Best of Mobile World Congress 2017

There are plenty of gadgets to get excited about

Before the exhibition doors of Mobile World Congress open to the public, for most journalists, half the job is already done.

48 hours prior, my team and I had scuttled across the beautiful Mediterranean city hopping from one launch event to another.

We were at a total of eight during this year’s show; overall one of the best in recent years.

Credit Samsung, if you will. Them pushing back the Galaxy S8 launch to later in March, allowed other brands to collectively bask in the spotlight it once monopolized. Credit Nokia for its nostalgia-fueled comeback. Or credit every other smartphone brand that stepped it up and gave us, not only something to talk about, but also more wows than disappointment.

If MWC 2017 is any indication of what the rest of the year will look like in terms of smartphones. We’re pretty darn excited!

BlackBerry KEYOne

After a two-year absence, BlackBerry is back!

This time via a lifeline from Chinese tech company TCL (also known for its midrange TVs and Alcatel smartphones).

The KEYOne is only the second truly BlackBerry phone to run Android, and is perfect for those wanting both a 2017 smartphone experience and the familiarity of the full keypad BlackBerry is known for.

In the short time we spent with the KEYOne, it felt exactly like what you’d expect from a BlackBerry – metal frame, rubber back, and that keypad which it gets its name from. The new, old keypad doubles as a touchpad and comes with a fingerprint sensor built into its space bar.

LG G6

While LG has pulled the plug on its modular smartphone concept, the new G6 leaves plenty more to be excited about.

LG’s biggest talking point is big screen, small phone. And while size is relative, you’ve got to hand it to them; despite having 0.2 inches more screen real estate than the iPhone 7 Plus, the G6 is indeed a much smaller phone that fits in the hand better.

What I like most about the G6 is its design. The phone is solidly built, much more than last year’s model. It’s a difference you can see and feel. And I’m lusting over the ice platinum one as I write this piece.

LG’s made sure the G6 satisfies by all accounts. It’s got a beautiful display, water and dust resistance, and a great camera. LG also says it’s given the G6 a heat pipe to protect it from unexpected situations — their subtle way of saying it won’t explode, if you note what I’m saying.

Huawei P10

Following a very successful year, Huawei didn’t dramatically change much about the P10. Instead, it improved on the already good product.

The company is working together with color experts Pantone to release its new smartphone in two unique new shades, including 2017 Color of the Year, Greenery.

A Huawei executive told GagetMatch, the new color symbolizes new beginnings, and it hopes that these little touches contribute to how users feel about their phones and life in general.

Like its predecessor, the camera on the P10 is co-engineered with Leica. We had the pleasure of shooting with the phone around Barcelona, and have been blown away by its excellent camera.

Nokia 6 / Nokia 3310

Nokia is back, too! Like a phoenix from the ashes, the phone brand that many of us grew up with is given new life by Finnish startup HMD Global.

The new company hopes to leverage its pool of Nokia old-timers and new talent to deliver the core qualities that we expect from Nokia with a fresh flavor that makes it relevant to millennials who have never used a Nokia before.

The new Android-powered Nokia 6 flagship is just that. Carved from a solid block of aluminum and with a pure Android experience — just how all smartphones should be.

Nokia also announced the new 3310 — a revival retro phone that’s just as you remember it: Snake, Symbian OS, removable battery, one-month standby time, and the Nokia ringtone. And because it’s the question I’ve been asked most this week: The 3310 will retail for €49 when it goes on sale in the 2Q of 2017.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium 

Sony loyalists will love the new Xperia XZ Premium, a phone that’s way too beautiful to be used. Fingerprints will ruin the aesthetics of it, and so will need a much-needed protective case. But I guess that’s the point; the XZ Premium is meant to be a phone of excesses.

Take for example its 4K HDR display — simply put, the new phone has as good a display as a top-of-the-line TV. Sony is also working with Amazon Prime Video to guarantee a list of original content that will benefit such a smartphone when it launches later this year.

Film makers will also love the new super-slow-mo feature, 960 frames per second in total! This will let you freeze the exact moment a water drop drips from a kitchen faucet.

OPPO 5X

OPPO didn’t have a new smartphone to announce at MWC; just a promise of what future phones could be like.

The company debuted new camera technology that utilizes a dual-camera setup to zoom in on subjects up to 5X. Previously to achieve such a feat, you’d need bigger lenses that protrude from the phone.

OPPO’s been able to shrink that technology into a lens element that’s only a few millimeters thin. My iPhone 7 Plus can zoom up to two times without relying on digital zoom; five times would be such a game-changer when you’re trying to steal a shot of that attractive person two tables away.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 / Galaxy Book

There weren’t a lot of new tablets announced at MWC, but Samsung, in lieu of its S8 announcement, had two to show off.

The most important thing about both the Galaxy Tab S3 and Galaxy Book is that they come bundled with an S Pen, unlike Apple’s iPad Pro that requires you to buy it separately. There’s even a special edition Staedtler that looks like an actual pencil.

 

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