MWC2018 - Roundup of the main smartphone announcements
As would be expected of an event where it takes a solid 40 minutes to walk from one end to the other, there is a lot going on at this years Mobile World Congress (MWC).
Taking place in an uncharacteristically grey and gloomy Barcelona, this year’s event featured all the big players in the smartphone market.
Here is a rundown of all the major smartphone-related announcements so far on day 2.
Samsung used MWC 2018 to showcase the latest version of its flagship Galaxy line of phones in a big (and widely leaked) event on Sunday. The main difference between the new S9 and its predecessors is an improved camera.
“The new Samsung S9 smartphones look like very promising devices and definitely show some technology and innovation edge especially in regards to a more advanced camera and new stereo sound feature,” Forrester’s Thomas Husson said.
“Given the growing importance of audio and video streaming, this is certainly a capability that consumers will value. It is also great to see Samsung has started using Bixby combined with deep learning, AR and motion detection to automatically sense a user’s environment. However, despite these incremental innovations, Samsung will have to smartly leverage its brand and marketing machine to correctly position the new smartphones to a target audience ready to pay such a premium.”
Sony launched its flagship Xperia X72 on Monday, featuring a range of upgrades on the previous X71. As well as 4K high dynamic range video recording, the phone features a Dynamic Vibration System that makes the phone shake in time to content that the user is watching or listening to.
“The iconic Japanese brand needs a flagship smartphone to demonstrate it has an innovative offer whatever the touchpoint, and that it can create amazing experiences on any consumer electronic device,” commented Husson.
“That’s probably the reason why Sony finally decided to embrace the new design standard of bezel-less 18:9 displays. Sony is also leveraging its strengths by focusing on sound and entertainment. For example, Sony is the first to offer 4K HDR recording on a smartphone. The new Dynamic Vibration System, which gives haptic feedback when watching a movie or playing a game, is also a great feature. While expensive, the Xperia Ear Duo earbuds are part of that game too. Overall, my impression is that the new flagship device – and its greatly designed compact companion device – are well aligned with the Sony brand but it is still unclear whether this will turn into sales.”
Nokia used the occasion to announce two new product offerings. The Nokia 8 Sirocco is an Android device with a 5.5 inch curved display, a dual camera and wireless charging.
The Nokia 8110 is the latest reinvention of an old product, following last year’s rebirth of the iconic 3310. The 8110 is widely recognizable as the phone used in 1999’s sci-fi classic The Matrix. The reboot runs on Linux-based Kai OS and has 4G connectivity.
"In 2017, Nokia sold 70M phones. This is a great come back after the smart revival of its iconic Nokia 3310 exactly a year ago,” said Husson.
“This year, Nokia is also reviving another iconic phone from the late 90s, the Nokia 8110 with a brand-new look and an amazing battery. Nokia has always been known for robust phones but let’s not forget Nokia still has a very powerful brand especially in some emerging markets. Interestingly, Nokia is not just focusing on entry-level smartphones with the Nokia 1 but also aggressively targeting the high-end specifically with the Nokia 8 Sirocco. It is a very interesting branding case study and shows that brands do not die as long you maintain an emotional connection with consumers."
There was no new product announcement from the global tech giant. Perhaps thinking that they did not want to share the limelight with their rivals, they have chosen to launch their new phone in Paris next month.
“The lack of any new Huawei flagship announcement in MWC gives direct competitor Samsung a marketing window of opportunity to claim leadership in the high-end smartphone market, competing back with Apple’s iPhone X,” said Husson.
“However, by launching the new P20 smartphones only a month later in Paris, Huawei will be able to fine tune its marketing message based on how the new Samsung S9 devices are perceived by consumers. I think Huawei could be well differentiated by leveraging more advanced artificial intelligence technologies that are directly embedded in its hardware, and by a more aggressive pricing.”