The Mobile World Congress technology show opens its doors on Monday morning, with visitors just as likely to seek out an old gadget as a new.
Queues to get a first look at Samsung’s brand new flagship phones, the Galaxy S9 and S9+, will be understandably long, but crowds are will likely also be heading for the Nokia booth.
That’s because the long-standing mobile firm, now releasing devices through start-up HMD Global, is relaunching the 8110 – better known as the banana phone or Matrix phone – that first appeared in 1996, long before artificial intelligence was being spoken about in phones.
And away from the cutting edge and wistful nostalgia, there were plenty of other new devices being revealed – here are the first highlights from MWC.
The S9 cameras
The look and design of Samsung’s top tier phones may not have changed much from last year, but how the camera works has been completely overhauled.
There are now dual cameras on the rear of the S9+, and those lens, as well as that on the back of the S9 now also feature what Samsung calls dual aperture.
Aperture controls the amount of light that reaches the sensor when taking pictures and on most smartphones it is fixed at one level – trying a balancing act of being usable in both bright and dark conditions.
But with dual aperture, the cameras on the S9 and S9+ have two settings – one for low light and one for bright – with the camera automatically switching between the two as needed. The result is superior photos, particularly in low light, far beyond the current capabilities of the competition.
Samsung also introduced super slow-motion video capabilities and the Animoji-rivalling AR Emoji in what was a photo and video-centric presentation.
Nokia’s growing line-up
Though the biggest talking point was understandably a bright yellow, curved mobile phone from the 90s being reintroduced, Nokia also rolled out a range of other phones.
There’s the Nokia 1, an entry-level device designed for those yet to upgrade to smartphone to make that jump.
It’s got the interchangeable polycarbonate shell of a early 2000s mobile, but it runs a streamlined version of Android Oreo called Go Edition, the latest version of the software, meaning access to all the modern apps you can get on your higher-end smartphone.
There was another new mid-range device too in the form of the updated Nokia 6 which is now faster and has Zeiss optics camera technology included for the first time.
Elsewhere, the Nokia 7 Plus was unveiled as a mid-tier device with flagship specs – dual rear camera, 6-inch HD screen and two-day battery life – while the Nokia 8 Sirocco was announced as the company’s new top end phone.
It comes with a curved, 2K OLED display, as well as a glass front and back, wireless charging capabilities and is water and dust resistant. Suddenly, Nokia has a phone for every taste and budget again.
Huawei pushes into computing
Huawei has been making tablets for some time and is a growing name in laptops, but MWC 2018 is being treated as a coming of age moment for the Chinese firm.
With its flagship phone not being announced until the end of March, the spotlight fell on the new MateBook X Pro laptop and the MediaPad M5 series of tablets.
The laptop is striking because it is clearly aiming to convert Apple MacBook users to Windows 10 and Huawei.
The company said its aim is to offer a level of innovation and design not currently seen in Windows-powered laptops, and it has lofty ambitions to become the leader in that market with this strategy.
Innovation is not something Huawei is short of either – perfectly demonstrated by the webcam on the X Pro, which is hidden beneath its own function key at the top of the keyboard and only pops up when pressed.
Alcatel’s big screen phones
Away from the big conferences, Alcatel unveiled a host new mid-range phones of its own, all of which were big on their screens.
The mobile firm, whose devices are now released under license by Chinese electronics firm TCL introduced the 5, 3 and 1 Series phones, five phones in total, all of which have 18:9 aspect ratio displays – essentially larger screens for browsing as well as watching TV and video content.
The firm says they are the first to offer such a set-up across an entire line of devices.
As Samsung were also hinting at in their own press conference, smartphone use is changing from texts and calls to creating and consuming media – meaning ever larger screens are welcome.
And with Samsung, along with Apple dominating the premium tier of the smartphone market, the space below is becoming increasingly crucial, and as a result, competitive.
Alcatel will hope their bet on big screen devices can help them stand out on the MWC show floor.