Our favorites from Barcelona's big mobile show
So, Mobile World Congress is done for another year, and that means that before we left we had to pick out our collective favorites from the event. MWC isn't just about the devices, though, it brings together app developers, accessories, something to cover the whole mobile ecosystem. As such, we've been able to pick a good selection of top picks from this year's event.
So, here's what made the cut and why we chose it.
Microsoft Lumia 640
The Lumia 630/635 was an incredibly popular device launched under the then Nokia name. That's all in the past now, though, and Microsoft held it's first post-acquisition MWC press conference to announce a bunch of new things. One of which was the Lumia 640, the successor to the Lumia 630. And it's a worthy successor, too. We've got a front facing camera this time round, we've got a flash on the rear camera, Cyan is back as a color choice, Lumia Camera 5 with Rich Capture is included along with Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2.
And it still doesn't cost a lot.
- Microsoft Lumia 640 hands-on
Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
The Lumia 640 XL is the successor to the Lumia 1320 in all but name. The new XL moniker makes plenty of sense when you look at how the device is positioned. And it's really nice. It's got some of the looks of the 1520 round the back combined with the regular Lumia 640 round the front. It's large without being too large (and is actually smaller than the 1320) and has a decent spec list for not a lot of money. And as with the smaller phone it has Lumia Camera 5 and Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2.
It's still a mid-range device, but one thing's already clear. We want one.
Microsoft foldable Bluetooth keyboard
Microsoft made it a hat-trick of awards with this. Better still, with Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2, we can finally use it with our phones as well as our tablets. Microsoft has made some well designed, mobile focused keyboards before, but this one's the best yet. It folds, so it's ultra portable, while still offering a great typing experience. A perfect addition to any travellers gear bag.
Kazam Thunder 450WL
Kazam has only been on the mobile scene since 2013, formed by two partners fresh out of a past life with HTC. Kazam has been making predominantly Android devices so far, but is now firmly on-board and working with Microsoft to get Windows devices out of the door. Of the two new phones announced at MWC, the Thunder 450WL is by far our favorite. Combining premium design with solid hardware and a great price point, Kazam is offering a highly attractive device to its European audience.
Keep an eye out for this brand going forwards. With a commitment to Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 already established, expect to see much more in the future. For now, we'll sit patiently and wait until we can spend some quality time with this one.
Opera Mini preview
We love to see big software companies bringing apps to Windows Phone, and Opera is no different. Opera Mini for Windows Phone is getting a major overhaul, and the team was on hand to show it off for the first time in Barcelona. It's such a dramatic improvement over the current offering, even in this very early preview form, that it's one of our favorites from the whole show.
Hopefully it'll be publicly available in April for Windows Phone users to get their hands on, but we've managed to snag an early copy and we'll be bringing you much more on that soon. So stay tuned.
- First look: What's next for Opera Mini on Windows Phone
Acer Liquid Leap+
There's a lot to like about Acer's latest wearable. Not least that it has Windows Phone support and will be a lot more widely available than the Microsoft Band. It'll handle your fitness and activity tracking, basic notifications, music player controls and come in a bunch of different colors.
And at 79 Euros it's not at all expensive. One we're looking forward to spending some time living with.
HP Spectre X360
MWC is traditionally more about phones and tablets but HP bucked that trend with the announcement of its latest Ultrabook, the Spectre X360. And what an Ultrabook it is. Packing 5th generation Intel CPUs inside a sleek, all metal body with some neat design touches and full convertible capability, this is going to be one to consider if you're spending some money on a new laptop this year.
Lenovo MIIX 300
Lenovo isn't short of Windows 8.1 tablets but the MIIX 300 is one of the latest, and it's a solid mid-ranger that doesn't cost the earth. You get a sleek looking 8-inch tablet, 64GB of internal storage, an Intel Atom CPU and all for the very reasonable price of $149. Low-cost tablets aren't un-common, but at this price point we're excited to see one with 64GB of storage on board.
Acer Liquid M220
OK, Acer's new Windows Phone is a bit of a let down when it comes to the hardware. But, that's not the whole story. We love the design, for one. We'd like to see a bigger display and smaller bezels, but the detail on the edges and the Thai Silk inspired pattern on the rear is very nice for a cheap Windows Phone.
The bigger news is that Acer is on board with Windows Phone again. And with a commitment to update this device to Windows 10. We're thrilled to have another big brand on board making phones, and reading between the lines this could be the start of something with Windows 10 on the horizon. Acer is a known brand around the world, and we're happy to see it back on Windows Phones.
Sadly there's often some little bits and pieces that turn up after the awards have been handed out. MWC had a couple of those worth mentioning. So, while these missed the cut, they're also worthy of some love and attention.
Not a bad show all round for Windows devices, here's to an even better MWC 2016!