The world’s biggest mobile technology show bears a fitting title: Mobile World Congress. Hosted in Barcelona every year, it brings together manufacturers, distributors, carriers, marketers, designers, and engineers from all around to present their latest work and plant the seeds for future collaboration. For us, it’s also the stage for a week’s worth of new Android phone launches.
In 2018, the growing theme is AI, with almost every major manufacturer promising to sprinkle machine-learning magic onto their devices. Dual cameras are also increasingly popping up on the front of phones as well as the back, while the iPhone X’s highly recognizable notched display is also being imitated. Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 generation is sure to dominate MWC 2018, but there’ll be plenty more news made over the week that the show runs, so stay tuned to be kept maximally informed.
Mar 10, 2018
The big difference between MWC and the Geneva Motor Show is that Europe still matters in the car industry
Over the past 20 years, as the cellphone has transitioned from a buttoned-down soap bar to a world-conquering glass slab, one of the sad changes I’ve witnessed from up close has been the fading influence of Europe. Where once your choice of phone was among Nokia, Ericsson, Siemens, and others from the old continent, today only one of those brands remains, and it’s being operated under license. The truth of the mobile market now is that Europe is the flyover agglomeration of states between China and the US, who are the current industrial and economic superpowers. Three of the world’s five biggest phone manufacturers operate primarily in China, while the most profitable duo of Apple and Samsung both consider the United States their most important market.Read Article >
The same is not true of the car industry. At least not yet. My experience of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a week ago and the Geneva Motor Show this week showed the stark contrast between the phone and auto industries. Cars today are like phones were two decades ago: on the precipice of a fundamental change, led by big European companies, but surrounded by uncertainty about the exact shape and speed of change to come.
Mar 4, 2018
I’ve been coming to Mobile World Congress for close to a decade now, and I’ve never seen the iPhone copied quite so blatantly and cynically as I witnessed during this year’s show. MWC 2018 will go down in history as the launch platform for a mass of iPhone X notch copycats, each of them more hastily and sloppily assembled than the next.Read Article >
No effort is being made to emulate the complex Face ID system that resides inside Apple’s notch; companies like Noa and Ulefone are in such a hurry to get their iPhone lookalike on the market that they haven’t even customized their software to account for the new shape of the screen. More than one of these notched handsets at MWC had the clock occluded by the curved corner of the display.
When a new version of Android comes out, it’s usually a big deal. There are new features, a bunch of design changes, and sometimes new phones to go along with it. But when a new version of Android launched on six new phones this week, it didn’t seem like a big deal at all, and it was quickly overshadowed by announcements like the Galaxy S9.Read Article >
That’s because those six phones are largely under $100, and it’s because that version of Android isn’t designed for the kind of flashy new phones that grab headlines.
Since the Essential Phone was announced, the teal and copper “Ocean Depths” model has always stood out as the company’s boldest and by far most distinctive color scheme. Months and months of delays later, I wondered if anyone would actually care that it was finally being released — but that changed after seeing it in person.Read Article >
I’ve seen and held a lot of phones over the last five years, and none has been quite like this. Essential’s Ocean Depths model radiates color. It’s bright and saturated in a surprising blue-green that makes it feel like some lost piece of treasure beside the cavalcade of black and white phones that make up so much of the market.
Feb 28, 2018
We’ve heard rumors that LG won’t call its next G-series phone the G7, and that the company scrapped its internal plans for the phone to start fresh. But today, Israeli publication Ynet published a video of a device that’s clearly marked as the G7 with the codename Neo. It’s unclear whether this is actually the device LG will be releasing or if it’s just to show some work the company’s done on one of its next phones.Read Article >
Ynet reports this phone has a notch, of course, along with a 6-inch OLED display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. It has an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, two 16-megapixel cameras in the back, and a rear fingerprint sensor. It also incorporates Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 processor and has 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage. It has a 3,000mAh battery.
The nice thing about smartwatches is that they put information right on your wrist so it’s easy to check. But what if that information was even more visible? What if that information was right on the back of your hand?Read Article >
That question, I can only assume, is what led to the creation of Haier’s Asu watch, an enormous smartwatch with a built-in projector. The projector allows the watch to display information on the back of your hand, essentially serving as a second screen.
