Mobile World Congress 2014 – the biggest MWC smartphone news so far

UPDATED 28/02/14: We've thrown all the biggest happenings from the world's premier mobile tech fest onto one handy gadget-filled platter

 

No sleep, barely passable Spanish, and a bag full of spare batteries, chargers and Red Bull. Mobile World Congress is here.

The Barcelona-based event is rapidly becoming one of the most important events in the tech calendar. It's been a launchpad for generations of flagship smartphones from the likes of Sony, HTC, Samsung and more, and it now covers the most exciting emerging trends in consumer technology, including wearables and the Internet of Things.

We've got front row seats right here in the sun, but there's no time to enjoy the sights. There's far too many pieces of shiny tech to wrap our hands around.

Here's a roundup of all the best news so far:

LG - Spec-tacular G Pro 2 meets the shrunken G2

LG will be heading to Mobile World Congress with its head held high, thanks to the solid foundations laid by the five-star Nexus 5 and Stuff Award-winning G2.

Mobile World Congress 2014 (MWC 2014) best smartphones and tablets - a summary o

There's no G3 here in Spain however. It's likely that the G3 will instead launch just before IFA in September, which is when the G2 first took to the stage last year.

READ MORE: LG G3 preview

READ MORE: LG G3 with Quad HD screen, 16MP camera and octa-core processor could be out in May

Unlike the G3, the LG G2 Mini will be making an appearance in Barcelona. Officially announced before MWC kicks off, the EU variant has a 960 x 540 4.7in display, a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB of RAM, and an 8MP camera. Latin American gadgeteers will be treated to an Nvidia Tegra 4i processor and 13MP camera. 

4.7 inches puts the G2 Mini up there with the HTC One in terms of size, but thanks to LG's hatred of big bezels, it's smaller in the flesh than its screen size would suggest.

READ MORE: LG officially reveals the G2 Mini

LG also introduced the already-announced G Pro 2, which we also got to play with. It's got a 5.9in full HD screen, quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 3GB of RAM innards, and a 13MP camera with OIS+, 4K video and 120fps full HD slow motion capture.

It also features a number of useful software tweaks including the ability to unlock itself with a specific screen tap pattern, which LG calls Knock Code. You can also shrink the screen down for easy one-handed use.

READ MORE: LG G Pro 2 hands-on review

READ MORE: Watch out Galaxy Note 3: the LG G Pro 2 is official, and it's a beast

READ MORE: LG G Pro 2 preview

Sony - Xperia Z2 struts its stuff

Mobile World Congress ushers in the arrival of the Sony's latest flagship, the Xperia Z2.

Mobile World Congress 2014 (MWC 2014) best smartphones and tablets - a summary o

It's got a slightly larger 5.2in full HD screen (not QHD as previously thought), though it packs in Sony's Colour LED tech which provides a wider range of colours for more accuracy.

Sony's tried and tested Xperia design returns with a slightly slimmer waterproof body. It's also got digital noise cancellation for clearer calls.

It's got a boost in the power department too, with a quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM which should handle Android 4.4 KitKat with ease.

A 20.7MP camera finishes off the spec list, with 4K UHD video recording, image stabilisation, slow-motion video capture and integrated AR and Vine functionality.

READ MORE: MWC 2014: Sony unveils Xperia Z2, Xperia M2 and Xperia Z2 Tablet
READ MORE: Sony Xperia Z2: 10 things you need to know about the most powerful phone in the world
READ MORE: Hands on review: Sony Xperia Z2

Sony will also has a tasty treat for tablet fans in the form of the Xperia Z2 Tablet - the world's thinnest and lightest waterproof tablet, measuring in at just 6.4mm thin.

Its 10.1in screen keeps the full HD resolution, but, like the Xperia Z2, features Sony's Colour LED tech.

The speakers have been moved to the front for clearer audio, and it packs in the same Snapdragon 801 processors and 3GB of RAM as the Z2.

READ MORE: Hands on review: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

READ MORE: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet hands on video review

Sony also revealed a treat for fans of wearable gadgets too, in the form of the SmartBand SWR10 fitness band, which tracks everything from your fitness stats to what music you were listening to and when. 

READ MORE: Hands-on with Sony's life-logging SmartBand SWR10 fitness band

Samsung - Galaxy S5 (aka thunder-thief)

Day one's biggest reveal was probably the Samsung Galaxy S5, the company's new flagship phone. It's a powerful quad-core mobile with a number of intriguing features and what seems like less of the gimmickry that has loaded up previous Galaxy S phones. Samsung was keen to hammer the "we're listening to what consumers really want" drum again and again, and that surfaced in an improved camera, better build quality, built-in fitness features and a fingerprint scanner.

