MWC 2015!

Mobile World Conference(MWC) 2015 bought us many new and different gadets from HTC, Sony and the like. The annual trade show  in Spain has became the most important global smartphone showcase.  Let’s take a look at what we have seen.


1.HTC

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HTC kicked off their press release with literally no fanfare at all(if you watch the live stream) and it lacked of any emotions during the event. I was totally disappointed with this one, not to mention that the whole event ended a shy of 25 mins.

Let us start off with what they have released.

1. HTC One(M9)

Don’t get me started on this one. It was terrible. HTC barely touched the surface of this device. Telling us a few nifty sense features and a couple of specifications of the M9 which weighs at 157g. One of them is a contextual based widget placed on your home screen that automatically detects your current location and provide you apps based on it.I presume this only works with Sense launcher. The camera is now a whooping 20MP with Sapphire cover lens. With a great camera, of course you will need a gallery that is easy to access your photos. That is why HTC developed and designed a whole new gallery  that  groups your photos and videos with easy organization and search controls. It feels disappointing as the M9 is just a minor upgrade from the M8.The display’s resolution and size haven’t changed at all and neither have the BoomSound speaker grilles that surround it. The brushed aluminum case also looks familiar like its predecessor. Although HTC did move the power button to the side, which I suppose is a better ergonomics design. All in all, HTC chose to stick to it’s old design which everybody loves.

HTC did no mention of the display resolution, no screen size ,no battery capacity and battery life. This shows a bad faith in your own product. However, a little research and I found the M9 specs page which shows almost complete detail of the product.

The M9 contains a 2840mAh battery and HTC claims that the battery can last up to 25.4 hours of talk time, which is more than a day of moderate usage and up to 391 hours of standby time,if you are using 2G and 402 hours of standby time if you are using 3G. That is nearly half a month of stand by time! The display is a 5 inch full 1080p HD display. Something I would like to mention is that HTC is still supporting SD cards on the M9, which is quite impressive as Samsung has dropped support of SD card on the Galaxy S6. Many people appreciate the power of SD cards as it gives them some flexibility to transfer contents from their computers to their phones. With an SD card, more content such as music and movies can be stored on the device. Yea, sure, you can say that streaming media content is so easy now, right? Nope, not everyone is living in the United States of America with monthly unlimited data plan. I myself have only  have 2GB of data plan per month, which is quite restrictive. HTC has planned to only releasing a 32GB varient of the M9 and has put a disclaimer at the bottom saying that “Available storage is less due to phone software. Approximately 21 GB storage available for user content. Available storage is subject to change based on phone software updates and apps usage.

Check out the full specs here and our initial report here.

2. HTC Grip

The HTC Grip, which is sports band equip with GPS for athletes and the like to monitor your heart rate.

Check out the promotional video for the HTC Grip.

As you can see, the HTC Grip looks just like other sports band out there in the market and does nothing to differentiate itself. But I do have to applaud HTC for having compatibility with devices running Android 4.3+ and iOS 7+ instead of locking the sports band to it’s own devices, as it would surely be dead on arrival.

3. HTC Vive

This, I am much more interested in the HTC Vive in the entire event. HTCVIVE_

 

The HTC Vive is jointly created by both HTC and video game company,Valve Corporation.The goal of this Virtual Reality Headset is to bring Steam games to right to your face. HTC has said that the Vive contains up to 70 over sensors in headset. Personally, I am very excited for this, having not tried before neither a Google Glass or Occulus Rift, I have always been curious as to how this would feel like, how it would work when worn upon and how PC gaming can be much more “portable”. Sadly, this is currently unavailable for purchase and those who are interested are to request for the developer edition. Click here to request one.

A 1,200 by 1,080 pixel screen in front of each eye, with refresh rates of a blistering 90 frames per second, displays photorealistic imagery that fills your field of vision in all directions, eliminating the jitter common to previous VR technologies and transporting you to another world.

The Vive allows you to plug in your favorite headset to get a truly immersive feel when gaming.

All in all, nothing much exciting about the HTC press event except for the Vive. Here’s hoping that HTC release a smart watch soon to compete with the saturating smart watch market.

 


2. Samsung

 

1.Samsung Galaxy S6

About 2 hours after HTC, Samsung came out and announced their Galaxy S6, which broke many traditions.

First impression? Wow, Samsung is quite adamant on getting rid of the physical home button? Almost every Android OEMs out there have switched to software navigation buttons but Samsung is still insisting on sticking with its old ways.

First tradition broken; Samsung has announced that it has gotten rid of the plastic-ky and went with glass back and front. Personally, I feel this is unnecessary as most  consumer would put a plastic casing on their device, which defeats the purpose of having glass backs, if Samsung’s intention is to have a premium feel on it’s devices.

Second tradition broken; Samsung has decided to choose it’s own in-house Exynos 7420, built on a 14nm process over Qualcomn’s Snapdragon 810. It is currently unknown why Samsung decided to go with Exynos instead of Snapdragon in its flagship especially after years of partnership between the 2 companies. We can only assume that Samsung might have be able to implement LTE radio right into their Exynos SoC.  Samsung has been relying on Qualcomn for years to implement that LTE radio technology on their flagship, which is why there was 2 different SoCs variant for Samsung’s past few flagship, dating back to the Galaxy S3.

Third tradition broken; Samsung has chosen to use a embed battery in this year’s flagship. This is a great move and I would like to applaud Samsung for this great effort. This is something done right. With a removable battery, consumers would often buy cheap, knock off replaceable battery, which have not been through Samsung’s quality assurance. As a result, there were many cases of Samsung’s battery exploding when charging or in the middle of usage. I wrote quite a bit last year on this issue.

