MWC 2015 Day Zero Highlights

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Mobile World Congress 2015 may officially begin only tomorrow but today has already seen arguably the biggest announcements being made. From new flagships from Samsung and HTC to a range of wearables from Huawei, there’s a lot that’s been announced so here’s a quick round up of MWC Day Zero:

Samsung brought the big guns

Let’s kick things off with the two biggest announcements of the day – the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge. Both handsets were leaked heavily in the run up to MWC and Samsung President JK Shin even kicked things off by saying “No more rumours”.

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The Galaxy S6 is a complete rework of Samsung’s Galaxy S5 – as opposed to an incremental update – and features a 5.1 inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display offering a market-leading 577 pixels per inch density. It’s powered by the world’s first 14nm processor – which is is up to 35% faster than traditional 20nm processors – and features 3GB RAM with either 32GB, 64GB or 128GB internal storage. One of the key design changes with the Galaxy S6 is the lack of removable battery – it has a 2550 mAh battery – and the lack of expandable storage, which is the first Samsung flagship to go down this route.

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The Galaxy S6 Edge shares the same specifications but the display curves at either edge. Whilst the Galaxy Note Edge was a standard display with an edge added on the end, the Galaxy S6 Edge feels natural in the hand and offers a unique and very innovative take on the modern smartphone design. Both handsets sport 16MP rear cameras with optical image stabilisation, Real-time HDR, f/1.9 aperture (which allows more light to be let in the photo) and rapid autofocus. The front facing cameras are 5MP sensors – again with f/1.9 aperture – and also comes with the Real-time HDR feature and each handset also has LTE Cat 6 support offering download speeds of up to 300Mbps on the go.

Both smartphones feature aluminium build with a glass black – with Gorilla Glass 4 protection – and Samsung claim that these devices are up to 50% stronger at withstanding bumps and impact compared to other devices. The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge will launch in the UK on April 10 2015 and should be available from all major networks and leading retailer Carphone Warehouse.

 

HTC finally listened 

Next we head over to HTC and their new flagship, the HTC One M9, which could be the key competitor to Samsung’s new flagships. The HTC One M9 features a 5 inch Super LCD3 display with Full HD 1080p resolution and Gorilla Glass 4 protection and is powered by a 64-bit Octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor.

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The HTC One M9 runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop with HTC Sense UI v7.0 on top along with 3GB RAM, 32GB internal storage and a microSD card for expandable storage. The M9 also comes with Boomsound front-facing speakers with the dual-speakers capable of offering 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound (or so HTC claim).

The key change over last year’s flagship, the One M8, is the camera; the Ultrapixel main camera from the One M8 is now the front facing camera on the One M9 whilst the rear camera has been upgraded to a 20MP sensor with dual-LED dual-tone flash.

Whereas the Galaxy S6 is a complete revamp of Samsung’s flagship, the HTC One M9 is more of an incremental update with some small – but very welcome – upgrades that will improve the experience of an already-impressive smartphone.

The HTC One M9 will launch in just a few weeks on March 22 and should be available from Carphone Warehouse, O2, EE and Three in the UK.

 

Huawei upgraded their wearables 

Huawei’s MWC press conference was not your average smartphone launch as the company decided the time was right to enter the smartwatch market. The key product launched at today’s event was the Huawei Watch, their first Android Wear smartwatch and arguably the best Android Wear smartwatch to date.

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The Huawei Watch has a 1.4inch AMOLED display offering 286 pixels per inch density – the highest on an Android Wear watch to-date – packed into a 42mm round face that is one of the smallest but nicest on the market. It will be available in gold, black and silver finishes with a stainless steel body and the screen is a scratch-proof Sapphire Crystal display ensuring longevity and durability.

The Huawei Watch features a built-in heart rate monitor, 4GB internal storage, 512MB RAM, an array of sensor for activity and health tracking and Bluetooth LE. The Huawei Watch aims to appeal to the masses as it supports both interchangeable watch straps and will have 40 watch faces to choose from offering true customisation to the user. The watch should go on sale in June this year – although a price hasn’t been confirmed – and should be available in around 20 markets around the world at launch.

Alongside the Huawei Watch, the Chinese manufacturer also announced two new Talkband devices – the Talkband B2 and the Talkband N1.

The Talkband B2 is the successor to last year’s Talkband B1 and has a much more refined style along with an upgraded LED display, fitness tracking features and the ability to automatically recognise which type of activity (e.g. walking, running, cycling) you are participating in and measure your performance accordingly. Like the Talkband B1, the B2 comes with a Bluetooth headset built-in which can be removed for voice calls and is rather easy to remove and insert into the proprietary watch strap, which is not interchangeable.

The Talkband N1 is a unique device that aims to combine wearable headphones with a fitness band. It has many of the same features as the Talkband B2 but instead of a fitness band form factor, it takes the shape of a pair of headphones. These are Bluetooth headphones that can be used for wireless voice calling and features 4GB on-board storage meaning you can leave your smartphone at home and listen to your music whilst out exercising. When used independently of a smartphone connection, the Talkband N1 has the ability to track your exercise and movements to ensure that when synced to a smartphone, the data continues to be accurate.

Both the Talkband B2 and the Talkband N1 are set to be available in multiple colours and should launch later this year but Huawei hasn’t confirmed exact pricing. Overall, Huawei’s announcements have very much focused on wearables – mainly as their next flagship should launch in London on April 15 – and this seems to be a key focus for the company. Whilst the Talkband B2 and Talkband N1 are interesting wearables, the Huawei Watch is arguably the star of the show and the best wearable on-show at MWC this year.

 

Day Zero of MWC is traditionally busy but this year has seen a host of major announcements, which are all rather interesting in their own right. The day itself probably belonged to Samsung – mainly due to the number of advancements in their new devices – but the one device that could really capture the imagination of all MWC-goers could be the Huawei Watch which is the first smartwatch to really combine the style of a traditional quartz watch with the functions of a modern smartwatch.

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I love gadgets and technology, so i write about them. +Tomi Adebayo

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