Did you ever go to Knock when you were younger? It didn’t do much for my spirituality, but I actually did do that pilgrimage. I’m not a big fan of religion, but there’s one pilgrimage I’d love to do; Mobile World Congress. Mobile World Congress to smartphone fans is like Knock to the religious types. With the 2018 event just about to kick off, here’s what we can expect to emerge from one of tech’s biggest gatherings.
Samsung at Mobile World Congress
Samsung is effectively headlining Mobile World Congress this year. Last year, they rocked out on stage with some tablets but this year they launch the brand new Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. Last year Samsung showed us a few tablets, likely giving their twin flagships some extra test time after the Note7 started exploding.
You could argue that the new Samsung flagships are hardly big news considering how leaky they have been in the past few weeks.
Samsung is really focusing on their camera for the launch of the S9, claiming it’s been ‘reimagined’. Considering only the S9+ will have a dual lens, that means the reimagined camera on the S9 will largely depend on software. Considering the physical appearance of the S9 being incredibly similar to the S8 and the core launch feature being software related, I’m calling it; Samsung’s flagship launch will be underwhelming.
Apple at Mobile World Congress
Apple doesn’t go to Mobile World Congress; that would be way too mainstream for them.
Sony at Mobile World Congress
Sony regularly updates their flagship smartphones; every six months to be exact. The mind boggles at how they create a flagship and then squash that flagship into a compact model; something I’ll be looking at more closely soon. They’ll be launching the next suite of flagships at Mobile World Congress 2018, namely the Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact.
Sony tends to be the unsung heroes of smartphone manufacturers. Last year, I got to play with the Sony Xperia XZ Premium and was blown away by the quality or the phone, camera and positioning of its fingerprint sensor; I honestly don’t understand how all manufacturers don’t follow suit. Maybe it’s the regularity of their releases takes the sting out of their innovation, but their efforts at MWC 2018 will surely grab some headlines.
Pre-MWC leaks show that Sony will chop the bezels off their flagships, the one thing that seemed dated on the XZ1 range of smartphones. They will also likely move towards the tall and narrow style. My Samsung Note8 was the first tall and narrow style phone I’ve ever had and it’s great! Long may this last. In fact, Sony should also be debuting wireless charging on their new flagships too. Allelujah.
The magic of wireless charging: pic.twitter.com/7GgKPrdAhh
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) February 24, 2018
Finally, it looks like Sony will ditch the headphone jack. While many are on the fence, I think it’s time we ditch headphone jacks on smartphones.
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) February 23, 2018
Sony also has a lot of very exciting Google Assistant-enabled earphones on the way too, so I’d imagine these will be floating around MWC too.
The Others at MWC 2018
While Apple always steers clear of MWC, HTC and Huawei will be missed, opting to avoid the noisy launch of Samsung’s Unpacked event. Of course, they’ll be along later in the year with their latest gadgetry. LG will be on hand to release their new smartphones but they’re so hard to get in Ireland, it’s hardly worth looking at them just yet.
Nokia, on the other hand, might have something worth shouting about. Last year they stole the show with the revival of the Nokia 3310 which, admittedly, was less exciting when it launched. Maybe they’ll do something crazy again an revive the classic ‘banana phone’ made famous by Neo in the Matrix.
Their range of Android smartphones have received rave reviews and I’ll be hoping to get a look at what they have to offer in the coming months.
Finally, Google is unveiling Android Go; their operating system for low-spec smartphones. We should also get a look at some hardware to go with the OS too.
The Mobile World Congress Conference
MWC isn’t just about gadgets and phone launches. The conference itself is a massive centre of innovation and insight into the latest tech.
The conference itself will be debuting facial recognition access. Super cool and super creepy. The idea is that you’ll be able to rock up to the entrance and get in by having your face scanned. MWC organisers are obviously aware of the creepy factor and will let attendees opt out of this too.
In the past week, Three announced their plans to roll out 5G technology in Ireland while Vodafone and Huawei claimed to have made the first 5G call. As you might imagine, 5G is going to be a massive talking point at MWC too, but don’t expect anything interesting to emerge from Barcelona on it this year. Most of the talks are those boring infrastructure and security talks; bleagh.
This is the first year that the FIA’s Formula 1 series will have its own area. I’m a massive F1 fan and it’s really hard to ignore that there’s a revival taking place in the sport right now, much of which is coming from the letter ‘E’.
Last year, F1 organisers launched their Esports series which pitted the world’s top video game drivers against each other. The game from Codemasters is remarkably realistic and F1 seems keen to capitalise on a new generation of F1 fans through this medium.
Former World Champion and current number one driver at McLaren, Fernando Alonso, is on-hand at MWC to take part in a panel discussion titled The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Alonso even started his own Esports team after being bitten by the gaming bug in 2017.
While many were upset to see F1 engines drop back to V6s and the weird noise that comes with it, you should try watching Formula E! Silent engines. It’s mega weird, but it’s just another way our world is changing because of tech. There’s even a social aspect to this sport, where fans can vote for drivers to gain an advantage. Here’s what the sport is all about.
And lots more…
That’s all just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll be keeping a very close eye on the news breaking from Mobile World Congress 2018 so give us a follow on the old Tweet machine.