Samsung Galaxy S9
ETA: 16 March
Place the newly announced Samsung Galaxy S9 beside last year’s Galaxy S8 and you’d be hard-pressed to spot the difference. “Shoot him,” one phone would implore during a climactic fight scene in which you must decide to execute the phone you believe to be the impostor. “I’m the real Samsung Galaxy S9.”
The fastest way to tell them apart would be to pick them up and snap a few pictures. The camera is where Samsung has focused most of its effort with this generation of Galaxy. The screen is very slightly wider, and the phone is imperceptibly thinner. Left alone is the sleek edge-to-edge Infinity display and rear-mounted fingerprint scanner.
But much improved is the camera. Already one of the best smartphone cameras in the market, the S9 now features a dual aperture lens, meaning the hole that lets in light can physically change size to adapt to dark conditions, or to produce authentic depth-of-field bokeh effects.
The S9 also improves on the S8’s slow motion feature. It can shoot at 960 frames per second, and uses motion detection to determine when to start recording, rather than requiring you to have Spider-Man like reaction times to catch fast moving objects.
Then there’s the AR Emoji feature, which lets you create a personal (and extremely creepy) avatar based on your facial features. Your virtual puppet can mimic your expressions using the front-facing camera, though exactly why anyone would want to do this remains a mystery. It’s an odd trend started by Apple with Animoji, and one that’s already run its course.
Nokia 8110 4G
ETA: May 2018
When HMD (the Finnish puppeteers now in charge of the Nokia brand) resurrected the old 3310, nostalgia-addled 30-something year olds celebrated the world over. HMD even claims it was the best selling feature phone in Europe in 2017 (a feature phone being a very narrowly defined category of device between a basic mobile phone and a fully featured smartphone). Buoyed by its rampant success, HMD has now announced a rebooted version of the Nokia 8110, the slidey banana phone popularised by The Matrix. There are some concessions made to the needs of modern users – 4G data and a rudimentary camera – but battery life is the big winner here. The 8110 can last 25 days on a single charge. Just like the old days.
Huawei Matebook X Pro
ETA: Spring 2018
There’s no new flagship to be seen from Huawei at this year’s MWC, but the Chinese manufacturer has instead revealed a high-end successor to last year’s Matebook X, rather straightforwardly called the Matebook X Pro. It has virtually no bezel surrounding the screen, and so hides its webcam inside its keyboard. The display is similar to that of Microsoft’s Surface Book, with a pinsharp 3000 x 2000 resolution. And inside it’s got competitively beefy components: eight-generation Intel i5 and i7 processors, and a dedicated Nvidia GPU.
Sony Xperia XZ2
ETA: March 2018
Price TBA, sonymobile.com
In all of the official press shots of Sony’s latest flagship, the screen’s background colour has been set to match the colour of the phone. You can’t help but feel it’s to disguise the fact that Sony’s phone still has quite prominent bezels in an increasingly bezel-averse market. But the Xperia XZ2 needn’t be shy about its appearance, it’s a slick looking device that’s packing a really impressive display and some innovative, entertainment-focused features. The 5.7” screen upscales content to HDR on the fly, and a new Dynamic Vibration System analyses the audio of movies and games to produce a force feedback effect, like the old Rumble Pak on the N64. Front-facing stereo speakers bring the noise at home, while Hi-Res audio through the headphone jack keeps you going on public transport.
Asus Zenfone 5
ETA: April 2018
Companies that are not Apple have a long history of copying Apple’s designs. It’s customary to straight-up pretend you haven’t done it, or that it was some crazy fluke, but the conspicuous notch atop the Zenfone 5 (deliberately hidden in the official press shot to the right, but definitely there) is about as blatant a design-heist as it gets. Still, if you’re going to be inspired by anyone, you may as well be inspired by the best. The Zenfone 5 is an iPhone X lookalike with a set of punchy speakers and a much, much smaller pricetag. The dual-cameras around the back are a mix of a 12MP main sensor and an 8MP wide-angle sensor, and the camera software will remember how you tend to edit your photos and create a personalised filter, just for you.
Nokia 8 Sirocco
ETA: April 2018
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the company currently wearing Nokia’s skin (Finnish manufacturer HMD) had only planned on cashing in on our misplaced nostalgia for the phones of our youth (see the Nokia 8110 elsewhere on this page), but for a while HMD has been putting the resurrected brand name to work on a series of high-end, serious, for-realsy smartphones. At MWC it announced the best Nokia flagship yet, the Nokia 8 Sirocco, with a glass and metal premium look and fancy features such as wireless charging. The 5.5” display has a 2560 x 1440 resolution, which is nice and dense for its size, and round the back the phone boasts an impressive dual-lens camera. Once a market-leader, it seems Nokia is making a push to get its ass back on (or at least in the same room as) the throne.