5G, self-driving cars and smart cities. Those were the key elements of this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Of course, several striking new smartphones were introduced as well.
The Mobile World Congress (MWC), the annual high mass of the mobile industry, is usually the perfect opportunity for manufacturers to introduce their latest smartphones. To a certain extent this was also the case this year. The launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and its big brother the S9+ captured their fair share of attention, although for the latter model a camera update was the main thrust of the manufacturer’s pitch.
In terms of new devices we also took note of the Sony Xperia XZ2, as well as a series of new Nokia smartphones. The most notable of these was the re-issue of the Nokia 8110 from 1996, also known as the banana phone because of its prominent curvature. Still, Nokia’s first true top-of-the-line model, the Nokia 8 Sirocco, also stood out. Other manufacturers such as Huawei and LG won’t be launching their flagship smartphones until later this year. In the meantime they’ve introduced some other interesting smartphones. Click here to read our review of Huawei’s P Smart.
Benefits of 5G
Even with all these product debuts, 5G captured most of the headlines in Barcelona. The term and technology were literally everywhere. Not surprising, since 5G is the mobile internet of the future. It offers a (much) broader bandwidth of several gigabytes per second, or nearly one hundred times faster than the current 4G. Moreover, latency - the time that elapses before a signal is received - is much lower. Instead of 50 milliseconds as with 4G, the delay with 5G has apparently been reduced to a single millisecond.
With (some of) the technical standards on 5G agreed upon late last year, the entire process involving 5G is gaining momentum. Smartphones with 5G are coming, although in Europe they probably won’t be introduced until 2020
Internet of Things
But 5G goes way beyond smartphones. The technology is primarily designed to deal with the exponential growth of the number of connected devices, the so-called Internet of Things. 5G featured prominently at the Orange stand under the motto “create a better future”. Think, for instance, of smart cities chock-full of sensors that monitor the number of available parking spaces, traffic density and air quality.
Self-driving cars are another example. At MWC, chip manufacturers Intel and Qualcomm showcased prototypes of 5G-ready cars. Porsche showed its self-driving Panamera in conjunction with Huawei, whereas BMW gave a demonstration with a self-driving i3.
Gaming and health
A totally different 5G application involves gaming. Virtual reality games played via 5G will be subject to much smaller delays than with a traditional connection.
Health also made it onto the agenda in Barcelona. For instance, Motorola’s smart Vital Moto Mod measures the user’s vital functions such as blood pressure, heart rate and breathing frequency in the blink of an eye. In short, technology connects everything and everyone. Today and even more so in the future.