The Highlights of the Mobile World Congress 2014: Roundup of Announcements

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Check out interesting announcements and major highlights of the Mobile World Congress 2014, which includes news about latest smartphones, wristbands, eyewear, high-tech time-telling gizmos, and more.

Mobile World Congress 2014 is over for another year, leaving behind a track of highly estimated mobile releases. You may know that traditional draw here at Mobile World Congress is mostly a number of impressive smartphones and tablets announcements, but this year wearable tech products also created a lot of buzz. All popular names including Nokia, Samsung, LG, Sony, etc. comes with something to announce at MWC 2014. The highlights from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona include the latest and greatest $800 smartphones from Sony and Samsung, a $25 smartphone running FireFox OS, the first Nokia Android phones, while the biggest emphasize came in the form of wearables. As well, there were a number of fantastic devices showcased at the Mobile World Congress 2014, so let’s see them in detail here.

Roundup of Announcements at MWC 2014

Top Highlights from MWC 2014:

SAMSUNG:

Samsung Gear Fit

Samsung brought its own fitness band to the MWC table, called the Gear Fit. It is a wearable band intended at fitness savvy users, and seems to be the perfect halfway point between a Fuelband and the Galaxy Gear. What’s most notable about the Fit is its 1.84-inch curved Super AMOLED display. This futuristic product slips around your wrist, and features an inbuilt heart rate monitor to ensure your fitness efforts are on track. When compared to Samsung’s range of smartwatches, this band is much simpler with its basic function, allowing you track when you walk, run, cycle or hike. The design is attractive, and the additional smartwatch-style functionality makes it a real challenger in the wearables market. Sensors include Accelerometer, Gyro, Heart Rate, while connectivity features include Bluetooth 4.0. Moreover, it is IP67 Water and Dust Resistant. There is no word on pricing yet, but if it comes at a reasonable price then it might be a real winner in the fitness market.

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Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smart watches

Besides Gear Fit, Samsung also announced two new smart timepieces – Galaxy Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo. The tech giant updated the Galaxy Gear to the Gear 2 and the Gear Neo, thus removing Galaxy from the brand name and moving to its Tizen operating system. Both watches feature a 1.6-inch AMOLED screen, built-in music players, 4GB of internal storage and work with Bluetooth headphones. The watches let you see notifications from calls, texts, and more. Plus, both will have a heart rate sensor, a pedometer and a variety of tools to measure exercise, sleep and stress levels. The Gear 2 is fitted with a 2MP camera in the screen, while Gear 2 Neo has no camera and it is somewhat larger, but lighter. Color options are also slightly different in both of them.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung unsurprisingly announced its latest flagship – the Galaxy S5, which sports 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor with 2GB of RAM and up to 32GB of internal storage – expandable up to 64GB through microSD. The device is powered by Android’s latest Kit Kat operating system with clutter-free Touch Wiz user interface, where icons are bigger and more visible. The 16MP camera claims to deliver the world’s fastest autofocus at 0.3 seconds, and the device is dust-proof and water-resistant. The plastic-built Galaxy S5 even sports a heart-rate monitor just below the camera module. As anticipated, there’s an iPhone 5S-esque fingerprint scanner on the home key. You have to just slide a finger down the key to unlock the screen instead of simply putting your thumb on it. No official word on pricing yet, but the release date is expected to be April 2014.

NOKIA:

Nokia X family

One of the most surprising announcements at the MWC in Barcelona was about the Nokia X family. Nokia showcased that it is no longer a pure Windows Phone smartphone manufacturer but an Android one too with three new budget-friendly and Android-based phones – Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL. All these three new devices deliver an unbeatable combination of style, build quality, Nokia apps and services, plus the ability to run Android apps.

The Nokia X and X+ both feature a 4-inch touchscreen display comprising 800x480px, 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual core processors and a rear-facing 3-megapixel camera. There is difference in RAM of both handsets: X is 512MB and X+ is 768MB. At the top of the Android Nokia tree is the XL, which features a giant 5-inch display, 768MB of RAM, a 5MP camera on the back and a 2MP camera on the front for ‘selfies’ and video calls. The Nokia X, X+ and XL will be available at the price of €89 (£73), €99 (£81) and €109 (£89), respectively. Take a look at the comparison of these three smartphones.

