21Feb 2015

You have heard of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, but MWC, what is that? Most consumers are not aware that it is one of the premier tradeshows where mobile devices OEMs announce and introduce their newest gadgets and devices. This year, it will happen during the week of March 2nd; that’s about a week from today. The venue is in lovely Barcelona in Spain. The show is typically attended by a large international crowd, numbering well in excess of 100,000 professionals.

At MWC 2014, exactly one year ago, we saw Samsung announce its Galaxy S5 as well as its smartwatch, the Gear 2. Nokia announced new Android phones, the X and XL, in a stark departure from its tradition of launching only Windows phone. Sony introduced its beautiful Xperia Z2, which was superseded in September of 2014 by the even more beautiful Xperia Z3. They also introduced the Xperia Z2 tablet. LG also announced new products including a smaller version of the G2 called the G2 mini as well as a supersized phone, the G Pro 2. I can go on and on, but I will probably put you to sleep quickly. These products and names already feel so obsolete. Only one year and the market is already expecting newer, faster and better devices. This is a fast-moving industry with little room for mistakes or slouching. The mantra for all the mobile manufacturers ought to be: Innovate quickly or die!

Yet, a quick glance at these phones from yesteryear is sufficient to show that these Android devices have very little to distinguish them. They all share powerful and fast yet similar Snapdragon platforms from Qualcomm. They all have beautiful crisp screens. They are all priced similarly and they all come from highly reputable manufacturers.

What these phones still did not have, at least to a level that was satisfactory to the consumers, were batteries that delivered long life and that can be charged fast. Yet, the 2014 vintage of smartphones were the first in a generation that effectively acknowledged that battery was now the #1 feature to conquer. The Sony Xperia Z2 launched with a massive 3,200 mAh battery — but was a slow monster to charge. It is very likely that more and more smartphones in 2015 will exhibit large batteries near 3,000 mAh. But as I have indicated in prior posts, breaking this 3,000 mAh is becoming difficult because of the limitations on energy density.

The 2014 smartphones were among the first to adopt Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 technology. That is an excellent platform that allows the newer generation of smartphones to fast charge — provided the mobile manufacturers incorporate the proper charging algorithms that will preserve the battery’s life with fast charging.

So what new smartphones and features do we expect to hear at this year’s MWC tradeshow? Clearly, faster and more powerful processors, and nice looking screens, but this is now the minimum standard required. Batteries are likely to continue at or near 3,000 mAh. And hopefully, some honest fast charging, not marketing gimmicks that give the illusion of fast charging.

In about one week, we will likely hear Samsung announce the Samsung S6, LG probably introduce its LG G4, Sony possibly unveil what the Xperia Z4 might look like, and certainly many more unveiling from other and rising manufacturers such as Lenovo and Xiaomi.

By now, you are probably saying, what about Apple? Well Apple does not attend MWC and do not attend CES. Apple and its consumers dance only to Apple’s beats, pun or no pun intended.