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Android Headliner: The MWC 2015 Experience

March 7, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Flying to Spain for Mobile World Congress is something many of us have probably dreamed about. And for about 100,000 people that’s a dream come true. Last year, the GSMA reported that they had about 85,000 people come for the conference here in Barcelona, and this year, that number is near 100,000 (we should have final numbers in a few days). This was my first time in Spain and first time at Mobile World Congress. It was truly a lot to take in. Since we are press or media, the biggest day of the week for us is actually the weekend. As many of the manufacturers announce their new phones before the show starts on Monday morning. So Saturday, we got to meet with he folks at Alcatel OneTouch about their new products they would be launching at the show. Then on Sunday we had LG, HTC, Samsung and then Pepcom. A pretty busy weekend, considering most people got in early Saturday morning after flying overnight, and got straight to work on Saturday and Sunday.

On Monday, the flood gates opened, and a ton of people entered the Fira Gran Via. Which is a huge venue! There are 8 halls (well actually 9, hall 4 is mostly for the theaters, which is where people like Mark Zuckerberg, and Sundar Pichai speak). The most popular one is hall 3. And that would be because you have Lenovo/Motorola, Dell, LG, Samsung, Sony, IBM, Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm, HP, Microsoft, and so many more. So as you would expect, I did spend a ton of time in that hall.

Being able to meet with execs from companies like Qualcomm, Lenovo, MediaTek, SanDisk, HTC and others, were pretty cool as well. Heck, I even got to interview Cyanogen. Which included Steve Kondik. If you haven’t read that interview, you might want to do that.

I have to say one of my favorite booths was Qualcomm’s, and that’s not because they are paying me or anything. Qualcomm has all kinds of great tech going on that they were showing off, including their Immersive sound which is actually featured in the HTC One M9. And let’s face it, any company that has their own theater in their booth is pretty awesome. Qualcomm’s Sense ID was amazing. It’s their own fingerprint sensor that customers (meaning OEMs, like Samsung, LG, Motorola, etc) can pretty much put the sensor anywhere. Additionally it uses Ultrasonic waves, so that you can use it when your fingers are wet, or have lotion on them or anything like that. Which is pretty neat. OEMs can also put the fingerprint sensor on the screen, say where the home button is for soft keys.

Another favorite of mine was Intel, but that was mostly for their WiFi Hotspot they had running. As you can imagine, WiFi at MWC is pretty much non-existent. And even mobile networks are basically non-existent, because you have about 100,000 extra people connected on your network, in such a small area. But Intel did have some pretty neat displays, like their Rezence wireless charging. Which allows you to be able to charge your device through 22-25mm thick material, like a table. Intel also announced the X3, X5, and X7 processors. I wasn’t able to get hands on with devices with the X3 since they had them in cases, unfortunately.

One of the funnier things to me, which isn’t Android related at all, is the long lines for Taxi’s when it hit 5pm. Yeah, you don’t want to be in that line. Also, most of the booths have drinks (water, coffee, tea, etc) for you, and if you say you’re not thirsty, they are like “are you sure” about 3 times. Almost begging you to get a drink.

My favorite product at the show had to be the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet. Which I don’t think will surprise many of you, knowing how much I love Sony’s products. I got hands on with it at MWC earlier this week, and it’s super thin and light. Still packing high-end specs and is waterproof. Pretty crazy. Oh and the best part is, no flaps for the micro USB port. That’s the number one thing I hate about the Xperia Z3, and actually the only thing.

One of my other favorites was the Alcatel OneTouch Hero 2+. Now it wasn’t out on display (gotta know who to ask), but it’s Alcatel OneTouch’s newest smartphone, which is running with Cyanogen’s software. It’s a very early build and was a bit sluggish, but with an early build that’s kinda expected. I also liked the Idol 3 from Alcatel OneTouch, pretty high-end smartphone with dual JBL front-facing speakers, which sound amazing. This one they are offering in 5.5 and 4.7-inch variants at $199 and $249. Pretty crazy right?

So that’s my experience from Mobile World Congress 2015. It’s basically a week of a lot of travel, even more walking, late nights and early mornings. Kinda happy to be heading home to the Frozen Tundra, I mean Detroit.