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Gadgets get personal at MWC

A look at some devices that turned heads at Barcelona this year

BS Reporter 

Microsoft, 4G devices
Microsoft’s 4G devices

As usual, this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC) at Barcelona saw the launch of a flurry of mobile phones - some 30 or so of them. But the real focus this time seemed to be on personal devices - some wearable, while some gadgets shrunk in size so one could carry them around.

Here are some devices that should interest you (considering many are likely to make their way to India as well) and some more that piqued our interest.

Lenovo A7000
Lenovo A7000
The mobiles

Samsung's Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge arguably generated the most buzz at MWC. Both devices sport a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED screen at 577 pixels an inch (ppi) and will be powered by an octa-core (quad 2.1GHz + quad 1.5GHz) processor and run Android Lollipop out of the box. To take on Apple, Samsung, too, has come out with its mobile payment service, Samsung Pay. And the S6 supports this service. Like all other Samsung flagships, these phones are packed with bells and whistles.

The other big launch (in the Android space) was the HTC One M9. Powered by a 2GHz octa-core processor, the M9 matches nearly all specs of the S6, but for its 5-inch Super LCD screen at 442 ppi and a 20-megapixel (MP) primary camera, as opposed to the S6's 16MP one. BlackBerry's Leap, which is poised to replace the Z3, also generated a lot of buzz, especially because it comes with BlackBerry OS 10.3 out of the box, which means one can use the Amazon App Store to install Android apps. Microsoft Devices, too, had something to offer - two mid-range phones, in fact. Both the 5.7-inch Lumia 640XL and the 5-inch Lumia 640 are 4G devices that would be upgradable to Windows 10, when it becomes available.

Among others, Asus showed off their Zenfone 2 mini, Gionee launched the Elife S7, their latest flagship, and Lenovo announced the A7000.

Huawei Watches
Huawei Watches
The wearables

The Huawei Watch, running Android Wear, is arguably the best-looking smartwatch in town these days. Sporting screens and design cues that echo traditional analogue chronographs, these watches turned heads with their looks. Also, they're compatible with both Android and iOS, or so we're told, meaning they'll compete head-on with Apple's Watch.

Huawei also launched the TalkBand B2, which works as a health band while its attached to the strap, but can be detached from the straps to be used as a normal Bluetooth headset.

Another wearable that had people interested was the LG Watch Urbane LTE, which runs WebOS and can make calls over a 4G network without the need for it to be tethered to a phone.

Our chosen ones

The Runcible, manufactured by a company called Monohm, was possibly the most intriguing gadget we'd seen in a long time. A bit bigger than an old-fashioned compass (or pocket watch if you will), there's no way one can tell its a gadget from the back, if it were not for the camera lens. Yes, this round thing is a full-fledged mobile phone, which runs Mozilla's Firefox OS to keep life simple. People were also awed by the projectors, call them pocket or portable projectors. Lenovo's pocket projector can be paired with Android devices and carried around easily in one's jacket pocket. ZTE's Spro 2, on the other hand, comes with onboard memory, accepts memory cards, has a three-hour battery life and is small enough to be portable.

The other big thing at this year's MWC was virtual reality or VR. Samsung expanded its Gear VR Innovator Edition to work with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge; HTC jumped on to the bandwagon with the RE Vive (running on ValveVR so things can only get more interesting); and NVIDIA jumped on to the console bandwagon with its Shield.

Besides, Lenovo also launched a cross-over device - the Vibe Shot, a hybrid between a smartphone and a point-and-shoot camera.

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First Published: Sun, March 08 2015. 21:03 IST