For hard-core mobile techies and enthusiasts, there are few bigger events on the calendar than the annual Mobile World Congress.
The February event, staged annually in Barcelona, Spain, is one part massive mobile technology exhibition, one part industry super conference.
“The Mobile World Congress is probably the most important convention in the wireless industry,” said technology expert Jason Hope. “This year’s event was the largest yet, which mirrors the spectacular growth the mobile space has seen in the last few years.”
New product announcements and introductions tend to draw the most attention at these kind of conventions. This year’s Mobile World Congress was no different. Much of the excitement surrounding the event derived from the huge number of products on display. But while the list of featured products was huge, there were several that stood out among the pack.
Here’s a look at some of the most impressive devices and developments to emerge from the 2014 World Mobile Congress.
Samsung Galaxy S5
A new version of Samsung’s flagship smartphone is big news in the mobile world — with the exception of the iPhone; no new release is more widely anticipated. Samsung’s introduction of the S5 predictably sent a jolt of excitement through the mobile community, and with good reason — while the device is not a major leap forward from previous iterations, it is an extremely refined piece of equipment. Rather than a dramatic overhaul, each version of the S series has provided enhanced form and functionality, while preserving the attributes that make the phones so valued. That doesn’t mean the latest version is an unnecessary or even trivial upgrade — the S5 boasts water resistant design, fingerprint scan technology and significantly improved camera and video capability. Along with standard spec sheet improvements, the changes are enough to vault the S5 to the head of the smartphone class — a perch it seems unlikely to fall from anytime soon.
Nokia Android Phones
While many consumers tend to think “Windows” when it comes to Nokia phones, that’s changed somewhat with the announcement of Nokia’s new series of Android smartphones. Mobile users have long lauded Nokia’s phones for their excellent build quality, so the Nokia X is going to be an attractive option for many Android users looking for an upgrade. The phones are targeted toward emerging markets (Asia, the Middle East, etc.) and will be offered at a modest price point. Those looking for a pure Android experience are going to be disappointed, however — while these phones are based on Android, it’s a heavily Microsoft-flavored version.
Sony Experia Z Series
While the announcement of the Galaxy S5 certainly took up much of the smartphone oxygen in the room, Sony’s Experia Series of phones and tablets emerged from the Mobile World Congress looking like viable challengers. The Z2 tablet is perhaps the most impressive Android-based tablet on the market, with an enviable combination of spec sheet power, aesthetic appeal and solid, durable construction. Even more impressively, it’s water and dust proof. It shares those qualities with its Z series smartphone brother, a viable challenger to the Galaxy S5. The Experia Z2 has the corporate lineage, brand appeal and — most vitally — the hardware to compete at the highest level of the smartphone market. With a few breaks, the Experia Z2 could become the Galaxy S series rival the HTC One never quite became, despite its numerous critical plaudits.
Samsung Gear Smart watches and wristbands
The Samsung Gear Fit smart wristband is an attractive, unobtrusive device that is going to prove very popular in the marketplace. The wearable computing space as a whole continues to heat up, and this product has the kind of sleekly attractive design and clever functionality that will win converts from the “anti-wearable” ranks of consumers. Gear Fit will start selling this spring, and Samsung has yet to announce a price. Along with the Gear Fit, Samsung announced a pair of new smart watches for its Gear line. The major differentiator here is the operating system — instead of running Android, the Gear 2 will run the Tizen OS.
Amy Taylor is a business and technology writer. Amy began her career as a small business owner in Phoenix, AZ. She enjoys writing about business technology trends. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking with her Alaskan Malamute, Sam.