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1. The biggest news from MWC, so far
There are at least 10 new devices worthy of some attention today, from the so-new-it-couldn’t-be-touched to the quite unexpected.
- Many of the announcements have been made months (or more) before the technology or devices will be available to consumers, which is unusual.
What does it all mean? Let’s have a look, starting with Huawei’s new foldable hybrid device.
Huawei Mate X
This is probably the device that will get the most attention out of MWC, and it’s worth exploring and comparing these bleeding edge foldable devices.
- The Mate X is an 8-inch tablet-phone hybrid, with an external wraparound display that looks like a phone when closed, and opens out into a not-quite-square tablet when open.
- It effectively uses one large display panel to act as a tablet or phone, with lots of tricks to make this work seamlessly.
- It includes a chunky “grip” housing components including the cameras, sensors, and USB-C charging port.
- The downside is that the screen is always exposed, and there’s no glass protection. How will it hold up with normal use, jammed in your pocket or bag?
The battle with Samsung:
- Huawei’s foldable smartphone is the true opposite exploration of folding technology to the Samsung Galaxy Fold we saw last week.
- It was priced at €2299 which suggests it will go on wider sale than just China.
- The Galaxy Fold, on the other hand, is a phone that can be opened out into a tablet, like a book.
- It’s an inward-folding display so the screen is protected when closed, which is a key design decision.
- It looks something like a normal phone when closed, but it’s about two phones thick.
- The downside is that the phone-mode front-display of the Galaxy Fold is bizarrely small inside a blocky, thick device. But it offers are more typical phone experience, and its display is protected.
- The fold mechanism itself is the most complicated hardware of both devices.
- It’s hard to say which is better, which is made worse given that neither Samsung nor Huawei has let anyone from the media actually touch the new devices.
- We just don’t know how they’ll hold up and what value and utility you get from them.
- But Huawei has fired some real shots, as Andrew Grush explores: Foldable Huawei Mate X proves Samsung’s market lead is not assured (Android Authority).
All the other new devices:
- LG G8 ThinQ, the latest G-series from LG which packs all its new features with spec upgrades. Among a range of interesting new features, it can read the hemoglobin levels in your veins to unlock your phone via “Hand ID.” (You read that right.)
- LG V50 ThinQ; LG’s first (and only) 5G device, with a dual screen “folding” trick accessory that is worth a look. It’s coming to Sprint in the US, and across the globe by end of June 2019.
- Nokia 9 PureView: HMD Nokia’s long-awaited flagship debut, with last year’s specs, featured a five-camera array on the back, in partnership with Light, to capture what it says are next-level photos, which is yet to be seen.
- Four other budget and feature phones were also announced by Nokia.
- The Sony Xperia 1 flagship and Xperia 10, and 10 Plus mid-rangers were all unveiled, and may become known as the “tallboys.” They’re unusually tall and narrow devices that are getting early plaudits, with some tie-ins with creators. The Xperia 1 also has a 4K HDR OLED display.
- TCL unveiled its foldable displays, but focused entirely on its hinge technology known as “DragonHinge.” No one was allowed to touch devices with the hinge, though.
- BlackBerry revealed the Key2 in red, added more storage, and jacked up the price by $100 to $750, for reasons its creators know and we don’t.
- Oppo has 10x zoom technology, which might actually be from a company Samsung purchased late last year, and has 5G phones coming to regions including Australia and Singapore.
- ZTE Axon 10 Pro 5G: A just announced 5G phone from ZTE for Europe and China.
- And too many more to count.
What does it all mean? (or the TL;DR:)
I asked our own Bogdan Petrovan, who is in Barcelona at MWC for Android Authority, to decipher it for you:
- “This year MWC stands for Marketing World Congress. Don’t get me wrong: the stuff that was launched promised is important (or it will be, eventually).
- “It’s just that all the hoopla will have very little impact on users for months or even years.”
- “LG will scan your veins to unlock your phone, though fingerprint and facial scanners are objectively better.”
- “Sony has a new flagship that’s literally glued to the wall in its MWC demo area; the UI apparently isn’t ready.”
- “Samsung and Huawei have dueling foldables you won’t be able to buy until summer, if you can even afford them at all.”
- “And HMD Nokia has a phone with five cameras, that’s roughly on par with the single-camera Pixel 3.”
- “I don’t blame attention-starved companies for jumping on every promising buzzword. But innovation for the sake of marketing isn’t going to help with the sales turnaround.”
2. Oppo’s folding phone has been revealed on Weibo (Android Authority).
3. 1TB microSD cards are now a thing (The Verge).
4. 5G in PCs: Qualcomm’s new modem chip is getting started with Lenovo laptops, as soon as 2020 (AA).
5. Microsoft revealed the HoloLens 2 for AR/VR. Instead of focusing on slick consumer technology, it appears Microsoft is hoping the $3,500 HoloLens 2 will be used in enterprise and factories (AA).
6. Google announced a range of new Assistant features, adding Assistant to the Messages app, and rolling out former US-only updates more globally, adding Flight Check-ins and Digital Wellbeing to more languages (Google blog).
7. Apple COO Jeff Williams is both ‘very ware’ of concerns over Apple product cost and at pains to explain why Apple charges so much (MacRumors). Also, Williams said complaints about price have been “the bane of my existence from the beginning of time,” because “analysts don’t really understand the cost of what we do and how much care we put into making our products.” (Apple also makes ~37% margin on hardware and has $237.1 billion in cash.)
8. Also, Apple is closing two Dallas stores and opening a new one the next day, in apparent bid to ward off patent trolls in the Eastern District of Texas (Ars Technica). The law works (or doesn’t work) in fascinating ways.
9. How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain (NY Times) “A few months ago, I realized I couldn’t read a book, watch a movie, or sustain a conversation without being distracted by my phone.”
10. All the Oscars winners (CNET).
11. Don’t use a debit card at the gas pump (Lifehacker). (Or maybe not ever? There are good reasons and good discussion in the comments.)
12. If you came across a box with everything you had ever lost, what’s the first thing you’d look for? (r/askreddit).
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