Foldable screens and 5G compatibility steal the show at MWC
Image credit: pa
A bevy of smartphones and other gadgets have been announced at the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, with 5G and foldable displays trending at the event.
Foldable devices mark the “biggest change” ever in the smartphone industry, according to Huawei’s mobile boss Richard Yu as he unveiled the company’s Mate X foldable smartphone.
The device comes just days after Samsung announced its first foldable phone last week, the Galaxy Fold. The two devices work slightly differently, the Mate X has just one screen that folds in half when users require the phone form factor. The Fold on the other hand has a smaller screen on the exterior and can be opened to reveal the larger display inside.
Both phones will be on display for the first time at MWC, which opens its doors to an expected crowd of more 100,000 people today.
Yu said foldable phones will be the future of the smartphone industry, and that the Chinese firm believes it can be the number one company in the industry “within two years - maybe even next year”.
Huawei overtook Apple last year to become the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, behind Samsung.
The Mate X will be one of the most expensive mass manufactured phones ever produced with its €2,299 (£1,759) price in comparison to the slightly cheaper €1,980 (£1,514) of the Fold. Speaking after the unveiling, Yu justified the higher price of the Mate X by saying he believed it was “definitely” superior to Samsung’s new device. He said Huawei hoped to be able to reduce the price of the Mate X over time and that it was his dream for everyone to have access to it.
The phone will also have chips capable of taking advantage of 5G networks when they come online.
The Chinese firm also announced an update to its MateBook X Pro range of laptops that saw minor spec updates to last year’s model.
South Korea’s LG Electronics unveiled a 5G smartphone with its own screen gimmick, this time coming in the form a dual screen. The two screens on the new V50ThinQ work independently, so a user can watch a film on one screen while browsing the Internet on the other.
LG also launched a second phone, the G8ThinQ, which can be unlocked without touching the screen. The handset instead uses light sensors to scan the veins in a user’s hand or to recognise their face.
The phone’s front-facing camera, which uses a sensor chip developed by Germany’s Infineon Technologies, can scan in three dimensions - making it more secure than existing biometric methods of unlocking phones such as fingerprints.
LG product evangelist David Montanya told a launch event it would be harder to ‘spoof’ than the FaceID feature used in Apple’s iPhone X because the vein structure in a user’s hand has less than one chance in a billion of being the same as anyone else’s. Users can also activate features with gestures - for example to play or pause a song or video, or adjust the volume, by twisting their fingers, emulating the character played by Tom Cruise in science-fiction detective thriller Minority Report.
LG did not set release dates or announce prices for the new phones, but said the 5G model should hit stores in the first half of the year.
The company saw its sales decline by a quarter last year as Huawei and Xiaomi grabbed market share in a weaker global market.
Continuing the trend of inventive new smartphone screens, Sony announced its new flagship, the Xperia 1, would be the “world’s first” smartphone with a 4K resolution OLED display. The 6.5in display is set in a 21:9 aspect ratio, making it similar in shape to a cinema screen, which Sony says will allow users to watch TV and films the way creators intended.
Mitsuya Kishida, president of Sony Mobile Communications, said the Xperia 1 is the start of a change in approach for the company.
“We have established a new vision for our Xperia brand to bring our customers experiences beyond imagination,” he said. “We are continuing to push the boundaries in pursuit of innovation and our new Xperia delivers genuine technologies with a multitude of professional-grade features for creative entertainment experiences that are only possible with Sony.”
The Xperia 1 also features a triple lens rear camera system and support for Dolby Atmos high-end sound quality software.
The Japanese firm has also been struggling to keep up with Apple, Samsung and Huawei in smartphone sales growth in recent years.
Sony’s announcement also included two further phones, the Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus, both of which feature 21:9 aspect ratio screens, as well as scaled-down versions of the Xperia 1’s key features, including full HD+ displays and dual rear camera systems. The company confirmed all three devices would go on sale in “late spring”.
Nokia announced a string of new smartphones, including one with a five camera lens system. The new Nokia 9 PureView combines two colour cameras with three monochrome sensors, all of which come with optics technology from camera firm Zeiss.
The $699 (£534) flagship phone’s camera system is able capture up to ten times as much light as other devices, the firm said. It uses artificial intelligence to combine data gathered from each of the five camera sensors to build images.
The PureView also includes a fingerprint sensor built into the screen and wireless charging capabilities.
Nokia’s other announced phones included a trio of new mid-range Android devices, the Nokia 1 Plus, Nokia 3.2 and Nokia 4.2 as well as the new Nokia 210 feature phone, a basic mobile phone aimed at users in developing countries.
HMD Global chief product officer Juho Sarvikas said the company felt it was important to appeal to different types of users.
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