It’s been over a week since we went to Mobile World Congress (MWC), but it seems like only yesterday. We loved that the variety of tech and demos available! There were gadgets we absolutely loved, devices that have incredible promise, and demos that both awed us and didn’t work perfectly. This is our very personal take on #MWC18!
Throughout the week in Barcelona, we saw that everything seemed to revolve around artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G. If the devices didn’t speak loud enough, the booths sure did. These keywords were visible everywhere we looked, both boldly in all CAPS like we saw at Qualcomm or more subtly. Another big focus was in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and audio – Samsung, Sony, Noa, and many others drew our attention to these features using either crazy demos or exciting showcases.
When it came to products, here is what we thought about all the amazing tech we got to see last week. We…
LOVED: Asus ZenFone 5, Samsung Galaxy S9, Vivo Apex, Pepper with a cloud-brain, and Vital Moto Mod. Although there were many other devices and gadgets that amazed us, these were our top 5!
Asus ZenFone 5 combines both high-end features with a mid-range price point. You can watch our exclusive interview with Marcel Campos, Head of Global Marketing at Asus, here as he explains to us why the ZenFone 5 is an extraordinarily powerful mid-ranger.
Samsung Galaxy S9 – there’s a lot to love with Samsung’s newest smartphone but in our hands-on, we were most impressed with Bixby Vision. The “intelligent, personalized voice interface,” as Samsung puts it, has been upgraded to the point where it can detect restaurants in an area from a quick scan with your camera. The 3D emojis, too, were a plus as they created avatars based on your complexion instead of applying preset masks.
Thanks to Cloudminds, Pepper the smart robot got smarter. The cloud robotics company showed us how they can give humanoids like Pepper a “cloud brain,” replicating the neural network system human brains have. Our dialogue with Pepper went further than simple pleasantries like “Thank you” and “My name is Pepper” and actually became a full back and forth conversation!
Finally, the Lenovo Vital Moto Mod shocked us with its functioning health sensors. A smartphone accessory that can take blood pressure, respiratory rate, heart rate, and oxygen levels in a pinch deserves an award in our book. Put it on your forehead and it can also take your temperature.
HATED: devices that copied others. While companies are sometimes inspired by popular features and add their own unique twists to further develop said feature, there were times at MWC when a company showcased its own device that was almost a complete replica of another company’s. Leagoo was a double copycat, replicating iPhone X’s design (even setting up an Apple-style wallpaper on the home screen!) and borrowing Samsung’s flagship name, “S9.” As far as we could tell, it didn’t even have noteworthy specs!
DEBATED: 3D scanning, haptic feedback, hidden webcam, feature phones.
Sony enabled 3D capture on the front-facing camera, which meant 3D selfies. Unfortunately for us, when we went to try out the demo, the software failed. While it worked perfectly for others, our personal disappointing experience just stressed one thing: the system is not yet 100% reliable but it has shown promise.
The Xperia XZ2 Dynamic Vibration System teasers got us excited about haptic feedback for a more fully immersive experience. That is, until we tried the phone ourselves; turns out, the vibrations are more subtle and not as remarkable as on the Sony gaming controllers.
Huawei MateBook X Pro‘s hidden webcam is a product of the company’s desire to shave those bezels, even with the risk of putting the camera in an awkward place. The camera underneath the keyboard does fill its purpose of shaving on the bezeling, but at the cost of some potentially unflattering upward angles.
Last but not least, the Nokia Banana Phone was a throwback to phones of yesteryear! It brought back the beloved and iconic Nokia design, along with a vivid color, 4G connectivity, Snake, and apps. A fun throwback phone, it eschews many of the features (like touchscreen capabilities) that we are so accustomed to today, so it’ll likely have a niche set of followers looking for that perfect throwback phone.