Mobile World Congress, the year’s largest mobile show, played out a little differently compared to previous ones.
Samsung returned in full force to announce its Galaxy S9 and S9+, and every other phone maker mostly stepped out of its way. LG, HTC, Motorola, and Huawei all had a presence at MWC, but none of them launched any competitive flagship phones.
But despite a more quiet show, there were still a bunch of mobile gems that stood out from the crowd. In no specific order, here are the best mobile gadgets we saw at MWC 2018.
You can argue all you want about how Vivo’s Apex is only a concept phone and it may never even be released, but that doesn’t take away from what it represents: the future of phone design. The concept phone wowed attendees with a number of innovative forward-facing technologies that push us closer toward phones that are just a screen with no bezels.
From the virtually bezel-less display to the selfie camera that slides out and retracts to the sizable in-display fingerprint sensor to the screen that vibrates phone calls into your ear, everything about this phone just screams futuristic.
Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+
The phone juggernaut known as Samsung returned to MWC this year with the Galaxy S9 and S9+. At first glance, the new flagship phones don’t look very different from the S8 and S8+. But beyond their similar glass-and-metal bodies, you’ll find phones that nail all the details.
The cameras are all new, and there’s a secondary camera on the larger model. The fingerprint sensor’s in a better spot on the back. The speakers are now stereo and louder than before. And they’re powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip. Also, they still have a headphone jack.
But arguably the best thing about Samsung’s new phones is they don’t start at $1,000 like the iPhone X. The S9 starts at $720.
Sony Xperia XZ2
Sony’s free fall into irrelevance in the mobile space may finally come to end. For the first time in years, the company finally unveiled a new flagship phone that keeps pace with the competition.
The Xperia XZ2 sports a new curved back design, slims down the bezels above and below the screen, and comes with wireless charging, a working fingerprint sensor on the back, stereo speakers with a special rumble feature, and an improved 4K HDR video capture.
It sucks it took Sony this long to catch up to everyone, but it’s better late than never. This could be the beginning of its comeback.
Nokia 8110 4G
HMD struck gold last year reviving the legendary Nokia 3310 feature phone with a revamped model with color screen and the beloved game Snake! And this year they went back into the old Nokia vault to revive another classic: the 8110 slider phone.
Known originally as The Matrix phone, the new 8110 4G tries to ape some of the original’s flare. Mashable Senior Editor Stan Schroeder feels it’s a cheap imitation that’s nothing like the premium original, but we still think it’s kinda neat that they’re remaking old feature phones. I mean, it comes with the Google Assistant — that already scores it some cool points.
Nokia 8 Sirocco
Besides drumming up excitement reviving old dumb phones, HMD’s actually making great progress rejiggering Nokia as a competent smartphone maker too.
In recent years, HMD’s Nokia-branded Android smartphones have been mostly average midrange devices. But it looks like the company might be getting serious about rumbling in the big leagues again.
Like Sony’s Xperia XZ2, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is a return to the high-end. The phone’s made of 95 percent glass and its curved glass edges on the front and back taper into the metal frame at a much flatter angle than on the Galaxy S9. Combine this polished design with solid specs like a Snapdragon 835 chip, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, pOLED display, dual 12-megapixel cameras, and wireless charging, and you’ve got a phone that Nokia diehards can’t resist.
Energizer Power Max P16K Pro
With most phones only lasting a day on a single charge, it was inevitable for a company to try to push things to the extreme by cramming in a huge battery.
That company is battery maker Energizer. We know what you’re thinking: “Energizer makes phones?!” Apparently they do. But is that really that surprising? Nowadays, it seems like any company without any business making phones is doing so (Razer and RED are two that come to mind). It’s probably good that a battery company which has boatloads of experience making batteries is cramming a 16,000 mAh battery into its Power Max P16K Pro phone.
This clunker has enough juice to last up to five days on a single charge. ‘Nuff said.
Huawei MateBook X Pro
Phones bezels are shrinking every year so why shouldn’t they slim down on laptops, too? Huawei’s MateBook X Pro may look like another MacBook Pro clone, but open it up and you’ll see its 14-inch touchscreen practically floats above the keyboard thanks to the ultra-thin bezels.
To shave the bezels down, Huawei had to move the webcam (normally on top or bottom bezel) somewhere else: into the keyboard. Yep, the camera’s hidden in the top function row. Press on it and it’ll pop up. It’s pretty clever and also means no more putting a piece of tape over the webcam for privacy.
The rest of the laptop’s top-notch stuff as well: 8th gen Intel Core i7 8555U processor, an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD. There’s also a full-sized USB port in addition to the USB-C port.
SanDisk 400GB A2 microSD card
SanDisk floored me with its 400GB microSD card last year and it somehow improved on it with faster transfer speeds. The new “Extreme A2 microSD UHS-I” card boasts read speeds of up to 160MB/s and write speeds of up to 90MB/s — or about 50 percent faster than existing UHS-I speed cards.
That translates to less time waiting for your data to read and write from, say, your camera, or phone, or computer, and more time to do something else.