Whilst features and performance are the prime reasons to pick up a new device, beautiful design was a big component of this year’s MWC experience.
We went in as sceptics and left impressed. In recent years the validity of events like MWC have been questioned as manufacturers held their own standalone events for the year’s biggest announcements. Mobile World Congress 2015 however, gave us both exciting and beautiful tech to look forward to in the coming months.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
When last year’s Galaxy S5 launched, new features like its inbuilt heart rate sensor and its integrated waterproofing weren’t enough to detract from its lacklustre, plastic bodywork. Thankfully the end of 2014 gave us Samsung’s first metal-bodied smartphones and now we have a flagship that’s as desirable as it is powerful.
Whilst the Galaxy S6 will undoubtedly rack up some serious sales numbers, it’s the more distinctive S6 Edge that caught our attention. Not only does it boast an incredible screen that has more pixels than you could possibly pick out with the naked eye, but it features what Samsung calls a dual-edge display. This curved piece of Super AMOLED goodness flows over the sides of the phone creating a finished product that looks more science fiction than science fact.
Such praise is also compounded by the improved metal framework, which is easier to hold than last year’s Galaxy Note Edge and the Gorilla Glass 4 back that’s both resilient and elegant to look at.
HTC One M9
It should come as no surprise that we’re commending HTC for their fine design work. The newly unveiled One M9 is a stunning piece of kit that blends the craftsmanship and ergonomic benefits of the company’s two previous flagships.
The aluminium body of each M9 undergoes a 70-step CNC milling process, two anodising processes for colour and protection and takes 300 machine hours to complete – that’s double the time it took to create the body for the original HTC One (M7).
With such attention to detail and the fact that we’ve fondled it ourselves, it deserves a place on this rundown as one of the most beautifully crafted devices we encountered at this year’s show.
When you first see Monohm’s Runcible, you’ll likely ask yourself, “What the hell is that thing?” and a ‘smart pocket watch’ is probably the last thing we expected to meet at MWC, but here it is. Monohm sees the Runcible as a step away from the smartphone – a device that’ll keep you connected, but won’t intrude on your life with incessant buzzing and ringing.
Its user experience is based on open-source Firefox OS and the final retail version is expected to arrive before the end of 2015. As with traditional pocket watches from days gone by, this device is to be treated as some sort of family heirloom and to satiate the techy side of things, its internal components are all upgradeable too.
It’s circular form factor is its most eye-catching feature, but it also packs a round display and is set to feature back plates which will come in an assortment of exotic materials; from various woods to ceramic and brass – it reminds us of the wonderful bamboo-backed Moto X.
The user will be able to zoom and focus the rear-facing camera simply by twisting the device in mid-air and the same action can alter volume during music playback. So if you tire of smartwatches and smartphones, this might be the perfect future alternative to meet the needs of both.
Pebble Time Steel
We met the new colour-screened Pebble Time just days ahead of Mobile World Congress but the company wasn’t stopping there and gave us the more luxurious Pebble Time Steel once the show floor opened in Barcelona.
As its name and its predecessor suggest, the Time Steel features the same underlying hardware as the regular Time, but throws a more premium steel body into the mix which will come in a variety of colours. More than one person noted that the red and gold Time Steel press imagery was strongly reminiscent of the forthcoming Apple Watch Edition, but it’ll me notably cheaper too.
It also shares another similarity with Apple’s forthcoming wearable, the most affordable sport-centric version uses the same 316L-grade steel as the Pebble Time Steel, and so if it’s good enough for Apple, it should impress Time Steel owners too.
LG Watch Urbane LTE
One of the most pervasive smartwatch makers on the scene right now is LG and whilst the LG Watch Urbane was a prettier rendition of last year’s LG G Watch R, the LTE variant was something else entirely, rocking a different, more considered metal bodywork and packing a slick interface of LG’s own design based on WebOS.
As well as being a self-contained communicating tool, the LG Watch Urbane LTE’s body is an impressive blend of finely craft watch and rugged wearable. It does so much more than just tell the time and looks great doing so. Check out our full hands-on here.
Microsoft folding keyboard
We’d be the first to admit that keyboards aren’t readily sexy accessories most of the time, but Microsoft’s made a real go of it trying to shun such stigma with the folding keyboard it brought to MWC alongside its new Lumia 640 smartphone.
Aside from its slim profile, there’s not a huge amount to hoot about with the physical capabilities of the keyboard, but that doesn’t detract from the fact it’s a beautiful, elegant piece of engineering all the same. You get a fabric touch, it’s spill resistant and supports multiple platforms.
Jumping back into the world of Android Wear, Huawei also pulled the wraps of its first device and it is stunning. You could call the company out for skimming on originality with the Milanese loop watchstrap, but it’s too darn elegant to berate.
The Huawei Watch has all the hallmarks of an attractive wearable – a precision milled steel body, sapphire crystal over its fully circular display and a design that accommodates classic watch design elements and the latest tech in one slick package.
What were your favourite devices from MWC 2015? Let us know in the comments below.