When the curtain came down on Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona last Thursday, it marked the end of five of the most intense days yet in mobile technology. Not only did the next generation of wireless broadband, 5G, finally prove itself as a revolutionary technology that will change the way the world communicates, but the next wave of innovation in gadgetry also came into focus.
This selection of the best of MWC 2019 excludes the obvious stand-out: the foldable Huawei Mate X smartphone and tablet, which earned a solo spotlight in the previous edition of this column.
The impact of the Mate X, which will initially be priced out of reach of most consumers, had one unfortunate consequence: it overshadowed the vast amount of new technology that will land in ordinary people’s hands.
One thing it did not dampen was the massive hype around 5G, the next generation of communications technology that will allow mobile download speeds of well over 1 Gigabit per second. We’ve seen this hype before, at both MWC and CES in Las Vegas. But this time it seemed real: 5G enabled products were the order of the day, and will come into their own when mobile networks upgrade to the new standard.
Here are some of the products launched at MWC 2019 launces that will resonate far beyond Barcelona:
Best new smartphone: Nokia 9 Pureview
Aside from the Huawei Mate X, the handset that grabbed the most attention was the Nokia 9 Pureview, the first truly high-end Android smartphones from the resurrected Nokia brand under HMD Global, the new custodians of the handset brand. It has a dazzling array of five cameras on the back, with two colour sensors and three monochrome lenses working together to collect up to 10 times more light than a single colour lens of similar specs. More important, it will probably be priced at around R10 000, less than half the cost of flagship phones from other major brands.
Best new feature phone
KaiOS “smart feature phones” build smart functionality into feature phones, working with the likes of phone brands Nokia and Bullitt – makers of CAT and Land Rover phones – to provide a low-demand operating system that can also run apps like Facebook and Google Maps. KaiOS has its own app store, carrying the most popular apps that are usually available only to smartphone users. The KaiOS-powered phone being brought into South Africa by MTN was also on display, along with a wide range of other configurations. The best versions were the iconic Nokia 3310 and 8810 feature phones, optimised for the KaiOS app store.
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