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MWC Barcelona: What's the latest from the world of smartphones?

Key updates on smartphones from the 2024 Mobile World Congress – a pocket photographer’s dream, paper-like displays, a Barbie-themed flip phone, and more

A visitor walks past an advert during the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the telecom industry's biggest annual gathering, in Barcelona on February 26, 2024.(AFP)

By Sahil Bhalla

LAST PUBLISHED 27.02.2024  |  03:00 PM IST

Only a few weeks ago, technology enthusiasts and media from around the world descended upon the CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show) show floor in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now, the world of technology has its eyes on Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona has been the host city for the Mobile World Congress (MWC) since 2006 and the event has only grown bigger.

MWC Barcelona is not just witness to several smartphone launches but also some interesting and whacky prototypes. Let’s begin with the biggest announcements from the world of smartphones, including foldables.

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1. Xiaomi 14 and Xiaomi 14 Ultra: Xiaomi, the Chinese designer and manufacturer of consumer electronics and related products, was the first out of the blocks. The Xiaomi 14 and Xiaomi 14 Ultra may have already been announced in China but the company used the MWC floor to announce that they are going global. These smartphones primarily focus on the camera and imaging quality.

The Xiaomi 14, which is coming to India, has all the flagship basics one would expect. There’s the 6.36-inch screen (an LTPO 120Hz panel), a great square-shaped Leica-branded camera system - a trio of 50MP sensors for the main, ultra-wide and 3.2x telephoto camera - and a matte finish on the back panel’s glass.

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra, which at this point isn’t coming to India, is a pocket photographer’s dream. The main camera uses the new 1-inch-type Sony LYT-900 sensor and includes the variable aperture system. The 14 Ultra has two telephoto lenses - 3.2x and 5x - that are both stabilised. The 14 Ultra, unlike last year’s model, feature flat edges. Alongside the 14 Ultra, comes Xiaomi’s camera kit. The grip now acts as an external battery for the smartphone.

2. Honor’s Magic 6 Pro and Honor Magic V2 Porsche Edition: The Honor Magic 6 Pro debuted in China back in January, and at MWC, the company announced its global release. The Magic 6 Pro has 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The two mainstays of the Magic 6 Pro are the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered features and its insane camera lenses. Honor has an AI-powered eye-tracking feature that can even be used to move a car forward and backwards. It can also open a relevant app when you’re looking at its notification on the Dynmaic-Island type interface.

The smartphone is powered by the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor from Qualcomm, a 5,600mAh battery (that can be fast charged up to 80W wired or 66W wireless), and a 6.8-inch 120Hz OLED display, with a peak brightness of up to 5,000 nits, according to the company.

The two mainstays of the Magic 6 Pro are the artificial intelligence-powered features and its insane camera lenses. (Honor)

It’s the cameras though that will excite consumers. There’s a trio of cameras on the circular camera bump on the back. There’s a 50MP main camera with a variable aperture from f/1.4 to f/2.0. There’s a 50MP ultra-wide camera and a 180MP periscope with 2.5x optical zoom. The phone is also IP68 rated.

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The company also announced the Honor Magic V2 Porsche Edition -- a Porsche-themed version of the Magic V2 foldable smartphone.

Unfortunately, as things stand, neither of these two smartphones are slated to launch in India.

3. HMD, Barbie and Mattel: A second-wave of popularity for Barbie? That’s what HMD is betting on. HMD, which has been making smartphones under the Nokia brand name for several years now, has announced a Barbie-branded flip phone in partnership with Mattel. The company has announced that it will begin making HMD-branded smartphones while also releasing some Nokia-branded retro feature smartphones. There’s also a new development platform called ‘HMD Fusion’.

HMD, which has been making smartphones under the Nokia brand name for several years now, has announced a Barbie-branded flip phone in partnership with Mattel. (Mattel)

4. Infinix GT Ultra: Infinix, the Hong Kong-based company, has come to MWC armed with its latest gaming technology. The company teased the Infinix GT Ultra, a gaming smartphone powered by MediaTek’s Dimensity 9300 processor along with Infinix’s CoolMax System and some AI optimisation. For this smartphone and future models, Infinix is using the Pixelworks visual processors and will provide refresh rates of up to 180Hz for FHD+ and 144Hz for WQHD+ resolution displays.

5. TCL and their 7 smartphones: TCL came armed to Barcelona with a 7-phone TCL 50 series line-up. The most exciting among those are the TCL 50 XL Nxtpaper 5G and the XE Nxtpaper 5G smartphones. They have “paperlike" displays that differentiate them from the crowds.

The 50 XL Nxtpaper comes with a 6.8-inch FHD Plus display, while the XE Nxtpaper has a 6.6-inch HD Plus display. The kicker is that there is a normal view when using the phone for general use, a low-contrast colour paper mode when reading comics and a black-and-white ink paper mode that acts like an e-reader.

6. Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G: A new smartphone under the Pova series has been announced at MWC. The Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G is powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 6080 processor and comes with a 6.78-inch 120Hz AMOLED display and a 1080MP camera setup. The smartphone runs on HiOS 14 (based on Android 14) and has a 6,000mAh battery under the hood.

ZTE’s sub-brand Nubia, has unveiled its first-ever flip phone at MWC. (Nubia)

7. Nubia Flip 5G: A budget Moto Razr rival is here. ZTE’s sub-brand Nubia, has unveiled its first-ever flip phone at MWC. The Nubia Flip 5G has a 6.9-inch 120Hz folding display and a small external circular panel. It’s powered by the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chip. The outer screen can act as a viewfinder. There’s a 50MP and 2MP camera at the back and a 16MP front camera. The phone is powered by a 4,310mAh battery, enough to keep it running all day long.

6. Motorola and Corning: Motorola has announced a partnership with Corning Gorilla Glass. All of the company’s smartphones, starting from H2 2024, will feature Corning Gorilla Glass. It all depends on the price range as the company showcased prototypes of smartphones with Gorilla Glass 5 and Gorilla Glass Victus 2.

Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist. He posts at @IMSahilBhalla.

Also read: MWC 2024 updates: Xiaomi 14 series debuts with big bets on camera