Event Coverage

Every phone revealed at MWC 2016

By James Lu - 26 Feb 2016

HP, Lenovo, Alcatel, Microsoft

HP Elite x3

HP has officially gotten back into the mobile game. The Elite x3 is a Windows 10 phone that has been designed to replace your smartphone, laptop, and even desktop. Given that few players are releasing Windows phones today, HP’s move is an especially bold one, especially when you consider the sheer ambition of the device.

The Elite x3 isn’t just any old Windows phone. HP has deliberately packed it with top-end, performance-oriented hardware in an effort to sell it as a viable desktop replacement. For starters, it features Qualcomm’s latest and greatest chip – the quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor that comes with goodies like the X12 LTE modem.

On top of that, it has 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and support for up to 2TB of expandable storage via a microSD card slot. The latter feature is illustrative of HP’s intentions with the phone. Clearly, it’s making every effort to include the same level of features and support that you would expect from a laptop.

At 6-inches across, the screen is a little on the large side, and it’s even bigger than the 5.7-inch Microsoft Lumia 950 XL. The AMOLED display has a 2,560 x 1,440 pixels resolution (490ppi).

The battery is a large 4,150mAh pack, with support for wireless charging. As things stand, this is probably one of the most powerful Windows phones out there.

There's also an iris scanner on the front and fingerprint sensor on the back to allow users to take advantage of Windows Hello, but the demo version that HP had on display was missing the fingerprint sensor.The icing on the cake has to be the front-facing audio speakers that have been tuned by Bang & Olufsen, not unlike what’s been done on HP laptops like the Envy 13.

More importantly, the Elite x3 was designed with Continuum in mind, the Windows 10 feature that allows users to plug their Windows smartphone into a larger display and use it as a full-fledged Windows PC.

As Windows phones cannot run the desktop versions of apps, HP is including software for running apps from the cloud. Unfortunately, this is not something that the average user will be able to take advantage of as HP said that the feature will require an IT department to set up. With that said, it’s clear who HP’s target audience is – business professionals instead of the casual consumer.

HP didn’t release any pricing details, but we can expect a release sometime in the summer. It can be paired with two separate accessories, the Desk Dock that comes with additional USB and display connectors, and the Mobile Extender, a combination of display, keyboard, and battery that turns into a PC when hooked up to the Elite x3.

Lenovo VIBE K5 Plus

Lenovo unveiled an entry-level Android smartphone at MWC 2016, but don't be fooled by its affordable price - it's not shabby looking, and it comes with decent hardware.

The Lenovo VIBE K5 Plus is built as a lifestyle device for music and entertainment. It has a 5-inch Full HD display with a 1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution (440 ppi), with a generous battery capacity of 2,750mAh. It's no flagship, but those are promising specifications for an entry-level smartphone.

Design-wise, the VIBE K5 Plus has an aluminum-build, which is pretty rare at this price point. Under the hood is a 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor - that's the same processor found within the Xiaomi Redmi 3. It runs on 2GB RAM, and has a modest 16GB internal storage with the option to expand it with a MicroSD card, although the card slot only supports cards up to 32GB. The Lenovo VIBE K5 Plus has a 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, and a fixed-focus 5-megapixel front camera. This is also a dual-SIM phone, and it accepts two Micro SIM cards.

As a lifestyle phone, it also touts Dolby Atmos audio technology and dual rear speakers for its audio capabilities, and the camera is supported by built-in social apps like SHAREit, SNAPit, and Guvera Music. The phone also comes pre-loaded with a comprehensive Google apps suite (Maps, Hangouts, YouTube, Gmail etc.) but unfortunately still runs on Android 5.1 OS (Lollipop) rather than the newer Android 6.0 OS (Marshmallow).

Connectivity-wise, the entry-level smartphone supports 4G LTE, 3G, and 2G. It also supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Wi-Fi hotspot. For your wireless devices, it connects using the power efficient Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy profile.

The Lenovo VIBE K5 Plus will be retailing at US$149 (~S$209), in March 2016, although there's no word on local availability yet. It will be available in Platinum Silver, Champagne Gold, and Graphite Gray.

Alcatel Idol 4 and 4S

Alcatel may not be the first name you think of when you're in the market for a new smartphone but the Chinese company has come a long way. Alcatel unveiled two new phones at MWC, both aimed at the premium mid-range market, with full metal and glass builds. The Idol 4 is a 5.2-inch device with a Full HD LCD display, while the Idol 4S is a larger 5.5-inch phablet with a QHD 2,560 x 1,440 pixels resolution AMOLED display. Both phones share a similar design, and are fairly thin, measuring just 6.9mm.

On the rear of the Idol 4S, there's a 16-megapixel camera with an f/2.0 aperture. The Idol 4 has a 13-megapixel camera. Both phones have an 8-megapixel front camera. Alcatel claims the handsets offer ultrafast auto-focus between 0.1 and 0.3 seconds.

One interesting feature shared by both phones is the 'Boom Key', which looks like the power button but isn't - in fact, it looks a lot like the old, circular power button Sony used on its Xperia Z range. The actual power button on the 4 and 4S is found on the left edge. The Boom Key can be found on the right side of the device and is essentially a customizable function button. You can turn it into a quick launch button for your favorite app, or you can pick more specific functionality like enhancing bass when you're listening to audio. 

The Idol 4S is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor with 3GB RAM, which puts it a class below flagship devices like the 820-equipped LG G5 and Xiaomi Mi 5. The Idol 4 has an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor and 2GB RAM. Storage-wise, the 4S has 32GB internal storage, while the 4 has 16GB storage. Both phones have microSD card slots for expanded storage.

One last feature worth mentioning for the Idol 4S is its packaging. Rather than any old cardboard box, the 4S comes in a plastic box that actually doubles up as a VR headset that is Google Cardboard certified. The Idol 4S can be slipped into the packaging to create a headset similar to Samsung's Gear VR (although it looks like you'll have to hold the headset up to your face or attach your own straps to keep it in place). Alcatel is even offering exclusive VR content in its own Onetouch VR Store.

Microsoft Lumia 650

Technically released right before MWC, the Lumia 650 is Microsoft's latest entry-level Windows 10 smartphone. 

The phone sports a 5-inch HD AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 quad-core 1.3GHz processor with 1GB RAM. Inside, you get 16GB internal storage with microSD support up to 200GB, and a removable 2,000mAh battery. On the rear, there's an 8-megapixel rear autofocus camera with f/2.2 aperture and LED flash, and on the front you'll find a 5-megapixel wide-angle camera. Despite being touted as a business phone, unfortunately it doesn't support Continuum, a tentpole Windows 10 Mobile feature where you can hook up the phone to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to use it like a desktop.

Unlike Microsoft's previously all-plastic designs, the Lumia 650 has a surprisingly nice aluminum frame with interchangeable back covers. The phone measures 6.9mm thin and weighs just 122g. Other specs include support for LTE Cat 4, Bluetooth 4.1, A-GPS, A-GLONASS and Office apps. The phone is available now in select European markets, and comes with a price tag of US$199 (~S$278) excluding local taxes and subsidies.

For more MWC 2016 coverage, check out these articles:

Photos: Sony's new Xperia X smartphones

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