With the 2018 Mobile World Congress having just concluded, we can now review what was presented. There was no knockout presentation, no new rising trend: only the impression that this edition was just an obligatory yet non-essential meeting heading towards a new way of understanding mobile telephony. Besides, a toned-down gathering was to be expected: Samsung‘s top-of-the-range product had already been widely revealed through leaks over the previous months; Huawei clocked in with a few tablets and notebooks but no phones, while other products in their line were upgraded in order to measure up to the competition, at least in their design.
For once, the interest fell on minor brands, at least compared to more famous names which, having nothing to lose, took even more of a risk by cashing in on an event devoid of any particular focus on innovations. We’re talking about Asus and Sony, which could take off once again after years of deep obscurity, but also about the Revival of Nokia and Alcatel, two historic names in the mobile phone field that have fallen under the blows of the oligarchic Samsung-Apple-Huawei trifecta. However, something to absolutely consider over the next few months is that the 2019 edition will most likely be one of the most important events ever seen, as it will be completely dedicated to 5G services, which will be active in major cities shortly afterwards (here’s what to consider before buying a new cellphone). In the meantime, let’s take a look at the five main smartphone models from the 2018 Mobile World Congress.
Samsung Galaxy S9+
We chose the Plus version as it’s the most comprehensive: the first in the S series equipped with a double camera (here are the best phone cameras of 2017). Samsung put its primary focus on the latest optical sensors when creating its new leading product. In fact, the second lens creates a shallow depth-of-field effect, also known as bokeh, although the true innovation is inside the prime chipset. Here, the South Korean company introduced an automatic variable aperture, a system derived from semi-professional cameras, which allows more light to be captured in poor lighting conditions. In this way, you can take quality images even in dark environments, with remarkable results both in terms of definition and reducing background noise, that being those annoying pixels that stand out from the background. Also worth mentioning are the dual stereo speakers, the Dolby Atmos feature, and the arrival of AR Emojis, animated emoticons created from a selfie. Price: €999.
Asus Zenfone 5Z
This is the first Android phone by a multinational corporation to adopt the form of the iPhone X. In reality, Asus has only borrowed the front face of the phone: just enough to make any imaginable comparisons with Apple. Aesthetically, there are no half measures: either you like the Zenfone 5 or you don’t; just like the iPhone X, which has both its fans and critics. Android seems to work well on board the new Asus model, although a certain form of optimization is still truly needed in order to fully take advantage of the notch. Zenmojis are featured here as well (the usual animated emoticons), and while a sort of Face ID would have been nice, biometric fingerprint security instead takes its place. The phone will arrive in the US in June with various sizes of RAM and internal memory. Price: starting at €479.
Nokia 8 Sirocco
Everyone was expecting the Nokia 9, and yet here’s the plot twist. The new top-of-the-range product from the reinvigorated Finnish company is Sirocco, a device with a 5.5-inch OLED screen and curved edges. Its strong point is its collaboration with Carl Zeiss, a legendary name in mobile phone optics, which has already worked alongside Nokia many times. The German company provided a dual rear camera with optimal photo and video quality. Everything is powered by Snapdragon 835, which is not all that recent but still able to offer reliability as well as no delays or issues during everyday use of the device. The cost is in line with its competition, although at this point it makes more sense to wait for the Nokia 9, which will arrive on the market by the summer. Price: €749.
The French company has quietly continued to launch mid-market phones that pique some public interest. This time around, it is doing so by revolutionizing the shapes of its products, upgrading all of its new models to feature the 18:9-dimensional ratio. The 5.7-inch screen of the 2018 flagship product is truly a sight to see, and the hardware should most definitely not be underestimated. For example, it features a dual front camera that allows for panoramic selfies, so no one is left out of the shot: when the sensor recognizes that there is more than one face, it adjusts the field of view to 120 degrees to automatically shoot in wide-angle mode. There’s even a variation of Face ID, which memorizes 100 facial features to unlock the phone in just a few seconds.
Sony Xperia XZ2
Last but certainly not least is the Dynamic Vibration System: a system that Sony Mobile presented on the occasion of the Xperia XZ2 launch. Here’s how it works: an integrated algorithm converts the audio of films, games, and apps into small vibrations that travel along the surface of the phone. The dynamism of the sound proceeds at the same pace as the vibration, giving the user an additional sense of engagement in tactile form like never before. On top of this is a high-end multimedia component: a Snapdragon 845 CPU, a camera capable of recording in slow motion at 960 fps in Full HD (the Galaxy S9 stops at just 960 fps), and a design finally in line with the competition’s Full Vision smartphones. All things considered, with the Xperia XZ2, the Japanese company is ensuring a solid re-launch into the mobile phone sector. Price: €799 (to be confirmed).