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.
Click here to read about the best new smartphone software, best new smartphone accessory, among other best technologies.
Google announces its ‘Netflix for gaming’
The new gaming platform, Stadia, promises high-definition gaming on TVs, computers, and mobile devices, writes BRYAN TURNER.
Google has announced that it has moved into the gaming space, and it focuses on two big aspects of gaming: streaming of games for gamers, which will allow gamers to game anywhere with a fast, low-latency Internet connection; and audiences that watch gamers in-game.
This is a big move in making gaming accessible to more gamers, as it reduces hardware costs, by utilising the benefits of low-latency cloud computing. This will be achieved by using a globally connected network of Google data centres. Gamers who stream games are most likely already using a high-speed, low-latency Internet connection, so access to the Stadia platform will be an added expense.
Through the Stadia platform, gamers will be able to access a large library of games at all times, with no installation time, on virtually any screen. Scaling of hardware like CPU, GPU, memory, and storage is also possible, as one would for cloud server resources.
Google will be leveraging its other platforms, like YouTube, with Stadia streaming. It claims that 200-million people are watching game-related content daily on YouTube. This allows, for example, Stadia players to jump in with other Stadia players – no downloads, no updates, no patches, and no installs.
For console players, Google has designed a custom controller.
The controller was designed to establish a direct connection from the Stadia controller to Google’s data centre through Wi-Fi for the best possible gaming performance. The controller also includes a button for instant capture, saving, and sharing gameplay in 4K resolution. It sports a Google Assistant button and built-in microphone, as many Google products do, for voice control.
The device is expected to be released later this year, pending FCC approval.
Nintendo announces Stranger Things 3 game
The Netflix Original show is set to launch a retro-style game on the Nintendo Switch.
In collaboration with Netflix, developer BonusXP has created Stranger Things 3: The Game. It is the official companion game to Season 3 of the hit original series. The game and latest season are expected to launch on US Independence Day, the 4th of July, a date that will, of course, stick in American gamers’ memories.
This adventure game blends a distinctively retro 16-bit art style, reminiscent of games from the time when the series was set. It is claimed to have modern gameplay mechanics to deliver nostalgic fun with a fresh new twist. Players will be able to experience their favourite show through a mix of exploration, puzzles, and combat.
Just ad in the show, teamwork is at the heart of Stranger Things 3: The Game. Players can team up in a two-player local co-operative, or in single player mode alongside an AI partner. Players can choose to play as one of twelve characters from the show, each with different abilities and attributes. Together, they’ll play through familiar events from the series, while also uncovering never-before-seen Stranger Things secrets, ensuring a fun experience for those new to the world of Stranger Things as well as for those familiar with the series.
- Experience the show in a new way, exploring the eerie world of Hawkins to uncover new mysteries beyond what’s seen in Season 3.
- Jump right into the action of this pick-up-and-play adventure: gameplay mechanics that allow players from beginner to advanced skill levels to get in on the fun.
- Take your game to a higher level by trying out different character combinations and collecting all the secrets the expansive world of Hawkins has to offer.
- Team up with a friend, leveraging drop-in/drop-out local co-op to take on the mysterious monsters of Hawkins together. While playing solo, use a collection of “buddy commands” to control both characters and still experience all the fun.
- Choose from 12 playable characters, each with their own unique talents and stats.