Major smartphone manufacturers including Samsung, LG and Sony have revealed new models at Mobile World Congress (MWC).
The annual mobile communications conference is a major date in the tech calendar where iterative updates to existing products are often demonstrated prior to release.
This year is no exception: LG demonstrated the G5, which features an expandable slot for adding different modules such as a large camera grip with an extended battery inside.
Samsung showed off the Galaxy S7, which features a larger battery, the return of a Micro SD card slot and improved waterproofing.
Sony showed off a new range of phones designed to appeal to more cost-conscious consumers.
Caterpillar, more commonly known for its construction machinery and vehicles, demonstrated a rugged phone for use in industry and inhospitable environments which also includes a built-in thermal imaging camera.
Yesterday, E&T reported from MWC on an unconventional range of products: wearable devices from SK Telecom designed for cats and dogs, including a GPS unit that tracks the wellbeing and whereabouts of cats and dogs.
LG made some of the biggest waves at MWC with the G5 smartphone that features an expandable accessory slot, the like of which has not been seen on any smartphone prior to this announcement.
The new design features a 5.3-inch display in a metal unibody with a panel that can be disconnected and slid out with a button press on the bottom.
LG has already displayed several of the modules that will go on sale with the phone.
The Cam Plus can be attached through the battery slot and is designed to deliver a more comfortable grip when taking pictures with the phone. It provides physical buttons for power, shutter, record, zoom and an LED indicator. It also offers auto focus and exposure lock - features usually found on standalone digital cameras. When attached to the LG G5, it provides an additional battery capacity of 1,200mAh to allow for longer shooting times.
The other module demonstrated, Hi-Fi Plus with B&O PLAY, is a portable hi-fi DAC audio player that improves the device’s sound quality. LG claims it can deliver a level of audio processing that has traditionally only been available through high-end audio devices. The module can also be used as a separate hi-fi DAC by connecting to any smartphone or PC.
The G5 also includes two cameras on the back to deliver a 135-degree wide angle lens effect, significantly wider than its competition.
It has an always-on display that shows notifications such as the time and date without needing to wake up the phone completely.
The G5 also includes Snapdragon’s flagship mobile processor, the 820, which offers 64-bit performance and Adreno 530 graphics.
This is coupled with 4GB of ram, a Micro SD card slot, a screen resolution of 2560 x 1440 and Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
Samsung Galaxy S7
Samsung’s latest Galaxy models, already proven to be the most popular phone range in the Android ecosystem, bring back old features that were removed for the Galaxy S6 - namely waterproofing and a Micro SD card slot.
The S7 features a 5.1 inch quad HD super AMOLED display, while the S7 Edge features a slightly larger 5.5 inch screen at the same resolution that tapers off the edge at both sides like its predecessor.
The phones also have a thicker frame than their predecessors in order to hold a large 3,000mAh battery for the S7 and a 3,600mAh for the Edge. This seems like an effort on Samsung’s part to address common concerns from users that their phones cannot last until the end of the day before the power runs out.
The metal and glass design also features a Snapdragon 820 processor - like many of the flagship phones released at MWC - coupled with 4Gb of ram and a Dual Pixel 12MP camera that promises to work especially well in low light conditions, albeit with the sacrifice of fewer megapixels than the S6.
Sony X series
Sony unveiled the Xperia X Series, three 5 inch smartphones with Android 6.0 that look largely alike, but feature different specifications in order to hit different price brackets.
Starting from the lowest end, the Xperia XA features a 720p screen and a MediaTek processor, with a somewhat long-in-the-tooth 2Gb of ram. It also features a 13MP camera and a 2300mAh.
The Xperia X and the X Performance are largely the same, but with the Performance featuring a slightly larger battery (2700mAh to 2620mAh), faster Snapdragon 820 processor in comparison to the X’s Snapdragon 650 and a thinner 7.6mm profile.
Lastly, the Cat S60 from Caterpillar, while arguably not as aesthetically pleasing as the other phone models announced at MWC, is the first to include a thermal imaging camera from FLIR in the body of the phone.
The phone is designed for use by those in heavy industry and features a thick water and drop-proof build and an underwater camera.
Caterpillar says the thermal camera can visualise heat that is invisible to the naked eye, to detect heat loss around windows and doors for example or spotting moisture and missing insulation.
It can pick up heat and measure surface temperatures from a distance of up to 15 to 30 metres and see through obscurants such as smoke.
It can withstand drops onto concrete from up to 1.8 meters and has a bright display designed to be viewed in sunlight.
The 4.7 inch display has wet finger and glove support and it is powered by a large 3800mAh battery and a Snapdragon 617 processor.