Mobile World Congress 2014 is will soon end, and before we leave Barcelona, we wanted to take a look back on the products that we think will have a great impact on the market, or set some trends in 2014. There are several takeaways from MWC 2014:
- “Raw performance” has a longer cycle
- The mid-range smartphones is where the growth is
- There is still much room left for meaningful innovations
- LTE is now a win-win story for everyone involved
These factors induce a tremendous pressure on the industry to innovate at the “usage model” level, and not only in terms of features and speed. Manufacturers now compete on “meaningful” aspects such as durability, ease of use, cloud services, design and everyone’s favorite: battery life. Here are eight products that we think you should not miss at MWC 2014, in no particular order:
LG G Pro 2
The LG Pro 2 was unveiled last week in Korea and we saw it for the first time here at MWC in Barcelona. The first thing that strikes when holding the device in the hand is its gorgeous 5.9 inch full HD display. Despite the large screen size, LG managed to maintain the device footprint reasonable thanks to its 0.4 mm only bezels.
Additionally, the LG G pro 2 is surprisingly light for its size (172g) and comfortable to hold in the hand, the back cover subtle texture offers a nice grip and feels smooth on the skin. The G Pro 2 is as thin and almost as light as the smaller Galaxy Note 3 (5.7-inch / 168g / 8.3 mm) and offers great performance. Powered by a 2.26 GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 with an Adreno 330 GPU and 3GB DDR3 RAM.
The highlight of the new LG phablet is the camera, the 13 Megapixel camera gets 4K video capture, slow motion (records at 120 fps) , and Magic Focus with after shot selection of focus area. LG custom feature includes Knock-On (tap a code to unlock the phone), Mini View (shrink the screen for on-hand operation) and Dual Browser to view two web page in one screen.
Samsung Galaxy S5
The Galaxy S5 has arrived and this evolution of the Galaxy S line of products focuses on things that people “really” want. Our favorite new features are the water and dust resistance, the super-fast autofocus speed of the main camera, and the improved battery life which includes a new power-saver mode for when you are on that last power drop.
Samsung has also made some changes to the design with a perceptibly larger display and an updated design that softens the “plastic” feel of the back cover as found in the previous Galaxy S. With the S5, Samsung takes a more defined design position and we expect this aspect of the phone to be a bit more polarizing as before, but overall we think that it’s an improvement over the S4 back cover. It’s not easy to be the best-selling Android smartphone series, but it looks like the Galaxy S5 will perpetuate Samsung’s top position for another cycle. In the end, the question is simple: do we want a Galaxy S5? The answer is “yes”.
Huawei MediaPad X1
The Huawei MediaPad X1 has been built to be the “ultimate phablet”. The X1 has complete cellular capabilities and is a real phone, pocketable… in a vest. It is also thinner (7.18 mm) than an iPad mini (7.5mm), an iPhone 5S (7.6mm) and a Nexus 7 2013 (8.4mm). Its bezel is also twice as thin as the iPad mini and its screen-to-body size ratio crushes Google’s Nexus 7 2013.
It is also narrower, so it’s easier to use with one hand and finally it is significantly lighter than both the Nexus 7 and the iPad mini. Last, but not least, it has a rear 13 Megapixel camera equipped with a Sony BSI sensor – compare that to the 5 Megapixel option of the mini and Nexus 7, and you’ll see why there is a lot to love in this device. It’s not for everyone, but it’s awesome for those who do not want to compromise on the large display experience (5000 mAh).
Sony XPERIA Z2
Sony unveiled the Xperia Z2 at MWC this week, and we were very happy to see the Z Series feature a real “top quality” display, on par with leaders such as Samsung or LG. We always loved the Z Series design language, the first of its kind to offer a water resistant ultra-thin chassis.
The highlight of the Z2 is its great 5.2-inch Full HD Triluminos display and the 20.7 Megapixel camera featuring an Exmor RS sensor and Sony’s G lens. The leading smartphones vendors are pushing the envelope of mobile cameras, knowing that people use their smartphone as their primary camera now. The Xperia Z2 records in 4K and is able to capture video at an accelerated frame rate for slow motion playback. Other new camera features include background defocus, new AR effect, Creative Effect, and Timeshift Video.
