Now that Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 in Barcelona is well underway, we're going to have a quick look at some of the biggest announcements in the mobile industry so far. If you're at MWC and you'd like to meet the 51Degrees team you can find us in Hall 8, Stand UW 7.6, we look forward to seeing you there!
It's now a yearly routine that Samsung will hold their MWC event shortly before the doors officially open to the public. It's also become routine that Samsung will showcase their next generation of smartphone flagship here. So at this year's Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event, the expectations were high and by all accounts people didn't leave disappointed.
For the first time viewers were able to enjoy a live streaming 360-degree view of the Galaxy Unpacked event in the comfort of your own home, through PC, mobile device or Samsung's own virtual reality headset, the Gear VR.
At the Galaxy Unpacked event the latest incarnation of the Galaxy S series was finally unveiled to the press. Continuing with where we left off last year there are two new flagship devices, the first being the Samsung S7 and the second being the Samsung S7 Edge.
If you're not already familiar with the Edge model you basically take the Galaxy S7, make the screen larger, 5.5 inches opposed to 5.1 inches, put in a bigger battery and then make the screen curve around the edges of the device, et voila - Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. The improvements were many but we'll keep it short here, the biggest update quite possibly is the new camera technology.
Last year at MWC 2015 HTC unveiled the HTC One (M9), a device similar to its predecessor the One (M8) and One (M7). HTC announcements have always been hard to predict and this year was no exception. What we didn't get was a new flagship smartphone, what we did get was the HTC One X9, a successor to the HTC One A9.
In keeping with the mid-range theme there were also several Desire branded devices. The Desire 825 with Hi-Res Audio certification, BoomSound and Dolby Audio. The Desire 630, which is essentially just a smaller 825 with a 5.0 inch screen instead of 5.5, and the Desire 530 for the budget minded, you lose the Hi-Res audio and get less powerful hardware.
Perhaps the most interesting news to come out of the troubled HTC camp was the retail announcement of the HTC Vive virtual reality headset which has been co-developed with Valve, the guys behind the Steam platform. Seen earlier at CES the Vive has had some last minute changes and now includes an updated head strap, a front facing camera (to help you not walk into walls), double battery life and a new built in phone calling capability. For $799 you get the headset and two wireless controllers with haptic feedback and room scale movement sensors. The HTC Vive supports SteamVR and will be available for pre-order on February 29th.
While we largely already knew what to expect from most of the bigger names in the industry such as Samsung and LG due to information leaks, intended or otherwise, in contrast, Sony this year were tight lipped up until about 48 hours ago when some images of an unannounced Sony smartphone began to circulate the internet. Earlier this morning Sony held their own press release, the first big name to do so on the first publicly open day of MWC. What they brought us was a whole new Xperia series of devices, dubbed the Xperia X. Some readers may remember in the distant past there used to be an Xperia X series, whether this is a revival or reimagining is currently unknown.
Three devices were shown, each tailored towards different price segments of the market. The Xperia X series in general appears to be set for the mid-range and not as a replacement for the top of the range Xperia Z series. Looking at the specifications it looks like the X series will slot in under the Z, but above the other brands. Aside from the regular Xperia X model there is an Xperia X Performance, which has waterproofing and a Snapdragon 820 and looks like it could challenge the Z range. On the other end is the Xperia XA, a more affordable version with reduced specifications. All three smartphones have a 5.0 display and hopefully we can bring you more details later.
LG, along with Huawei, were the first big names to hold their events at the MWC show in Barcelona. Several new devices were announced at the event going under the marketing name 'G5 and its friends'.The chief device among them naturally being the LG G5, LG's latest flagship smartphone. LG have always been considered one of the more innovative players in the mobile industry and with the LG G5 they bring a new feature to the table, modular design. There's a whole section of the LG G5 which can be swapped out and replaced with another module, two such examples are an extended camera feature module with a second battery and an improved audio DAC module.
When it comes to the friends in 'G5 and it's friends' we see that the G5 is very popular. Alongside the flagship smartphone and under the LG 360 marketing brand they announced a 360 degree camera and a compact virtual reality headset set to compete with HTC's Vive and Oculus Rift technology used with the Samsung Gear VR. We also got a first look at the LG Rolling Bot; it's shaped like a small football and doubles as a kind of a home monitoring system and remote pet plaything. The Rolling Bot can be remotely controlled via the LG G5, has an 8MP camera, can livestream all it sees and has an infrared emitter, so you can even use it to control your appliances.