Nokia 220 and Asha 230 budget handsets

Along with taking the curtains off Nokia X, the company has also introduced two budget handsets – Nokia 220 and Asha 230. These phones will be available in single and dual-SIM versions. Both these handsets are mainly for individuals, who can’t afford costly Lumia handsets – Nokia 220 is priced at $40 (approx. Rs 2,500) whereas the Asha 230 is priced at $62 (approx. Rs 3,800).

Nokia 220 comes with a 2.4-inch display, 2MP rear camera, 1100mAh battery, and also supports expandable storage up to 32GB microSD card. Connectivity options include Bluetooth and Micro-USB. Furthermore, you can also take benefit of preloaded Twitter and Facebook apps. It comes in 5 color options: Red, Cyan, Black, White and Yellow. On the other hand, Asha 230 has a 2.8-inch QVGA display, a 1.3MP rear camera, 1020mAh battery, and microSD card slot to expand memory up to 32GB. It will feature Nokia’s Xpress browser to use less mobile data. Other preloaded apps include Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, WhatsApp, HERE Maps, Line, MixRadio and Microsoft’s OneDrive. It comes in 6 color options: Bright Green, Bright Red, Cyan, Black, White, and Yellow.

LG:

LG G Pro 2

The LG G Pro 2 is a decent supersized smartphone coming with some of the most powerful hardware. The device enters as the company’s major challenger in the phablet category. The main feature on the device is its 5.9-inch full HD display, making it larger than the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, however smaller than HTC One Max and the giant Sony Xperia Z Ultra. Besides the huge screen, the G Pro 2 also has some other decent specifications like the 16/32GB of internal storage, 3GB of RAM, 2.26GHz quad-core processor borrowed from the LG G2, and Android 4.4 KitKat (the latest version of Google’s mobile platform). The different camera enhancements will draw a certain crowd, while one other attractive feature is Mini View, wherein phone’s screen will be shrinked and move to one side of the display, making it easier to use the device with one hand. The G Pro 2 has a number of really good ways to wholly use the extra screen real estate, though it still lacks the Note 3’s S Pen stylus.

LG G2 Mini

As the name suggest, the phone is much smaller than the LG G2. The G2 Mini features a 4.7-inch screen, and boasts a 2,440mAh battery. It runs on Android 4.4 KitKat operating system, and provides Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi and A-GPS as connectivity options, in addition to NFC on the 4G LTE model. Other features include 8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front camera, 1GB of RAM, 1.2GHz processor, etc. You will like the rear-facing physical keys on the device, which are more natural to use compared to the keys on the original LG G2. The company makes that quite clear with its launch plans for the G2 mini, which will roll out in March beginning in Russia and its nearby countries, followed by the Latin America, Middle East, Asia, and Europe.

HUAWEI:

Chinese firm Huawei unveiled 2 tablets, 1 smartphone, and 1 smartwatch at MWC 2014.

Huawei MediaPad X1 7.0

Huawei has described the new MediaPad X1 7.0 as a phablet, since it combines the functionality of a smartphone and tablet in one 7-inch aluminum alloy device. It features a 1200 x 1920 FHD LTPS touch display, 1.6GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, microSD slot, 4G connectivity, 5000 mAh battery, and runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. When coming to camera feature, it has a 13MP Sony Exmor R BSI rear-facing camera, while its 5MP front-facing camera comprises Huawei’s self-focus tips, preview screen and voice-activated hands-free capture. Positive points of the device are: impressive spec sheet, premium design, and powerful camera, while negative points are: screen not so sharp and UI is childish.

Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0

The Huawei MediaPad M1 is a solid 8-inch tablet, featuring 800 x 1200 HD IPS multi-touch capacitive screen with SWS technology and dual-front facing speakers. The device incorporates a slim design at just 7.9mm thick and weighs a manageable 329g, making it easy to hold and lighter compared to the iPad Mini 2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0. It is powered by a 1.6GHz quad-core processor, and surprisingly poor 768MB of RAM. It has a 4800 mAh capacity battery, and runs on the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating system. In terms of storage, you will have option of 8GB or 16GB, while in terms of camera, it has 5MP and 1MP rear and front-facing cameras.

