The Best and the Weirdest of Mobile World Congress 2014
What was big at the big Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona this week? Phones. They’re getting massive screens. Also big: watches and wearables. Here are our picks from this important conference.
I’m not the only one who went to MWC expecting the Samsung Galaxy S5 to be the smash hit. But it was Sony that blew me away. You’d have a hard time finding a more beautiful device running Android than the Sony Xperia Z2.
It’s beautifully designed, sports a stunning screen with technology borrowed from the company’s Bravia HDTV line, and it has an impressive camera, including 4K support. It’s also water- and dustproof, even if it doesn’t look like it.
Samsung’s Gear Fit might look like another me too fitness tracker, but this wrist-worn device has a curved, full-color, gorgeous AMOLED display.
The 1.84-inch screen does display miles walked and calories burned, but it also delivers incoming calls, texts and other alerts from your smartphone. It’s both a fitness tracker and a smartwatch, and it’s a smart combination.
With the Nokia X, the Microsoft-aligned mobile manufacturer oddly embraced Google’s Android operating system, and in a way that surprised everyone. The company abandoned all ties to Google’s own apps (like Gmail, Maps and the Play store), and put Windows Phone-like tile design on top of Google underpinnings.
The result: A low-cost “starter” phone for users in developing nations, that doubles as an on-ramp into the mobile Nokia/Windows ecosystem (itself a developing economy).
Coolest Emerging Technology: Fujitsu’s Haptic Touchscreen
In the future, your phones and tablets might touch you back. Fujitsu demonstrated a haptic feedback display that let you “feel” images on the screen. The company demoed images of an alligator, turntable, and a stringed instrument, all of which gave off the sensation of touching what you were seeing. The technology uses ultrasonic frequencies, vibrating to create either friction or pockets of air to make the surface feel smoother or rougher.
The demo wasn’t perfect — the alligator, for instance, didn’t quite feel like an alligator and the whole thing gave off a sort of high-pitched hum. But it’s a great start.