Mobile World Congress has kicked off this week with a slew of new device announcements and a large amount of confidence about the growth of mobile globally. According to GSMA, the global mobile association behind Mobile World Congress, there are 7.6 billion connections on the planet. Within that, 3.2 billion people are currently connected to the Internet through a mobile device.
Across the globe, mobile has an economic value of around $3.1 trillion dollars. Mobile is everything today.
To the wider world, there is one significant reason to pay attention to Mobile World Congress; Samsung’s new flagship smartphone. Last year, the world was introduced to the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. As the world’s biggest Android device maker and number one manufacturer, by sales, Samsung’s flagship devices are cause for attention.
Last year, Samsung tried to focus on many of the criticisms about its design by introducing a new metal design, with innovative curved glass technology on the S6 Edge. To do this, Samsung made some tough decisions. It dropped the ability to have a removable battery, waterproofing and the ability to expand the memory with an SD card.
This year, with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, Samsung has further refined the design of its flagship smartphones, whilst addressing some of the compromises it made last year. With curved backs, SD card slots for expandable memory, waterproofing, a reduced bump for the camera and bigger batteries, Samsung is vying for having the best phones on the market.
The S7 Edge sees its screen grow to 5.5 inches, whilst keeping a relatively compact design, making it only marginally bigger than the S7 and its 5.1 inch display. From a specs perspective, there is nothing to complain about. The S7 CPU is 30% more powerful than the S6, with the GPU 60% more powerful. Both devices also feature always-on displays, providing glanceable information, without having to touch the phone. The camera has also been improved, with better sensors and faster speed.
- Android for Work will be hardened by Samsung’s KNOX platform. Starting with the S7, Samsung said it will provide enterprises with hardware-enabled security that regulated industries have.
- Under the enterprise device program, Samsung will provide monthly security updates for core Android and patches specific to its software.
- Samsung will offer a two-year device purchase program that ensures enterprises can purchase the same model from launch. Samsung is hoping that enterprises will get on a two-year refresh cycle for corporate phones.
- The company’s B2B unit also offers services, custom apps and other products to surround its devices.
In other Samsung news, Samsung Pay, which delivers contactless, in addition to magnetic strip payment, will be coming to the UK and six other new countries in 2016. According to reports from the show, Samsung also showcased new experiences with its Gear VR headset. One of these included journalists being greeted with Mark Zuckerberg on stage to talk about the opportunities with virtual reality.
According to Zuckerberg, Gear VR is among the best experiences with virtual reality available on the market, “VR is the next platform where people can experience anything that they want…Imagine holding a group meeting or event anywhere in the world.”
For the enterprise market, virtual reality holds a huge amount of potential helping engineers, architects, designers and others focus on testing and enhancing their workflows, in addition to helping companies with training. Whilst VR does hold a huge amount of potential, there is no escaping the image below. There is a time and place for VR — where you don’t need to be physically present or engaged with your surroundings.
Outside of Samsung’s headline grabbing announcements, Sony, Huawei, Lenovo, HP, HTC and LG have all announced a slew of new devices. For more information about other devices announced, we’d recommend checking out The Verge’s MWC portal here.
From the announcements to really catch our eye, there’s no doubt that Sony and LG had some of the more interesting announcements.
Aside from three new Xperia devices, Sony launched a range of new smart accessories that point to where the future of mobile is. Sony is a company that often has big ideas and launches them well before anyone else. It had touchscreen smartphones years before the competition. It had a smartwatch years before Samsung, Motorola or Apple. Yet, sometimes Sony is perhaps a little too early to market and its ideas fail to really catch on.
That’s not necessarily the case with its latest accessories. The Xperia Ear is a small in-ear Bluetooth device that uses artificial intelligence to deliver information, via voice commands, to your ear. This is very similar to the Moto Hint, which is an in-ear smart device (albeit one that relies on a smartphone). It’s all based on your context, your activity and helping you interact with your phone, without it leaving your pocket.
Sony also showcased some concept devices: a 360 degree lifelogging camera (likely targeted at the VR future); the Xperia Projector – a new take on projectors, with the ability to recognise when you touch the objects projected onto the wall.
There was also the Sony Agent, which is both security device for the home and smart assistant/speaker. Agent is Sony’s vision for a personalised assistant in the home, designed around the smart home and smart living.
LG launched the G5, its new flagship smartphone which features a clever modular design, so that people can plug different modules into the phone. The modules, called Friends, is a range of accessories that people can buy to add to their phones adding a level of customisation to its devices.
Some examples include a 32-bit digital to analogue converter made by Bang & Olufsen, to make the phone capable of playing higher resolution audio. Others include a camera module and additional battery power.
Ultimately, the announcements from Mobile World Congress continue to point to a more connected world, where artificial intelligence, connected technologies and more powerful mobile devices continue to help transform our lives. Mobile is everything and everything is mobile today. This is the key message that the GSMA wanted attendees to think about over the following few days.
We’ve known for a long time that the mobile phone now sits at the centre of the digital hub. It is the most important device for millions of people across the world. It is a tool for democratisation, creativity, connectivity, productivity, education, healthcare, fitness, communication, entertainment, photography, videography, navigation and many other things. The number of connections is only continuing to grow, helping to add intelligence to all manner of things.
Given that mobile now has an economic value of $3.1 trillion, the world depends on it more than ever before. This will only continue.