Huawei Ascend G6

This smartphone is packed with a decent features and specs, but has to face tough competition with the cheaper Moto G and Nokia Lumia 520 providing better interfaces. It has a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and 2000 mAh battery, covered in a 7.85mm thin shell. It is a 4G LTE-enabled smartphone that boasts a 4.5-inch qHD 960 x 540 LCD display and 245 PPI. As well, there is a 3G version of the G6, which is 7.5mm thick. When coming to camera feature, it has 5MP front-facing camera and an 8MP AF BSI f/20 aperture rear-facing camera. The company is hoping that the Ascend G6 will attract those, who keenly wants likes of Facebook and Twitter, as it is coupled with the superfast 4G capabilities and fast access to social networks. The device will be available from Q1 2014 (3G) and April 2014 (4G) respectively.

Huawei TalkBand B1

It is a wristband with a 1.4-inch flexible OLED display, whose main focus is fitness and it assures to track sleep patterns in addition to steps taken, calories burned, etc. Furthermore, it has a detachable Bluetooth earpiece that can be used for conducting hands-free calls. This smartwatch supports Android 2.3 and above and iOS 5.0 and above. There are few downsides of this device, which includes small screen and awkward on the wrist.

SONY:

Xperia Z2 smartphone and Xperia Z2 tablet

Sony has expanded their Xperia Z line of flagship devices by adding the Xperia Z2 and Xperia Z2 Tablet in the list. Sony’s all-new Z2 smartphone is the first Xperia device to shoot in 4K. It sports a 5.2-inch 1080p full HD Triluminos display with “widest color palette,” and runs on Google’s latest Android 4.4 KitKat OS. The new Z2 has borrowed waterproof and rugged capabilities from its predecessor, and comes powered by a 2.3 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 and Adreno 330 GPU, plus 3GB of RAM. Furthermore, the company has added digital noise-cancelling capabilities and a giant 20.7MP camera. Other features include 16GB of internal storage with microSD, 3,000mAh battery (3,200mAh for some models), Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, GPS, NFC, MHL, 4G LTE, and more. The Xperia Z2 doesn’t disappoint in terms of camera, RAM, or battery life.

Sony’s extremely thin Z2 Tablet is touted to be an iPad Air-killer with just 6.4mm thickness and advanced features. It sports a 10.1-inch Live Color LED display that assures to deliver the widest color gamut of any mobile device, also noticed in the Z2 smartphone. The Z2 Tablet runs on the latest version of the OS i.e. Android 4.4.2 KitKat, and powered by the quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor coupled with 3GB of RAM. It has a 6,000mAh battery that offers up to 10 hours of constant use and 100 hours of use for standby mode or while listening to music. There are lots of apps pre-installed on the device like access to Sony Movie Unlimited, the Walkman music app, and the chance to get 6 blockbuster movie downloads for free.

Sony Xperia M2

Sony has also unveiled a new smartphone targeted at the mid-range segment – the Xperia M2, which is a successor to Xperia M and comes with drastically improved specs. It features a 4.8-inch qHD screen and 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor under the hood. It has 8MP camera and dual-SIM capabilities; which let you choose between SIMs before making calls or sending texts. It is powered by a 2300mAh battery with STAMINA Mode 3.0 for long life and lightweight at 148 grams. The device is 8.6mm-thin and available in white, black, and purple color.

LENOVO:

Chinese company Lenovo has launched three new S-series smartphones: S860, S850 and S660, at the sidelines of MWC 2014 in Barcelona. All these new S-series smartphones support dual-SIM functionality, and run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. They will be available from June 2014 with the price tag of S860 – $349 (approx. Rs 21,700), S850 – $269 (approx. Rs 16,700), and S660 – $229 (approx. Rs 14,250).

Lenovo S860

The better-featured of the three, Lenovo S860 sports a 5.3-inch HD (720X1280 pixels) display and dual front speakers. It is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processor with 2GB of RAM, and has 4,000mAh battery that can last for more than one day. It has 16GB of internal memory. In terms of camera, it has 8MP rear camera and 1.5MP front camera.

