Not strictly a disappointment as it was known beforehand, but the absence of the Samsung Galaxy S8 made for a slightly less glamorous MWC this year. The Note7 dead and gone, Samsung's top tier is now represented by a year-old Galaxy S7 and the S8 can't come soon enough. Then again, Samsung does need to make sure the new phone is trouble-free - the company is surviving the Note7 fiasco just fine, but two in a row might be too much.
The Nokia 3310 isn't actually a 3310, the BlackBerry Keyone is about as ugly as phone-ly possible, the Huawei P10 is a smaller (hence, in my eyes, worse) Mate 9, and the Galaxy Tab S3 is a wonderful tablet that I'll never buy with my own money. Random complaints - sure, but disappointments - not really.
I have to say, that overall, MWC 2017 left me with a hopeful outlook on the short-term future of the mobile realm. Even the PR stunt that was ultimately the Nokia 3310 (2017) managed to leave me with a nostalgic smile and no bad aftertaste.
Frankly, the biggest issues I am seeing now is with pricing. The LG G6 was supposed to be aimed slightly below flagship territory. Yet, its GBP 699 pre-order price tag suggests otherwise. EUR 599 for the BlackBerry KEYone is the same story, if not even worse. It will likely be the most expensive Snapdragon 625 device around.
I feel Lenovo is somewhat guilty in this respect as well. The Moto G family has built-up a great reputation for a value-first, no-frills Android experience. Now the G5 and G5 Plus seem to be moving away from that quite a bit. To be fair, I do appreciate the return of the removable battery on the smaller of the pair. However, both devices did also shrink noticeably down in size compared to their predecessors. This just comes off as a deliberate market segmentation stunt on Lenovo's end to make room for the 5.5-inch Moto Z Play. To top things off, a starting price of EUR 200 just seems a bit too much for a Snapdragon 430 and 2GB of RAM.
While it was certainly a PR masterpiece, the refreshed Nokia 3310 is a device that spells laziness. The phone has nothing to do with the original device in terms of either design or general behavior. Had it not been for the name no one would make any connection to the original and the change is mostly for the worse - the new one is frustratingly ugly. So it's neither a good piece of memorabilia nor a decent looking "modern" phone. Same with the Snake game that got quite a few mentions at the show - it's a refreshed version that's tragically outdated by today's standards, but also completely different from what we had in the good old days. The 3310 †still got everyone talking about a featurephone in 2017 so it's a runaway success for HMD, but it's a half-assed device if I ever saw one.
And speaking of ugly phones, Motorola immediately springs to my mind. The new G5 duo has wretched back panels where none of the elements work together. If Lenovo went for design that's easy to recognize in the crowd it succeeded but the attention it will enjoy will be for all the wrong reasons. The G5 Plus is at least a solid smartphone so it will probably end on the shortlist of those looking to get top bang for their buck and don't have looks high on their priority lists (or are going to put it in a case anyway), but the G5 really has very little going for it.
Finally, there's the BlackBerry Keyone - a phone that got many things right but that is ultimately doomed by its chipset. Snapdragon 625 isn't bad, but it was last year's mid-range option. And when you are charging the kind of price the Keyone commands you really should be getting better than that.
I love all the flagships we saw from Huawei, LG and Sony but now MWC seems more like the place tech companies have to be rather than reveal bold surprises that dazzle someone.
The G6 was no surprise at all since it leaked little by little with every day closing to the Congress; Huawei stalled 10 minutes talking about the sky and the grass in order to mask the fact that the Huawei P10 is, basically, a smaller Mate 9 Pro with "dazzling" new colors. Sure, Meizu, for example, told us they have a charger that tops your battery for 20 minutes. It will eventually make its way to the market in 2018.
But compared with last year's VR vibe all over the Gran Via, this year it was just...meh.
Here's to more groundbreaking futurology and less "I'm just here so I don't get fined".
Two - Nokia and Xiaomi.
I get that the new, HMD-led Nokia isn't the same one as before, but it sure does get caught up in the same old patterns - releasing only midrange devices and focusing on phones nobody wants or needs. The Nokia 3, 5 and 6 are all great but neither of them is a real flagship and that's what I'm waiting for from Nokia - an honest-to-goodness top-shelf phone and neither of the three new droids deliver.
The new Nokia 3310 baffles me - releasing a dumb, I mean feature, phone in 2017 that has some new-fangled Snake game that's nothing like the original, and is built nothing like the tank-of-a-phone that the original 3310 was, is just useless.
