HTC made a name for itself in the smartphone design game with the One M7 in 2013, and a year later in 2014, the One M8 kept on bringing in the accolades - an evolved aesthetic showed more maturity (and slippery-ness), a bit less plastic, and a greater level of overall fit and finish than its predecessor. Still, while the M8 was certainly a pretty phone, you can't deny the One look is aging a bit, and there were high expectations for the phone's successor in the design department. Those hopes didn't exactly pan out here at MWC, as you're by now well aware.
This year at MWC, there's little in the way of room for the notion that Samsung failed to deliver on the hype. The Galaxy S6 is the most dramatic redesign the Galaxy S has ever seen, and is more Samsung than ever before. Down to the NAND storage and Exynos chipset, the S6 takes Samsung's larger corporate vision of vertical integration seriously, and that should have Samsung's competitors on edge (no pun intended).
To start, the physical hardware simply seems superb. Even the relatively early units we played with had outstanding fit and finish, and I don't mean that in the forgiving sense we typically are forced to provide Android handsets because of the median build quality in the industry.
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.
Alcatel Onetouch is not a huge brand in North America, but it's about to get a boost. The company's HERO 2+ smartphone is the next device to be graced with Cyanogen OS, and it's coming to the US and Canada for $299 unlocked with LTE. If you want a phablet, but don't want to pay phablet prices, this might be for you.
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.
It almost goes without saying, but benchmarks are not everything. These numbers don't always tell you how a device will perform, but they do tell you something. Right now the Galaxy S6 is telling us that Samsung's new Exynos chip is very, very fast. It's putting up AnTuTu scores of nearly 70,000, well above the values produced by devices like the LG G3, Nexus 6, LG G Flex 2, and even the new HTC One M9.