Barcelona calls itself the mobile capital of the world. That is not because this Catalan city has more mobiles than the rest of the world, but because every year it is here that the biggest mobile brands converge to showcase their roadmap for the rest of the year. The sprawling venue at the new Fira on the outskirts of the city also sees a lot of closed door meetings where the big partnerships of the business are forged and new technologies seen and acquired.
As always, the big brands all lined up to launch their new flagships at dazzling events at the stunning venues this beautiful city has to offer. Samsung launched its Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge, HTC took style to a new level with its new One M9 and futuristic Viva VR headset, Microsoft its Lumia 640 and the extra large 640XL, Sony its Xperia Z4 tablet which lets Android acquire some Windows like features. So many new devices that it would be hard to pick one that stood out.
Samsung is trying to push the envelope by offering a version of the S6 with curved screens on the two edges. The phone is stylish, but it is hard to find a functional utility for the edges, especially since it is just glass and not a display like the Note Edge. Also, the price could put off a lot of users. But Samsung has a long line of loyalists who will not mind the price as long as it is a Samsung.
The HTC One M9 is certainly a stunner when it comes to design, blending metal into a smartphone like never before. The new Sense 7 user interface and its new photo editor seem to offer a big improvement for Android users. But it remains to be seen if the new 20 MP camera has enough oomph for loyalists to call it an improvement on the superb dual-camera on the earlier M8. What has geeks drooling, however, is the HTC Vive which could be the closest we have come to a commercial virtual reality (VR) device so far. Despite all the din around the flagships, it is hard to overlook the fact that every brand has something to offer for the emerging markets led by India.
Lenovo, which just launched its affordable 4G device A6000 at CES, is already set to bring its latest A7000 to India. This is a larger phone with a 5.5-inch screen, Dolby Atmos audio and powered by MediaTek. It also showcased affordable tablets which could also find its way here.
Microsoft Devices is also tapping into the budget smartphone space with its Lumia 640 and 640XL, both trying to offer more bang for the common man’s buck. These phones could come to India at around the Rs 15,000 price point and be more than relevant.
Interestingly, Sony too showed its Xperia E4g which could end up competing with the Moto E, the Lenovo A6000 and the Yu Yureka. With this influx of devices we can be pretty certain that the big winner in this affordable 4G race will certainly be the consumer.
All brands are also pushing themselves to improve battery life and camera performance, features that are becoming tough to overlook in any price segment. Battery life across new devices are about 20% better than what they were a year back. Similarly, the 5 MP front camera is also becoming a standard with selfies being the rage that they are globally.
Thankfully, there wasn’t too much noise around smart watches. At least some companies want to wait till they can offer the consumers something good, something practical. But smart bands were dime a dozen around the stalls, though there were hardly any taking you on the new path.