Lenovo S850

Next in line, the S850 comes with a classy all-glass external design, which is a good change from the normally accessible all-plastic body. It has a 5-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen display that supports HD (720p) resolution. It is equipped with the same 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, but just 1GB of RAM. Moreover, it packs 16GB of internal memory and microSD card slot for expandable storage up to 32GB. The highlight of the device is its 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front facing camera. It will be available in white and pink color.

Lenovo S660

The device features a little smaller 4.7-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen display that supports 540 x 960 pixels resolution. It is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processor along with 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of internal memory. Stock storage space is 8GB, expandable up to 32GB using microSD card, while Connectivity options are Wi-Fi, GPRS, EDGE, Bluetooth and 3G. Other features include an 8MP rear camera, a 0.3MP front-facing camera, and 3,000mAh battery.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+

Lenovo’s newest tablet carries on its flexible approach with the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ bringing a Full HD screen to the repositionable slate. The new 10.1-inch version features a Full HD 1920 x 1200 pixel screen, Android 4.3, a 1.6GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 2GB of RAM, 8MP rear camera, and a new row of home-grown apps. In the meantime, the new Yoga has retained its rather monstrous 9,000mAh battery, signifying it still has a remarkable 18 hours of battery life. The new tablet will hit the market in May, with the price tag of £299 for the Wi-Fi model and £329 for the 3G version.

HTC:

HTC Desire 816

Taiwanese firm HTC unveiled its ‘flagship mid-range’ device, the HTC Desire 816 at MWC 2014. This device seems to be the company’s latest weapon to hit the mid-range phablet market. This device isn’t the follow-up to the HTC One that fans have been yearning; however it’s yet another example of HTC’s assurance to quality design. This Android handset comes encased in a glossy plastic shell in many colors like the iPhone 5C. With a gorgeous “polycarbonate” design, the Desire 816 also has some remarkable specs: 5.5-inch HD 1280 x 720 screen, a 1.6GHz quad-core processor, 13MP camera on the rear and a 5MP camera on the front, 8GB of storage expandable via MicroSD slot, 1.5GB of RAM, etc. Battery life is decent at 2600mAH, weighs 165 grams and dimensions – 156.6 x 78.7 x 7.99 mm. Moreover, there is NFC on board, DLNA connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi as well as 4G/LTE functionality.

YOTA DEVICES:

YotaPhone

At MWC this year, Russian handset maker Yota Devices showed off an all-new prototype that can solve lots of the original model’s defects. The new YotaPhone is much better than its predecessor in several ways. The second-generation YotaPhone is an Android smartphone with a usual touchscreen on one side, while an E Ink display on the other. The original YotaPhone features a 4.3-inch 720p display, while the new one comes with a 5-inch 1080p unit. The blocky corners have been also replaced with smooth curves. All of the specs you’d wish to get better are included: it has a quad-core processor instead of a dual-core, a lower weight, a thinner profile, and it runs on the latest version of Android.

Other highlights at MWC 2014:

Blackphone – Silent Circle and Geeksphone have launched their anti-NSA smartphone – Blackphone, which is intended to make secure phone calls and send/receive data. As well, the phone will make sure that the content stored on the handset is safe from prying. It looks like a sleek, Nexus-style phone from the preview image. You can pre-order this privacy-oriented smartphone for $629.

ZTE Grand Memo 2 – It is an ‘ultra-slim’ 6-inch handset, featuring a new version of the MiFavor UI it uses to paint over Android, with KitKat being the flavor of the day. Its features include 13MP rear-mounted camera and a 5MP front-facing camera, 3200mAh battery, a Snapdragon 400 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and more.

ZTE Open C – Owing to its budget nature, the device sports a chunky plastic build and will be available in two attractive colors: bright orange and blue. The 3G phone runs Firefox’s latest 1.3 version of its OS. The handset is equipped with a 4-inch WVGA display having 800×640-pixel resolution, 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of flash storage, 2-megapixel fixed focus camera on back, 1,400mAh battery, etc.

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