Mobile World Congress 2016 is coming to a close, and this year it’s been more than just smartphones making their pitch as virtual reality in all shapes and sizes carve out a chunk of the mobile space. Devices and platforms that blur the distinction between what’s real and what’s digital are finally – with the help of potent processors and innovative hardware – reaching the point where they’re convincing enough, not to mention affordable enough, to make a splash in the mass market. Read on for SlashGear’s Best of MWC 2016 award winners.
Best Smartphone – LG G5
LG fans have been crying out for a flagship smartphone from the company which feels as good as it performs, and with the G5 they finally have it. Sleek metal construction, carefully considered detailing, and top-tier specifications including Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 820 processor all demonstrate that LG is taking 2016 seriously, but it’s the way the the G5 brings modularity to the table that really makes it stand out.
In refusing to give up on the removable battery that Android power-users still prize, LG has turned a design demand into an opportunity with the G5’s interchangeable accessories. It’s that balance of flexibility and creativity that makes the LG G5 SlashGear’s Best Smartphone of MWC 2016.
Best Tablet – Huawei MateBook
If the Surface was Microsoft’s 40,000V jolt to the PC industry to make Windows 10 tablets that compete with the iPad not only on ability but pure style, then the Huawei MateBook suggests that message was received loud and clear. In fact, the super-skinny 12-inch tablet with its removable keyboard and digital stylus manages to make even the Surface clunky.
Competitive pricing, the promise of legitimate everyday performance, and a fantastic screen make the MateBook a home-run for Huawei, not to mention SlashGear’s Best Tablet of MWC 2016.
Best Accessory – LG Rolling Bot for the LG G5
Telepresence robots aren’t new, but neither are they generally fun, so LG’s Rolling Bot is a wacky breath of fresh air. The ball-shaped ‘bot is remotely controlled by the LG G5 smartphone through your home or office WiFI network, beaming back video from its integrated camera.
LG says it’s ideal for keeping an eye on what your kids or coworkers are up to, but the laser built into the Rolling Bot reveals its true target: keeping your pets entertained as they run around, trying to catch the red dot while you play with them from afar. It’s that imagination and playfulness that makes the LG Rolling Bot SlashGear’s Best Accessory of MWC 2016.
Best Innovation – Epson Moverio BT-300
As virtual reality makes significant inroads into the mainstream, its more immersive augmented reality sibling waits in the wings for its time to come. It’s hardware like Epson’s Moverio BT-300 headset which will open those doors: the third-generation of the company’s transparent displays, with a switch to OLED for 2016.
Why is that important? Outdoor visibility is vastly improved with an exponential bump in contrast, and the headset itself is much more compact than before. Drone pilots, mobile computing fans, and a huge range of verticals including healthcare will be the immediate beneficiaries, before the displays filter down into more mass market applications. It’s a game-changer that makes the Epson Moverio BT-300 SlashGear’s Best Innovation of MWC 2016.
Best Virtual Reality – HTC Vive
Virtual reality was everywhere at Mobile World Congress this year, whether new hardware or companies using more affordable headsets to pitch their software and services. HTC managed to steal the VR show with the Vive consumer edition, however, proving once again that digital environments are far more convincing and immersive if you can move around in them.
It may not quite be the Holodeck that Star Trek promised us, but it’s a good step in that direction, and it didn’t take long watching people trying the system out for the first time to see that it was compelling across a wide range of demographics, not solely with gamers. It’s that which makes it SlashGear’s Best Virtual Reality of MWC 2016.
Most Promising Technology – Lenovo Project Tango Smartphone
Lenovo wasn’t ready to publicly demonstrate its Project Tango smartphone at Mobile World Congress this year, but the promise of Google’s technology in a highly portable – and affordable – form-factor left many eager, ourselves included. Turning Project Tango’s cavalcade of location-tracking sensors loose in one of Barcelona’s most picturesque museums, the new demonstration whet the appetite for devices that go beyond blunt GPS to understand their place in the world.
The new handset is shaping up to be a gateway to new interactive digital experiences, further blurring the lines between the real and the virtual, and all with a price tag of under $500. It’s that which makes the Lenovo Project Tango smartphone SlashGear’s Most Promising Technology of MWC 2016.
Best of MWC 2016 – Samsung Galaxy S7
It’s a testament to the capabilities of its predecessor that the Galaxy S7 didn’t need to reinvent the wheel to remain competitive, but that’s not to say Samsung phoned in its challenger for the 2016 smartphone crown. The new Android flagship – and its Galaxy S7 edge sibling – addresses users’ key complaints, bringing back much-missed features like waterproof construction and a memory card slot, while refining the design and dropping in the cutting-edge in processor, wireless charging, and connectivity.
Meanwhile, a new camera promises to bring photography skills that once would have demanded a professional DSLR, while Samsung renews its commitment to virtual reality not only with Gear VR but a brand new accessory camera, Gear 360, that may make the Galaxy S7 the go-to platform for creating high-quality virtual experiences on the move. For all those reasons, and more, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is SlashGear’s Best of MWC 2016.