Features

Look out for these phones at Mobile World Congress

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Not since the original iPhone have we been blown away by a smartphone.

Sure, smartphones have come a long way, but not since the first iPhone launch more than a decade ago have we seen this big of a phone revolution.

There was a glimmer of what the next big thing would look like back in 2013 at the Consumer Electronics Show. Samsung had been working on displays so thin and flexible they could fold in half and pop back into place, and at that show, the tech giant was showing off real working prototypes.

Fast forward four more years, and it looks like it’s finally happening. Insiders believe Samsung’s first smartphone with a foldable display will come before the end of 2017.

Till then, however, the next crop of new smartphones will get larger screens without growing in size and will get an even better camera or two. Not as exciting as a tablet that can fold into a phone, but I’m pretty excited nonetheless about the first wave of big announcements coming next week at the 2017 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Nokia Reincarnated

Everyone loves a good comeback, and everyone loves Nokia. So, when Nokia makes a comeback, fans will go wild. A Finnish company called HMD Global now owns the rights to the Nokia brand and plans on announcing three new Nokia phones at MWC. All three handsets will run Android instead of Windows Mobile, but with the toughness Nokia is known more for. Perhaps even more exciting are rumors that Nokia is also planning on releasing a homage to the iconic Nokia 3310.  

BlackBerry, Android or both?

Another popular smartphone brand making a comeback is BlackBerry. Just like the next-gen Nokia phones, the new BlackBerry device will run Android (instead of BlackBerry OS), but will retain the once popular office phone’s most beloved feature: its physical keyboard.

Huawei’s Dual Camera Takes Two

Last year’s Huawei P9 turned heads with its unique take on dual-camera smartphones — one camera shoots in color, the other in black and white. This year’s P10 promises to improve on that concept with a near identical phone that also gets an iris scanner and a new set of trendy color options.

LG G6 (and Friends?)

What appears to be a trend in 2017, LG’s upcoming flagship G6 will also come with a near borderless display. That means the phone may shrink to a more palm-friendly size, but will still have an even larger display. It too will have a dual-camera setup and waterproofing, slowly becoming standards in this space. But the question on everybody’s mind is will it still support last year’s range of modular accessories. From the looks of it, only last year’s G5 had Friends.

Sony

It’s been two years already and the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is still the world’s only smartphone with a 4K display. Not that we need as many pixels on a smartphone as we do a TV, but whatever the case, it appears Sony has another one in the works. Four other phones are also being reported; looks like Sony folks have been busy.

Samsung

Also initially planned for an MWC unveiling, Samsung’s decided to postpone the Galaxy S8 launch to March 29. In its place, invites have gone out for the launch of the Galaxy Tab S3. Rumor has it this premium tablet will come with an S Pen stylus, in an effort to fill the void left behind by the Note 7 recall.

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Hands-On

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Hands-on: Best phone of 2018?

Huawei outdoes itself again

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In an industry where incremental updates are the new norm, Huawei manages to wow us again — barely a year after the release of the P20 Pro. The Chinese company is back with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro which might just be the best among the best this year.

In this video, we go over the phones’ new designs, updated cameras, and new memory card format. We also go through the differences between the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.

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Huawei Mate 20 vs Mate 20 Pro: What are the differences?

Price isn’t the only factor

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Huawei has once again launched two flagships phones at the same time; one comes with a Pro moniker, while the other does not. Like before, there are some significant differences between the Mate 20 pair to take note of.

While we wait to get our hands on the Porsche Design Mate 20 RS and Mate 20 X, here are the two phones we already know everything about.

Display

One obvious difference is in their displays. While the Mate 20 Pro goes for a notched 6.39-inch 1440p curved HDR OLED display — certainly a mouthful — the regular Mate 20 has a 6.53-inch 1080p RGBW HDR LCD with a much smaller notch.

The Pro model justifies the larger notch by housing a more complex camera system for secured facial recognition, but if that doesn’t matter to you, the regular variant’s Dew Drop notch may be more appealing — and definitely less intrusive.

In addition, the Mate 20 Pro’s OLED tech allows it to curve the edges and equip an in-display fingerprint scanner. It’s essentially the more modern-looking design of the pair.

Performance

Since both models have Huawei’s Kirin 980 chipset installed, pure performance is virtually identical. The Pro and non-Pro also share the same memory and storage configuration of 6GB and 128GB, respectively, although the plain Mate 20 has a more affordable 4GB memory variant available, too.

Another minor difference: The 4200mAh capacity of the Mate 20 Pro, along with the more energy-efficient OLED, provides it with potentially longer battery life than what the Mate 20’s 4000mAh capacity and LCD panel offer.

A more significant advantage for the Mate 20 Pro is its inclusion of a 40W SuperCharge adapter in the package — noticeably better than the 22.5W output of the Mate 20’s. Plus, the Pro version can charge other phones wirelessly using wireless reverse charging tech.

Cameras

Perhaps, you’ll care most about the difference in camera quality and performance. While it’s too early to make photo and video comparisons, an initial look at specs shows that the Mate 20 Pro may have an edge.

There are three modules in place for the Pro: One is a 40-megapixel main camera, another has 20 megapixels and an ultra-wide lens, and the final unit offers 8 megapixels with 3x optical zoom

As for the Mate 20, its main camera has only 12 megapixels, the ultra-wide shooter settles for 16 megapixels, and the 8-megapixel telephoto camera goes up to only 2x optical zoom.

Despite the larger notch of the Mate 20 Pro, they share the same 24-megapixel selfie camera.

Pricing and colors

This part largely depends on where you reside, but in an ideal setting, all five colors — Emerald Green, Midnight Blue, Twilight, Pink Gold, and Black — should be available for both models.

Pricing is another matter, and it again depends per region. In Europe, the Mate 20’s 4GB+128GB configuration retails for EUR 799 and its 6GB+128GB model goes for EUR 849. The Mate 20 Pro’s sole 6GB+128GB variant costs EUR 1,049, making it more expensive by EUR 250 and EUR 200, respectively.

In Singapore, the Mate 20’s 6GB+128GB setup retails for SG$ 998, while the Mate 20 Pro is at SG$ 1,348 — a difference of SG$ 350.

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Huawei Mate 20 series first to have Nano Memory Card

Could this become a trend?

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Aside from introducing a host of flagship features to the freshly minted Mate 20 series, Huawei also introduced a new memory card standard, simply named Nano Memory Card.

It’s available on both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, and it effectively replaces the microSD slot we’ve become so accustomed to. The question is: What’s so special about it?

The simplest answer is that it has the same size as the nano-SIM card inside any smartphone today. Because of the identical dimensions, the secondary card slot doesn’t have to be designed differently, like what has been done for microSD cards.

In the case of the Mate 20 series, the removable card tray has back-to-back slots: one for the nano-SIM, and the other for either another nano-SIM or separate Nano Memory Card.

As of writing, Huawei will be offering 128GB and 256GB NM Cards, with speeds of up to 90MB/s. They’re hoping it’ll become the new standard, and are producing adapters for additional compatibility.

It’s certainly a more efficient way of adding physical storage to a handset, and allows manufactures like Huawei to use the saved space for other features, like a large battery.

Looking ahead, it seems only logical for other smartphone brands to follow suit, but that would mean consumers would have to buy into a whole new standard and let go of their microSD cards.

The same thing happened with the introduction of the USB-C port, wherein users had to replace their micro-USB cables for the newer, more intuitive system. It’s been a gradual process, but definitely rewarding.

It’ll take a while before we find out if this will become a trend, but for now, we should appreciate Huawei’s courage in taking the first, big step.

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