Another year, another MWC, and a whole host of fantastic devices. GadgetsBoy editor, Tomi Adebayo, shares his pick of top tech from this year’s show…
The world’s biggest mobile expo, MWC, may be done and dusted for another year, but the line-up of devices, connected future concepts and IoT developments is guaranteed to shape the future…
Thanks to the team at Vodafone UK, I caught all the action first-hand in Barcelona. And now it’s time to share my standouts from the MWC showroom floor…
Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+
Samsung’s latest flagship, the Galaxy S9, was undoubtedly one of the most hyped launch events of MWC 2018.
Despite much of the information being leaked in the weeks before, thousands of press and smartphone fans from around the world still flocked to see the new devices for themselves.
Headline features of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ include: improved design with a repositioned fingerprint scanner and larger screen-to-body ratio, enhanced camera features, the introduction of AR Emojis and 960fps super-slow motion video recording. But perhaps the most noteworthy of all is the dual-aperture camera.
Featuring a mechanical aperture, this new camera enables automatic switching between a wide f1.5 aperture in low-light conditions and f2.4 aperture when it’s bright. This means, not only are Samsung’s 2018 flagships great in low light, they can also record 960fps 720p video – perfect for capturing life’s moments in dramatic slow-motion in a fun and easy way.
The big reveal also brought us AR Emoji – a fun way of creating personalised GIFs. Now, instead of posting generic smiley face emojis when reacting to conversations with friends, Samsung Galaxy S9 owners will be able to create and share emojis that look like them.
Although it may not represent a huge upgrade for Samsung Galaxy S8 or Note 8 owners, the Galaxy S9 is a refined device. Available in Midnight Black, Lilac Purple and Coral Blue at Vodafone, it offers flagship performance and a fantastic camera. And if you can resist Lilac Purple, you’re a stronger man than I.
Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact
Sony has also given its Xperia XZ range a design overhaul, bringing it more in line with the sleek, curvaceous bodies of much of its competition.
Now with curved 3D Gorilla Glass 5 and edges that attractively arc inwards towards its metal frame, Xperia XZ2 is the most attractive Sony smartphone yet. It’s also the most competitive, packed full of top specs. And, although they’ve ditched the headphone jack, the improvements are impressive.
The fingerprint scanner has been shifted to the rear of the devices, well away from both phones’ 19-megapixel cameras. While the larger model has a large 5.7-inch screen (vs the 5-inch screen of the Xperia XZ2 Compact), making it the world’s smallest smartphone capable of recording both 4K HDR video, and 1080p 960fps super-slow motion video.
Both phones can also display HDR content in an 18:9 aspect ratio and upscale Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content. This means greater colour and greater contrast – even on video streamed from YouTube.
Big improvements have also been made to Sony’s 3D face scanning technology. It’s now capable of producing highly detailed 4K facial scans, allowing users to create AR likenesses of themselves that could potentially be used in gaming and video content.
Digital Fitting Room
The Smart Fitting Room of the future is no longer just a concept, or the wild imaginings of retail marketeers. No siree. In fact, Vodafone, teamed up with global high street retailer Mango and Jogotech, to demonstrate the benefits of powering smart mirrors with 4G connectivity.
Using the digital dressing room, customers are able to request alternative sizes and colours conveniently and efficiently. Additionally, the connected mirror can recommend accessories and other items of clothing to compliment your choices – just like shopping with your bestie.
All about the big screens
Ever since Samsung first introduced Infinity Display in its Galaxy smartphone range, manufacturers have been looking for ways to further increase screen real estate and shrink the surrounding bezels.
Side bezels were the first to go, but top and bottom bezels are also on the chopping block. And now we’ve solved the issue of the physical home button by installing digital softkeys and moving fingerprint scanners to the side and rear, the biggest challenge is: where do we put selfie cameras if we’re reducing the top bezels?
With the release of last year’s iconic iPhone X, Apple opted for the infamous “notch” approach. A number of smartphone brands have followed suit in 2018. While others have taken an even more creative path.
Vivo showed off an intriguing concept, during MWC, in its Vivo Apex smartphone. This features a mechanical pop-up front-facing camera, that uses a design first patented by Andy Rubin’s Essential company back in 2016. The ingenious solution nestles the camera inside the top frame of the phone and pops up in as little as 0.8 seconds.
The Bluboo S2 also takes a novel approach to this challenge by giving the phone one camera, on the rear, that can be flipped forwards for taking selfies. While others, such as the MAZE Alpha X and Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 have placed the front-facing camera in the bottom right-hand corner.