The last few years have been subdued for the technology industry because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Luckily, 2023 has brought things back with a bang. In January, there was CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, and at the end of February, we’ve been greeted by the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. In-person events have started their journey to the pre-pandemic levels of attendance, both from companies and from worldwide visitors.
As with any trade show in the technology industry, a number of devices shown off by various companies aren’t actually slated for release anytime soon. Some may be forward-looking devices but others are mere prototypes. They give us a glimpse into the future, pushing the boundaries of tech one step further.
With that in mind, here are some of the concept devices that are being showcased at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at various stages of evolution and completion:
1. OnePlus Concept phone (with Active CryoFlux)
What the company had been teasing for weeks finally came to light at the Mobile World Congress. The device, which isn’t meant for production any time soon, is there to showcase the company’s Active CryoFlux cooling solution. It may just be the company’s most funky-looking smartphone to date. Essentially, the OnePlus concept phone gets liquid cooling and fancy LEDs.
Active CryoFlux, something you find on desktop PCs, makes use of coolant, which is pumped around a series of tubes, allowing the phone to sustain its performance for longer periods at higher temperatures.
The company claimed two performance benefits from this technology. First, there’s a drop in temperature of 2.1 degrees Celsius during gaming, which in turn, results in a performance boost of three to four frames per second. Second, the Active CryoFlus system helps bring the phone’s temperature down by 1.6 degrees Celsius. This helps reduce the phone’s charging time by 30-45 seconds.
2. Lenovo’s rollable laptop
Are rollable screens about to be the game-changer the industry needs? Lenovo certainly thinks so. After being teased in October, the devices — a laptop and a smartphone — made an in-person appearance at the Mobile World Congress and wowed everyone present.
At just the double tap of a button, the concept laptop gets taller. The people who got to see it in person described it as pure “magic”. Walk by the laptop, and you’ll think it’s nothing out of the ordinary. The rollable concept laptop has the form factor of a regular 13-inch laptop. The 12.7-inch (4:30 aspect ratio) display can extend into a 15.3-inch display (8:9 aspect ratio). Essentially, it’s two 16:9 displays on top of each other.
You can hear the motors whirring, and it takes a fair few seconds, but once it extends, it becomes something unreal. The regular display has a resolution of 2024x1604. When fully extended, the resolution becomes 2024x2368. The device reminds us all of LG’s rollable TV that rolls away when not in use.
3. Motorola Rizr
Motorola, not wanting to be left behind by its parent company Lenovo, has come out with the Moto Rizr, a concept phone with a rollable screen. The Moto Rizr is a nod to 2006’s Motorola Rizr Z3, a phone that slid up to reveal its physical keyboard.
The Moto Rizr, by default, has a 5-inch display with a 15:9 aspect ratio. What’s the magic here, you may ask? The phone can roll (or mechanically extend) to a 6.5-inch diagonal display with a 22:9 aspect ratio. When the phone rolls (or should we say rises?), it does so very smoothly and doesn’t mess up what is happening/showing on the screen.
Motorola has gone a step further and implemented the display in a wrap-around way. This means that the panel wraps around the back of the device. The advantage of this is that there’s a small area of the display available for many use cases such as acting as a camera viewfinder or for notifications.
4. Xiaomi Wireless AR Glass Discovery Edition
Xiaomi may have announced a lot of devices at Mobile World Congress this time around but it was the Wireless AR Glass Discovery Edition that stole the show. It was a surprise announcement at the show but greeted with much applause. Xiaomi’s concept Wireless AR Glass Discovery Edition uses the same chip as Meta’s Quest Pro.
The wireless smart glasses connect to your phone/tablet or any other device to offer an immersive AR experience sans any wires. There’s no built-in storage though. The glasses have a micro OLED display (with 1,200 nits peak brightness) and come with FHD resolution and electrochromic lenses (which can turn black).
Smart glasses can be used to consume content or enter the metaverse among many other use cases.
These AR glasses weigh just 126g and are made using carbon fiber and magnesium alloy materials. The AR glasses are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 chip with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. According to reports, these smart glasses last less than 30 minutes on a single charge.
5. Huawei Watch GT Cyber (with a detachable watch face)
Huawei is going one step further with its design choices for 2023. The Huawei Watch GT Cyber is the company’s most ambitious watch design in years.
The Watch GT Cyber features swappable cases. Essentially, the central puck pops out of the housing and can be used with a number of different straps. One can change the entire look of their watch in a matter of a few seconds. The main area houses the crown. This makes it easier to swap from one casing to another.
The specifications of the watch itself are pretty beefy. There’s the 1.32-inch AMOLED display (466x466 resolution), and all the regular sensors like the gyroscope, magnetometer, accelerometer, barometer and much more. The watch is waterproof up to 5 ATM and battery life is rated at a full week of usage on a single charge.
6. Nubia Pad 3D
Nubia Pad 3D is being pitched as the first glasses-free 3D tablet. ZTE has taken to MWC to announce the Nubia Pad 3D. Mobile devices with 3D screens aren’t new to the market. They’ve been tried and tested. While 3D may not be a phenomenon yet, Nubia is hoping that changes with this Android tablet. The Nubia Pad 3D is a result of the ZTE and 3D AI company Leia partnership.
The Nubia Pad 3D comes with a 12.4-inch IPS LCD (2560x1600 resolution) display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 16:10 aspect ratio. The tablet uses AI enhancements from Leia for better face tracking and real-time conversion of standard 2D content into 3D.
The tablet takes advantage of the 3D lightfield technology developed by Leica. There is a filter beneath the display that directs light to each eye independently. This creates an autostereoscopic effect. In simpler terms, that’s 3D without the need for glasses.