Then there's Xiaomi. Last year it released the Mi 5 at the Mobile World Congress. This year we got nothing. I like big phone announcements, I expected a new Xiaomi flagship too. I guess it's back to waiting for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ now.
The G6's not-actually-round display corners, the P10's fingerprint sensor gestures, the XZ Premium's user experience for that 960fps mode, the Nokia 3310.
This is one of those things that once you see, you can't unsee. Aside from the lack of big bezels and odd aspect ratio, another thing that LG is touting for the G6 (and it will have in common with the S8 duo) is the fact that it has rounded screen corners. I'm not going to get into whether that's practical or not, because frankly I can't get past the fact that those corners aren't actually round. Not round in the way you think of the word when you read it or hear it, at least. I still hope this is an issue confined to the pre-production samples the media got, but otherwise it feels like something that will really hurt people affected in some way by OCD (of which apparently I am one).
Huawei decided to give you the option to use the P10's fingerprint scanner (now moved to the front) as a gesture pad that can replace the on-screen Android buttons. That sounds like a great idea in theory, except the gestures you need to perform are not what you'd expect. For me Motorola's way (as seen on the G5 duo) makes a lot more sense, with tapping the sensor being Home, swiping left being Back, and swiping right taking you to the app switcher. Huawei wanted to be different, for some reason, so in the P10 one tap is Back, tapping and holding takes you Home, while swiping either left or right invokes the app switcher. I simply can't get used to this setup.
To actually use that 960fps video capture mode in the XZ Premium or XZs (which, by the way, is only on for 0.18s), here's what you need to do. Open the Camera app, make sure you're in Video mode, then tap a special button that sits above the Record button, then tap Record to start recording, and then, when you decide you want to engage the high-fps mode, tap another button. This will automatically shoot 0.18s in slow-motion, and after that your video recording continues at normal fps. This all seems a bit too involved for spur-of-the-moment captures. Additionally, there's the problem that you need to tap the "high fps" button at just the right time while you're recording, since we're talking about only 0.18s of footage here - otherwise you'll miss that important moment that needed to be shot in slow-mo.
Finally (again), the 3310 is still a feature phone and not much other than a marketing stunt, although a very good one. Perhaps HMD should have tried something even more extreme and made it a smartphone, or focused on the perceived ruggedness of the original by making the new 3310 resistant to water, dust, and drops. Oh, and 3G support would have been nice too (let's not even mention 4G).
I was perhaps least impressed by the Huawei Watch 2 (which relates to my underwhelming impressions with Android Wear 2.0, overall). While the Huawei Watch 2 was announced amidst the absence of wearables from LG and Moto, it still failed to captivate me as a wearable that I might see myself purchasing personally.
Also, from a consumer's point-of-view, the majority of smartwatches that I've seen folks wear is the Apple Watch, Google needs to take note of what Apple is doing and paraphrase it, then relay that to the OEMs.
Sidenote: I was initially unimpressed with the Nokia 3310. Given that I didn't personally own one, I figured I could see past the nostalgia. However, it seems that the initial pre-registrations for the phone at Carphone Warehouse have gained significant interest. It will definitely be a great phone for emerging markets where even the original 3310 is still being used. Though, I sincerely doubt it will ever make it to the States.
I second Georgi that I would have liked to see the S8 revealed at the MWC. I canít escape the feeling that the delay is actually a marketing trick to escape any other concurrent phone announcement casting a shadow over the S8. But whatever the reason, at least there is another interesting phone announcement to look forward to this month.
As for the Nokia 3310 Ė I donít consider this one a disappointment. The reason is that I didnít have high expectations for it to start with. Iíve never imagined that any of the special phones of our past can work well if reimagined today because regardless of their sentimental value, they would be hopelessly outdated. Their cheap price might be attractive but in the end, it would be just a simple call-making phone and todayís smartphones are so much more than that.
I understand what makes the concept of a new Nokia 3310 attractive. The world has changed and phones are no longer the prized possessions they once were. Phones of today are not something we would hold so dearly in our hearts that the memory of them would remain with us in the decades to follow.
We're living in a culture of disposable everything, not enjoying what we already have but instead, only wondering what would come next. And the concept of a new Nokia 3310 is a flashback from another time when things were different. And that's the reason for its immediate mass appeal.
But the throbbing sensation of nostalgia is easy to get over once you realize that even though todayís devices are nothing like the ones in the past, there is another thing thatís true as well Ė we are not the same people we used to be either. So let's embrace this and enjoy our lives and the world around us as it is.