The Wrap – March 2, 2018

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All the latest phones from Mobile World Congress, with news on the latest Samsung Galaxy, Sony Xperia, and Nokia and Alcatel handsets. It’s a totally mobile Wrap.


For the first Friday of March, you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round up, and one of the only round-ups you can listen to comfortably on your phone.

This week, though, your phone might be feeling a little envious, and there’s a great reason why: this week was Mobile World Congress, the time for all the big mobile announcements to be made for the first half of the year.

It happened in Spain as it always does this time of the year, and most of the world’s popular phone manufacturers were there, revealing just what they have in store for the next few months, as everyone fights to be the best mobile brand around.

For instance, Sony revealed its latest Xperia smartphones, two more in that range that veered from the boxy heavy bezel designs of the past and went for longer full view screens.

Like many of the phones from last year, Sony’s will now sport tall screens, with new hardware inside made for this year, better sound, and no headphone jacks, because that’s becoming the trend. Sony’s phones will also arrive with a world first, offering a 4K HDR camera, making it a camera that handles light and dark better for video than quite a lot of proper cameras out there.

They’ll also sport water resistance and arrive in both small and big versions, but our quibble with Sony’s Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact is the size, because while two screen sizes are catered for — big and small — both are quite thick, hitting 11 and 12 mils. That’s… not small, especially when phones generally hit 7 to 8 millimeter mark these days.

We’ll reserve judgement until they’re out, though, and expect we won’t have to wait long.

And not waiting long is pretty much consistent in the industry, with both Alcatel and Nokia showing mid-range and budget phones you won’t have to wait long for.

Over in Alcatel’s camp, it showed three, with the Alcatel 5 offering a 5.7 inch metal smartphone and two cameras on the front, the Alcatel 3V with a 6 inch screen and two cameras on the back, and the Alcatel 1X which was basically a budget phone.

In fact, it’s so much of a budget phone that while Alcatel’s mid-range 3V and 5 sit at under $300, the Alcatel 1X will cost $99 locally. Just think of that: under a hundred for a smartphone, with a full view screen, a fingerprint sensor, and two cameras, eight megapixel on the back and five on the front. That’s going to be very hard to look past for new phone owners, namely kids, and it is coming to Australia soon.

Also coming is a set of phones from Nokia, including a budget phone in the Nokia 1, which like the Alcatel 1 will be inexpensive, though this will be a little more. Really, Nokia’s focus is on the high-end. In fact this year, HMD plans to show that the Nokia name can still represent quality, with big screens in the Nokia 6 and Nokia 7 Plus, while a glass and metal bodied Nokia 8 will arrive in the Nokia 8 Sirocco. We’ll see these as early as May, where stores are looking like they’ll grab them as outright phones, though we’ll let you know if that changes.

And while these all look like interesting phones, the real focus of Mobile World Congress wasn’t on the smaller phone companies, but really the big ones, and in the battle for the best, there’s one that stands out: Samsung.

This week, Samsung had two phones to talk about, arriving in the S9 and S9 Plus, phones that take a close to identical design from last year’s excellent S8 and S8 Plus, but upgrade the inside.

That means you’ll find glass and metal bodies with big 5.8 and 6.2 inch screens, wireless charging, and water resistance, with the crux of what’s changed happening on the inside.

On the inside, there’s either going to be a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor for America, though Australians will likely see Samsung’s homegrown Exynos hardware, and both will be able to jump onto 4G networks operating at a whopping 1.2 gigabits per second, something Australian networks will begin to support this year.

The camera is what received most of the attention for the Galaxy S9. Think of this as a smartphone camera that behaves more like a proper camera, with the ability to switch apertures.

This means you get a low F1.5 aperture for low-light and portraits with a soft background, and a more standard “most of what’s close is in focus” F2.4, potentially improving the camera for all types of photography.

You’ll get the chance to see if the S9 is all it’s cracked up to be very soon, as both S9 and S9+ arrive March 16, which isn’t far.

And Mobile World Congress held a few other surprises, such as a SanDisk 400GB microSD which is a positively staggering amount of storage, while Telstra revealed its plans to make 5G networks a real tangible thing, offering just under 400 megabytes per second.

That’s a lot to look forward to, and it’s just the beginning, because with new tablets from Huawei, new gear in the internet of things, and just new stuff across the board, there’s just so much coming.

That’s good news for us, because we like reporting on the news and reviewing gear, and good news for you too.

And that is it for this week. You can find out about these stories and more at the website, and you can find more of this show through other podcast networks, such as TuneIn, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, and Pocket Casts.

The Wrap will be back next week for more technology as fast as possible. Until then, have a great week, a lovely weekend, and all that jazz. We’ll see you then. Take care.

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