Best and worst tech of MWC 2018

The Mobile World Congress of 2018, the largest event in the cell phone industry, is done and dusted by our team on the ground, and it's time for detailed recaps of what we saw, touched, and marveled at. Alternatively, we also sometimes wondered about the reason for being of this and that company creation, too.

Granted, the expo went mainly under the auspices of Samsung with its Galaxy S9 and S9+ showstoppers, but Sony, LG, Nokia, Huawei and some others, also had a thing or five to showcase, and steal some of the attention away from the Infinity Display-laden spring flagships. 

We even gave some awards away while running from one pre-briefing to another, and then from a booth to a booth in the subsequent days, bringing you a full suite of hands-ons and tests of every nook and cranny of the phones and tablets of the MWC 2018. So, which ones were the stars of the show, and which can be considered its flappy birds?

#Best phones of MWC2018

Galaxy S9 and S9+

This entry may sound like a cliche, but, at $720 unlocked, the Galaxy S9 is perhaps the best Android phone money can buy at the moment. It's got the one-of-a-kind variable aperture camera, the premium bezel-less design, and the latest chipsets, all without breaking a sweat.

Nokia 7 Plus

This one might surprise you, but people are increasingly searching value-for-money phones in the sea of Android handsets, and the Nokia 7 Plus delivers on all counts. Trendy 18:9 display? Check. Dual camera with telephoto zoom? Check. Copious amounts of memory, stock Android, frugal chipset and a huge battery? Check and check. The icing on the cake? Its MSRP is just 399, your choice of currency.

Sony Xperia XZ2 and Compact

Sony took the plunge, and finally changed the aging design of its Xperia flagships to something more palatable in this day and age of phones with 80%+ screen-to-body ratio. The Xperia XZ2 and Compact are outfitted with the trendy (and now de facto standard) 18:9 aspect ratio, and, while they do have plenty of top and bottom bezels to play with, it's a far cry from the Inch High monstrosities of yesteryear.

Sony's new phones have all the hallmarks of a 2018 spring flagships, too, like Snapdragon 845 chipsets, waterproof certification, HDR displays, and very capable cameras that can do amazing things with slow motion effects. Heck, in some areas, like true HDR capture, or 1080p slow-motion video, they even surpass the fresh flagship of the world's largest brand name Android maker, Samsung. 

#Best tablet of MWC2018

Huawei MediaPad M5

Not that there have been many tablets announced at this year's expo, but if we had to grade them, the palm of victory would go to Huawei's MediaPad M5 in its smaller, 8.4" version. It starts at the affordable €349, and brings with it sleek design, long battery life, and upper midrange specs, all with Harman stereo speakers, and LTE connectivity to boot.

#Best tech of MWC2018

Vivo Apex

This one will have to go to the in-display finger scanner and pop-up selfie cam of the Vivo Apex phone concept. Wait, doesn't Vivo already sell a phone with in-display fingerprint reader, the X20 Plus UD? Well, yes, but this one is the next generation of the technology, and can be placed at a random display area. What does it mean in practice? 

Well, instead of stretching all the way down on a big screen phone, you simply move your thumb to the middle of the display, and your phone is unlocked! The technology was a bit rough around the edges during our brief time with it, but is very promising, and one of the most innovative things we saw at MWC. Oh, did we mention the phone hides a retractable high-res selfie camera, so it can achieve a true bezel-less look at the front? It does.

#Worst of MWC2018

Notch again!

No shortage of those, too, but if we had to choose, it would be the grand idea of Asus and some other Chinese phone makers at the MWC expo to release phones with iPhone X-esque notch at the top. Not that it doesn't help them to boast some very high screen-to-body ratio numbers, but if we wanted to buy an iPhone, we would go to Apple to do it. 

Samsung, for instance, did the right thing, and shaved off the top and bottom bezels to the minimum, curved the sides of its Galaxy S9, and achieved very similar bezel-less look without going into a full copycat mode (well, maybe the AR Emoji, or the 960fps slow-mo), but if there is something that is an overarching trend to take from the MWC, it's that, between Apple and the Chinese copycats, this might be the year of the notch, take it or leave it.

