Our Highlights from MWC 2018

By Peter Cruickshank 07 Mar 2018
Mobile World Congress 2018

The annual Mobile World Congress is the place where top smartphone manufacturers showcase their new handsets. The public gets hands-on with the latest phone technology, and we discover what we've got to look forward to. 

Samsung's S9 and S9 Plus


Samsung's unveiling of their Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus was the big knockout this year.  We've all been keen to know how their new top of the range model has changed, and how it measures up to last year's Galaxy S8. 

The fingerprint sensor, which was maddeningly close to the camera? Sorted. Samsung has moved it underneath the camera, so no more fingerprint smears on your lens.  

Talking of camera lenses, the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus both come with fancy new ones.  Three, in fact.  There's a second camera on the back now for 'telescopic' zoom. Also, the frustration of having to film an entire video all slow-motion is over - Samsung has added an auto-detect feature that only kicks in when an object comes into view.  And when we say slow-motion, we mean 960 frames per second super slow motion.  If you're a sports fan looking to capture those super-fine details, that frame rate is a win. 

Finally if you're a music or a vlog lover, there's good news. Sound quality has skyrocketed on the S9, with Dolby Atmos support and stereo speakers giving much clearer audio. Samsung even kept the much-loved headphone jack, meaning there's no need for expensive Bluetooth alternatives. 

Sony's XZ2 and XZ2 Compact


It wasn't all about Samsung at the MWC this year though, with Sony also turning heads with their new Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact phones. 

The XZ2 and XZ2 Compact are thinner and have smaller bezels than on the Sony phones we're used to, but there's still that bit of chunkiness we've come to expect. It's made from 'gorilla glass' - meaning that if you drop it, fingers crossed, there's no harm done (but we wouldn't suggest you try it). 

The biggest change to the shape and design is the position of the camera and fingerprint sensor. Previously, the fingerprint sensor was part of the power button found on the edge of the phone, but now it's moved to the back of the handset. The camera has also moved from the corner of the phone to somewhere a bit more central, where you're less likely to cover the lens while holding the phone in portrait mode.

Splitting opinion, Sony decided to remove the headphone jack, focusing on a new Bluetooth update instead. It'll give a much clearer, higher quality sound compared to the Bluetooth on older phones. The downside is, you won't experience that fabulous new sound quality unless you're using the right kind of Sony wireless headphones.

Like immersive film and TV experiences? What you expect from your phone might be about to change with Sony's 'dynamic vibration' feature.  With bangs and explosions, your XZ2 can vibrate, becoming part of the experience, drawing you into the action. 

The camera on both the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact can now record in both 4K HDR and super slow-motion 1080p video. Previously, super slow-motion was only supported in 720p video, but as more and more competitors are adding features like this to their smartphones it makes sense for Sony to keep their cameras at the cutting edge.

Nokia's 6 and 7 Plus, 8110 'Matrix' phone


Many people were also smitten with the new range of Android Nokia phones - this MWC saw two new Android phones for 2018, the 6 and the 7 Plus. Nokia also treated us to a surprise from the past - an improved Nokia 8110, or "the Matrix phone" as many of us remember it. 

The 2018 edition of the Nokia 6 and Nokia 7 Plus are part of the Android One program, which means they'll get the latest Android software updates as they're released, rather than having to wait months (or even years) to get a customised version. 

That means you'll get the latest software features and fewer preinstalled apps, freeing up space for the apps you actually want.

After Nokia announced their 2017 edition of the classic 3310 at last year's MWC, it was a surprise to see yet another old phone resurface this year. This time it's the Nokia 8110. Just like the original it features an iconic slider that covers the number-pad, and comes with the Snake game preinstalled. As added features, the 2018 edition will support Google Maps, Twitter, Facebook and an astounding 25-day battery life.

That's our roundup of the best bits from Mobile World Congress 2018.  Better cameras,  more intuitive designs, and the ongoing headphone jack/ no headphone jack drama (maybe by MWC '19 the big players will have made their minds up). 

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