On the performance side, the Xperia Z2 gets the currently available flagship Qualcomm chipset Snapdragon 801 (2.3 Ghz, Quad-core) with 3GB of RAM, which is about 15%-20% faster than the Snapdragon 800. We expect that the 3,200 mAH battery should be able to sustain all the power-hungry new features.
Sony XPERIA Z2 TABLET
The Xperia Z2 Tablet is the latest tablet from Sony. It follows 2013’s Sony Xperia Tablet Z and we’re happy to say that Sony has kept the design elements of the Xperia Tablet Z as it is one of the better designed Android tablets around, at least until the Xperia Z2 Table was announced. In fact the tablet measures about 6.8mm thin, making it even thinner than Apple’s iPad Air!
Sony has also kept some of its protective features, like being waterproof and dustproof. As far as specs are concerned, the Xperia Z2 Tablet will come with a 10.1-inch Full HD 1920×1080 display which will be powered by Sony’s TRILUMINOS technology. The Xperia Z2 Tablet has also been created as an entertainment device and will feature S-Force Surround sound and will also be compatible with PlayStation DualShock 3 controllers.
Other specs includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset clocked at 2.3GHz and will be accompanied by 2GB of RAM, 4G LTE support (there will also be a WiFi-only model), an 8.1MP Exmor RS camera, and a decently sized 6,000mAh battery featuring Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 that supposedly charges 75% faster.
Lenovo S860 Smartphone
2014 will the the year of the “Super Mid-Range” smartphone. As the momentum in the high-end shifts from “specs” to “meaningful functionality”, the mid-range market will benefit from all the resources poured into last year’s tech.
The affordable smartphones will see a significant rise in overall quality and at Mobile World Congress, the Lenovo S860 reflects this: it has a very nice IPS display, a decent processing performance, and more importantly a huge 4000 mAh battery life that goes beyond what high-end phones like the LG Flex (3500mah), Galaxy Note 3 (3200 mAh) or the LG G2 (3000 mAh).
Since gaming is virtually the only application that “truly” demands the absolute fastest platform, it is clear that mid-range phone can be of extreme value to many users who simply want a great experience with basic functions (web, movies, calls, photo etc…) without having to pay top money for it.
Samsung Gear Fit
The rumors were right when they said that Samsung might announce the Galaxy Gear Fit at MWC 2014, because that’s exactly what Samsung did. With the announcement of the Galaxy Gear Fit, it makes it the third wearable device that Samsung has introduced at MWC 2014, alongside the Galaxy Gear 2 and the Galaxy Gear Neo. The main difference, in the case name wasn’t obvious enough, is that the Galaxy Gear Fit will be more of a fitness band rather than a smartwatch.
The Galaxy Gear Fit will sport a 1.84-inch curved AMOLED display and the device’s bracelets can be swappable, meaning that you will be able to mix and match different colors. We are reminded of Huawei’s TalkBand and Sony’s SmartBand SWR10, both of which will allow users to swap the bands as well, although in Sony’s case they have already announced partnerships with third party manufacturers.
Functionality wise, the Galaxy Gear Fit will come with the usual tracking features, such as heart rate, number of steps taken, and so on. It also has the ability to display notifications such as incoming calls, text messages, or emails, all of which can be interacted with by touching the device. Available in black, wild orange, and gray at the start, we have to wonder if Samsung will be releasing more colors later on.
Back in 2013, a certain YotaPhone smartphone was launched and fast forward to 2014, its successor, the YotaPhone Next has been announced. In a market that we reckon has already been saturated with smartphones, what does the YotaPhone Next have that the competition doesn’t? How about a large integrated e-ink display on the back of the device itself? This is the lowest-power display technology available right now and it is ideal for notification or reading in direct sunlight.
Following in the footsteps of the original YotaPhone, the company has made some improvements and changes with the YotaPhone Next. They have increased the size of the e-ink display to 4.7-inches, a small step up from its predecessor’s 4.3-inch e-ink display. The goal of the e-ink display is to provide users with notifications without having to turn on the main display, thus conserving battery life amongst other things.
The company has boasted that in Russia, “no one” has returned the phone once they have bought it, suggesting that customers might be enjoying their purchase. Other specs of the handset includes a 5-inch Full HD OLED display, a 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor, an 8MP rear-facing camera, a 2MP front-facing camera, and a 2,550mAh battery. Availability will still be limited as the company is attempting to manufacture to scale, but hopefully we will be able to look forward to the handset stateside one day.