Runner up - AI

If we had an Euro for each time a company mentioned their phone has AI inside, we would have twenty bucks saved, and there were about as many phones worth showcasing at the MWC expo. 

We understand that it's a buzzword, but releasing a rehash of your last year's flagship, with "AI inside," is not how you win people's heart and minds. At best, the consumer-facing "AI" is reserved for some more or less nifty camera tricks, which, before all the artificial intelligence trickled down to the marketing departments lingo, were also known as... camera features.

Without further ado, these are the highs and lows of the MWC 2018 expo that we managed to notice and mark during our hectic schedule full of gourmet octopus and white wine meetings, hands-on impressions, and general phone future overload. Which one do you agree with, and which were your own favs and lows?



1. bucknassty

Posts: 1353; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

hold on... yall gave the ASUS... WORST!!!!! are you kidding? look at what they packed in there for a great price... WOW

2. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

I agree. Giving the worst place just because of that notch is not fair. Some people may actually like the notch. Who knows...

3. bucknassty

Posts: 1353; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

i think it gives the iphone a distinct look, and i understand the copy cat crap... but how many different versions of a front screen can we get without truly messing up the user experience... its basically a window, and i dont see too many triangle windows just to be different from squares

6. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Worst must be given to S9/S9+. Same design as last year although the market is moving for full screen mode. Same software as last year but packed with more bloatware in the name of Bixby and ect... Same Camera setup as last year (12 MP, No picture quality improvements, still giving awful pale color selfies), dual aperture mode is so gimmicky and useless imo. They didn't remove that annoying Bixby button even thought that was hugely criticized last year. Copying everybody else, be it AREmoji, 960fps, vertical camera setup in S9+, iPhone like speaker setup. They could give this feature to older phones like S8 and S7 because it only uses front camera. They made it exclusive to the S9 so that it seems like S9 had lots of extra features in the announcement. Couldn't develop a compelling yet advanced bio metric system like iPhone X. Their Iris scanning and facial recognition existed last year too which are so poor in security. They've just combined those 2 and announced it as a new exclusive feature in S9 which is again very pathetic.

7. bucknassty

Posts: 1353; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

i think they just played it safe... its harder to get people to move to this new tech, look how much the notch is being criticized... i would air on the side of safe too if i saw that ... now if they use this same design for the s11... then i'll be disappointed but the industry is moving to all screen front... how can you differentiate when all phone in a few years will just a display on the front

9. TechSceptic

Posts: 1156; Member since: Feb 05, 2018

I'm so tired of your pathetic whining about Samsung and how awful they are in every single article. Would you please just learn to be a tiny bit objective, instead of letting your feelings for Samsung completely and utterly delude you. It's just annoying and pathetic to watch you. You have no clue what you're talking about, it's evident. You're just trying to downplay anything that Samsung does, as you're an Apple fanboy and for some reason see Samsung as your nemesis that you have to s**ttalk. The Galaxy S9 refined upon the design of the S8. It has a much better screen-to-body ratio than the Iphone X, and it has done that without interfering your content with a notch at the top. Are we going to act like the iphone's didn't use the same design up to the Iphone 6, and then from the Iphone 6 up to the Iphone 8 they still used the same damn design. That's 4 generations with the same design, but you're shittalking Samsung for changing more things up in the design department in a single generation than Apple managed to do in 4? You're deluded. Furthermore, the S9 is a massive improvement in both the hardware and software department. The fact that you call dual aperture a gimmick just shows how clueless you are. It's the very same concept that proffesional DSLR cameras use, as well as your own damn eyes. If it was useless that wouldn't be the case. It's one of the very fundamental features of DSLR cameras, which smartphones haven't been able to imitate, until the S9 came out. Additionally, Samsung's iris scanner is more secure than Apple's, Face ID, as it was said from the start. Apple's faceid already showed that it had quite a few false positive in viral videos, it's less secure than an iris scanner. Please get lost from these comment sections, if you're only going to talk crap about Samsung, when you have no clue what you're talking about.

