7 Days is a weekly roundup of the Editors' picks of what's been happening in the world of technology - written with a dash of humor, a hint of exasperation, and an endless supply of (Irish) coffee.
What a week! The annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) took place in Barcelona from Monday to Thursday, and there was no shortage of big announcements at that event – but there was plenty of exciting news and developments across the rest of the tech world too.
If (somehow!) you’re not familiar with MWC, this quick video intro from the beginning of the week should give you some idea of what it’s all about:
If you struggled to keep up with everything that’s been happening this week, don’t worry – 7 Days is here again to walk you through the week’s top tech news. There’s a lot to get through this week, so let’s waste no more time!
The new BlackBerry KEYone was among the many new devices unveiled at (or immediately before) MWC. The $549 upper-mid-range Android 7.0 handset was designed and built by TCL, which referred to it as a 'flagship', although it doesn't have the specs to match rival flagship-class handsets from other manufacturers.
There's plenty to like about the new device, though - and you can get a first look at it in my hands-on video from the launch event (I hope you like videos, because there's lot more of them coming up!).
Reports have since emerged of up to three more BlackBerry-branded devices on the way this year, including photos of one with a very different design to the KEYone. In off-camera conversations at the KEYone launch event, several BlackBerry staff hinted to me that a 'true' flagship is in development, possibly with a Snapdragon 835 processor.
The stunning new LG G6 also made its debut at MWC, featuring an unusually wide 5.7-inch Quad HD+ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. Along with a stylish metallic body, it also features a Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB RAM and up to 64GB storage, along with IP68 dust- and water-resistance and a fingerprint sensor.
I'm already a fan of this device, especially its dual 13MP rear cameras which are capable of snapping some great shots. Check out my hands-on video with the LG G6 here.
Huawei introduced its new P10 and P10 Plus flagships just before MWC at a rather poorly organized event which left hundreds of journalists standing outside the venue for hours, long after the event had already begun. During the announcement itself, Huawei spent around half an hour talking about the many colors of the new handsets, so perhaps those of us left outside were the lucky ones.
Nonetheless, the new P10 family are beautiful handsets with plenty of high-end specs, and a new version of Huawei's dual-camera technology co-engineered with imaging specialists Leica. You can find my hands-on video for the P10 here.
Alongside the P10, Huawei also announced the Watch 2 and Watch 2 Classic, its new Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches, which include IP68 protection, a dazzling array of color options and all sorts of premium specs and features. The Watch 2 also includes integrated 4G LTE connectivity.
Nokia was one of the biggest stars of MWC this year - quite a turnaround from what appeared to be the end of its mobile ambitions following the sale of its devices business to Microsoft in 2014. Among its many announcements in Barcelona, Nokia revealed that it's killing off the Withings brand for its wearable devices, in favor of its own brand.
The Nokia 6 Android smartphone - designed and developed by HMD Global, built by Foxconn, and sold under the Nokia brand - launched in China in December. At MWC, HMD announced that it will soon be launching the 6 internationally, priced around €229 EUR.
HMD also unveiled the Nokia 3 and Nokia 5, its new entry-level and mid-range handsets, respectively. You can view the full specs for both devices here, and as I discussed in my hands-on video with the two new Android smartphones, they appear hugely impressive - especially considering their relatively low prices.
But the biggest attraction at Nokia's MWC stand was a blast from the past. HMD announced a new version of its much-loved classic phone, the Nokia 3310, updated with a range of more modern features. Every time I visited or walked past the Nokia stand, it was packed with people of all ages - including those too young to remember the original - wanting to get their hands on the new 3310.
As you'll see in my hands-on video with the device, it's far from perfect - but there's a lot to like about it. It even includes a new version of the old-school Snake game, which is also coming to Facebook.
Archos showed off its new low-cost Android 7.0 tablet. Despite being aimed at budget-conscious buyers, the 101 Saphir offers some rather nice features, including dust- and water-resistance, and a rugged design offering some protection against drops.
Samsung had already confirmed that its new Galaxy S8 flagship wouldn't appear at MWC, but the company did announce the launch date for the new handset.
And the leaks about the Galaxy S8 just keep coming - new images have emerged twice in the last few days.
Samsung revealed its new rugged Galaxy XCover 4 smartphone with a 5-inch 720p display, IP68 rating, and MIL-STD-810G impact protection. It will ship in Europe with Android 7.0 onboard from April, priced around €259.
Samsung also introduced a new version of its Gear VR headset, co-developed with Oculus, featuring a new controller with improved navigation.
