Mobile World Congress 2018 is happening in Barcelona this week, where many of the industry’s top smartphones, smartwatches and tablets are being unveiled to the public for the first time. Along with product launches and unveilings, some of the biggest brands use MWC to introduce various big trends that determine where the mobile industry is moving towards.
With the exception of Apple, all big mobile brands attend the bash in one way or another, and while the Cupertino-based company may not be there physically, a lot of the accessories announced at MWC are Apple compatible, meaning iPhone users should pay attention.
From the new Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ to 5G mobile networks, some of the year’s biggest advancements in mobile technology will be unveiled at the event. Below, we’ve put together a list of the best and most important announcements for you.
Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9+ are here and they include a headphone jack
At Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked 2018 event in Barcelona, the Korean tech giant officially unveiled its latest flagship smartphones, the S9 and S9+. Under the motto of “Do What Can’t Be Done,” Samsung’s successors to the Galaxy S8 tap into the needs of the social media age, ramping up the capabilities of its camera and speakers while introducing a slew of new features like AR Emoji and Super Slo-mo. The biggest headline, however, seems to be that the S9 has a headphone jack, unlike the iPhone X, Pixel 2, and Huawei Mate 10 Pro.
Look for the Galaxy S9 and S9+ to launch in the U.S. on March 16, 2018 through Samsung's website and the Shop Samsung app. Pre-orders begin March 2, 2018. Customers who pre-order a Samsung Galaxy S9 or Galaxy S9+ can save up to $350 with a qualifying trade-in.
An unlocked Galaxy S9 will run you $719.99 ($30 per month for 24 months financing), while an unlocked Galaxy S9+ will retail for $839.99 ($35 per month for 24 months financing). For more information on Samsung’s new feature read on here.
Next-gen 5G chips are now a thing
Huawei announced the company’s first 5G chip on Sunday, which allows its mobile devices to access the next generation of cellular networks. According to Huawei, its Balong 5G01 chip is the first to support the new 3GPP standard for 5G networks, meaning it should be able to download data at 2.3Gbps.
Huawei CEO Richard Yu has claimed that $600 million was invested in the network technology, which will ideally be used in products ranging from self-driving cars and mobile phones to smart homes.5G promises to offer a considerable increase in speed to the current LTE networks known as 4G, however, it will most likely take a few years before the public sees widespread use of the 5G chips.
For more information on 5G chips and Huawei’s involvement in bringing next-gen speeds to the market, read on at The Verge here.
The Matrix’s Nokia “Banana Phone” is making a comeback
If you’ve seen The Matrix, you may have caught a glimpse of Neo’s nifty slider handset. For those who've always dreamed of copping it, now’s your chance – Nokia’s 8110, aka the “banana phone,” is set to return this May as a new and improved smart device.
Produced by HMD (a Nokia affiliate company), the new 8110 will run on a Smart Feature OS. This sadly means no access to Android apps, but users can access its own app store, which includes the likes of Facebook.
Read more here.
Google Assistant is getting new features
Google might not be unveiling any new devices at MWC 2018 (it saves them for the annual Google I/O), but that hasn’t stopped the search giant from participating in the Barcelona congress this week.
Google Home will soon be available in several new languages, including Hindi, Norwegian, and Thai, and will save and send reminders based on location. The biggest development, though, is that Google Assistant will get a bilingual feature, allowing the Alexa-competitor to understand and respond to several languages simultaneously without users having to change the settings. French, German, and English will be the first languages supported by the new feature, with several more set to follow.
Another new feature is the walkie-talkie function that turns multiple Google Home devices into inter-connected, long-distance walkie-talkies. With it, users can talk into one device and have their voice message played on the other connected Google Home pod. This allows people to let their families or roommates know they are on the way home from the office, for example.
Sony Xperia Ear Duo is a cyclist's dream
Sony’s Xperia Ear Duo earbuds, which are wireless and set to hit shelves in May for $280, are now available for pre-order on Amazon. What makes these earbuds so special is that they’re essentially the complete opposite of noise-canceling headphones. The Xperia Ear Duo aims to deliver a “dual listening” experience which allows users to combine the sound of their music with the most important sounds from the outside world.
This is especially important and helpful for cyclists who need to stay aware of cars and traffic around them but want to be able to listen to music. The Verge describes the effect as making "making things sound like a mall." It also lets you carry on conversations without the music being too distracting.
Google Assistant and Siri are both supported depending on which device you have connected to the earbuds. Sony describes the listening experience as: "The Spatial Acoustic Conductor, developed by Sony’s in-house technology incubator Future Lab Program, allows the sound generated behind the ear by the unit ́s driver to be transmitted directly into the ear. The specially designed ring supporter surrounds the ear canal so your music can blend seamlessly with sounds from your environment.”
Which developments are you most excited for? Drop us a message in the comments.
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