes.
ZTE has partnered with EyeVerify to incorporate its Eyeprint ID solution with an upcoming version of the Grand S3, a phone that's already on sale in China. It is one of the first smartphones to implement this technology, which allows users to scan their retinas using a phone's front-facing camera.
At Mobile World Congress SanDisk announced a microSD card coming with a massive 200GBs of space. That's for consumers to buy. But there's something for manufacturers too. The company has also announced improved iNAND storage to pack inside mobile devices.
As always, the new iNAND 7132 storage solution is SanDisk's most advanced yet. The company's latest embedded flash drive offers faster transfer speeds, enabling improved performance for burst photography and 4k video capture. It also provides quicker wireless connectivity thanks to support for 802.11ac and 802.11ad.
SanDisk boasts transfer speeds of over 1Gb/s and sequential read/write speeds of 125/280MB/s. The 7132 can handle more burst shots in a short period of time and allows for up to 3 frames per second of RAW image capture.
The photo-focused smartphone is becoming a definite niche, and at Mobile World Congress, Lenovo is hoping to break in with a new model. The Vibe Shot (which sounds a lot like something you'd order at a questionable cocktail bar) is a Lollipop-equipped phone with a 16-megapixel rear camera and an 8MP front-facing shooter. Other photo-focused features include optical image stabilization, infrared autofocus, and a tri-color LED flash. Lenovo hopes to launch the Vibe Shot in June starting at $349.
We actually got a look at the Vibe Shot back in February when Lenovo's MWC lineup was leaked. What we didn't learn at the time about the phone is its price, which is particularly attractive considering its high-midrange specs.
Lenovo has used this year's Mobile World Congress as a chance to unveil two new affordable Android tablets that expand upon the immensely cheap TAB 2 A series introduced in January. These slates don't aim for a lower price point ($99 is hard to beat, after all). Instead, both come with LTE.
Left: TAB 2 A10-70, Right: TAB 2 A8
The TAB 2 A10-70 (not to be confused with the A7-10) has a 10 inch FHD screen, is only 8.9 millimeters thin, and weighs around 500 grams. It will run Android 4.4 (Lollipop expected in June) powered by a MediaTek 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 7,000mAh battery.
Qualcomm's current top processor is the Snapdragon 810, which is only shipping in the LG G Flex 2 and set to appear in upcoming flagships like the HTC One M9. But at Mobile World Congress the chip manufacturer is already taking the wraps off of its next-gen design, the predictably-named Snapdragon 820. Details on the exact capabilities of the new chip are scarce, but Qualcomm says it should be ready to ship to mobile manufacturers sometime in the second half of this year.
The press release below doesn't delve into speed or raw capability, instead focusing on built-in functions like enhanced photos, wireless radio innovations, security features, and "always on" services.
Whether you subscribe to the whole debate on the lack of (and need for) privacy on a personal user level or not, there's no denying that security is crucial in the enterprise. That's the premise behind Silent Circle's new Blackphone announcements today at MWC. The company, which recently purchased Geeksphone to gain full control over its products, has unveiled its plans to foray into the enterprise with a complete suite of devices and services.
The Blackphone 2, which will be available in the second half of 2015, is an upgraded version of the first generation Blackphone. It has switched to a larger 5.5" 1080 display with a bigger battery, faster octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage.