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MWC 2014 - this year's highlights

Friday, February 28th 2014 by Cable.co.uk
MWC 2014 - this year's highlights
This year's MWC attracted some 1,800 exhibitors, but what made the biggest impression?

After a packed four days of product launches, grand unveilings and hands-on demonstrations, 2014's Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona has come to an end. A record-breaking 85,000 attendees and 1,800 exhibitors made the trip.

As hoped, the conference struck a satisfying balance between high-profile announcements and slightly battier fare. Samsung fans were able to bask in the glory of the Galaxy S5, for instance, while the rest of us marvelled at Oral B's connected toothbrush.

Here are a few of our highlights from this year's show, whether big-name showstoppers or unexpected curveballs.

Nokia's Android lineup

Nokia's Android-powered devices – the X, X+ and XL – have caused so much speculation over the last few months it's been easy to forget how odd they are. The Finnish firm is about to be swallowed up by Microsoft but instead of rolling out Windows Phone handsets, it's decided to build on Google's rival operating system.

Supposedly this is for the benefit of emerging markets, where Nokia reckons it can gradually wean first-time buyers – who tend to plump for cheaper Android devices – onto Microsoft's platform. Recent International Data Corporation (IDC) figures say smartphone prices are going to fall rapidly through 2017, so perhaps other manufacturers will follow suit and exploit the cheap, open-source operating system for their own ends?

BlackBerry's Q20

This time last year, BlackBerry was pushing the all-touch 10 series. Several catastrophic quarters later, it's about to roll out a new handset with a fully-fledged physical keyboard.

Not only is it impressive how quickly new Chief Executive John Chen has changed the company's direction, but it's oddly refreshing to see a smartphone with real keys surfacing among the ubiquitous slates that make up the market today.

Samsung's Tizen smartwatches

Finally, while the Galaxy S5 turned out to be fairly unsurprising, Samsung also announced two new smartwatches – the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo. Both of these use the firm's new Tizen operating system, meaning the rumours Samsung would showcase commercial devices running the platform at MWC held true – after a fashion.

Whether or not this means Tizen will ever make it to a smartphone is unclear. Perhaps the South Korean manufacturer hopes it'll catch on in companion devices? After all, the wearable technology sector is still a nascent one – who knows what software will take the lead?

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