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Security and Microsoft take center stage as Mobile World Congress 2015 opens

Mobile World Congress has officially begun in Barcelona, Spain. Here's all the stuff you missed at the first day of the show.

Microsoft's new Lumia 640 CNET

Day one of Mobile World Congress, the biggest mobile tech show of the year, is coming to a close and already we've seen some huge announcements from the proceedings. Yesterday brought new phones from Samsung and HTC, plus a whole slew of device announcements, from Alcatel to ZTE.

Today, we look under the hood at the guts that make our mobile tech work and dig into issues like privacy and encryption. There are still plenty of phones, tablets and wearable tech to check out too, including a few unique products you might not expect to see.

Google is getting into wireless

Google is in talks to launch its own wireless service, but you shouldn't ditch your carrier just yet. SVP of Products Sundar Pichai teased the news in a press conference Monday, saying that the search giant is working on partnerships with major wireless carriers, which are rumored to be Sprint and T-Mobile.

The service likely won't compete with other carriers, but instead could supplement what they already offer. Pichai referenced Google's Nexus program in his speech, which Google launched to help build "pure" Android devices, running the operating system without any modifications. Details are still murky, but expect an official announcement in the coming months.

Security's a big issue

Responding to worries of personal privacy and mobile security, a few companies demo'd their answers at MWC. First up are the Silent Circle Blackphone 2 smartphone and Blackphone+ tablet , two devices with plenty of security features.

Both the phone and tablet run PrivatOS 1.1, an Android-based operating system that allows IT administrators to manage, lock and wipe devices when necessary. The Blackphone 2 also comes with the "Silent Suite" which automatically encrypts video and voice calls over a peer-to-peer VoIP service, offers encrypted messaging, an an automatically encrypted address book. Silent World allows subscribers to make encrypted calls to folks who haven't sprung for an encrypted device.

Meanwhile, the tablet makes use of "Spaces" -- a feature that creates separate, locked-down versions of your tablet's user interface. That's helpful if you want to hand the tablet to your kid, while keeping photos and other media secure.

Next, Finnish company Jolla launched version 2.0 of its Sailfish OS, a gesture-focused alternative to Android that runs on the Jolla Tablet and Jolla phone , among other devices. Along with that release, Jolla also announced Sailfish Secure, a new version of the niche mobile operating system that's designed to bring peace of mind to businesses, government officials and privacy-minded phone fans.

Jolla partnered with SSH Communications Security to create Sailfish Secure, which uses SSH's communication encryption and key management features.

Finally, are you weary of facial recognition on smartphones? AVG's Privacy Glasses use infrared LEDs to confuse smartphone cameras to prevent your face from being recognized. These are still concept devices, but you might be able to wear them one day, if you're really keen on privacy.


A little less than one year after Microsoft closed its deal to purchase Nokia, the Seattle-based software giant unveiled two new Lumia smartphones, the 640 and the larger 640 XL. Both phones are sporting the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system and are priced modestly.

The 640 has a 5-inch, 720p display, an 8-megapixel camera and a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor. Meanwhile, the 640 XL has a slightly larger 5.7-inch display with the same 720p resolution screen, a beefed-up 13-megapixel rear camera and the same Snapdragon 400 processor. Both come in black, white, blue and bright orange color choices.

The two models will come in 3G and 4G LTE variations. with slight price differences between the two. For more details on pricing, check out our First Takes for the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL .

Microsoft also debuted the portable, Universal Foldable Keyboard , which works with Android, iOS and, of course, Microsoft devices.


New Xperia devices popped up at MWC, the waterproof Xperia M4 Aqua and the super-skinny Xperia Z4 Tablet , which is also splash-friendly.

The M4 Aqua is a pared-down version of the earlier Xperia Z3, Sony's 2014 flagship phone. To cut costs, Sony used a lower-resolution 720p (instead of 1080p) display, a less-powerful processor and a 13- rather than 20-megapixel camera.

