From radical new phones and 5G to laptops you write on with a regular pencil, this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona showcased technology’s future.
Need to get caught up? Here are five of the buzziest things you’ll need to know.
Galaxy S9 and S9+
The Galaxy S9 and S9+ were the biggest news out of this year’s show. While not radically different design-wise from last year’s Galaxy S8 line, they tout some new features that are likely to be imitated by other manufacturers.
The biggest: A new dual-aperture feature on the rear 12-megapixel camera. Coupled with better image processing from the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, the S9 and S9+ should be able to take much better pictures in low light.
The new processor should also allow for faster performance and better battery life.
The new Galaxies go on sale March 16, starting at $720 for the Galaxy S9 and $840 for the Galaxy S9+ when purchased from Samsung or T-Mobile (AT&T, Verizon and Sprint are charging roughly $70 more if you buy it from them).
The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ have a new camera with Super Slow-mo video, low light capability and AR Emoji for a more personalized way to express yourself. Josmar Taveras
Vivo Apex concept phone
You may not have heard about Chinese smartphone maker Vivo, but the company has made headlines this week with its wild idea for the future of cellphones.
Called the Apex, this working concept phone offers a near-bezel-less display with no front-facing camera or fingerprint sensor in sight. Instead, it built the fingerprint sensor into its OLED display, allowing the screen itself to recognize your fingerprint as opposed to laying it onto a designated sensor on the back of the device, like many Android phones, or onto a home button similar to older iPhones.
The 8-megapixel front camera, meanwhile, rises from the top of the phone with a mechanized motor. It will pop up when you want to video chat or take a selfie and then disappear when you don’t need it, allowing the front panel of the phone to consist almost entirely of the display.
With Apple, Samsung and others rumored to be experimenting with in-display fingerprint sensors, Vivo’s concept paints an exciting picture of what the future of phones might soon look like.
T-Mobile’s plans to go big with 5G
Ready for faster mobile Internet? T-Mobile hopes so.
Like its wireless carrier brethren, the self-proclaimed “Uncarrier” announced in Barcelona that it plans to start building its 5G network this year.
T-Mobile plans to start building its 5G network in the big cities — a contrast with some competitors — including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Las Vegas. In total, T-Mobile plans to build its initial 5G network in 30 cities this year.
In the past, wireless companies have sometimes struggled in building out their new networks in big metro areas given the complications of building in such a populated environment.
AT&T, by comparison, is also building its 5G network, promising to launch its next-generation service in a dozen cities this year, though only Dallas, Waco, Texas, and Atlanta have been announced thus far.
Before you get too excited, however, we should note that the first phones to be able to tap into this technology won’t arrive until 2019. But get ready: The future is coming.
Lenovo Chromebook 300e
Mobile World Congress may be known as a cellphone focused show, but this year one of the most interesting new announcements was a new Chromebook from Lenovo.
Called the Chromebook 300e, on the surface this $279 laptop seems like every other Chrome-based laptop. It has an 11.6-inch HD touchscreen, a spill-resistant design that lets it “fold” into a tablet, and is powered by 4GB of RAM, a processor that isn’t too dissimilar from what is found in inexpensive phones.
Designed for education, it is in that screen where some really cool tech lies. Using an adaptation of Lenovo’s AnyPen technology, students can use a regular writing utensil — such as a normal No. 2 pencil — to write on the display.
While not as technologically sound as a digital stylus (which Lenovo has on its slightly pricer and more powerful $349 500e), the ability to work with any ordinary pen or pencil could potentially make it far more useful for students.
Nokia 8110 is a banana phone throwback
Miss the days of slider phones? HMD Global feels you.
After playing up the nostalgia factor last year by reintroducing a version of its popular 3310 feature phone (complete with its own version of the popular Snake game), the company that now owns the Nokia brand is bringing back another classic phone: The 8110 slider phone, otherwise known as the “banana phone” for its curved shape and bright yellow color.
While it will have Facebook, Twitter and Google Maps apps, unlike most modern phones this won’t run Android or have a large touchscreen. Its 2-megapixel rear camera likely won’t “wow” anyone with its picture quality, but like good Nokia phones of old, it too will come with a version of Snake for entertainment.
It is unclear if the new throwback will hit U.S. shores, but it will retail for 79 euros (roughly $97) when it goes on sale in May.
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