Mobile World Congress 2014 (MWC 2014) best smartphones and tablets - a summary o

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy S5 hands-on review

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy S5 hands on video review

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy S5 revealed – 10 things you need to know

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy S5 preview

Samsung has also taken the wraps off not one but two new Galaxy Gear smartwatches; the Galaxy Gear 2 and Galaxy Gear 2 Neo, both powered by Samsung's own Tizen OS rather than Android. Not to mention the Galaxy Gear Fit, its own take on the fitness band and blessed with a curved glass screen.

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 and Galaxy Gear 2 Neo hands-on review

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit hands-on review

HTC - wristy business

Sadly the HTC One Plus (or M8) won't be surprising us in Barcelona with its rumoured 5in 1080p display, Snapdragon 800 processor and Android 4.4 KitKat with Sense 6.0.

Instead, it'll get its own special launch event in both London and New York on 25 March.

READ MORE: HTC Plus: specs, price, release date - all we think we know

READ MORE: HTC One Plus will launch in New York City and London on 25 March

 

HTC did however unveil the Desire 816 phablet. It's got a 5.5in 720p display, quad-core Snapdragon 400 innards, 1.5GB of RAM and a 13MP snapper.

It also unveiled a smaller, lesser specced 4.7in Desire 610.

READ MORE: HTC unveils new cut-price Desire 816 phablet

 

Pre-MWC rumours pointed to a HTC smartwatch based on the Qualcomm Toq. Its Mirasol colour E-Ink display should offer much better battery performance than the Samsung Galaxy Gear and Sony Smartwatch 2, while its colours better the Pebble's greyscale display.

READ MORE: Hands-on review: Qualcomm Toq gets the smartwatch basics spot-on

HTC is also reportedly working on a smart band for music playback and fitness tracking, along with a Google Now-powered smartwatch.

Sadly, we might not get a chance to see any of these wearables at MWC, as HTC is expected to show them off to mobile carriers behind closed doors. That won't stop us from asking, mind you.

READ MORE: Wrist wars: HTC is working on a smartwatch too

More after the break...

Nokia – Hello Android

Nokia has revealed three new Android (yes, Android) devices, one of which is the previously leaked Nokia X (Normandy).

READ MORE: Nokia X, X+, XL: hands-on review of Nokia's first Android smartphones

READ MORE: Nokia X (Normandy): price, specs, release date - all we think we know

The X, X+ and XL all run a heavily modified version of Android. Like the Kindle Fire HDX series of tablets, there's no native Google Play Store.

Instead, users will have access to Nokia's own App Store. There will also be baked-in Microsoft Services including Onedrive, Outlook and Skype.

The X features a 4in screen with a 3MP camera and dual SIM slot, and it'll retail at a budget friendly €89 (S$155).

The €99 (S$175) X+ will feature more memory and storage, as well as a microSD slot, while the €109 (S$190) XL has a 5in screen and 5MP camera.

Detailed specs have yet to be revealed, but we'll keep you updated.

READ MORE: Nokia gives Android a Microsoft-friendly skin with the Nokia X, X+ and XL

READ MORE: Nokia X, X+, XL: hands-on review of Nokia's first Android smartphones

Fujitsu - you won't believe your fingers

 

Fujitsu's proof-of-concept tablet has absolutely blown our fingers away.

It uses ultrasonic inducers on the screen, causing it to vibrate it at different frequencies. A picture of a crocodile feels rough to the touch while plucking the strings of an instrument cause actual vibrations. Absolutely magical.

READ MORE: Fujitsu's tablet with ultrasonic haptic feedback is the most amazing thing at MWC

 

Lenovo - it's Yoga time

 

Lenovo's original Yoga 10 tablet as great. We loved its unique design and built, which featured a built-in kickstand and super long battery life. It was however let down by an awful low-res screen, and weak insides.

Luckily for us, Lenovo has revealed an update - the Yoga 10 HD+, which addressed both problems with a full HD display and quad-core power.

READ MORE: Lenovo's new Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ is like an Olympic gymnast

 

The Eye Tribe - forget fingers

 

The Eye Tribe showed off its eye-tracking sensor which we took for a spin on the MWC show floor, and we left its stand suitably impressed. It's looking for existing manufacturers to bake in the simple, cheap hardware, so hopefully it won't be too long before we're flinging angry birds without having to lift a finger.

READ MORE: Eyes-on with The Eye Tribe: we play Fruit Ninja using nothing but our eyeballs

 

Ibis - design rules

 

Ibis' smartwatch concept demonstrates how wearables can actually look good, while serving up useful information at the same time. 

More jewellery than smartwatch, we're looking forward to seeing what other designs the company will reveal. Our wrists could do with something a tad manlier, after all.

READ MORE: Wrists-on with Ibis, a concept smartwatch you wouldn't be embarrassed to wear

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