Samsung's new Galaxy Tab S3 made its first official appearance at MWC too. The high-end Android tablet has a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB RAM and 32GB storage, along with a keyboard cover and S Pen stylus support.
And Samsung showed off its new Windows 10 2-in-1, the Galaxy Book, which comes in two configurations: a Windows 10 Home model with 10.6-inch LCD and 7th-gen Intel Core m3 processor; and a Windows 10 Pro version with a 12-inch Super AMOLED display and 7th-gen Core i5. Both models support 4G LTE and come with a keyboard and S Pen stylus.
You can get more info on both variants in my hands-on video here.
Porsche Design revealed its new premium Windows 10 laptop. Unlike Samsung's Galaxy Book - which is a tablet with detachable keyboard cover - Porsche Design's new Book One is an actual notebook (albeit with a detachable display!). It's conceptually similar to Microsoft's Surface Book, and features Intel's latest Kaby Lake processors, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD.
Panasonic showed off its latest Toughbook, an ultra-rugged Windows 10 detachable that's waterproof and has a briefcase-style carrying handle. It's packed full of the latest high-end specs - but it will come at quite a high price.
Alcatel introduced its Plus12 Windows 10 2-in-1 aimed primarily at business buyers on a budget. It features some pretty modest specs, but - as you'll see in my hands-on video - it also has one of the worst keyboards I've encountered for some time.
Alcatel's Idol 4S with Windows 10 has been available in the US for months, but the company finally announced its European launch this week, priced at €599. For some reason, the device has been rebranded as the 'Idol 4 Pro' for Europe, but the Windows 10 Mobile flagship's features are identical to those of its US counterpart.
Our friends over at PC World spotted a refreshed version of HP's Elite x3 Windows 10 Mobile flagship that had accidentally appeared on its stand at MWC. However, when I went down there to check it out, the company had removed it from view, and its staff rather joylessly refused to say anything about it, brusquely parroting the phrase "we haven't announced anything".
Still, HP did announce new accessories for the Elite x3, as well as revealing the Pro x2 612 G2, a premium 12-inch 2-in-1 targeting enterprise customers. The Elite x3 also received a firmware update this week, bringing performance improvements and camera optimizations.
Lenovo unveiled a range of new Android devices aimed at families, including some features designed with kids in mind...
...as well as a selection of new Windows 10 devices covering a wide range of price points. The Miix 320 - which is priced as low as $199.99 USD - was my personal favorite, offering some very nice features, along with rock-solid build quality. But the new additions to the Lenovo range include a 14-inch Yoga 520 notebook, and two flagship-class Yoga 720 convertibles with stylus support, stylish design, and beautiful displays.
You can get an overview of all four of those new Lenovo Windows 10 devices in my hands-on video.
Lenovo's rather lovely new G5 and G5 Plus mid-range smartphones were revealed at MWC too. They offer a decent set of specs combined with some thoughtful design features, along with stylish looks. The G5 was one of my personal favorites at MWC - you can see my impressions of both handsets in my hands-on video.
Sony revealed four new Xperia devices in Barcelona, including two high-end handsets, the Xperia XZ Premium and Xperia XZs. The Premium features Sony's Motion Eye camera technology which offers slow motion video capture at up to 960fps.
But perhaps the most exciting device on Sony's stand was the Xperia Touch, a €1,500 EUR device running Android 7.0 that projects its user interface onto a flat surface, turning it into a 23-inch touch display. The projector is portable too, but it currently offers just one hour of battery life.
Find out more about that device in my hands-on video here.
Jolla announced that it has added support for its Sailfish OS on some of Sony's Xperia devices. The company also revealed plans to build a local mobile OS aimed specifically at China.
Chinese manufacturer ZTE revealed its new Blade V8 Lite and Mini handsets, offering lesser specs in a more affordable package than the Blade V8 Pro that it announced at CES in January.
Xiaomi showed off its new Mi 5c featuring the company's own Surge S1 processor, along with 3GB RAM, 64GB storage and a 5.5-inch display.
Xiaomi also introduced its new Redmi 4X, a low-cost smartphone with Qualcomm's latest mid-range Snapdragon 435 chipset, and a very spacious 4100mAh battery, priced from as little as $102.
Meanwhile, General Mobile debuted the GM6, the latest handset to launch under Google's Android One initiative.
While the new devices were the major focus of attention at MWC, they weren't the only big announcements at the show. Meizu, for example, revealed its new Super mCharge battery technology with a live demo in which it charged a flagship phone with a 3000mAh battery from 0% to 100% in just 18 minutes.
