Sadly, I was struck down ill just as MWC was getting into the swing of things, but my take away from the show is that the world of phones is finally getting interesting again. No longer is each brand releasing a similar glass slab of a phone with slightly different camera configurations. We finally are getting to see some creativity, granted some of these are crap, but it is the effort that counts.
Huawei Mate X and Samsung Galaxy Fold
5G is the most important tech to launch this year, but most people were talking about the influx of foldable phones.
Samsung and Huawei were duelling it out with their ultra-expensive options, both companies have spent many millions and several years perfecting their devices. Huawei walked away from the show as the clear winner with their design eclipsing the Samsung Galaxy Fold by some margin.
The single screen of the Huawei Mate X gives them gives them a far larger display when folded, plus a secondary display on the rear for selfies. The unfolded display has no notches and looks fantastic. The practicality of a screen on the front and back of the phone is still in question, but Huawei
Looking strikingly similar to the Mate X in photos the Oppo foldable is just a prototype and doesn’t quite match up to the Huawei. The bezels of the device of thicker, and they have a visible bike chain design for their hinge, rather than a falcon wing as Huawei calls it.
Not launched at MWC and it got no attention but it is worth mentioning as they were the first to launch a foldable phone. It looks like a proof of concept device, or a marketing gimmick to get the Royole name out there. It is the only foldable phone commercially available, and the only one I was allowed to touch at MWC. It also costs £1200 so about £500-800 less than Samsung and Huawei.
Now for some of the more wacky options. TCL the company behind the low-cost Alcatel phones also had their own affordable phones on display, these are all prototypes with a launch set to at least 2020. That’s a good thing because some of the designs are bad. In particular one of the phones with their dragon hinge folds in half light a stack of cash, leaving a large gap.
The other concept worked more like a foldable tablet, with the screen folding in on itself and no proper display on the outside, instead LEDs to display the time, and I assume for notifications.
You can forgive TCL for a questionable design when it is a concept, but Nubia has launched a wearable phone that looks shocking. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that something weird is released, but it looks terrible.
Copying and pasting key points of the press announcement the Nubia Alpha is a cutting-edge wearable device, the Alpha combines the best features of smartwatches and smartphones for a whole new breed of smart device.
The phone features a 4-inch, wrap-around screen and is powered by the Snapdragon Wear 2100 platform with 1GB of RAM + 8GB and a 500mAh battery.
So this is just a smartwatch witch dialling abilities and a massive (for a watch screen). It will have the same performance or less than your typical smartwatch
The main issue with the watch is that it is huge and ugly. The gold one is particularly bad, though I suspect some gaudy types may appreciate it.
Energizer Power Max P18K Pop
What surely can be only a marketing stunt is the Energizer Power Max P18K Pop. Energizer has been making phones for a while now, and I have never known a person own one. They are actually made by Avenir Telecom who licence the Energizer name with the phones being on the budget end of the market.
The stand out feature of the phone is the utterly ludicrous 18,000 mAh battery which is over 4 times what the Mate 20 Pro has. Avenir hasn’t developed any revolutionary battery tech though, this looks like you would expect. A power bank with a screen attached to it.
Avenir's press release says it has a 6.2-inch, 2220×1080 display, a MediaTek Helio P70 chipset, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. There are three rear cameras and two front cameras that exist in a pop-up section on the top of the phone rather than taking up display space. With no front cameras to worry about, the display has been graced with some very thin bezels.
I say this is a marketing stunt because I doubt anyone will ever buy it, if it ever is available to buy, however pretty much every tech news outlet, blogger and influencer has posted about it. They did the same trick last year with the Power Max P16K Pro, a phone with a 16,000mAh battery which had a price tag of $738 but never launched.
Sadly one of the downsides of this years MWC is that many of the phones were kept behind plastic glass with very few people getting hands-on time with them. Even when it came down to the 5G stuff, most of the phones were using simulations to demo the tech. Understandable, because 5G isn't launched but not experiencing the real thing was sort of disappointing. I feel like a mobile operator could have set up 5G for the event.