These are the 21 things you need to know from MWC 2015

From the doubly-curved Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and news of Google's wireless service, to a suitcase that weighs itself, here are the most important things that happened at the world's largest mobile show.

MWC was a blur of blockbuster products and cutting-edge startups.
Sarah Tew/CNET

BARCELONA -- By any measure, 2015 was a banner year for the world's largest and most important mobile show. Mobile World Congress drew in over 90,000 attendees and roughly 1,900 exhibitors, all vying to make their mark.

It's a lot to digest, which is why we break down the most significant news, impressive gadgets, kooky startups and biggest themes below.

The biggest news

Google will launch its own wireless service

Google's senior vice president of products, Sundar Pichai, surprises everyone when he admit that the search giant is getting into the wireless service business. Expect a partnership with carriers that blends cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

Samsung announces its Apple Pay rival

Samsung Pay works with merchants' magnetic card readers to easily pay for things from your phone. Read the news and see the hands-on demo.

Net neutrality critics are flat-out wrong, says FCC chief

Chairman Tom Wheeler shouts "No, no, no, no!" The new regulations won't dictate carriers' rates, impose tariffs or meddle with their business.

Amazon Appstore nears 400K apps on 'huge progress'

The e-commerce giant has been behind Apple and Google in the app store race, but steps to improve its offering are starting to pay off.

The most important gadgets

Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge: Premium materials at last

Made of metal and glass, the pair of thin, high-end handsets broke Samsung's mold of plastic phones -- ditching replaceable batteries and expandable storage. The doubly curved Galaxy S6 Edge particularly makes a statement that Samsung phones won't bend to Apple.

HTC One M9: Understated update

The HTC flagship phone is noteworthy for what it isn't. The One M9 disappointed fans hoping for a different design, but the luxurious aluminum handset did update its camera tech and internal processing speeds.

HTC Vive VR Headset: Astonishing, and gunning for Oculus

Now, this really was HTC's breakout device. Our experience using the Vive VR was nothing short of incredible. Here's a hint: virtual walls.

Huawei Watch: Wows with sapphire

A surprise entry from Huawei, the company's first smartwatch has a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal display and runs Android Wear.

LG Watch Urbane and Urbane LTE : Android or WebOS

The Urbane LTE superwatch crams LTE (for phone calls!) and mobile payments into a sporty design that runs WebOS. Meanwhile, the regular Urbane is a glossy Android Wear specimen.


BlackBerry devices executive Ron Louks teases a BlackBerry with a slide-out keyboard.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Nokia N1: iPad 3-like tablet with Android inside

Beautiful and ultra-portable, Nokia showcased the slate that's been selling out in China since November.

BlackBerry Slider: Dual-curve mystery phone

What just happened here? A BlackBerry executive whizzed out a no-name upcoming phone with a curved screen like the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and a slide-out keyboard -- and pocketed it in the blink of an eye.

MyFC Jaq: Super-useful fuel cell charger

A fuel cell turns salt and water into electricity, and this small gadget does it in style, charging your phone from its recyclable cartridges without a plug socket in sight.


CNET editors fell for this incredibly usable portable power pack.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The can't-miss kooky stuff

Runcible: Perfectly round smartphone that looks like a watch

What kind of phone won't let you make phone calls without a Bluetooth device? The same on that also looks like a pocket watch. This wacky, high-end prototype is too singular to miss.

Bluesmart carry-on: Smart suitcase

Like the idea of roll-a-board that tracks its own whereabouts and even weighs itself? Us too.

LifeBeam Smart Hat: Heart-rate sensing in cap form

A goofy baseball cap may not be your idea of the perfect way to collect your heart-rate, but LifeBeam thinks it's easier than wearing a chest strap all the time, and more discreet.

Kairos Watch: Floating display

A mechanical watch with a sort of head-up display on top is a unique angle to the omnipresent wearable.

Special-edition Android pins: Collect them all

There's nothing to rile up the fanboys and fangirls than 124 special-edition pins of Androids in all shapes and personalities. Collectors and traders went crazy for the little guys, scrambling during the show's tense final hours to complete their sets.

The food for thought

Smartphone innovation at MWC shows there's life in the old dog yet

Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge wasn't the only handset introducing something new. We also saw phones with eyeball-scanning and a toggle for pro camera modes.

5G networks move from plans to prototypes

"5G" was a mongo saliva-inducing buzzword everywhere at the show. Demonstrations at Mobile World Congress show the growing momentum toward the launch of faster, more responsive mobile networks in 2020.

Cheap phones still important for emerging markets

Firefox's $40 Orange Klif for Africa and higher-end KDDI Fx0 are just two of the phones we saw. The $23 Cherry Mobile Ace took "budget" to an extreme, while the Microsoft Lumia 640 and 640 XL are much more feature-packed, in the $200 range.

Device security gains momentum

For work or for mobile payments, vendors demoed more accurate fingerprint scanners that use ultrasonics or camera optics, and the new secure Blackphone 2 handset and Blackphone+ tablet . Samsung and BlackBerry also expanded their relationship to include the latter's celebrated security software on Samsung's BYOD platform.

The take-home message

There is no doubt that Mobile World Congress remains a big-deal show where captains of industry break news and launch innovative products big and small. It's all too often that a trade show produces a lot of commotion about products and announcements that don't amount to much. The sheer volume of interest-piquing gadgets and big-name speakers proves that the mobile industry is still evolving in critical ways.