Feb 28, 2018
Mobile World Congress 2018: what happened? Maybe it’s best to start with what didn’t happen: Huawei didn’t have a new flagship phone, LG rebadged its old flagship phone, and Motorola and HTC had no phones to show at all. The traditional deluge of new super-specced phones just wasn’t here as it usually is.Read Article >
But that didn’t leave us with a boring show — far from it. Nokia reached back into the archives to revive another classic, Google’s hardware partners presented their first Android Go devices, and the pervasive buzzwords of 5G and AI were everywhere. There were even some cool laptops to look at. Here are the highlights, followed by the unfortunate lowlights.
Smart glasses are ever so slowly returning to public view after the embarrassing flop that was Google Glass. And the latest pair of glasses are meant to get ready for a possible boom: that’s because they aren’t really one pair of glasses, but a hardware platform ready to be customized with any number of sensors and input methods, then marketed for sports use, for industrial applications, or even for daily wear.Read Article >
The glasses come from a new company called Tooz, which is a joint venture between Zeiss and Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile. Though Deutsche Telekom is involved and ready to shout “5G!” at a moment’s notice (the glasses can support 5G connections, which don’t really exist), the project seems to have been born inside Zeiss and is based on research the company was already doing into smart glasses.
If you know Bragi, it’s because you know the Dash earbuds. The company launched on Kickstarter three years ago with one of the most exciting wireless earbuds to date. It’s iterated on them for the past two years, and it now makes one of the better pairs on the market. But Bragi CEO Nikolaj Hviid says the company is only interested in headphones to a point — its real goal is to sell AI.Read Article >
To that end, Bragi is announcing a machine learning platform this week called NanoAI. Other companies will be able to license NanoAI, train the system on relevant data, and use it to add intelligent features to their products. One example Hviid gave is a power drill: its creator could train NanoAI on a set of pressure or vibration data that lets the software learn what it’s like to drill through different materials. Then when you’re using the drill, it could alert you if you’re approaching wood, concrete, or some other substance.
Feb 27, 2018
T-Mobile will start building out its 5G network this year and plans to be in 30 cities by the end of 2018. The first four of those are being announced today: New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Las Vegas. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray boasted that the company’s competitors aren’t starting their 5G deployment in locations anywhere near as dense. “Why are we in New York and not Waco? Because New York matters.”Read Article >
No one will actually be able to use the 5G network this year, though. Ray said it wouldn’t be until this time next year that we’ll see the first phones announced that support 5G on T-Mobile’s network. “A year from now, we’re very confident,” he said today during a presentation at Mobile World Congress.
Feb 26, 2018
A new group led by Delta, Sprint, and Gogo wants to revolutionize the quality of in-flight internet connectivity. This past weekend at Mobile World Congress, the Seamless Air Alliance, as they’re calling it, announced ambitious plans that include fast 5G or broadband-level connections in the sky, easier setup when connecting to the internet after boarding the plane, and more.Read Article >
The Seamless Air Alliance isn’t proposing some kind of radical revamp of how to equip planes with faster internet; it still wants to use satellites to hook airline passengers up with these fast connections. Incidentally, satellite company OneWeb and carrier Airtel are also a part of the alliance.
Feb 26, 2018
Lenovo is announcing a pair of new laptops today, the Yoga 730 and Flex 14, both of which are seeing a number of small design tweaks and receiving Intel’s 8th-gen processors. While there aren’t any major changes this year, the 730 is getting one notable improvement to help it stand out: it has built-in far-field mics so that it can support Alexa.Read Article >
The Yoga 730 is really similar to last year’s Yoga 720: like all Yoga laptops, it has a touchscreen and can flip around into tablet mode; it starts with a price around $900 but can go much higher if you spec it out; and while it’s a well-made laptop with an aluminum body, it isn’t quite as slim or light as what Lenovo offers in its Yoga 900 series laptops.
