Best of Mobile World Congress: Samsung Galaxy S5, Mozilla $25 phone, smart glove and more

From fitness bands to highly secure phones via future tech, we honour the products that turned our heads at MWC.

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BARCELONA, Spain -- It's been a whirlwind week for our team of reporters at Mobile World Congress: we have taken hundreds of briefings, sat through hours of press conferences and bought you all the news, hands-ons, pictures and video that we could muster.

Today our crack team of 25 took some time out from the hustle and bustle of the show to think about the products, concepts and news stories that have impressed us most over the last week.

Here, in no particular order, are the team's highlights.

Wearable tech you might actually wear
Samsung was focussing on the Galaxy S5 its press conference , but arguably the more interesting device was the Gear Fit. A smartwatch with a fitness twist, it shows notifications from your phone while measuring information about your health. What hits you when you look at it is the screen: it's a curved, AMOLED model with very vibrant colours. Whether you like it or not, that curved screen points to a future where you will want to wear technology for fashion reasons as much as practical ones.

Smell the glove
Wearable tech featured heavily at the show, but this is something different from the litany of smartwatches we've started to see. Fujitsu normally rolls out an impressive concept product at trade shows, and it didn't disappoint this year with its smart glove. The glove combines with a pair of augmented reality glasses to help maintenance staff fix machinery: point the glove at what is wrong and a display in the glasses tells you what to do. Not even Homer Simpson could get it wrong.

One phone to rule them all
One of the biggest topics for months on CNET has been the Samsung Galaxy S5: what, when and how. On Monday, we got to find out: Samsung has essentially kept the design of the previous two generations but added a bunch of extra features such as water resistance, a fingerprint scanner and a heart rate sensor . We got plenty of time to test it out during the show, so check out our hands-on for all the details and read our Galaxy S5 FAQ .

The ultimate phone/ tablet?
We can't work out if the Huawei MediaPad X1 is more phone or tablet, but either way, we like it. It's a 7-inch device, but there's a SIM card inside that you can use to make calls and browse over 4G. But what won us over was something more superficial: the metal body looks and feels lovely. Our secret is out: we're shallow people.

All about the 4K
Sony has been releasing some impressive phones in Europe for a while now, and the company is upping its game with its new flagship, the Xperia Z2. Sony is really pushing 4K TVs this year, so the fact that this phone shoots 4K video will help the company's story make sense. It looks great and it's waterproof to boot.

Snowden's phone
Looking after your personal data is a hot topic at the moment, and the Blackphone is here to help. Produced in a joint venture between Geeksphone and Silent Circle, the idea is that the phone is as secure as possible, without compromising usability. It runs its own operating system called PrivatOS, and you get a two-year subscription to Silent Circle's encrypted e-mail service. There's still a lot we don't know about this phone, but it's interesting to see a manufacturer responding to people's security fears with a special phone rather than a bolt-on service.

Firefox phone for $25
A $25 smart phone sounds like it's impossible, but we've seen a prototype at Mobile World Congress, and it works. Running Firefox OS, the device is aimed at markets where money is very tight indeed rather than designed to take on the iPhone in the West. For your $25 money, you get a device that browses the Web, install apps, manage contacts, e-mail, and more. What more could you ask for?

A new car? At MWC?
Ford has been trying to associate itself with tech conferences for years as cars become more like computers. This year, rather than just announcing a small upgrade to its entertainment system, it went the whole hog and announced a brand new car: the 2015 Focus. Normally the sort of event reserved for car shows, Ford chose MWC to get ahead of the Geneva auto show next week. Ford, we applaud you for taking a risk.

Future of smartphone cameras
Sometimes the most important things you see at shows aren't finished products at all, but a chip or other component that will show up in future products. Israeli company Corephotonics is making a camera that can zoom into a picture as if it has an optical zoom. Except it doesn't. It works by combining the picture from two separate cameras to zoom into an image, but without the noise and loss of quality you get from a digital zoom. We think it has the potential to change the direction of smartphone photography.

Smartwatches for everyone
Finally we wanted to highlight a couple of scoops for CNET: the news that Google will announce a smartwatch in June, plus HTC's confirmation that it, too, will have a smartwatch by Christmas. Google plans to use a similar strategy for smartwatches that it did with its Nexus mobile phones: controlling the software while leaving the hardware to a partner, in this case LG.

What was your favourite gadget, piece of news, or trend from MWC? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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