Like at any technology show, the biggest product releases of Mobile World Congress dropped in the first couple of days. But the latter days of an event remain just as interesting. You actually have time (well, a few minutes anyway) to roam the show floor to find hidden gems and underdog products, and you can dig up a few juicy scoops. All of that is just what happened on day 3 of the world's biggest wireless show.
The return of BlackBerry?
By now you may have forgotten about BlackBerry, but the former smartphone powerhouse showed up in Barcelona with with a bit of handset news to share. As we told you yesterday, we can expect two new BlackBerry phones, the Z3 "Jakarta" and the Q20 "BlackBerry Classic", to go on sale later in 2014.
But that's not all, as (and you heard it here first) CEO John Chen also told CNET's Roger Cheng that the company will reveal yet another flagship BlackBerry handset by the end of the year that he hopes will win over new customers while holding onto the BlackBerry faithful. Chen was quite candid and funny with Roger, so check out his story to hear more about how BlackBerry plans to claw its way back.
Samsung's smartwatch apps
If you read Andy Hoyle's review of the original Samsung Galaxy Gear, you'll remember that he rightly bemoaned its lack of real apps. He was hardly alone in that assessment, and Samsung must have noticed.
Fortunately, at its MWC developer day session, the company released a software development kit for its Tizen-based Gear 2 smartwatch, an SDK for its S Health application, and a Gear Fit SDK that will allow developers to make apps for Android devices that will interact with the Gear Fit. As Samsung told Shara Tibken, it will let any developers make apps for the Gear 2, but it will keep development for the Galaxy Gear invite-only. Yes, that last bit is disappointing, but at least it's a start.
Going deep on the Galaxy S5
Speaking of Samsung, Jessica Dolcourt delved even further into the new Galaxy S5. She took the camera for a spin, tested the fingerprint scanner, and checked out the heart rate monitor. She also uncovered a load of hidden features. And if you happen to be a gamer, Samsung also showed a game controller designed just for your phone. Nick Hide can tell you more.
Samsung Gamepad is a slick Bluetooth controller
Evolution, not revolution
If you're complaining that the Galaxy S5 isn't different enough from the Galaxy S4, I hear you. One of Samsung's execs, however, doesn't quite see it that way. In fact, Samsung's vice president for brand Stephen Taylor told Jason Jenkins that he doesn't think that people need radical redesigns every year. "If you look at the feedback, it felt like making [the phone] more durable and keeping the sleek design was what people were after," he said. "Waterproof and dustproof elements are more important." Do you agree?
Zoom, zoom, zoom
While roaming the show floor Jason discovered how fast mobile download speeds could get in the future. Qualcomm and KT (formerly Korea Telecom) demonstrated to show-goers a modified Samsung Galaxy Note 3 that's capable of downloading data at 300Mbps. Nearby, he also saw a prototype phone simultaneously streaming 4K videos to a TV that demonstrated a new technical standard called Cat 6. The theoretical maximum speed that it could deliver? Also 300Mbps.
Really, Google Glass?
Seamus Byrne, who came to MWC all the way from CNET's Sydney office, took in a demo of how Google Glass could use real-time object recognition augmented reality (AR) for the first time. Blippar, a visual discovery/augmented reality company, showed Seamus a few examples for how the app, called Blippar Glass, could be used. In one case, CEO Ambarish Mitra scanned a Natural History Museum flyer which triggered a 3D AR dinosaur to appear on the sheet.
Tablets that can take a tumble
If you're rough on your tablets or just accident-prone (hand raised), then Panasonic may have just the gadget for you. The company's Toughpad FZ-X1 is supposed to withstand a drop of 3 meters without damage and a 30-minute bath at up a maximum depth of 1.5 meters. The tablet's specs aren't particularly noteworthy except for the hot-swappable 6,200mAh battery. That will let you take the battery out, swap it for a fresh one, and get back to what you were doing without having to reboot. Of course, the FZ-X1 is pretty big, but that's the whole point. Panasonic also showed the similarly rugged FZ-E1 smartphone.
Panasonic Toughpad is half tablet, half tank
Kyocera's crazy concepts
Though it didn't bring any new phones to Mobile World Congress, Kyocera showed a few interesting prototype devices brewing inside its R&D arm. Lynn La saw a GPS bracelet, a tablet with flexible glass, a transparent phone, and a heart monitor that you can wear over your ear.