2018 Mobile World Congress
So, the 1st March was the last day of the 2018 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. I thought I would put together a list of highlights and shiny new impressive tech for you to have a look at.
The confirmation of all rumours about the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+
Samsung launched their new Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones at the MWC 2018, and although stylistically they are very similar to the previous S8 and S8+, there are some pretty decent new features that make them the stars of the MWC show.
- Camera – What we all really buy Samsung handsets for! The cameras are indeed better on the S9 handsets, and definitely have more capability. The S9+ now has two camera lenses on its rear, producing different fields of view and therefore letting photo backgrounds be digitally blurred. Both handsets also gain dual-aperture lenses which should improve low-light photography. The user has a choice of two settings, with the widest setting allowing in more light, which is amazing in dim conditions, but at a small cost of having shallower focus. The phones now also take 12 images in quick succession to help detect and remove noise when being used in low-light locations. But its main selling feature is the new capability to slow down video while keeping it in high-definition resolutions: 960 frames per second in 720p and 480fps in 1080p. The videos can then be turned into Gifs and also be placed on the phone's lock screen.
- Fingerprint reader – The fingerprint reader is in a better spot on the back of the phone, the middle! The Samsung Galaxy S8 was criticized by users as having the fingerprint sensor in a silly and not very user-friendly spot. The S8’s fingerprint sensor is to the right of the camera lens instead centred on the phone. Samsung finally righted the wrong with the S9, which has pleased android fans.
- Amazing innards – in the form of the best and latest processors, powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip.
- Sound - The speakers are now louder than before and in new and improved stereo.
- Keeping it oldskool - they still have a headphone jack! This feature is disappearing rapidly in recent new smartphone releases from other manufacturers.
- AR technologies – Samsung have created AR Emojis for their new phones. These are animated cartoons created from facial scans of the user. These then mimic their expressions. They’re not amazing, but they are good fun and ensure Samsung are keeping up with similar gimmicks from other handset manufacturers.
Pre-orders are available in Europe now, before both phones launch to the entire world on March 16.
Sony makes a comeback with a seriously competitive smartphone
Sony has not really been keeping up with the big dogs in the mobile world in recent years, but this may finally come to end as they unveiled their new flagship phone that keeps pace with the competition.
The Xperia XZ2 has a new curved back design and slims down the bezels above and below the 5.7-inch, 18:9 aspect ratio screen. It comes with wireless charging, a fingerprint sensor on the back, stereo speakers with a new Dynamic Vibration System which adds vibrations to media, and an improved 4K HDR video capture. Fans of small phones will want to look at the 5.0-inch XZ2 Compact which has all the same new bits, but is obviously smaller.
Sony have also created the Sony Xperia Ear Duo to go with these new handsets. The pair of wireless earbuds have been designed to let you hear music and the world around you at the same time. This makes listening to your music on your morning walking commute/leisurely jog safer as you can still hear approaching vehicles.
Ring Ring Ring Ring – Banana Phone! Nokia 8110 4G
HMD Global, the Finnish company that owns the Nokia brand, made the news at last year’s WMC2017 by reviving the retro Nokia 3310 phone. The revamped model had a colour screen and the beloved game Snake! And this year they have done it again, the 8110 is back!
The 8110 has a curved design (which is why the original version was nicknamed the banana phone – and why the new one is available in yellow!) and a keypad cover that slides down. It’s also known as the “Matrix” phone, as it was the phone used by Neo and his crew in the sci-fi hit of 1999. But unlike the version that featured in The Matrix, the cover does not swish down on its own in the cool way that it used to, but must be moved by hand.
The new version of the 8110 keeps to the original retro design with actual physical buttons that you have to press to navigate and dial, once you’ve revealed them by manually moving the slider cover down. It is a feature phone running on the KaiOS, but you can expect to get apps for your favourite services like Facebook, Google Assistant, Maps, and even Snake. It has a colour display and has 4G capabilities, and a promised standby time of 25 days.
So, if you want something a bit different to the standard large rectangle phones everyone seems to have, these are coming in 2018 for around £70.
A new one to watch for laptop design - Huawei Matebook X Pro
The newly unveiled MateBook X Pro is only Huawei's second ever laptop but it’s impressive. Phones bezels are shrinking every year so, Huawei have decided to apply the same thinking to their laptop design. The MateBook X Pro’s 14-inch touchscreen floats above the keyboard thanks to the ultra-thin bezels. And to shave the bezels down, Huawei had to move the webcam (normally on the top or bottom bezel on standard laptops) somewhere else.
The camera is subtly hidden in the top function row and it magically pops up when you press on it. It's a pretty clever solution to solving the problem of reducing bezels on laptops and keeping the webcam, and also means no more putting a piece of tape over the webcam for privacy when not in use.
The rest of the laptop's full of good stuff like 8th gen Intel Core i7 8555U processor, an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD. There's also a full-sized USB port in addition to the USB-C port.
In other Huawei news – they use AI to power driverless car
AI, or Artificial Intelligence, was quite a big theme at the show this year, and Huawei was showing off their Kirin 970 processors AI by hooking up a phone to a Porsche.
The smartphones that Huawei made with the latest Kirin 970 processors and it’s new AI technology were able to automatically recognise things like cats, dogs, food and other subjects to help people take better-looking photos.
Now their ‘RoadReader’ project intends to take Huawei’s object recognition technology to the next level. The project team at Huawei managed to train its AI within just five weeks to recognize objects like dogs and soccer balls, and it can now help driverless cars avoid obstacles on the road in a split second. To prove this Huawei even brought a Porsche powered by its Mate 10 Pro to MWC 2018 and have released a YouTube video demonstrating their breakthrough by driving said Porsche at a doggy!
We have been assured that no doggy’s or soccer balls were harmed during this very impressive AI technology development!
Phenomenal Cosmic Power – Itty Bitty Living Space - SanDisk 400GB MicroSD cards
The memory card giant, SanDisk, was back showing their new and improved 400GB microSD cards. It now has faster transfer speeds – they’re boasting read speeds of up to 160MB/s and write speeds of up to 90MB/s — that’s around 50% faster than existing UHS-I speed cards. Pretty impressive!
Another smart speaker to compete with Alexa and Homepod - Samsung's Bixby smart speaker
With all the Samsung Galaxy S9 news this was almost missed, but at this year's show Samsung also confirmed the long-standing rumours of a smart speaker to rival Apple’s Homepod and Amazon’s Alexa, and said it'll be coming in the second half of 2018.
One Card to Rule Them All - Smart Wallet Card Unveiled at MWC 2018
Developed by a company called Dynamics Inc, an amazing piece of new technology was showcased at this year’s Mobile World Congress. The same size as an ordinary bank or credit card, this smart payment card can store multiple credit and debit card account details for you. You use navigation buttons on the front of the card to scroll through your accounts on a small display until you reach the desired one, and then it updates the cards chip, magstrip and CCV number. It is battery powered and has an organic recharging chip for self-charging.
It will be launched shortly in the UK however, Dynamics Inc were not yet ready to disclose its UK bank launch partner.