Almost all of the top smartphone manufacturers exhibited at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Manufacturers such as LG and Asus used this platform to unveil their latest designs and upcoming smartphones, but Nokia and Samsung in particular caught my eye – not because of innovation, but because of the evolution of their products.
Nokia showed off its latest smartphone offerings, the Nokia 7 Plus and Nokia 8 Sirocco. It also showcased an updated Nokia 8110, the curved phone from the original "The Matrix". But all eyes were still on the two Android devices that everyone seems to be talking about. Are these the devices that will complete Nokia's return to the mobile phone market?
Finnish firm HMD Global recently acquired Nokia. It has the licence to manufacture and distribute Nokia smartphones, and HMD is one of the reasons for Nokia's strong return to the smartphone market. Although Nokia smartphones may not have been that impressive last year, the company did produce some of the most durable smartphones on the market.
Nokia 7 Plus
The Nokia 7 Plus is a mid-range smartphone that has a large 15cm display with an aspect ratio of 18:9. It is powered by the latest mid-tier Snapdragon 660 chip alongside 4GB of RAM. One of the highlights of this smartphone, apart from its display, is its large 3800mAh battery. Nokia has promised about two days of usage on the smartphone's Android Oreo operating system.
The Nokia 7 Plus has an aluminium frame with a plastic back cover that is coated with six layers of paint, giving the smartphone an expensive ceramic feel. On the back of the device, you'll find dual 12MP and 13MP cameras.
Nokia 8 Sirocco
The Nokia 8 Sirocco is Nokia's flagship device, bringing the company back to the high end of the smartphone market. The Nokia 8 Sirocco is almost all glass, with just a tiny exception for its stainless steel frame. Nokia painted the rear glass back in gloss black, and it houses dual 12MP Carl Zeiss optics cameras. The battery and screen aren't as impressive as the Nokia 7 Plus. The 8 Sirocco only has a 3260mAh battery and a 13.75cm display.
But the Nokia 8 Sirroco shines in its build quality, powerful Snapdragon 835 chip and 6GB of RAM. And it comes standard with 128GB of storage as well as wireless charging. Another big feature of this smartphone is the software. The Nokia 8 Sirocco ships with Android One, a pure stock Android experience with zero bloatware. Google has also promised updates on the software for the next two years.
The Samsung S8, Which is Coming to SA
Samsung recently unveiled its latest Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones at the congress in Barcelona. There is little difference in the design when compared with last year's successful Galaxy S8 model, but Samsung has loaded the S9 with some decent hardware and software updates. Some of them feel gimmicky, but others are legit offerings from this awesome new smartphone.
The feature that everyone is talking about at the moment is the Samsung S9's camera. It has a 12MP camera with variable aperture. This means that the camera can automatically or manually shift from f/1.5 to f/2.4. A camera aperture of f/1.5 is suited for brighter conditions and allows less light into the lens. But in ultra-low light settings, the S9 camera will switch to f/2.4 to allow more light to creep into the lens. This is great for taking pictures in darker conditions.
The S9 will ship with the latest Snapdragon 845 chip in most markets. Here in SA, we will get our S9's with an Exynos 9810 chip and 4GB of RAM powered by a 3000mAh battery. The S9+ will have 6GB of RAM and a 3500mAh battery. The fingerprint reader has moved to what seems like the correct position. So no more getting confused with the reader and camera, as was the case with the S8.
For the first time, the S9 will have dual stereo speakers. The usual downward-facing speaker is still present along with a forward-facing speaker within the earpiece. This makes a major difference in sound and not only adds loudness but also clarity. In addition to the fingerprint reader, the S9 has facial recognition.
The Samsung S9 will come with the latest Android 8 Oreo operating system. You can expect this OS to have a heavy Samsung skin on top of it as well as Samsung's virtual assistant, Bixby. A new video recording feature is Super Slo-Mo video in 960fps. This is a superb achievement, which has a smart feature that automatically initiates the slow-mo video when it detects movement.
The Samsung S9 is available to pre-order in South Africa for the following prices:
- Samsung Galaxy S9: R15,499
- Samsung Galaxy S9+: R17,999
Yes, that is flagship money. But Samsung has kept prices the same as last year's S8 prices.