28 February 2014

Mobile World Congress - Hottest devices.


Mobile World Congress is one of the largest mobile trade shows of the year, where most device manufacturers show off their latest and greatest devices.  MWC 2014 was no exception, with the likes of Samsung and Sony both announcing a wide range of new devices to see you through 2014.  The hottest devices making the biggest impact this year:-



What if you could use a phone that promised to keep all of your information strictly in your hands?  That’s the premise behind the Blackphone, a new piece of hardware from Silent Circle and Geekphones.  The idea behind the joint effort is to offer consumers a more secure smartphone.  It uses a customised version of Android 4.4 KitKat that lets you do things like select the individual permissions that each app is allowed.  Everything on the phone, from the web browser to the custom built operating system (called PrivatOS) is encrypted.  It is not for sale just yet, but it’s coming soon.


Firefox phones

Mozilla debuted its Firefox OS at last year’s Mobile World Congress (2013).  This year it was back, with a Firefox OS-powered phone that costs about as much as a pair of cinema tickets.  Not only did Mozilla announce its $25 phone, it also introduced several new hardware partners, including ZTE and Huawei.


HTC Desire 816

HTC isn’t planning to take the wraps off the successor to its HTC One flagship until the end of March.  But it wasn’t an entirely quiet MWC for the phonemaker, which announced the mid-range Desire 816 handset.  It has a giant 5.5-inch display, and you can expect it to roll out later this spring.



One of the alternate OSes from Finland trying to make a name for itself at MWC this year, Jolla isn’t like other smartphones.  The Sailfish OS is based on one of Nokia’s old open source operating systems, Meego, and it’s completely customisable.  You can remove the back—what Jolla refers to as “the better half”.  Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset, the NFC chip inside the cover will install related Android apps and interface themes.


Lenovo S850

Only available in white and pink, with an all-glass chassis, like the iPhone 4/4S, the S850 comes in at a very slender 8.2mm.  It feels like a light, decently built phone, with curved edges and a flat back.  The white model is nothing exceptional, but the hot pink one will definitely turn heads.  The 1,280x720 HD screen measures 5 inches across, along with an impressive 13MP camera.


Nokia X

Nokia launched its first Android phones, but they’re not like any Android phones we’ve seen before.  The Nokia X runs on a tweaked version of Android—as do the other two phones introduced by Nokia here this week—and the finished result has been skinned to look like the Windows Phone interface that appears on Nokia’s other handsets.  The premise is simple: offering you a device that's well built, well connected, but offers good value for money.  We're impressed with the design, and the services it offers from Microsoft and Nokia are welcomed.


Sony Xperia Z2

It probably didn’t make the splash that the first Xperia Z enjoyed last year, but the new Xperia Z2 is lighter, not quite as wide, and sees a number of improvements.  The display has grown to 5.2-inches giving plenty of space to play, while the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset and 3GB of RAM promises to make this phone fly.  It's waterproof, you get storage expansion and a 3200mAh battery, as well as the latest version of Android 4.4 KitKat.  Front-facing speakers and in-built noise cancellation improve the audio offering.  There's a 20.7MP camera with an impressive array of functions on offer, including 4K video capture and SteadyShot stabilisation, but also background defocus and live AR effects.  All those features make the new Z2 one of the larger phones on the market.


Samsung Galaxy S5

The big rival to the Sony Xperia Z2 is the Samsung S5.  We knew it was coming, but we didn't know as much about it.  There's a 5.1-inch display and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset with 2GB of RAM.  The design is similar to previous Galaxy handsets from the front, with a dimpled effect on the rear, but now there's a fingerprint scanner on the front and a heart rate monitor on the back.  The 2800mAh battery is accessible so you can switch it out.  The phone comes with Android 4.4 KitKat and is also water resistant.  There's a new 16MP camera on the rear, with Samsung boasting speedy focusing thanks to its hybrid AF system.  The phone will be mostly health-focused, and it comes with lots of capabilities not normally offered on stock Android devices.


LG G Pro 2 and G2 mini

LG sees big things for the phablet market, and it’s hoping the G Pro 2 can deliver.  The device comes with a 5.9-inch display and feels lighter than other tablets, and sports rear-facing power and volume buttons.  It’s also running Android 4.4 KitKat right out of the box, as is the G2 mini —a phone with a 4.7-inch display that’s on the opposite side of the spectrum.



The YotaPhone, from Russian telecoms firm Yota Devices, stands out from the Android crowd with an unusual second display on the back.  This extra screen uses E-Ink technology -- the same as you'll find on an Amazon Kindle -- which is theoretically more comfortable to read on, and uses considerably less power than a regular LCD screen, but it is limited to black and white.  Essentially, even if the battery dies, the most recent information on the EPD will remain visible.  You can use it to save important information.  Save anything from a route on a map, to a boarding pass or theatre tickets.  The biggest issue lies with the low 640x360-pixel resolution, which makes small text, icons and images look comparatively fuzzy.


Huawei MediaPad X1

Something of a surprise hit for us, the Huawei MediaPad X1 is a great 7-inch tablet.  It's fully phone enabled, so you could use it as a phablet, or just let it snaffle data through the 4G LTE connection.  There's a 1920 x 1200 resolution display which is very good quality and under the skin is a 1.6GHz quad-core chipset and 2GB of RAM.  It's lightweight and compact, one of the smallest 7-inch Android tablets around, but unfortunately there are no plans for Android 4.4 yet.


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