Highlights From Mobile World Congress 2016

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Highlights From Mobile World Congress 2016

This week, we went to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2016. We covered a panel about mobile ad blocking, Mark Zuckerberg talked about Free Basics and encryption, Samsung announced the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, we went hands on with the modular LG G5, and oh, by the way, tablets are dead. Here’s everything you need to know from the event.

MWC16

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Nokia isn't in a rush to get its brand back on phones

After exiting the smartphone market dramatically by selling its mobile making division to Microsoft for $7.2 billion back in 2013, Nokia has hinted it is looking to return to the phone business by a different route — taking advantage of a clause in its sale agreement that allows it to use the Nokia brand on handsets again starting from this year. At MWC, the company said it’s in no rush to get its brand back on phones. 

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Mark Zuckerberg addressed Free Basics

Facebook had a high-profile setback when its Free Basics mobile connectivity program got blocked in India earlier this month over net neutrality issues. But CEO Mark Zuckerberg is adamant — even upbeat — about the social network continuing to look for other ways to provide services to more users anyway, including laser transmissions from light aircraft and some 10,000 old school hotspots.

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The Motorola brand isn't going anywhere

Two years after Lenovo acquired Motorola, it looks like Motorola is doing fine. Or at least that’s what the business unit is trying to say. At a meeting with reporters, Motorola president Rick Osterloh said that the Moto brand is not going anywhere. You can expect more Moto G and Moto E in the future, as well as more Lenovo phones. If this sounds confusing, it’s because it is.

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Samsung announced the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

Samsung brought back expandable memory and water resistance to the Galaxy line with the S7 and S7 Edge. Pricing is still a mystery, but here’s our first look. 

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HP announced yet another mobile product that will fail

HP clearly didn’t get the memo that Windows Phone is dead. Meet HP’s first flagship smartphone since the Palm Pre 3. HP calls Elite x3 a “revolutionary mobile platform” but it’s not. It’s just another also-ran from HP.

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Huawei launched the $699 MateBook

Huawei is getting into the productivity game. The company, which recently made a splash in the U.S. with the launch of the Nexus 6p, announced a Surface Pro-like 12-inch Windows 10 tablet with a keyboard cover and an optional pressure-sensitive stylus and dock during its MWC keynote today.

Pricing for the MateBook, which will be available with both Windows 10 Home and Professional, will start at $699 for the most basic configuration with an m3 processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD. The keyboard will click in at $129 and then stylus and dock at $69 and $99, respectively.

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Hands on with the modular LG G5

With rounded edges and a premium build, the handset feels great. The camera works well, and dual lenses allow for different shooting options not found on other smartphones.

And LG stuck with its roots and included a removable battery and microSD card slot in the G5 but did so in a novel fashion. Props to that.

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There were no tablets

Romain Dillet writes that in 2010, tablets were supposed to be the new hot thing. Apple released the first iPad, Samsung was working on the Galaxy Tab and countless others were about to flood the market with Android tablets. Six years later, there weren’t any tablets at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Companies and consumers have moved on.

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Network-level mobile ad blocking

A panel on mobile ads brought several executives from the ad industry side plus ad behemoth Google face-to-face with what might be their worst nightmare: network-level mobile ad blocking.

The drama played out in front of a packed auditorium of conference delegates, with the ad industry’s nemesis represented on stage by Roi Carthy, the tough-talking CMO of mobile ad blocker startup Shine.

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Is smartphone innovation all tapped out?

An innovation panel session heard an interesting range of views. Speakers ran the gamut from mobile makers big and small (Samsung, Motorola/Lenovo and Wileyfox), through to chipset maker Qualcomm, alternative open Android flavor Cyanogen, and mobile operator Telefonica.

Each had their own spin on what ‘innovation’ means in the smartphone space now, in the context of mature Western markets — and inevitably aligning with their respective business imperatives

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