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MWC 2016: Highlights and hands-ons
MWC 2016 has wrapped up and there’s a hell of a lot of news to absorb. Don’t worry, we have your back and have covered all the hottest news for you here. Our list is broken down by manufacturer, so hit the shortcuts for your favorite OEM or scroll down to check out everything announced at MWC 2016.
What is MWC and when is it?
MWC stands for Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile electronics trade show. MWC 2016 kicked off on February 22nd, though it actually got started over the preceding weekend with a few key press events.
Samsung at MWC 2016
At Mobile World Congress 2016, Samsung officially announced the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge to the world. While the latest members of the Galaxy S family have a lot in common with the Galaxy S6 series, a slightly refined design and the return of microSD, as well as water and dust resistance, make the new Galaxy S7 family very welcome upgrades over their predecessors. Under the hood you’ll find equally impressive specs, with a Snapdragon 820 or an Exynos 8 Octa, depending on the market.
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We’ve already had a ton of time with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, but will be adding even more great content related to Samsung’s new flagship series in the days to come. For now, here’s some of the biggest highlights worth checking out:
- Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge officially announced
- Samsung confirms the GS7 and GS7 Edge will have the Exynos 8 Octa onboard, in select markets
- Samsung Galaxy S7 hands-on
- Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge hands-on
- Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge compared
- Samsung Galaxy S7 vs LG G5
- Best Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge features
LG at MWC 2016
As expected, the dramatic update to the LG G series has arrived! The LG G5 is like no other LG handset before it, offering a metal unibody design with a twist — the bottom can be removed allowing you to swap the battery or even add specialized modules to expand the G5’s functionality. The LG G5 also breaks a lot of LG conventions, removing the back volume keys and placing them on the side, a place they haven’t been on an LG flagship since before the LG G2. In addition to a redesign, you’ll also find all the hottest specs, including a Snapdragon 820 processor.
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Just as intriguing as the hardware changes, LG has also revamped its software, debloating it, axing Q Slides and a few other less popular LG features, while also making a controversial move by getting rid of the app drawer. LG was kind enough to give us a ton of time with the LG G5 and so we’ve been pitting it against all sorts of devices and have even more of these VS on the way. There’s certainly no shortage of great LG G5 related news and features at MWC 2016, but here’s some of the key pieces:
Xiaomi at MWC 2016
Xiaomi attended its first MWC and held a press conference to launch the Xiaomi Mi 5, including a special “premium” version with 128 GB of internal storage, 4 GB of RAM and a special hardened ceramic back. The base model Mi 5 starts at the equivalent of around $305 for the 32 GB version with 3 GB of RAM and lower clock speed on the Snapdragon 820, steps up to $350 for the higher clocked Mi 5 64 (with 64 GB of RAM) and tops out at $410 for the Mi 5 Pro.
The Mi 5 also introduces the first 4-axis OIS on a smartphone and adds Xiaomi’s first fingerprint scanner. The Mi 5 will be available in China on March 1 via mi.com followed by India and other markets.
Sony at MWC 2016
LG and Samsung might be the main focus of attention at MWC 2016, but Sony certainly had a few surprises of its own. First, there’s a brand new series called the Xperia X family, with three models: Xperia X, Xperia X Performance, and Xperia XA.
Typically the Xperia Z line has been where you go for high-end specs, but the Xperia X changes these X-pectations (couldn’t resist..). At the very top of the line, the Xperia X Performance offers a Snapdragon 820, 3GB RAM, 32 or 64GB storage with microSD, water resistance, and a 5-inch 1080p display. While the lack of a QHD makes a small step under devices like the LG G5, the X Performance is very much a flagship-level offering in terms of under the hood specs.
The rest of the family is more of a mid-range affair, with the Xperia X offering a Snapdragon 650, and the XA powered by a MediaTek MT6755. Aside from new phones, Sony also showed off the Xperia Ear, a unique Bluetooth earpiece, as well as several cool connected devices.
HTC at MWC 2016
At MWC 2016 HTCmay not have announced the HTC One M10 just yet, but it did bring us the One X9 and new Desire 530, 630, and 825. These new Desire entries are powered by Snapdragon chips ranging from the 210 to 400, depending on the model, and very much offer budget-friendly specs. Aside from this, HTCalso revealed pricing details for the Vive, which will set users back $799 and is going up for pre-order on February 29th.
Lenovo at MWC 2016
At MWC 2016 Lenovo revealed its new Tab3 series, with the TAB3 7 and TAB3 8 featuring sub-$150 pricing and matching entry-level specs. On the slightly higher scale, the TAB3 10 offers more impressive specs and a slightly more expensive price tag starting at $199. In addition to the TAB3 family, Lenovo also revealed the Vibe K5 and K5 Plus, offering some pretty solid mid-range specs. With teh K5 Plus powered by a Snapdragon 616 and the K5 packing a Snapdragon 415.
Alcatel at MWC 2016
While Alcatel has been around for quite a while, it wasn’t until last year’s impressive Idol 3 that we all really started sitting up and taking notice in a way we previously hadn’t. At MWC 2016, Alcatel not only rebranded itself from the somewhat confusing Alcatel OneTouch branding, it also formally introduced the Idol 4 and 4S.
The new Idol 4 family takes things up several notches, offering a premium glass and metal design that is somewhat akin to the Galaxy S6 and S7 series (and the Xperia series for that matter). The base Idol 4 offers up a 5.2-inch Full HD display, a Snapdragon 617 processor, 3GB RAM, and 16GB storage, a 13MP main cam, and other specs that make it a nice and predictable upgrade from the Idol 3. The real star of the lineup is the Idol 4S, however. The Idol 4S offers a Snapdragon 652 processor, 3GB RAM, a 3000 mAh battery, and – get this- a 5.5-inch QHD display. Pretty damn impressive for what is billed as a “premium mid-ranger”, and what would have undoubtedly been a flagship class device not much more than a year ago.
The Idol 4 family isn’t all Alcatel announced, with the Pop 4 series also making its debut. Featuring lower-mid-range specs and the ability to customize the phone with cases ranging from wood to leather and more, the Pop 4 looks to be a perfect option for those looking for something a bit more affordable then Alcatel’s Idol 4 family.
ZTE at MWC 2016
The star of the show for ZTE was its SPro Plus, a brand new member of its SPro smart projector series. The latest version offers some beefy specs including an 8.4-inch QHD display, a Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB RAM, and up to 128GB storage. If you liked the SPro series in its earlier carnations, you’ll love the latest. In addition, the Blade V7 and V7 Lite were also announced for the Asia Pacific and European markets, packing MediaTek processors and other mid-range specs.
Ahead of MWC, OPPO promised “breakthrough battery and camera” tech. That’s what they brought with announcements relating to super fast charging and the “world’s smartest optical image stabilization technology”. Oddly enough though, there were no phone announcements to go with these breakthroughs. More than likely, OPPO is using MWC as a teasing ground with an announcement of its next flagship coming a bit later down the road — likely the rumored OPPO Find 9.
HUAWEI at MWC 2016
For those hoping HUAWEI would have something big up their sleeves, no such luck. The center announcement was a new MateBook laptop/tablet hybrid, powered by Windows 10. We should have more details on that over at our sister site, TabTimes, a bit later, though for nw you can read about it over at the official Microsoft blog.