Fourth tradition broken; Samsung has chosen to get rid of  micro SD card expansion. Like I have said above on the thoughts on HTC M9 having a micro SD card slot, having a micro SD card slot is a life saver.

Samsung has decided to take a leave out of Apple’s book and the hardware button doubles as a fingerprint scanner bearing a huge resemblance to Apple’s Touch ID

All in all, the Galaxy S6 is a huge change from the Galaxy S5 and Samsung is finally going in the right direction after so many years of experimenting with design changes to subtle hardware changes.

2. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

The Galaxy S6 Edge has the exact same internals from the Galaxy S6. The only thing that makes it stands out is its curve display.The curve display works exactly like the Galaxy Note Edge providing notification at the edge enabling you to focus on the main content with very minimal interruption. Check out our initial review here on the Galaxy Note Edge.  The Galaxy S6 Edge differentiates the Galaxy Note Edge by it’s bend on both the left and right side of the screen, which I suppose shows more notifications at a glance.

Check out our Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge post here.

 3.Samsung Gear VR

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Virtual reality is just coming into existence and beginning to display signs of future potential. Both Samsung and HTC showed off their own version of the headset one after another. The original Gear VR was announced last year in conjunction with the Note 4 and it was left much to be desired. With many issues such as poor resolution, bulky headsets, social stigma surrounding the device and limited support

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The Gear VR has a optical lens that gives you a 96˚ Field of View complete with a accelerator, gyrometer, geomagnetic and proximity sensor.

 


3.Sandisk

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Sandisk announced a  200GB Ultra® microSDXC™ UHS-I Premium Edition card which has a storage capacity of up to 200GB! This is the largest to date and the previous largest card offered by Sandisk was 128GB.  The card is specially designed for mobile devices and tablets. The cost is quite shocking as the small piece of card costs USD$400.

 


4.Sony 

1. Sony Xperia Z4 tablet

Sony revealed a Xperia Z4 tablet which comes in black and white and weighing just 389g for the WiFi only variant and 393g for WiFi+LTE variant, just shy of 400g. It’s slim build, 6.1mm, means it is very easy to carry it around or put it in your bag.

The tablet can be double as a laptop with a bluetooth keyboard. With the additional dock, it is still as slim and slick.

 

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However, it adds an additional 383g and it is sold separately. Quite useful for road warriors who have no need to bring their laptop with them.

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Leveraging Sony’s in-house triluminos display technology, the Z4 tablet has 2560×1600 pixels. Although a 10.1 inch tablet maybe too big for some, I dare say the it is quite compact.

The tablet runs Lollipop and Sony claims that it can last a 17-hour video playback time with its 6000mah battery and powered by Qualcomm’s latest 64bit octa core Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.

The tablet is waterproof, using internal seals rather than small external covers to allow exposed USB and headphone sockets. Sony advise users to dry the devices first before plugging into an electrical outlet.

Whether Android is capable of delivering a useful laptop-style computer remains to be seen.

The tablet retails at USD$633.

 

2. Sony Xperia M4 Aqua

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Sony announced a mid-tier device surprisingly as they were expected to announce their next flagship, Xperia Z4. This 5-inch device weighing 140g comes in white, black and coral and it is powered by a 64-bit Snapdragon 615 chipset with Octa core processor  and Adreno 405 in the graphics department.

The phone has IP65 and IP68 certification , which means, it has the highest protection against dust and water. It is great therefore to see that the Xperia M4 Aqua is the first Sony water resistant smartphone to cap-less microUSB charging. No more fumbling around with USB port flaps.

Take a look at it in action in rugged conditions!

 

The device will come with 2GB of RAM and a 13MP Exmor RS rear camera with F2.0 aperture and ISO 3200 sensitivity, 5MP front-facing camera with 88° field of view, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC and a 2400mAh battery. Sony promises up to 2 days battery life on this device.

Sony says the handset will hit 80 countries and 100 partners worldwide when it is released in Spring 2015 for around EUR 299. It will launch with Android 5.0 Lollipop from the outset and will be part of the Xperia Lounge Silver programme.

 


5. Huawei

Interestingly, Huawei, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer announced a Watch running Android Wear. This is the first Android Wear watch that features a scratch-proof sapphire crystal display. It has a  1.4-inch AMOLED circular display with a 400×400-pixel resolution. Many OEMs have came out with different designs, such as square or circular watch display, but no one has seems to figure out which shape is right. The device is powered by a Snapdragon 400 processor with 512mb of RAM and a storage capacity of 4GB. The watch does have a heart rate sensor underneath it to track your heart rate all day long. Huawei has included 40 different customizable watch face for you to tinker with to suit the occasion and outfit. The watch has a 300mah battery, but it is unknown how long will the watch last before needing it to recharge again.

There is no word on availability on the watch but it will be available in more than 20 countries including the US, UK and Australia. A report by BGR  claims that the watch will be USD$1000, which is quite a hefty price for consumers since Android Wear has barely taken off yet. However, due to its premium stainless steel body and leather strap, the price might be justified. It should be noted that many traditional watches do cost higher than $1000.

With a small market share,it’s absence of market presence in most of America and Europe and hefty price tag, I doubt the watch will be able to succeed. We will have to see the market response to judge the watch.


 

What do you think of this year’s MWC? Does it meet your expectation?

Daniel Quah

18 Year old dude, who loves cat and tech