Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is currently in full swing with almost every smartphone maker getting in on the action. (The only notable exception is a certain fruit company from Cupertino.) Lots of new handsets were announced. Some are here already, or will be in a week or two, while others remain in limbo between reality and vaporware. Here are the five smartphones I'm most looking forward to playing with.
Samsung Galaxy Fold
Although it wasn't technically announced at MWC, Samsung gave us our first proper look at the Samsung Galaxy Fold during the show. It won't be the first folding phone on the market - you can buy the Royole FlexPai right now - but it will likely be the first widely released folding smartphone from a mainstream brand.
2019 will be the year of the folding smartphone and Samsung has revealed a revolutionary device. The Galaxy Fold has the potential to completely redefine the smartphone experience in the same way the iPad changed what we thought a tablet could be.
I'm enthusiastic about the potential of the Galaxy Fold and the other folding smartphones but suspect future versions, that support the use of devices such as the S-Pen when in tablet mode, will be far more useful.
Huawei Mate X
Despite rumblings from certain governments and security agencies, Huawei is moving out of the challenger brand category and is a serious contender for Apple's Number Two slot for smartphone hardware shipments.
Its take on the folding phone is different to Samsung's with the display folding around the outside, negating the need for a third external display. The Mate X is also thinner but is likely to cost a little more than the Galaxy Fold.
It's only taken a few days but the Samsung Fold's leadership in the folding phablet business is already under threat. The Huawei Mate X was unveiled at Mobile World Congress today and while it's slightly larger than its Korean competitor, most reports suggest that it's easier to grasp. And, unlike the Galaxy Fold, Huawei's approach gives you two external displays that open into 8-inches of viewing goodness.
The real proof in the pudding will come when the two are set side by side. And the question of whether the Galaxy Fold will end up with a crease in the centre of the large display, or the Mate X will end up stretched in the middle is still to be resolved. Again, this is a look into the future of mobile devices.
Sony Xperia 1
Sony, through its partnership with Ericsson in the 1990s and 2000s was one of the kings of the smartphone market. But somewhere along the road it lost its way. However, Sony continued to assert its dominance in developing great screens and they've applied that expertise to the new Xperia 1.
The Xperia 1 comes with a Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB RAM, and 128GB of built-in storage. But it's really all about the display. The 6.5-inch screen runs at 3840 by 1664 4K with support for high-dynamic range (HDR) and Dolby Atmos Audio.
While it might look like a traditional smartphone, it's really more like a portable media centre.
Nokia 9 PureView
Is it a phone that takes pictures or a camera that makes phone calls? That's the question I ask about the Nokia 9 PureView. Equipped with five rear cameras, arranged in a ring, it straddles the line between compact camera and smartphone.
Two of the cameras capture colour images while the other three are black-and-white sensors. They all fire together and the smartphone's software mashes the image data together to create a single, super sharp image that’s loaded with detail. Initial reports suggest the images are perhaps even too sharp with edges so well defined as to appear harsh.
Many of my photographer buddies will enjoy getting their hands on this.
LG V50 ThinQ
While folding displays received lots of attention, LG has taken a different approach. The new V50 ThinQ looks like your run-of-the-mill smartphone but has a connector system that lets you hook up a secondary display using a helper case. The end result looks similar to a Nintendo DS.
LG has taken a different approach to the big-screen challenge. Rather than going for a folding display, like Samsung, Huawei and Oppo, LG has decided to go for two separate displays that work in tandem. The dual-screen LG V50 is actually a single-screen handset with an optional secondary display that works via a helper case. The display data is transmitted from the main phone to the second display using a very short-range wireless communication method supplied by Keyssa.
Comms between the primary and secondary screen are handled by a new short-range wireless communication method supplied by Keyssa. Instead of worrying about screen creases or stretching, there's a relatively simple hinge.
While that means there's a gap between the two displays, you'll still have the benefit of more screen real estate. And it makes me want to find someone who'll port the old Game and Watch Donkey Kong game to this handset.