Smart phones and tablets that made the biggest impression at the annual show

Another year’s Mobile World Congress is now in the rearview mirror, and as always, there were a lot of announcements for mobile fans. Here are a few of the big Android launches at this year’s show.

Samsung Galaxy S5
One of the big smartphones launched at MWC this year was the Samsung Galaxy S5. While it isn’t a massive departure from earlier models, the phone does add some new features. First, the S5 has a fingerprint scanner built into the home button, much like the iPhone 5S; it can register up to three fingers. While we’re talking about fingers, the S5 can also measure your heart rate when you hold your finger up to a sensor on the rear of the phone; teamed up with the new Tizen-based Samsung Gear Fit wristwatch-style health tracker, you’ve got a more fitness-oriented phone. The S5 comes with a 16 megapixel rear camera, a 5.1inch HD AMOLED screen, and a quad-core processor. It ships with Android OS 4.4.2, and its plastic casing comes in four different colours (white, black, blue and gold).

Blackphone
If you’re looking for a more secure Android-based phone, the Blackphone may be worth a peek. Replacing stock Android with a modified version known as PrivatOS, Blackphone comes with a series of apps optimized for privacy, anonymous search, and more granular permissions settings for optimal privacy. It comes with a 4.7-inch screen, and a quad-core processor, as well as other things you’d expect on a modern smartphone (GPS, cameras, etc). While the Blackphone’s custom apps increase your level of security when communicating with other secured apps, it’s worth noting that you will still be able to defeat the security on the phone by installing malicious or unrecommended apps. Also, despite some of the spin going on in the press, the company is most definitely not claiming that the phone is NSA-proof; it will provide greater privacy, but it’s not your ultimate anti-spy phone. If you’re not sure why you’d need a phone like this, there’s plenty more info (including use-case scenarios) at the Blackphone site.

Sony Xperia Z2 and  Xperia Z2 Tablet
Sony revealed the newest version of the Xperia Z lineup, with the Z2 smartphone and the Z2 Tablet at MWC 2014. The quad-core Z2 phone now comes with a 20.7 megapixel camera capable of recording video in full 4K resolution, as well as playback on the 5.2-inch HD display. Like many previous Xperia phones, the Z2 is dust-resistant, and waterproof to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes. The Z2 phone will be available in white, black and violet.

As for the Z2 Tablet, it comes with a 10.1-inch 1920×1080-resolution screen. Like the phone, it’s dustproof and waterproof to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes. The camera on the tablet’s only 8 megapixel, but the Z2 tablet does come with a quad-core processor and increased graphics capability, for a peppy multimedia experience.

LG G Pro 2
LG’s newest addition to the G series is the G Pro 2, a 5.9-inch phablet-style phone that allows you to lock and unlock your phone using a tap pattern known as a KnockCode (a feature that will be welcome for the rhythmically-inclined).  The G Pro 2 also has the ability to shoot in full 4K video using the 13 megapixel camera, and can shoot at up to 120 frames per second in HD mode. (Note: Right now availability outside of Korea is still to be determined.)

YotaPhone
Last year, one of the more interesting things we saw out of MWC was the YotaPhone, a dual-screen Android device that uses e-ink on the rear of the phone. That’s something that gives you a low-power persistent display that would work for boarding passes or other things that don’t have to be full-colour and battery-draining. With the updated version of YotaPhone, the 4.7-inch backlit e-ink touch-sensitive display can display things like missed calls (unlike the notifications on the main screen, which disappear more quickly), your calendar, etc. The main screen is a 5.0-inch AMOLED display, and the new version of the phone comes with a quad-core processor. The phone is expected by the end of the year in Russia, and should be available in other parts of the world in early 2015.

 

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