A lot has happened this week at MWC 2014, including the unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z2 and a whole lot more. In this week’s Friday Debate take a look at MWC’s many announcements to discuss our overall impression of the event and what excited us the most.
Join us in the discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments!
The HTC Desire 816 was a nice little surprise, and one of my personal highlights. It’s one of the few examples where good last gen tech eventually makes its way into a midrange handset. I suppose other manufacturers refuse to develop similar handsets for fear that they’ll undermine the older gen flagship, but this is something that I’d really like to see more of, so big points for HTC on this one. Similarly, the midrange Huawei Mediapad X1 tablet offers up some really competitive hardware at a (hopefully) midrange price point, it was really a good showing for the mid-tier this year.
The Nokia X was so-so for me, a timid entry into the world of Android, but we couldn’t have expected much more given the company’s relationship with Microsoft. To be fair to Nokia, the X range is a safe bet, and plays to the company’s remaining strengths.
I suppose I can’t get away with refusing to comment on the Samsung Galaxy S5? Well overall it’s a great handset, my one (small) disappointment is that Samsung continues focus on gimmicky side projects, rather than going back to basics as it said it would. S Health and an infrared heart rate monitor, of all things, are totally lost on me, I really just don’t understand why these are advertised as flagship features on a smartphone, other than to sell more accessories. Samsung’s vision for the smartphone is obviously worlds apart from my own.
However, I can’t fault Samsung on its choice of hardware, and the camera is sublime. It’s always tempting to get caught up in the rumours and expectations, but when you step back, the Galaxy S5 is a top tier piece of hardware, and certainly not worthy of a lot of the criticism that’s been levelled at it.
This year’s MWC has given us some excellent devices. The Galaxy S5, despite the negative community feedback, and Xperia Z2 both step ahead of the pack once again, and are the two best handsets on the market, for now. What more could we ask for?
I think the shorter list would be things I’m not excited about coming out of Mobile World Congress 2014. Frankly, there was a lot of awesome stuff announced and I’m excited about pretty much all of it.
The Galaxy S5 made a noticeable step forward from the S4 and S3 in terms of build quality (band-aid gold aside, of course), camera, and software. It looks nice and according to our first impressions videos it seems to work really well too. It’ll be exciting to see how many people buy it. I’ve heard there are 100,000 preorders already! Madness.
I’m also quite excited about the Xperia Z2. I’ve had my eye on that phone since the rumors started pouring out a few months ago and it appears that it’ll be the best phone available when it drops. I may actually get one of those, they look really, really nice.
I also agree with Robert, the Desire 816 was a nice phone. It’ll be competing with other mid tier phones and, of course, the perception will be wholly determined by price (which HTC hasn’t announced yet to my knowledge). If they sell it at a good price off contract, then it has the potential to make some serious waves in the smartphone world which is good news because the EVLeaks picture of the HTC One doesn’t inspire much confidence.
I was a tad disappointed in the wearables. I know it’s a new technology and they’re still fleshing out problems but I’m still waiting for that “first big leap forward.” Similar to when Android got dual core and quad core processors for the first time and everything changed. When the smartwatch market hits that first big step forward things will be exciting. Until then, I will remain unimpressed. I heard Motorola is doing some awesome stuff in this department and I’m excited to hear about it.
Really surprised more people aren’t talking about Project Ara, but that is about a year out.
I’ll start with some honesty: I am really more excited by the Sony Xperia Z2 than the Galaxy S5. My main reason for this is because I’m a fan of stock Android, and while the Z2 doesn’t quite bring a true stock experience to the table, it stays much closer to this vision than Samsung. There’s also several other new improvements to the display and specs that make the Xperia Z2 an interesting looking next-gen handset.
That said, I don’t think the S5 is a bad handset and is a major improvement over the S4, especially in areas like camera performance and the new waterproof/dustproof capabilities. The real problem is that various rumors and even comments from Samsung execs lead us to believe the GS5 would be radical departure from older members of the Galaxy S family, and it’s not. This lack of change will be enough to push some folks away from the GS5, but others will more than likely get past their initial disappoint and will end up truly enjoying the device. Bottom-line, looking at pre-orders it is clear that the Galaxy S5 is still a must-buy for many Android users out there.
Turning my attention to the smaller players out there, I was very happy to see a next-gen YotaPhone announced this year. While the original wasn’t exactly that impressive, it was a pretty unique idea and I’m glad to see that the next-gen version takes the same concept but enhances it with better design and much better overall specs. I was equally impressed by HTC’s newest Desire, at least based on what we’ve seen so far.
That’s far from an extensive list of everything that piqued my interest at MWC, as I truly enjoyed every moment and there were just so many announcements that it’s hard to mention them all!
In my opinion the two big devices from MWC were the Gear Fit from Samsung, and the Xperia Z2 from Sony.
I’ve told myself from the beginning of MWC that I wouldn’t be getting the Z2 and that I’d stick with the Xperia Z1, but as time has gone on, I’ve pretty much been convinced to buy one. I probably won’t be purchasing the Gear Fit, unless Samsung decides to open up to other Android devices, but it’s proven that wearables CAN be stylish and beautiful. It’s also gotten me into purchasing one of those shiny sports activity trackers (it’s a shame the Fitbit Force got recalled, so if you have a recommendation let me know!).
These were the two big highlights of the show, but there were a few others. The Samsung Galaxy S5’s camera will perhaps make or break the device, and if it’s as good as Samsung claims it is, it should take the crown as the best smartphone camera for an Android device (the Nokia Lumia 1020 might have a word in when it comes to all smartphones).
The Xperia Z2 Tablet is a stylish tablet, which has enough of a premium feel for it to go head to head with the iPad Air, and as long as the battery doesn’t suffer from the razor thin design, it could be my next tablet to replace my ageing 3rd gen iPad. There’s also the HTC Desire 816, which looks better than the successor to the HTC One (if the leaked images are to be believed).
Nokia also fulfilled the dreams of millions of Nokia-Android fans, although the device was mostly more of a nightmare than the saviour that many people were waiting for. MWC was a really fun event, and it’s stamped itself on the calendar as a place of many interesting devices in the mobile market while CES becomes less and less important.
What do YOU think?