Ever feel like there isn’t a whole lot of variety out there when it comes to smartphones? Aside from Apple, Samsung, and Google, it may seem like choice is limited, and to some extent that is true in North America. However, if you take a look off the beaten path, there are interesting options to be found. This year’s Mobile World Congress just wrapped up in Barcelona, and we’re going to take a look at a few announcements that we think have the potential to reward those with the courage to buy directly from the manufacturer, or even import a device from overseas.
Realme GT 2 Pro
Image credit: Realme
I’ll admit, it was the Realme GT 2 Pro’s pastel-mint model that truly caught my eye. I don’t think I’ve seen a phone in that colour before. Additionally, the phone’s exterior is designed in partnership with famed industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa, and made from a “bio-based polymer” that has a look and feel similar to that of paper. It’s a fresh design philosophy, and the company claims that the manufacturing process for this new material produces 35% fewer greenhouse emissions than standard techniques. Aside from design, the phone is no slouch, as it is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. It sports dual 50MP wide and ultra-wide cameras, and a novel 40X magnification “micro-lens” camera that allows for extreme close-ups. The understated design of this one,with a strong processor and quirky approach to photography has certainly piqued my interest.
Oppo Find X5 Pro
Image credit: Oppo
On the other end of the photography spectrum is the Oppo Find X5 Pro, which is launching its new device co-branded with high-end camera company Hasselblad. No, this doesn’t mean that the Find X5 Pro will have a medium format sensor behind the lens, unfortunately. However, the company contributed to the phone’s camera software, as well as its dedicated photo processing chip. It otherwise sports similar processing power to other flagships, with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, and 12 GB of RAM. On the design side, it’s made from machined ceramic and while the looks may not appeal to all, it certainly makes a bold statement of what it’s trying to achieve.
150W wired charging standard (kinda)
Image credit: Oppo
The above-mentioned brand Oppo has been developing ultra-fast charging, known as VOOC, for several years. While previous iterations of this technology have allowed charging at 65-80W, the company announced at MWC that a 150W charging solution is in the works and will be available for their devices soon. This is some seriously fast charging, delivering a full charge in as little as 15 minutes. Although it currently is a proprietary technology that is only available on some Oppo, Realme and OnePlus devices, I hope that it will eventually trickle down to the rest of the industry as time goes by. The prospect of a full charge in such a short amount of time would really change the way that we manage our battery life.
Image credit: OSOM
Privacy is a bigger deal than ever, and OSOM is a new startup whose goal is to truly embody a privacy-first philosophy. Formed by past members of the now-defunct company Essential, OSOM is looking to take what was learned from its past experience and deliver customers a phone that is secure, powerful, and built from premium materials. Although many details remain to be confirmed (the phone is scheduled for a Q4 launch), the company’s focus on delivering a truly private phone makes this an interesting prospect. In an interview, they laid out various details of the phone, from its high-end materials, its Qualcomm processor (type is TBD), price (sub-$1000) and the fact that its USB cable will have a “kill switch” that disables its data transfer capabilities while charging. If OSOM can deliver on its promises, the OV1 may just be the phone for those who keep privacy as their top priority.
Nothing Phone (1)
Image credit: Nothing
Nothing is a new company that is led by OnePlus co-founder, Carl Pei. Last year they launched the very affordable, sleekly-designed, and relatively well-received wireless earbuds, the Ear (1). The hype around the company seems to be well-founded. Not only are their existing products designed in collaboration with the stylish Swedish tech company Teenage Engineering, Pei’s OnePlus pedigree offers hope that the hardware experience itself will live up to the excitement that the brand has drummed up. At the time of writing, the official design of the phone has not been revealed, but rumour has it that a working prototype was being shown to select individuals at MWC. Reports indicate that a launch could be happening as early as April, so we can expect to know more on this one in the near future. Can’t wait for Nothing!
This is, of course, just the tip of the iceberg of upcoming devices. I’ve deliberately left out the major North American players, and there are many other international manufacturers that have new devices in the works. Let us know in the comments what kind of left-field announcements from MWC or otherwise have you excited for 2022. We’d love to hear about them!