Feb 26, 2018
Lenovo has a new trio of Chromebooks, all of which are designed to be used and abused in schools. Featuring reinforced hinges, ports, and keyboards, and capable of withstanding 30-inch drops, they’re the very essence of ruggedized technology. And to my sentimental eyes, they look like a throwback to the good old days of Asus Eee PC netbooks from a decade ago. Pure function at a universally accessible price.Read Article >
Starting off with the most basic 100e Chromebook, which costs $219, Lenovo gives you an awesome little keyboard with plenty of key travel and zero typing fatigue. That’s tied to an 11.6-inch screen that has a resolution of 1336 x 768 and frankly atrocious viewing angles. I’d highly recommend stepping up to the $279 300e Chromebook, which adds touch, a much improved display, and a Yoga-style 360-degree hinge. The 300e is also capable of accepting notes written on its screen with a standard HB2 pencil. In fact, it’s optimized for that purpose, and no, the pencil doesn’t leave ugly markings all over the screen. The $349 500e Chromebook model has its own stylus (and a silo for storing it in), which provides lag-free input, courtesy of a Chrome OS API that Lenovo has taken advantage of.
Feb 25, 2018
After taking a year off from announcing its latest smartphone at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Samsung has returned this year to show off the new Galaxy S9. While the phone looks mostly the same, its interior has been upgraded with all the latest specs to bring users new camera modes, updated Bixby features, and a fingerprint scanner that’s placed... well, where it should have been in the first place. There’s also a new AR Emoji feature that’s supposed to take on Apple’s Animoji by creating a custom, movable emoji based on your face.Read Article >
Watch all these features, and more, announced in our supercut of the one-hour long event, and be sure to follow The Verge all week as we bring you all the latest from MWC 2018.
Feb 25, 2018
Samsung just announced the Galaxy S9, and now we’re getting details on how much retailers and wireless carriers are going to charge for it. The cheapest way to get the phone (without a trade-in) is through Samsung itself. But pricing gets surprisingly more complicated when you bring in wireless carriers: AT&T and Verizon are charging extra, but they’re also offering trade-in discounts that can more than offset the price increase.Read Article >
Here are the details we have so far — we’ll be updating with more info as it comes out. In all cases, preorders start March 2nd and sales start March 16th.
Feb 25, 2018
Samsung officially announced the Galaxy S9 today, and yes, as indicated by previously leaked images, there is a headphone jack. While many companies have opted out of including a headphone jack — the iPhone X, Pixel 2, and Huawei Mate 10 Pro — some, like Samsung, have continued to include the headphone jack and be... just fine.Read Article >
Sure, Samsung could have readily ditched the 3.5mm connector, but why? As said before, wireless audio is fine, not great. No one is asking for headphone jacks to be removed, and, “dongles are stupid, especially when they require other dongles,” as we’ve pointed out here at The Verge many times.
Feb 25, 2018
Last year, Samsung walked out of the ashes of the Note 7 debacle and launched the Galaxy S8, which was one of the best phones of 2017 and one of the best products Samsung ever made. So it’s not much of a surprise that this year’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, which will be available for preorder on March 2nd and arrive in stores on March 16th, aren’t hugely different from the S8 phones.Read Article >
In fact, the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are so similar to their predecessors that on passing glance, they look and feel exactly the same. The S9 pair maintain the S8’s attractive and efficient design, with extra tall 18.5:9 screens, curved sides, and glass front and backs. The 5.8-inch (S9) and 6.2-inch (S9 Plus) screens are the same Super AMOLED panels with 2960 x 1440 pixel resolutions, though Samsung says they are slightly brighter this year. Also interesting, though the phones look and feel the same as last year’s models, they have slightly different dimensions and weigh a little more, so don’t expect to be able to use an S8 case on an S9.
Feb 25, 2018
Huawei announced its first 5G chip this morning at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which will allow the company’s mobile devices to access the next generation of cellular networks, 5G.Read Article >
The company claims that its Huawei Balong 5G01 chip is the first to support the new 3GPP standard for 5G networks, and that it should be able to download data at 2.3Gbps. Given the apparent size of the chip, it’s likely that this will show up in mobile hotspots and not phones. Huawei CEO Richard Yu says that his company has invested $600 million in the network technology, which will likely be used by everything from self-driving cars to mobile devices to smart homes. Huawei also manufactures network equipment and says that it will be the first company to offer “an end-to-end 5G solution through its network, devices and chipset-level capabilities.”
