There’s more to the Mobile World Congress than just flagship Android phone launches. The congress gives us a glimpse at the technologies that future mobile devices will integrate, or pursue to integrate, in the next few months and years.
This year’s MWC was no different. With Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chip not being available until April, Android flagships unveiled at the event were not that impressive from a specs viewpoint. However, there were plenty of other mobile technologies shown at the event that will redefine mobile devices and our life in the coming future. Let’s have a quick look at them below.
5G! 5G! 5G!
5G was everywhere at MWC this year. Right from Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm to ZTE, T-Mobile and Verizon, everyone was talking about 5G and its benefits. However, 5G as a standard is still yet to be finalised. So, while every major network equipment provider and carrier boasted about the benefits of 5G at the show floor, no one really knows what 5G actually is.
Nonetheless, the technology breakthroughs being made right now will greatly help in finalising the 5G standard down the line by GSMA. 5G is not just going to be about gigabit download speeds, and its launch will not just benefit smartphones but a wide range of industries.
Various demos showed by T-Mobile and Nokia on the MWC show floor highlighted how 5G will have very low latency times that greatly help improve automation in industries. The low latency and high download speeds offered by 5G will also help stream games and events in almost real-time in 360 to VR headsets so you can enjoy the experience of being there virtually right from the comfort of your couch.
The only tangible 5G product announced at MWC was a 5G home router by Samsung. The router is not scheduled to launch until late next year, but when it does, it will bring data speeds upwards of 1Gbps. The 5G router will also require a 5G radio base station being placed near a window to catch the millimetre waves used by the technology. Samsung is working closely with Verizon on bringing 5G in the United States, and there is a strong possibility that we will see both companies release the world’s first 5G phone next year.
5X Optical Zoom
With the iPhone 7 Plus last year, Apple was the first OEM to offer 2x optical zoom on a smartphone without adding any significant camera hump. This year, OPPO is — at least in terms of demo and technology — is not one-upping but five-upping Apple. The company announced its 5X Precision Optical zoom technology at MWC this year. I am going to spare you the tech mumbo jumbo and get straight to the point here: OPPO has figured out a way to offer 5X optical zoom on a smartphone without introducing any significant camera hump at the rear.
The iPhone 7 Plus also offers 5x zoom but post 2x, the zoom is purely digital which means that image quality is severely affected.
It’s unclear when the first smartphone with OPPO’s 5x optical zoom technology will launch. But for now, the technology sure looks impressive on paper.
After Samsung and Huawei, the Nokia booth at MWC was the one that attracted the most crowd. And while the trio of new Android running Nokia smartphones did garner a fair bit of interest, everyone was more interested in checking out the iconic Nokia 3310. Relaunched almost two decades later with a 2017 take on it, the new Nokia 3310 now features a 2.2-inch color display, dual-SIM functionality, microSD card slot, 2MP rear camera, and a new version of the iconic Snake game.
The Nokia 3310 was known for its battery life and excellent build quality. It was among the most popular feature phones of its time, and by relaunching it in 2017, Nokia/HMD Global are trying to cash in on the nostalgia factor that many people have with the phone.
Ironically, while Samsung, Huawei, Ericsson and others talked about 5G, it was a 2.5G phone at MWC that stole their thunder. And this also means that the phone will not work in the United States since it only supports the 900/1800Mhz band.
960fps Slow Motion
Even after all these years, slow motion videos recorded on the iPhone are considered to be among the best in terms of quality. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and most other Android smartphones in the market can record slow motion videos at 240fps at 1080p resolution. Sony, however, is taking things to a whole new level with its Xperia XZs and XZ Premium handsets. Featuring their new camera sensor that its own DRAM, the handsets are capable of recording slow motion videos at a staggering 960fps albeit at 720p — which is 4x slower than what the iPhones are capable of.
Considering that Sony supplies camera sensor to almost all major OEMs out there including Apple, it is just a matter of time before we see the Cupertino company using a camera sensor with similar technology on the iPhone as well.
Smartphones with thin bezels
LG became the first OEM to launch a phone with an almost bezel-less display. The front of the G6 is not exactly devoid of bezels, but the side bezels are very minimal while the top and bottom bezels are just adequate enough so that you can grip the phone properly. Leaked press renders of the Galaxy S8 also seem to confirm that the phone will launch with a bezel-less design.
Phones with thin or almost non-existent bezels are going to be the trend for the next couple of years, with even Apple reportedly jumping on the bandwagon with a bezel-less iPhone 8 featuring a curved OLED screen. Bezel-less phones will allow companies to increase the size of the display on their phones without increasing their dimensions at all. The LG G6, for example, features a 5.7-inch display and yet it is smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus and the Google Pixel XL.
What tech announced at MWC are you the most excited about?