And in a year when 'the next big thing' was the subject of endless discussion at MWC, the International Telecommunication Union released a draft report detailing the specifications of the next-generation 5G mobile standard, promising 20Gbps download speeds and latency as low as 1ms.
The GSM Association, which hosts the Mobile World Congress expo each year, published its annual Mobile Economy report, in which it estimated that there will be five billion mobile users by mid-2017.
Moving on from MWC, fresh details emerged this week of Apple's plans for its 'Anniversary iPhone', which is due to arrive later this year. The Wall Street Journal reported that the new handset will include a curved AMOLED screen along with USB Type-C support, while a separate report suggested that Apple is investing heavily in augmented reality technology for the device.
Nvidia announced details of its new GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GPU, with a whopping 11GB of GDDR5X memory. Pre-orders opened on Thursday, and deliveries will begin on March 10.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation marked the fifth anniversary of its original maker board by announcing a new variant of the ultra-low-cost Raspberry Pi Zero, which now features 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 for just $10.
Elsewhere, an intrepid developer built a Raspberry Pi wearable device running Windows 98 (!!). Developer Michael Darby said: "I thought, wouldn’t it be ridiculous and awesome to have Windows 98 on my wrist?"
Yes, Michael - "ridiculous and awesome" is the exact phrase I would have chosen. Love it!
There was much rejoicing among Star Trek fans in January when Amazon added 'Computer' as a wake-word for its Alexa digital assistant. Now, the company is apparently preparing to add new capabilities to Alexa, including voice calling functionality.
Google has started to bring its digital Assistant to millions more Android devices, after initially limiting it to its Pixel phones, Android Wear devices, and its Home speaker hub.
And the long wait for Google Home to launch in the UK will soon be over. The company announced that it will launch there in June, although pricing hasn't yet been revealed.
There's been some confusion surrounding the future of Google's Pixel laptops running Chrome OS. At a roundtable with reporters at MWC, Google gave the clear impression that it would not launch any more of its own-branded Chromebooks - but a few days later, it stated that its Pixel laptops aren't dead after all.
However, Google did confirm that it will definitely be launching new Pixel smartphones later this year.
Google's Nougat update continued to slowly make its way to more devices around the world in recent days:
- Droid Turbo 2 on Verizon gets Android 7.0 update
- Android 7.0 begins rolling out to the Moto G4 and G4 Plus in the US
- You can now sign up for the Honor 6X beta program to get Android 7.0
- Android 7.1.2 Nougat beta finally heads to the Nexus 6P
- OnePlus 3 and 3T get Android 7.1.1 beta in China (HydrogenOS) and other markets (OxygenOS)
Microsoft updated its Arrow Launcher for Android to version 3.0, calling it the "biggest release yet", bringing new features and major performance enhancements. A couple of days later, it rolled out beta version 3.1, bringing support for Android tablets.
We got a small taste of what might have been for Microsoft's Windows 10 Mobile flagships, as a series of screenshots revealed support for unique gestures originally intended for inclusion on the Lumia 950 and 950 XL - some of which may have been developed as part of the stillborn Lumia McLaren project.
Skype for Linux emerged from the alpha phase of its development with the release of a new beta that included all sorts of improvements and new features.
Meanwhile, Microsoft announced that it is discontinuing its Skype WiFi service at the end of this month - and it's not yet clear what the future holds for the separate Microsoft WiFi offering.
Microsoft Edge's share of the desktop browser market remains more or less stagnant, while Chrome has extended its lead from 57.94% to 58.53%, according to the latest data from NetMarketShare.
NetMarketShare data also showed zero growth (in fact, a very slight decline) for Windows 10, while Windows 7's share of the desktop market grew from 47.20% last month to 48.41% this month.
A similar picture was painted by the latest usage stats from gaming platform Steam, where Windows 10 usage declined by almost 1% in the last month, while Windows 7 increased.
A new version of Windows 10's iconic 'hero' desktop wallpaper was spotted in the latest build of Windows 10 Cloud - and there's some speculation that the updated version may be unique to the Cloud SKU of the OS.
A Windows 10 Cloud build that leaked earlier this week included the ability for users to download and install Win32 apps from the Windows Store.
The upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update will include the option to prevent users from installing any apps except those downloaded from the Windows Store, in an effort to improve on-device security.
Microsoft outlined details of new controls over Windows Update that will be introduced with the Creators Update in the next few weeks. These will include more granular controls for when to schedule updates and associated reboots.
