Gadgets of the month: Mobile World Congress round-up

28 Feb 2014

Image via peresanz/Shutterstock

We take a look back at some of the biggest gadget news from Mobile World Congress – the biggest event in mobile technology.

Vodafone Ireland Gadgets of the Month is made possible by Vodafone Ireland

This month…

Wearables take over Mobile World Congress

This year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) saw record-breaking attendance, according to organiser GSMA. Over 1,800 companies showcased their wares and more than 85,000 exhibitors and delegates from over 200 countries filled the Fira Gran Via venue in Barcelona over the four-day event.

Hotwire/33Digital’s Data and Analytics shared some social media stats on the event, revealing the brands and trends that were most tweeted about. By Wednesday there had been over 470,000 tweets sent about MWC, with Samsung gaining the most mentions at over 41,000. The biggest trend to speak of was the ‘internet of things’, nearing 4,000 mentions, and second-in-line was ‘wearables’, mentioned in over 2,000 tweets.

Speaking of Samsung and wearables, the Galaxy-maker unveiled not only the second-generation Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smart watches ahead of MWC, it also unveiled the slimline Gear Fit smart watch at its own event on the opening night in Barcelona.

Not to be shown up in the smartphone arena, Sony had its own new wearable up its sleeve (because that’s where your wrist is, eh?). The SmartBand is a wearable activity tracker that, combined with the Lifelog mobile app, effortlessly records your daily life – and not just in terms of fitness.

Huawei TalkBand B1

Huawei TalkBand B1

Chinese manufacturer Huawei also entered the wearables fray with its TalkBand B1. This colourful range basically consists of a Bluetooth headset embedded in a wristband. Priced at €99, the device features a 1.4-inch OLED display that can be paired with an Android smartphone via NFC or Bluetooth to talk to your wrist like a spy, or it can be removed from the band for use as a regular Bluetooth headset, so you can look like you’re just talking to yourself.

… and there were smartphones, too

Of course, originally, the ‘mobile’ in Mobile World Congress stood for mobile phones and there were plenty of smartphones still on show at the event.

Samsung’s long-awaited S5 was unveiled at a separate Unpacked event in Barcelona. The new Galaxy flagship features dedicated fitness apps, a built-in heart-rate monitor, a 16MP camera with autofocus as quick as up to 0.3 seconds, plus a fingerprint scanner for security.

This last feature has opened up new avenues for Samsung and a collaboration has already been announced with PayPal to allow users to make payments in-store and online using their fingerprint.

Mozilla continued its foray into the smartphone business, targeting the budget market with the announcement of a US$25 smartphone sporting Firefox OS and, as was long-rumoured, Nokia unveiled a smartphone operating a forked version of Android, the basic-spec Nokia X.

Also at the event, Canonical revealed Ubuntu Touch, the mobile version of its Ubuntu operating system set for initial release in April, while Spanish start-up Geeksphone and Silent Circle caused quite a stir for their Blackphone, a smartphone created to offer users total privacy.


Blackphone by Geeksphone and Silent Circle

At the close of MWC, LG was named Most Innovative Device Manufacturer of 2013 by GSMA. The South Korean manufacturer had taken the event as an opportunity to introduce eight new smartphone models – the G Pro 2, the G Flex, the G2 Mini, and new F-series and L-series devices.

Having been awarded Best New Mobile Handset, Device or Tablet at last year’s MWC, the HTC One was awarded once again in 2014, this time scooping the Best Smartphone award, just weeks before the unveiling of HTC’s new flagship in New York City and London on 25 March.

Main Mobile World Congress 2014 image by peresanz via Shutterstock

Vodafone Ireland Gadgets of the Month is made possible by Vodafone Ireland

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.