10. Sammy_DEVIL737

Posts: 1529; Member since: Nov 28, 2016

It's fine. We get it that you hate Samsung/Android because you didn't had nice experience with them but that doesn't mean that everything done by Samsung is bad here 1. Design : Bezelless display can't be changed or can't look different anyway. 2. Variable aperture is used in many of the high professional camera so it's pretty not gimmick any day. 3. AR emoji isn't same as Animoji as Animoji uses special True Depth sensors whereas ARemoji only uses FF camera and some AI thing. 4. Vertical camera setup was also used by Motorola in their G4+ which was 2016 phone. 5. Dual speakers is used in many of phones since 2005. 6. Iris scanner isn't poor in terms of security ya it's somewhat slow (which I too hate as it's not new, it exists since Note 7.) but it's still way more better than someone from your family or your office collegue getting into your phone.

13. SayMobile

Posts: 157; Member since: Jan 29, 2014

22. Jason2k13

Posts: 1469; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

Lol guys relax, piyath is a known troll towards Samsung, don't take him seriously. If you read his past post, this guy just talks s**t, he doesn't know anything about technology. The things he says has no real facts to back it up. It's just hate comments. Move on people.

11. Furbal unregistered

the notch is a rehashed v10/v20 second screen (but displays more). It works fine having a essential phone for a few weeks. I'll probably pick up a 5 this year to give Asus another try particularly at the price they are going to be selling it.

4. mahima

Posts: 739; Member since: Nov 20, 2014

let's hope they will be able to bring it to the market in time... I'm nott gonna buy one, but if they want to stay in the market...they need to deliver in time

5. mahima

Posts: 739; Member since: Nov 20, 2014

let's hope they will be able to bring it to the market in time... I'm not gonna buy one, but if they want to stay in the market...they need to deliver in time

14. Deadeye37

Posts: 305; Member since: Jan 25, 2011

I don't think they were outing the ASUS Zenphone. I think they were outing the notch that everyone is hoping on, including ASUS. I think they picked that picture because it's the best example of the iPhone X notch. I am tempted by that ASUS Zenphone, but am not a fan of the big notch.

12. Sania

Posts: 97; Member since: Nov 04, 2017

Looks like vivo wipes out the floor when it comes to thin bezel display

15. johnh3

Posts: 144; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

I think Samsung should have credit to not make a gimmick like a notch. And they did some new things to the camera to improve photos in dark places.

16. Clivester

Posts: 17; Member since: May 05, 2015

If apple moved to the notch and asus followed, why is that a bad thing? all the others did the same again. thin side bezels and narrow on top and bottom.why don't they get labeled for copying. Asus has come a long way. in actual fact I watched the unveiling and I thought that they were quite innovative. I also think the fruit phone is great but overpriced. I want freedom and thats why i chose android. If Nokia had their own operating system, I would soon go back.

17. giddy

Posts: 4; Member since: Feb 11, 2018

They should make that Vivo apex

18. firebird820

Posts: 157; Member since: Jan 01, 2017

Uh, Samsung copied the iPhone with 920fps slow motion??? Excuse me? I seem to remember that the iPhone X only has 240fps...

19. sleepypandaeyes

Posts: 377; Member since: Apr 12, 2015

It'd ashame the variable aperture could not get even smaller from 1.5-24-4-5.6, even up to f8. That would really help when shooting landscapes, group shots and macro

21. wesley.

Posts: 217; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Maybe in 10 to 20 years time.

20. wesley.

Posts: 217; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Worst is LG with their "secret" G7 and its notch and disappointing battery size.

23. japkoslav

Posts: 1517; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

MWC 2018 was sooo BORING! So many "upgraded", not new models and downgrades (Sony). Probably the most interesting thing is Android will have 3 high end model tablets this year - 2x Huaweis and one by Samsung. So boring.

24. YoJerms77

Posts: 15; Member since: Apr 25, 2017

PA gives out awards? Really? I wouldn't think these companies would give a crap about something less important like PA? That would be like McDonald's giving Tyler Florence an award for best burger.

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