Feb 25, 2018
HMD Global, the Finnish company that licensed the rights to produce Nokia phones, first revealed a Nokia-branded Android flagship back in August. At Mobile World Congress today, HMD is launching the Nokia 8 Sirocco, an upgraded variant that comes with some surprising design changes. HMD has opted for glass on 95 percent of the Nokia 8 Sirocco, with a tiny stainless-steel chassis than runs along the sides.Read Article >
The result looks rather impressive, and the fingerprint reader has been moved to the rear to reduce the bezels at the front. The entire phone is curved towards wedge-like points at the edges, with a design that hides the usual ugly antenna lines. It feels small, light, and thin as a result of these changes, although the chamfered edges might take some getting used to.
ZTE is announcing two new additions to its mid-range Blade phone lineup today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Both the Blade V9 and its cheaper Blade V9 Vita counterpart feature stock Android Oreo 8.1, dual cameras, rear fingerprint sensors, and displays with an 18:9 aspect ratio. Both phones also feature upgraded camera software that should be better at handling low-lighting conditions.Read Article >
I didn’t get a chance to compare the V9 photos to the V8 lineup, but I did notice a significant difference between the photos taken on a V9 Vita versus the V9. The V9 Vita appeared to smooth over details and blended everything together, whereas the V9 was able to capture clear lines. You can see a difference, although I wouldn’t necessarily say the V9 Vita photos were bad. They just weren’t great and certainly won’t satisfy smartphone photographers: the quality is about what you’d expect from a $200 phone.
The first Android Go phones are coming to market, and today, ZTE announced its first device for the project. The Tempo Go runs Google’s new Android Go OS and has 1GB of RAM coupled with 8GB of storage. The company hasn’t said how much the new phone will cost, but the idea behind the program is affordability along with a reliable Android experience.Read Article >
Other specs include:
Feb 25, 2018
The Huawei MateBook X Pro that was just introduced here at Mobile World Congress 2018 is one of the most impressive laptops I’ve seen in a long while. The 91 percent screen-to-body ratio is class-leading, giving us a laptop with vanishingly thin bezels to match the latest flagship phones. The X Pro is also powerful, has a quad-speaker Dolby Atmos audio system, and is exceedingly thin and light. And it has a webcam hidden away in its keyboard!Read Article >
Because of its extremely thin bezels, this laptop doesn’t have the space above its display to accommodate a traditional camera, so that had to be tucked away somewhere else. Huawei has gone for the novel approach of disguising the camera as a keyboard button, placing it in between the F6 and F7 keys. It pops up when you want to use it, and closes shut, guaranteeing your privacy, when you don’t.
LG is usually one of the big hitters of Mobile World Congress. In 2016, the company used this show to debut its radical LG G5 modular flagship. In 2017, we saw the LG G6, which was among the first phones with an almost bezel-free display. But in 2018, LG is giving us a rehash: the LG V30S ThinQ.Read Article >
Yes, I agree, that name is awful.
We already knew the vast majority of novelties and innovations set to debut at Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked 2018 event tomorrow. The only thing we were missing was a well-produced video running us through the new Galaxy S9’s features, and Samsung has kindly obliged — courtesy of its launch video, which managed to sneak out in public a little bit early.Read Article >
“The Phone. Reimagined.” is the tagline for the new device, which is set to be the first smartphone with a dual-aperture camera while keeping most of the other specs relatively unchanged from the predecessor Galaxy S8. The video shows a new built-in automatic translator in Samsung’s camera app, which looks to work very much like Google Translate’s option for live translation via the camera. The S9 is also IP68-rated for dust and water resistance, matching the S8 as expected. The new phone’s fingerprint sensor has shifted to a more sensible central position, the previously leaked DeX Pad is shown in use, and the conclusion of Samsung’s vid leans heavily into the idea of the S9 being a great business phone.
Feb 24, 2018
Alcatel is kicking off this year’s Mobile World Congress with a whole lot of phones. It’s introducing three series of phones today, within which there are a total of five models. All of them are below €230 (about $283 USD); one is the very first Android Go phone; And on top of all that, Alcatel is announcing two tablets running Android Oreo.Read Article >
Just a quick primer on Alcatel: the company is known for making lower-end phones but has tried in recent years to make them stand out a bit more, so that people might actually seek them out. That’s not true of most of the models being introduced today, though there are some highlights that trickle down from higher-end phones, like dual cameras and 18:9 displays. Alcatel is also introducing a new design language for these phone scalled “Simganic,” which I just wanted to tell you because the name is funny.