“A look back at the biggest smartphones launched at this year’s edition of MWC.”
As Mobile World Congress 2014 draws to a close, we take a gander at the most significant launches in the smartphone space. In an unlikely turn of events, it was Nokia’s budget Android phones that stole the show. There were some heavyweights in the arena though, including the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2. We also saw a bunch of mid-range devices, and a couple of unconventional smartphones.
Nokia X series
Even with the plentiful rumours and leaks, we never really expected Nokia to go the Android way. Despite its acquisition by Microsoft, the Finnish brand surprised us by launching not one, but three smartphones
based on AOSP (Android Open Source Platform). While the phones won’t have access to the Google Play Store, Nokia is offering users its own app store and access to third-party stores. The phones offer a Windows Phone-style live tile experience and incorporate the Fastlane UI seen on Asha devices. Coming soon to emerging markets, the Nokia X phones are targeted at budget buyers.
Also read: 75% of Android apps will work on the Nokia X lineup
Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung’s long-awaited Galaxy S5 was finally unveiled
at MWC this year. While Samsung ensured the usual bump in specs, the metal-frame variant we had hoped for didn’t see the light of day. Inching closer to phablet territory, the S5 sports a 5.1-inch full HD display. The rear camera now flaunts a hefty 16MP resolution, an ISOCELL sensor for low-light photography and 4K video recording. The Galaxy S5 packs in the latest Snapdragon 801 processor and runs Android 4.4.2 with TouchWiz UI. Following Apple’s footsteps, Samsung has also incorporated a fingerprint sensor into the home button.
Sony Xperia Z2
Just six months after launching the Xperia Z1
, Sony announced its next-gen Xperia Z2 flagship
. Continuing the water- and dust-proof capabilities of its predecessor, the Z2 also retains the unibody casing. The phone features a 5.2-inch full HD display and the latest Snapdragon 801 processor, with a generous 3GB of RAM. The Xperia Z2 offers a 20.7MP rear camera capable of 4K video recording, plus a 2MP front camera. With Android 4.4.2 KitKat and 16GB of expandable storage, the Xperia Z2 will go head to head with the Samsung Galaxy S5.
Huawei Ascend G6
Huawei’s latest, the Ascend G6
, is a mid-range smartphone with a conservative 4.5-inch display. It runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with Huawei’s Emotion UI 2.0 on top. The smartphone features an 8MP rear camera and 5MP front camera, and is powered by an unspecified quad-core chipset. Inspired by the ultra-thin design of the Ascend P6
, the phone quite slim at just 7.85mm. Apart from grey and white, the Ascend G6 is available in some unconventional colours like pink, rose gold and champagne.
In what can only be described as an attempt to boost dwindling sales, BlackBerry introduced its affordable Z3 smartphone
. With a sub-$200 price tag, the Z3 is the cheapest BB10-running smartphone yet. Taking advantage of the touch-optimised BlackBerry 10 operating system, the phone features a 5-inch display. Other specs haven’t been detailed as yet. Not wanting to abandon its iconic QWERTY keyboard just yet, BlackBerry also introduced the Q20, but has kept details under wraps for now.
created a lot of buzz, thanks to its e-ink display on the rear panel. A little over a year after it was first introduced, the Russian brand has launched its successor
, which offers a loaded spec sheet. The YotaPhone 2 sports a 5-inch AMOLED full HD display in the front, and a 4.7-inch qHD e-Ink touchscreen at the rear. It runs Android 4.2 KitKat and is powered by a Snapdragon 800 processor. It also features an 8MP rear camera and 2MP front shooter. It will be available in 3G and LTE variants, and offers 32GB of storage. The YotaPhone 2 will be available in Asia, Europe and the US later this year.
HTC Desire 816
A mid-range smartphone with premium specs, the HTC Desire 816
features a 5.5-inch HD display, 13MP rear camera and 5MP front camera. The first HTC smartphone to ditch the hardware keys, it offers on-screen virtual buttons instead. The phone offers 8GB of expandable storage, and is powered by a Snapdragon 400 processor. It’s equipped with dual-front BoomSound
speakers, as well as HTC’s BlinkFeed
After being announced last month, Silent Circle and Geeksphone officially unveiled the privacy-oriented Blackphone
at MWC. The Blackphone comes pre-loaded with Silent Circle’s security suite, which offers features such as encrypted communication, a secure browsing experience, advanced app permissions and unsecure network protection. The only glitch is that people you communicate with must be subscribed to Silent Circle’s security apps (available on iOS and Android) to avail of the privacy features.
For the full list of smartphone launches at the event, check out our MWC 2014 coverage