Mobile Technology

The best of MWC 2016

Gizmag breaks down our top picks in smartphones, VR, 2-in-1s and other innovations from MWC 2016
Gizmag breaks down our top picks in smartphones, VR, 2-in-1s and other innovations from MWC 2016
View 22 Images
Gizmag breaks down our top picks in smartphones, VR, 2-in-1s and other innovations from MWC 2016
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Gizmag breaks down our top picks in smartphones, VR, 2-in-1s and other innovations from MWC 2016
The show features 9 huge halls packed with company booths and stalls: this is part of Acer's
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The show features 9 huge halls packed with company booths and stalls: this is part of Acer's
Between the halls are meeting rooms, theaters, restaurants and the occasional large green robot
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Between the halls are meeting rooms, theaters, restaurants and the occasional large green robot
Smart eyewear was everywhere – this is part of Intel's booth
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Smart eyewear was everywhere – this is part of Intel's booth
Nokia was on hand to show off its Ozo 360-degree camera
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Nokia was on hand to show off its Ozo 360-degree camera
Virtual reality was everywhere too and featured in many a demo
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Virtual reality was everywhere too and featured in many a demo
Some stands were busier than others: here attendees take a look at the Huawei MateBook
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Some stands were busier than others: here attendees take a look at the Huawei MateBook
Samsung used the event to launch its Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones
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Samsung used the event to launch its Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones
Sony threw up a surprise too with some brand new Xperia X handsets
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Sony threw up a surprise too with some brand new Xperia X handsets
The LG G5 was the other big new phone at MWC, and its booth was one of the most fun as well
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The LG G5 was the other big new phone at MWC, and its booth was one of the most fun as well
It wasn't just phone companies in attendance: Garmin had a stall for example
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It wasn't just phone companies in attendance: Garmin had a stall for example
This display of the hall floor was in honor of the Cat S60 phone's thermal imaging camera
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This display of the hall floor was in honor of the Cat S60 phone's thermal imaging camera
SuperD had some interesting portable 3D devices – the company was at the show to find partners outside China
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SuperD had some interesting portable 3D devices – the company was at the show to find partners outside China
Volvo was in attendance, as the lines between car companies and tech companies continue to blur
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Volvo was in attendance, as the lines between car companies and tech companies continue to blur
This is part of Oppo's booth ... we're still not exactly sure what its purpose is
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This is part of Oppo's booth ... we're still not exactly sure what its purpose is
Google turned up too, primarily to support app developers
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Google turned up too, primarily to support app developers
Based on first impressions, the Galaxy S7 Edge was the phone we were most taken with
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Based on first impressions, the Galaxy S7 Edge was the phone we were most taken with
We are also big fans of LG's new modular approach with the LG G5
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We are also big fans of LG's new modular approach with the LG G5
The Xperia Ear could help wean us from our smartphone addiciton
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The Xperia Ear could help wean us from our smartphone addiciton
The HTC Vive is about to go on sale and we were once again blown away by it
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The HTC Vive is about to go on sale and we were once again blown away by it
The MateBook shows Huawei is about more than just smartphones (along with pretty much everyone else)
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The MateBook shows Huawei is about more than just smartphones (along with pretty much everyone else)
We were also impressed with Oppo's fast charging claims – will they hold up in reality?
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We were also impressed with Oppo's fast charging claims – will they hold up in reality?

This Mobile World Congress was the year when the world's biggest smartphone expo went beyond the smartphone. We've seen VR headsets, 360-degree cameras, home security robots, convertible tablet/laptop hybrids and much more during our week in Barcelona. Read on for our picks for the best gadgets of the show, along with our overall impressions of everything else at MWC 2016.

If you sat through the big phone announcement events from LG, Samsung and Sony as we did, you would have heard executives from all three companies make reference to the number of times we're checking our phones each day (apparently it's 150 on average, for those wondering). Recognizing the importance of our mobile devices while wanting to explore what comes next has been the defining theme of MWC 2016.