Thanks to Microsoft's new Unified Update Platform, or UUP, future updates for Windows Insiders could see download sizes reduced by up to 65%.
It's been a busy week for Windows Insiders, with numerous new builds being released. After Windows 10 build 15046 brought new features to PCs in the Fast ring on Tuesday, Microsoft rolled out build 15048 to Fast ring PCs on Friday, along with build 15047 to Windows 10 Mobile devices.
Build 15043 also made its way to Windows 10 Mobile handsets in the Slow ring on Thursday - the first Slow ring build for those devices since December.
On top of that, Windows 10 SDK Preview build 15042 was released on Wednesday...
...along with ISOs for Windows 10 build 15042 for PCs.
Microsoft introduced Wake-on-LAN support for its Surface devices when used in conjunction with a Surface Ethernet adapter or dock - a very welcome addition, and rather a long time coming!
Microsoft also announced general availability of Visio Online on Wednesday, following several months in public preview. Coinciding with that announcement, it also added a couple of new features.
The Movies & TV app on Windows 10 (known as Films & TV in the United Kingdom) was updated for Windows Insiders to include support for 360-degree video, along with some other improvements.
However, in less welcome news, Microsoft slashed its OneDrive storage allowances on Wednesday. The company had previously announced plans to remove its 'unlimited' storage plan, blaming customers for using too much of their unlimited allowance. All customers who previously had an unlimited or 10TB allowance will now see their storage reduced to just 1TB.
Here's everything you need to know about the implications of those changes.
And Microsoft announced a further change on Wednesday, ditching its Windows Holographic brand in favor of 'Windows Mixed Reality'. The new name sounds rather bland in comparison to the old one, but it was a necessary change, given that the virtual reality headsets that run the OS offer none of the 'holographic' elements available on augmented reality devices like HoloLens.
Microsoft confirmed to Neowin on Wednesday that it will be bringing mixed reality experiences to both its current Xbox One consoles, and to its new Project Scorpio console, in 2018. It will begin shipping mixed reality dev kits this month, including a headset manufactured by Acer.
On Tuesday, Microsoft announced its new Xbox Game Pass, a $10 monthly subscription offering unlimited access to over 100 games for Xbox owners. The new service will be launching this Spring, and you can check out all the games that will be available on day one here.
Xbox One Insider Preview build 15039 was released to the Beta ring last weekend, while build 15045 made its way to the Alpha ring on Tuesday with several new features. Build 15046 was pushed to the Alpha ring on Thursday with various fixes for a range of issues.
Over 1,000 games are currently being created by developers under the ID@Xbox program; on Wednesday, Microsoft announced details of 22 of those games that are coming to both the Xbox One and Windows 10.
Battlefield 1 is free to play this weekend for Xbox Live Gold subscribers, and will also be available to buy with a hefty discount.
But after a wonderful and exciting week, our odyssey across the tech world ends this week on a truly sad note.
Last weekend, gamer Brian Vigneault died in the final hours of a 24-hour gaming marathon. He was live-streaming his gaming session on Twitch in an effort to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which arranges memorable and happy experiences for terminally ill children.
22 hours into his marathon, the 35-year-old took a break from the stream, but never returned. Brian had previously raised over $11,000 for non-profits during the course of five years as a charity live-streamer.
The thoughts of the whole Neowin team are with his family and friends.
Before we wrap things up for another week, let me first highlight a few extra bits around the site that I hope you’ll enjoy reading.
Timi Cantisano reviewed the unusual GPD WIN, a handheld computer with a built-in QWERTY keyboard, and gaming controls, including a direction pad, thumbsticks and ABXY buttons. That's definitely worth a read!
Byron Hinson published his review of Sniper Elite 4, which is available on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. The game isn't for the squeamish as it can get a bit gory at times, but Byron found it to be a lot of fun, although it can become a bit repetitive. Check out his full review here.
And after an action-packed week at Mobile World Congress, crammed full of big announcements, we're eager to hear your thoughts on what was revealed at the event.
Was there a particular device that you're looking forward to buying? A new technology that you're keen to try out? A new machine that you're determined to save up for and treat yourself to? Or just something that you really like the look of? Join in the discussion, and have your say!
...and finally, don't forget that you can check out all of our coverage from Mobile World Congress right here.
Stay tuned to Neowin in the days ahead for what’s sure to be another exciting week, filled with official news, lots of updates, and plenty of insights from around the world of technology.
For now, though, there’s lots more to read across the site – including all sorts of interesting discussions over on our forums.
From all of us
on the Neowin team,
have a great weekend!
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