From 26 February to 1 March, Mobile World Congress returned to Barcelona, Spain. Over 108,000 people attended last year’s conference, and early counts suggest this year’s conference was even bigger.
As the biggest mobile-specific conference in the world, the event is often used as a launch pad for announcing new products and developments from big players in the mobile space. Except of course for Apple, who famously never exhibit at MWC.
According to many news outlets, the highlight of this year’s MWC was the launch of the new Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. A glitch caused the MWC app to leak photos of the new Samsung handsets too early, but that didn’t ruin the reception. Attendees were impressed with the phone’s new features, including an updated processor, a high-spec camera, augmented reality capabilities, and the ability to double as a PC (when you add a keyboard).
Nokia’s newest offering also made headlines, but for different reasons. The Nokia 8110 4G debuted at this year’s MWC was compared to a cartoon “banana phone" due to its curved shape and bright yellow colour option. Personally, we like it! But it’s not quite high-tech enough for our tastes…
As an organisation proud of our Chinese heritage, we’re particularly interested in the strong Chinese connection at this year’s Mobile World Congress. China is a leading tech power, so it's great to have that recognised at MWC. We saw a number of stories emerge from MWC relevant to Chinese brands, markets, and consumers, but here are our top five favourites.
A good year for Huawei
China’s biggest mobile power, Huawei, made a big splash at MWC 2018. Although the firm did not debut a new handset, they did announce plenty of other big news stories.
The Chinese tech giant revealed a number of new products at MWC, including the MateBook X Pro. The new laptop, which has the world’s thinnest bezels, is being called the “MacBook for Windows 10 fans”.
As well as its ultra-thin design and touch screen, the MateBook also boasts a pop-up webcam on the keyboard. Although this is mostly due to a lack of space on the thin bezels, it also allows for greater privacy as it tucks away entirely when not in use.
It’s not just consumer products Huawei unveiled at MWC. The firm also revealed its first 5G chip. Alongside this development, Huawei has announced that it will be extending its 5G partnerships with BT and EE in the UK. A Huawei representative said that BT is one of its “most important global customers” and “this partnership demonstrates our ability to deliver and support the successful deployment of a 5G commercial network to our customers."
To top off its successes, Huawei also won a number of awards at this year’s MWC Global Mobile Awards (GLOMOs), including:
• Best Mobile Network Infrastructure
• Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough
• Best Network Software Breakthrough
• Outstanding Mobile Technology – The CTOs’ Choice
• Outstanding Contribution to the Mobile Industry
We are so pleased to see this Chinese firm leading the charge in the mobile industry!
Ericsson partners with China Mobile
At a MWC press conference, Ericsson’s CEO, Börje Ekholm, told guests that the firm is partnering with China Mobile to develop IOT opportunities.
China Mobile is the largest mobile telecommunications company in the world, and holds a 70% market share in China for domestic mobile services.
Swedish Ericcson is the world’s second largest producer of mobile network equipment. The firm is a big player in IOT, so this will bring big opportunities for connected tech to the Chinese marketplace.
Chris Houghton, representative for North East Asia, Ericsson, says: “At MWC 2018 we are showing that we are no longer just talking about 5G and IoT, we are doing what it takes to make it happen. The IoT Strategic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China Mobile shows we are working with partners to put our 5G and IoT technology leadership into practice.”
Intel pushing into Chinese markets
Another firm attempting to expand into the Chinese marketplace is American tech and mobile company, Intel.
Like many brands at this year’s MWC, Intel announced its intentions to capitalise on 5G. The firm intends to deliver 5G-powered laptops to the market before the end of 2019.
As part of its foray into 5G, Intel also announced that it has partnered with China's Unigroup Spreadtrum to integrate its 5G modem in its upcoming mobile platform, due for launch in 2019.
A spokesperson for Intel said: “To expand our entry into the China phone ecosystem, Intel and Unigroup Spreadtrum and RDA have established a multi-year collaboration to develop a portfolio of 5G products for mobile platforms, combining Intel 5G modems with Spreadtrum application processor technology”.
It’s great to see so many large corporations recognising the value of the Chinese marketplace and looking to work with China. We hope other leading firms will follow the examples of Intel and Ericsson!
New Chinese smartwatch features a projector
You can keep your Apple Watches - we found our new favourite timepiece at MWC!
The Asu Watch, produced by Chinese firm Haier, includes a mini projector. Instead of relying on the small display screen, the projector displays information on the back of the wearer’s hand!
This is particularly useful when you put the watch in ‘workout’ mode: the projection will display distance, time, and progress toward fitness goals, while the watch screen will have controls to pause and finish your workout.
According to reviewers, the watch isn’t perfect. It’s quite bulky, gets quite hot, and there aren’t many apps you can use with it yet. However, we do applaud this Chinese firm for trying something totally different. Perhaps in a few years, all smartwatches will feature a mini projector!
Chinese firm exhibits drone taxis
Hailing from Guangzhou in China, Ehang displayed their first ‘drone taxi’ at MWC this year.
The Ehang 184 was first debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show 2016, and the brand has since been in talks with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority. The organisation wants a quarter of all trips in Dubai to be via self-driving vehicles, including by ‘drone taxis’, by 2030.
Even this drone played into the debate on 5G that was a key theme at this year’s MWC. According to Tech Radar, “By 2050, drones will log more than 250 million flying hours per year over densely populated areas of the European Union.”
With so much extra air traffic, we will need some way of monitoring and controlling drones. However, they are too small to be tracked with standard radar. Experts are predicting that the humble mobile sim card could be the solution.
Vodafone is carrying out the first trial 4G powered IOT air traffic control. This will then develop into 5G tech once the capabilities become available.
What were your favourite news stories from this year’s Mobile World Congress? Get in touch on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn and let us know!