And so we saw LG bring out the LG G5 Friends series, approved and instantly compatible accessories including a lightweight VR headset, a 360-degree camera and plug-in modules for its 2016 flagship. Samsung settled for just the 360-degree camera, already having a VR device, while Sony introduced a smart earpiece to try and cut down on some of those 150 unlocks we're going through every day (its own 360-degree camera is coming soon).

HTC had no new phones this year but devoted half its show floor space to the HTC Vive, the all-singing, all-dancing VR headset that starts shipping in April. Huawei, meanwhile, debuted a 2-in-1 convertible tablet/laptop rather than a handset. Everywhere you looked at MWC, people were trying out VR experiences, controlling robots with their phones and generally doing something other than the usual handset operations we're all very familiar with.

Everyone's looking for what's next, which makes it an incredibly exciting time in consumer technology. Here are our top picks.

Best smartphone

Based on first impressions, the Galaxy S7 Edge was the phone we were most taken with
Based on first impressions, the Galaxy S7 Edge was the phone we were most taken with

If you're going to push us to choose a winner from a relatively short hands-on session, then we're going to select the Galaxy S7 Edge. Its screen is beautiful and big (without being too big), it feels ultra-premium to the touch, and of course it's got cutting-edge specs under the hood. It's still early days in the 2016 flagship smartphone battle but the Galaxy S7 Edge is quick out of the blocks.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge hands-on

Most innovative smartphone

We are also big fans of LG's new modular approach with the LG G5
We are also big fans of LG's new modular approach with the LG G5

We're not wholly sold on the LG G5 accessories yet, but the modular design of the main handset is a potential game-changer. Clipping batteries, high-end audio kit and digital camera packs in and out of the LG G5 adds a flexibility and versatility to the phone that we haven't seen before. Besides that, the all-metal phone (finally, LG) looks and feels great. We only wish we knew how much the modular parts (or, for that matter, the phone) will cost.

LG G5 hands-on

Best surprise

The Xperia Ear could help wean us from our smartphone addiciton
The Xperia Ear could help wean us from our smartphone addiciton

We like the idea of the Xperia Ear a lot: a super-smart earpiece that keeps you in touch with your phone without the need to look at it or unlock the screen every two minutes (building on what Motorola started a while back with the Hint). With the right software Sony's earpiece could be a real gem when it launches this summer (Northern hemisphere). It will also help that it can be used with other Android phones besides the Xperia. The cherry on top is that it was also a complete surprise, more of a rarity at tech conventions these days.

Sony MWC hands-on

Best VR

The HTC Vive is about to go on sale and we were once again blown away by it
The HTC Vive is about to go on sale and we were once again blown away by it

With no Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR on show at MWC, the stage was clear for HTC and Valve to take the crown of best VR headset. That doesn't, however, mean it just won by default: we've been consistently impressed with this device, and judging by the queues around HTC's booth at Fira Gran Via there are a lot of people interested in what the Vive has to offer. Pre-orders open this Monday.

HTC Vive hands-on

Best 2-in-1

The MateBook shows Huawei is about more than just smartphones (along with pretty much everyone else)
The MateBook shows Huawei is about more than just smartphones (along with pretty much everyone else)

As mentioned above, there's only so much you can tell about a device from a MWC demo, but so far the MateBook is ticking all the right boxes. It's certainly got a design and lightness to match or beat the Surface Pro 4 and the iPad Pro, and while there were other 2-in-1s at the show (Alcatel launched a new device in this category for example) the MateBook was the best we saw.

Huawei MateBook hands-on

The most promising future tech

We were also impressed with Oppo's fast charging claims – will they hold up in reality?
We were also impressed with Oppo's fast charging claims – will they hold up in reality?

From 0 to 100 in 15 minutes? It was later in the week when we came across Oppo's new fast-charging battery technology, but we can't wait for it to become more widespread, as it was one of the most eyebrow-raising moments of the whole show. If we can get a phone charging that fast that also runs on solar power by the time MWC 2017 arrives, we'll be very happy.

Oppo battery coverage

For more, you can thumb through our MWC image gallery and check out Gizmag's full coverage of Mobile World Congress 2016.

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