This year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) was quieter than usual, both in terms of people attending and launches. But that didn’t stop Honor and Huawei, with the latter being the clear winner in terms of both volume of new products and significance.
Here, then, is our pick of the announcements and products at MWC which I’ve seen first-hand on the Barcelona showfloor.
Best innovation of MWC 2022: Huawei Super Device
The only item on our list that isn’t a piece of hardware, the Huawei Super Device isn’t exactly software either. Instead, it’s the concept of products seamlessly linking together so that you can use the touchscreen of your tablet (for example) to mirror Photoshop on your main computer. That way, you can draw and edit directly on screen with a stylus. It’s very clever indeed, and the kind of thing we’ve only previously seen on Apple’s tightly controlled ecosystem of hardware and software. Even Samsung, which offers screen mirroring between its laptops, phones and tablets, can’t match the slickness here.
As ever with product launches, all I’ve seen so far are demos rather than tried it myself in the real world. But first signs are very promising indeed.
Best PC of MWC 2022: Huawei MateStation X
I, along with many of my colleagues, have already been much taken by Huawei’s MateView 28in screen, with its rich colours and 3:2 aspect ratio. And futuristic design. And intuitive controls. Now Huawei has done the logical, yet marvellous thing of building an all-in-one PC with the same traits.
It’s just as lovely and sleek to look at as the MateView, as the screen is left to be its devilishly slim self, while the base packs in the power. That’s an 11th generation Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. It’s also part of Huawei’s Super Device initiative, so pair it up with a tablet, laptop or printer (in its push for the home office, Huawei also launched a stylish mono laser at MWC) and they all work together.
The only downside is that the MateStation X doesn’t have a 12th generation Core chip, which is just that much faster. I asked Huawei’s tech guru about this and he explained this was due to the development work needed to make the Super Device glue (he didn’t say glue).
Best e-reader of MWC 2022: Huawei MatePad Paper
Again part of the Super Device family, which will make it that much easier to transfer files and notes from one to the other, the MatePad Paper features a 10.3in E Ink display and comes with a stylus (the Huawei M-Pencil) so that you can scrawl directly on screen.
That means scribbling notes, annotating and signing documents, and even doing the studenty thing of taking notes as you read. One of its best features is a split-screen option, so you can have the book (or PDF) on the left and write your notes on the right.
It’s built on Huawei’s HarmonyOS and supports the AppGallery, but it’s unclear if there’s a way to sideload Amazon’s Kindle app on to the device. I look forward to giving that a try, as while Huawei says there are 2 million books in its library that ain’t much good if they aren’t the ones you want to read.
Best luxury phone of MWC 2022: Honor Magic4 Pro
Honor took almost an hour at its MWC keynote to explain why the Magic4 Pro was so marvellous, and while it could have cut to the quick in ten minutes there was good reason to be boastful.
Top of the pops is the camera system, which is unmissable on the rear of this phone. There’s a 3.5x optical zoom main camera with a 64-megapixel sensor and the promise of 100x zoom (I remain cynical until I’ve given this a go in the wild). Then two more 50-megapixel cameras: one wide (f/1.8), one super-wide (f/2.2).
It’s crammed with power thanks to Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip and 256GB of built-in storage. Honor says the battery will typically have a 4,600mAh capacity, which may be enough for a day-and-a-half of use, and 100W wired and wireless charging means it can be back to 50% after 30 minutes.
This isn’t an iPhone mini rival. It weighs 215g (which is heavy) and measures a shade over 9mm thick, which reflects the whopping 6.8in curved OLED display. We don’t yet have a confirmed price, but the whisper on the street is £899.
Best business laptop of MWC 2022: Lenovo ThinkPad X13s
I hesitated to honour Lenovo with a prize this year, simply because it wasn’t physically at the show. Clearly there are good reasons for companies to stay away, but all the other products here were on stands (or in private booths) so that I could get my hands on them.
Instead, I must rely on a video feed to get me excited about the ThinkPad X13s, but years of handling other ThinkPads do at least allow me to have a good understanding of what to expect.
The first surprise: it runs on the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 platform, which means it won’t be as powerful as a modern-day Intel Core system and will run on the more limited Windows on Arm operating system. However, that gives it a stonking battery life of up to 28 hours, or so Lenovo claims.
Throw in support for 5G, a 1.1kg weight and a 5-megapixel webcam and you have all the ingredients for a brilliant travelling machine. It’s due to go on sale from May and prices start at $1,099 (no UK price yet).
Best high-end phone of MWC 2022: OnePlus 10 Pro
The OnePlus 10 Pro almost passed under my radar, with no glitzy on-stage event. Instead, I had to hoof my way to its stand at the far side of Hall 3 for a hands-on. Now, I won’t lie. You can’t really tell a huge amount from a brief play with a phone on a showfloor, but once again it’s the camera setup that catches the eye.
As OnePlus isn’t afraid of shouting, this has been co-developed by the camera legends Hasselblad, with the promise of better colour calibration and accuracy as a result. The three cameras – 8-megapixel zoom, 48-megapixel wide (f/1.8) and 50-megapixel ultra-wide (f/2.2) – don’t win for numbers but it’s quality that matters. I look forward to seeing how good it is in practice.
I can tell you that the matte black finish (or green “Emerald Forest”) looks both stylish and distinctive. I wouldn’t want to hide this away under a cover. Add a large 5,000mAh battery, the same Snapdragon chip found in the Honor and a price that’s likely to be between £600 and £700 and OnePlus may well have itself a winner.
We’ll know for sure when it launches in “the spring”.
Best luxury laptop of MWC 2022: Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360
So, thanks to BA’s IT failure I didn’t make it out in time to get hands on with the Galaxy Book2 Pro at MWC, but hope to do so in London in the coming week or two. That should back up my strong hunch that the Book2 Pro 360 is a future laptop star.
I’m confident because I’ve seen all the laptops that Samsung has released over the past two years, and almost without exception they’ve been excellent. The Book2 Pro 360 looks to follow in those footsteps, with a slim design whether you choose the 13.3in (1kg, 11.5mm thick) or 15.6in (1.4kg, 11.9mm thick) variant.
It uses Intel’s latest Core processors yet still offers a claimed battery life of up to 21 hours. Plus there’s a 1080p camera and a compact USB-C charger. The final plus point (from my personal and biased view) is that it comes in burgundy as well as boring silver and graphite.
Samsung hasn’t confirmed availability or prices, but these laptops won’t come cheap.
Best budget phone of MWC 2022: ZTE Blade V40 Vita
Full honesty mode? I didn’t manage to see the ZTE Blade V40 Vita at the show, because as I raced through its Hall 3 stand there was much else on display to catch the eye. Not least four other ZTE Blade 40 phones. It was only later, when I realised why this phone was called Vita, that I decided it worthy of an award.
That’s because ZTE has taken the very sensible decision to prioritise battery life over size. The 6,000mAh unit inside this phone may well see you through two days of usage. Now, the V40 Vita won’t be fast, it doesn’t include 5G and its fast-charging maxes at 22.5W, but you do get space for two SIMs and a microSD for supplementing the 128GB of storage.
I don’t have a price or availability, but I expect it to be very affordable. Under £200. The downside is that the 6.8in screen is big but the resolution isn’t amazing at 720 x 1,600. Ultimately, it’s the price that will dictate this offbeat phone’s success. But it’s nice to see something different.