MWC Becomes Battleground for Asian Mobile Giants

Asian mobile prowess was in massive display at the Mobile World Congress.

First off, we had Huawei responding to Samsung's earlier Galaxy Fold reveal with its own Mate X. Like the Fold, it was designed to expand screen real estate, which will matter much when 5G services launch.

Unlike Samsung, however, Huawei uses a single external OLED screen in three different formats using its Falcon Wing Mechanical Hinge. This will allow the phone to transform into a mini tablet and enable users to multi-screen easily.      

Forrester’s Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst, acknowledges that Mate X underscores Huawei technology leadership. However, its success will depend on how well it can convince consumers to switch to the pricier Mate X.

“No matter how innovative and technology-advanced the new device is, it will take a lot more time for a critical mass of consumers to experience the benefits of foldable phones and 5G technology. More importantly, it has to find its own brand voice to differentiate from Samsung and Apple and stop acting as a technology challenger, but instead activating new daily experiences for its consumers,” Husson said.  

Samsung's Korean rival LG also showed off its candidate, the G8 ThinQ, that had additional new ways to unlock and control the phone through palm and hand gestures. The so-called Air Motion gesture control will have an exciting impact on user interface design in future phones. The other notable feature of the LG G8 is a “Crystal Sound OLED” that uses the screen as an audio amplifier. This allows the phone to go without an earpiece at the top of the 6.1-inch QHD+ display.

“LG, as the other Korean smartphone maker, has once again managed to find a way to stay in the brand conversation about smartphones…The Air Motion gesture control on the G8 will inspire enthusiast interest, and expands gesture use beyond the AR/VR realm we've seen so far,” said Frank Gillett, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester.

Meanwhile, Microsoft showed off its HoloLens 2 and highlighted new enterprise use cases when connected to the cloud.

“The device itself solves many problems associated with the first model -- from a vastly expanded field of view to better hand gestures. But it's the integration with Azure and Dynamics that will empower developers to create powerful mixed reality experiences more quickly and cheaply,” said J.P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester.

Paul Miller, senior analyst at Forrester, added that the combination of HoloLens and Microsoft’s existing Azure Digital Twins service brings relevant data from IoT sensors to the point of need,” like a field service engineer standing in front of a faulty machine.”  

“The Spatial Anchors service makes it easier to collaborate in mixed reality, with teams able to work together in a single virtual space, using headsets like HoloLens or even just participating on a smartphone."