Mobile World Congress to reveal future for...
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Feb 21, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Mobile World Congress to reveal future for smartphones

Barcelona will play host to the annual showcase on Monday, which highlights the latest in handheld technology


The latest in smartphones and telecommunications gear are set to debut at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday.

In the past few years, it was the place BlackBerry teased the slider phone that became the Priv and HTC wowed with the first look at it Vive virtual reality headset.

This industry event sets the stage for what’s coming next in the world of handset technology. Here's a look at what to expect:

Tech trends

Perhaps the biggest trend this year will come from the major player who won’t even be at the World Mobile Congress. The absent Apple is rumoured to be bringing a smaller phone, the 5Se, to market in March. It will be interesting to see if other smartphone makers also be trying to fill out the smaller end of their product lineups at Barcelona. Also likely to generate buzz, are virtual and augmented reality, with Samsung and HTC giving some updates on their Gear VR and Vive headsets. Overall, the Congress will likely show 2016 to be more an evolutionary than a revolutionary year, with 4K screens, bigger batteries and metal bodies likely to feature prominently.

Flagship phones

This is what this conference is all about — phone-makers rolling out their high-end devices. Samsung is preparing to show off the Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge and perhaps the S7 Galaxy Edge Plus. Rumours are that it might be a little cheaper than last year's model, and catching up with Apple, may have pressure sensitive screens and some version of live photos. The distinctive Edge screen feature may open up for more functionality and the phone may be waterproof. LG has already teased the LG G5, which may have an always-on screen that constantly displays basic info such as time and date. HTC is also rumoured to launch the new One M10 with possibly a higher resolution screen. BlackBerry will also be on hand, rumoured to show off its Vienna, a lower cost Android phone with a physical keyboard.


Wearables still rule the day with the growing product category still looking to fill a real niche for consumers. Chipmaker Qualcomm has announced a Snapdragon Wear, a new chip set for smartwatches. There are rumours of refreshes of smartwatches for the existing players in the field, although nothing had leaked prior to the event. Dot Inc., a firm owned by Korean-based electronics company SK-Telecom, announced that it would be introducing the world’s first Braille smartwatch, which sounds like a good idea. LG is also rumoured to be bringing out another phone with a stylus. Oh, and Samsung is reportedly launching a Smart Shoe, because obviously wrist-based fitness trackers are just so passé.

Mobile Payments

This is an area that is literally a dollar sign in the eyes of every player in the market, but despite a growing number of options, consumers have yet to embrace the idea of using their smartphone to pay for things. LG reportedly pulled its LG Pay service apparently because it didn't want to take the focus away from its G5 phone, or because it didn't have enough support from major credit card vendors. There are smaller players making announcements, but Visa is also making its way to Barcelona to talk about the future of mobile payments. The company recently bought a 10 per cent stake in Square, and like everyone, wants to cash in on this.

Down the road?

Following on the heels of last week's announcement of the Reflex, a bendable phone prototype created by the Human Media Lab at Queen's University, there will likely be a few high concept phones showing some kind of bendable technology.

As well, there will definitely be some noise about 5G, although most experts feel that it likely won't become a real thing for consumers for a few more years, as there are still regulatory issues to be worked out in several jurisdictions.

Toronto Star

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