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The best of the best from Mobile World Congress 2023

A smartphone that can be repaired in minutes, satellite tech, rollable displays and more that caught our eye at MWC

A person holds Honor Magic Vs device during the 2023 Mobile World Congress (MWC), in Barcelona, Spain February 27, 2023. REUTERS/Albert Gea
A person holds Honor Magic Vs device during the 2023 Mobile World Congress (MWC), in Barcelona, Spain February 27, 2023. REUTERS/Albert Gea (REUTERS)

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The Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, is a platform for companies to show off the latest and greatest (many are prototypes) in the mobile industry, along with more predictable fare. Back as an in-person event this year, it had everything: from a foldable launched in the sub-$1,000 (around 82,000) price range to a smartphone that smashed to the top of the DXOMARK benchmark ratings for its camera capabilities. Here are the highlights from the event, which ended earlier this month.

HONOR Magic5 Pro: DXOMARK’s camera test measures performance across the photo, bokeh, zoom, video and more. HONOR’s Magic5 Pro took first place with a score of 152. Next on the list was the Huawei Mate 50 Pro and the Google Pixel 7 Pro, with scores of 149 and 147, respectively. In the display rankings, the Magic5Pro beat Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro Max, with scores of 151 and 149, respectively.

The Magic5 Pro features a 6.81-inch OLED display (with a dynamic refresh rate from 1-120Hz). The smartphone comes with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, a 5,100mAh battery (with 66W wired charging and 50W wireless speeds). The phone runs MagicOS 7.1 (based on Android 13).

Its USP, of course, is the camera. It comes with a triple-camera setup where all three lenses—primary, ultra-wide and telephoto—come with 50MP shooters.

Tecno Phantom V Fold: Tecno may not be a household name in the smartphone industry but its first foldable is turning heads. Unveiled at the MWC, the Phantom V Fold will launch first in India, in the second quarter of 2023, with a price of just under $1,000. The base variant is getting an early bird offer and will be available for 79,999. It’s by far the cheapest foldable worldwide and features MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000+ SoC (4nm chip). It ships with 12GB RAM, 512GB of storage and 5G support. There’s a 5,000mAh battery, with support for 45W fast wired charging. The smartphone runs HiOS 13 Fold (based on Android 13).

HONOR Magic Vs: This foldable phone, thinner than most and with no visible crease between the screens when folded, is a direct competitor to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold. The Magic Vs launched in November in China. At the MWC, the company brought the device to other markets. It features a 6.45-inch Full HD+ OLED cover display (with a 120Hz refresh rate). When unfolded, you are greeted with a 7.9-inch OLED display (90Hz refresh rate). It comes with a 5,000mAh battery.

Motorola Rizr: This may not be available any time soon but it offers a glimpse into the future. A smartphone with a rollable display, it seems small and unassuming until you tap a button and see it unroll. Its expandable, wrap-around display is eye-catching. Basically, the panel wraps around the back of the device, leaving a small area of the display for use as the camera viewfinder, notifications and other tasks.

Realme GT 3 (with 240W charging): Realme offers the fastest wired charging tech on a commercially available smartphone. The Realme GT3, first launched in China, comes with a hefty 240W charger. The 4,600mAh battery can be completely charged in under 10 minutes. Imagine: 20 per cent of charge in just 90 seconds.

Beyond the insane charging speeds, though, the smartphone is standard, with the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip, a triple-camera array on the back and a 6.74-inch AMOLED display.

Nokia G22: This Nokia smartphone, focused on repairability and sustainability, can be repaired in mere minutes. Partnering with repair specialists iFixit, Nokia will offer replacement parts, tools and a how-to guide. Customers can replace a broken screen, charging port or battery. The Nokia G22 is now available in the UK for £149.99 (approximately 14,730).

TCL NXTPaper 11 tablet: TCL came out with a budget Android tablet with NXTPAPER screen technology, which gives the device a paper-like look that is similar to e-readers. This tablet, then, has no glare at all. TCL claims the display is 150% brighter and can reach up to 500 nits of peak brightness.

Motorola Defy Satellite Link: Satellite tech was the rage at this year’s MWC. The Motorola Defy Satellite Link, a pocketable device designed by Bullitt, is just one of the devices that allow for emergency texting when one is out of signal range. In short, it’s a durable, compact Bluetooth device that allows for any iOS or Android device (plus one for compatibility) to send and receive text messages, contact emergency services, share location and more via satellite. It features the MediaTek MT6825 chip, which also powers the Motorola Defy 2 rugged smartphone.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite: Qualcomm announced support for the Snapdragon Satellite two-way messaging solution from smartphone manufacturers, such as Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, Nothing, Motorola and HONOR. The Snapdragon Satellite will be available initially on Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip devices. Eventually, it will allow for satellite connectivity beyond smartphones and into categories such as the automotive and IoT sectors.

Beyond smartphones: The MWC may be a a smartphone-first event but other devices were announced/launched too.

The Lenovo ThinkBook Rollable concept features a screen that unrolls into a larger display.

The Huawei Watch Buds smartwatch flips open to a pair of buds. Huawei also unveiled the Watch GT Cyber, a smartwatch where the bezel can be swapped.

The Xiaomi Electric Scooter 4 Ultra has much better range than before and can go up steep inclines (the motor comes with 940W peak power). It also features double suspension for extra comfort.

Qualcomm’s on-device Stable Diffusion has come out with an AI text-to-image generator that is on-device and can run offline. It takes just 15 seconds and can run on an Android phone with the flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip.

The Anura by NuraLogix app provides health indicators if you just stare for 30 seconds into the phone’s selfie camera.

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