THE BEST OF THE MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2021
The 2021 edition of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona has been the most atypical so far since we inherited it from France over fifteen years ago. The congress was cut down to a third of its size mostly due to the strict measures against COVID-19. However, in spite of its radical downsizing it met its goal of putting the spotlight once again on the tech sector and perhaps more importantly laying the groundwork for recovery in 2022. These are the most important takeaways from the Congress.
5G holograms will become a reality
During the pandemic, video calls have become a common tool in companies. Now, the arrival of 5G proposes to go one step further by using holograms such as those shown by Portl at MWC 2021. The aim is to make telepresence possible in order to have more fluid communication and collaboration in companies and projects and without the need to be all together to see each other “face to face”. Holograms will also have applications in other fields, such as education and healthcare. Broadband with 3D and 4K will do the magic!
Elon Musk launches his StarLink global Internet service
Internet anywhere in the world, without relying on copper or fibre optics? This is the great plan presented (virtually of course) by Elon Musk in one of the sessions that sparked the most interest during Mobile World Congress. Through a global satellite network and a user kit, Starlink allows its users to connect in the most remote places on the planet. The service will launch in August with a starting price of $499 for registration and $99 per monthly subscription, although it is expected to reduce these initial quotes when it reaches more users.
Smartphones get cheaper whilst rebelling against Android
The absence of large manufacturers such as Samsung or Xiaomi has not prevented us from seeing several new devices at very competitive prices during the 2021 MWC. For example, the Honor 50, which offer high-end features for less than 500 euros; or the low-cost Alcatel 1 smartphones, available from 59 euros. Meanwhile, Huawei is maintaining its battle with Google with the official launch of its own operating system HarmonyOS, which will now be offred on some Nokia devices. Also, the latest generation of Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processors for 5G was presented.
New specialised smartwatches and wearables
In addition to mobile phones, we also saw new launches within the wearable technology sector, which are targeting increasingly specialised segments. An example of which is the NickWatch, a smart watch sponsored by the Nickelodeon chain that allows parents to have their children located and communicate with them at any time. ZTE’s YouCare smart shirt has also attracted attention. It incorporates biometric sensors and 5G connection to monitor the user’s health and send an alert to family members and medical services in case of a sudden problem.
An increasingly connected and smart home
Home appliances were another category very much present at this year’s Mobile World Congress. One of the novelties that has attracted the most attention is the Vitro X1 MIA smart coffee maker presented by the vending company Azkoyen. Thanks to a futuristic visual tracking system, it allows users to choose a coffee or drink they want in a contactless way, just by looking at the screen. Very handy in times of pandemic! Also, Lenovo showed its concept of a connected home, with a whole ecosystem of devices, among which the Lenovo Smart Clock 2, smart alarm clock, stands out.
Local startups were given greater visibility
The 4YFN (4 Years From Now) event, dedicated to entrepreneurship, was made part of the official MWC 2021 program which helped give visibility to emerging companies. With less competition occupying the stands and a reduced entry price for local professionals, startups rightly took advantage of MWC 2021 to present their business to the world and make contacts. This is the case, for example, of the Spanish manufacturer CoComm, which presented its proposal for desktop phones: a hybrid of tablet, smartphone and desktop phone especially aimed at companies and remote workers.
MWC 2022 will be back in February and will have a spin-off in November
Before closing this edition, the GSMA, the official organizer of the congress, announced some details about the next edition. In 2022, MWC will be celebrated during its usual dates and will take place from February 28th until March 3rd in Barcelona. In addition, from November 16-18th, the first edition of Puzzle X, an event dedicated to advanced materials such as grapheme, will be held in Barcelona. Created as a spin-off of the Mobile World Congress, its first edition will take place in parallel to the Smart City Expo 2021.