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A followup to the Z2 tablet, the Xperia Z4 is a powerhouse device with a 2K resolution screen and an octa-core processor. All of its tech is encased in a super-slim, lightweight design that's stunning.


Budget smartphones are rampant at Mobile World Congress, and Lenovo's A7000 is one of the best of the bunch. Though it costs just $169, it features a 5.5-inch screen, 4G LTE, Android 5.0 Lollipop and Dolby Sound.

To go with your new Android phone, Lenovo is selling a pocket projector that can, well, project videos or photos onto virtually any surface. The projector can rotate up to 90 degrees, so that you can point the video or images in many different directions. It'll cost $250 when it goes on sale in the US this year.


Alcatel's been busy at the show, churning out several new devices. The OneTouch Hero 2+ , a budget phablet running the Cyanogen OS instead of regular Android (though the OS is based on Android 4.4 KitKat). It's running on a 2GHz octa-core MediaTek processor and has a 6-inch 1080p display. Other notable specs include a stylus, 13-megapixel camera and 16GB of internal storage.

The OneTouch Pixi 3 line, which comprises 24 devices, is getting a 5.5-inch model with Android 5.0. It also features 4G connectivity and a 720p display. There are also two new OneTouch Pixi 3 tablets , a 7-inch and an 8-inch model.

Alcatel is also working on better, faster mobile connectivity, with its initiative. The new technology seeks to blend Wi-Fi and cellular coverage, to increase the download speed by 2.5 times, increase the upload speed by 55 times and double the Wi-Fi range in a home or office. Wi-Fi and cellular networks are quite different, but the company has found a way to use the strengths from each to create faster speeds.

Speaking of mobile connectivity, the company has three new portable hot spots, the OneTouch Wi-Fi Link . They come in 3G, 4G and 4G+ options.

Intel shows off new chips

Hoping to catch up to Qualcomm and others, Intel released new processors at Mobile World Congress; the Atom x3, x5 and x7 mobile chips. The x3, formerly known as SoFIA, will target budget smartphones and tablets, while the x5 and x7, previously known as the "Cherry Trail" chips, will go into mainstream and high-end tablets.

Ford 'MoDe' Electric Bikes

In not-so-mobile news, Ford showed off two concept electric bicycles, the MoDe:Pro and MoDe:Me, at Mobile World Congress that connect with the iPhone 6. Both e-bikes can fold up for storage and have sensors on the back that let riders know when a car is coming too fast from behind. The bike can then vibrate to warn the rider, and flash lights to warn the approaching driver.

Other neat features include haptic feedback in the handlebars to give directions and a horn that has two volumes: one for motorists and a quieter one for pedestrians.

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The phones we saw

Polaroid is getting in the smartphone game with these bright, colorful Android and Windows Phone models.

Japanese carrier KDDI and Mozilla have partnered to create a high-end Firefox phone.

The Kazam Tornado 455L is a 4G LTE Android phone with a waterproof design.

Chinese company Gionee unveiled the Elife S7 , a super-slim and pricey Android phone.

Extra, extra

Qualcomm's ultrasonic 3D fingerprint scanner uses sound waves to scan your finger and unlock your phone, and it works even if your fingers are sweaty or dirty.

Qualcomm is also working on making smartphones smarter with the Zeroth platform, which combines hardware and software to create a devices that can learn from how you use them.

Panasonic has a wireless, 4G camera for home security called the Nubo . It'll cost $250.

The Samsung Gear VR store is now allowing paid apps.

Broadcom has a new dual-band Wi-Fi chip that allows more devices and routers to connect to and transmit data over two bands at once.

You can now check your AT&T home automation and security system from your car.

Blackberry Messenger gets Apple's Touch ID and Android Wear support for its security features.

The B-ON MD monitor boasts five health-tracking features in one.

Today's just Day One of Mobile World Congress 2015. Check back tomorrow for more news from the show and keep up with all of our coverage on CNET.