THERE WAS a very easy formula if you wanted to work out what about 60 per cent of the stands at MWC were this year.
You pretty much could put “5G” and “AI” around any number of buzzwords and you get the picture. Everyone spent most of this year’s conference talking about what was going to happen in 2019.
The other phrase was “world’s first”, whether it was “world’s first 4G computer” or “world’s first AI-powered cab”. We got quite excited about the “world’s first 5G call” which Huawei and Vodafone announced, till we found out it had actually happened the week before.
Easily the most unusual was the ZTE Axon M. Don’t be fooled by its modest looks because underneath its thin-bezelled exterior lies a bizarre secret.
The Axon M can either be a double screened phone, with feature real-estate on both sizes, or can fold out to become a dual screen phone – like a tablet, but square.
Hmmm… Square. What handset does that remind you of? Remember Blackberry? Ah well, that’s tech biz.
ZTE has been relatively quiet in recent years, but was a main sponsor for MWC, with a huge stand dominated by the Axon M.
It’s a cute idea, and definitely one of the more unique handsets in a world where so many look the same, but there’s still two bezels breaking up the larger screen, it’s thick and weighs in at 250 odd grams, plus, and we can’t emphasise this bit enough – it folds in such a way that both screens face out. So there’s twice as much to break.
Alcatel gave us seven (yes, seven) handsets numbered 1, 3 and 5. Its take is that you can assign different fingerprints to different functions – so perhaps use your little finger to open Mail and your index finger to open Assistant.
Push comes to shove, they’re still Alcatel phones though – they’ve come a long way but this isn’t quite enough.
OnePlus didn’t exhibit this year, and while there were leaks floating around of the forthcoming OnePlus 6, we’ll have to wait until the summer.
Ditto for Honor, which despite releasing a glut of handsets recently, were reduced to one display on the main Huawei stand (though admittedly it was very well attended).
Yet there were funny little brands punching about their weight like French company Wiko, which launched a range from flagship down to Android Go and all points in between with some balloons.
And what about HTC? We kind of felt sorry for them. With nothing but a new phone colour to show off, they were hiding in Hall 7, surrounded by brands you’ve never heard of. Most other manufacturers were in Hall 2 or 3.
Oh wait – let’s not forget, they also sponsored the smoking area.
So that’s what was there. What wasn’t?
Two things spring to mind.
First, wearables. Not one major manufacturer had anything we didn’t already know about. No watches, no fitness trackers, nothing. This ties in with the observation that the market is moving away from tech companies and into the branded fashion arena.
There were lots of smaller brands, but it seems the days of big-brand all-singing-all-dancing watches are gone.
The other thing that was missing was flesh. It seems that the “Time’s Up” message is getting through to the tech industry and 90 per cent of people weren’t dressed like they were going out clubbing in Aya Napa.
Still a lot more men than women, mind, but it all felt just a little bit more like they were there as equals. Whether Holly agrees with this, we’ll soon find out.
But the big takeaways from this years MWC? Firstly, the lines between form factors is blurring even further. Who’d have thought that the first big announcement would be a laptop (sorry, ‘mobile notebook’)?
And the second is, when it comes to phones, the specs are more or less all the same. What sets apart the main brands from the smaller ones isn’t what’s under the hood, but rather about half an inch in thickness. µ
Source : Inquirer