Mobile World Congress 2016: Rolling updates

The highlights and lowlights from Barcelona

MWC16 Refresh this page for breaking news from Mobile World Congress 2016.

This is LTE Broadcasting...

Wouldn’t it be nice if mobile networks did proper one-to-many multicasting? And even nicer if they were handed chunks of plump, juicy spectrum to do it in? Ericsson thinks so too, and promoted the LTE Broadcast Forum this week with demos of multicasting routers. EE is the keenest of the UK networks having transmitted the FA Cup final last year using LTE Broadcast.

Xiaomi arrives in the West

Xiaomi sold 70m last year without selling into mature Western markets. Its new mi5 suggests it will arrive with a bang. The 5.15 inch, 129g model packs in a Snapdragon 820 SoC, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, but tops out at $413. It's the first phone designed from start to finish under former Google mobile chief Hugo Barra.
Full Story and Hands On

Android on Windows is getting slicker

Want some apps to run on your shiny new Windows 10 tablet, but can’t find anything decent in the Microsoft Store? There’s no shortage of choice in the Android world, and Remix OS brings those apps to the PC. The company formed by ex-Googlers showed off its latest, Beta-status Remix’s runtime in Barcelona; doors open to all next week.

HTC's big audio kinda might?

HTC is showing a prototype device which supports MQA (Master Quality Authenticated), a new audio format developed by Bob Stuart from British hi-fi company Meridian Audio. Stuart claims that MQA improves on CD quality but without requiring larger files. It does require more bandwidth than lossy formats like MP3 or AAC, however, as well as dedicated hardware for the D to A conversion. HTC’s Liviu Barbat, Senior Director for Global Partnerships and Business Development, is sounding out potential customers at MWC and will only proceed if it thinks the demand is there.
Full story to follow

Lenovo: we're keeping the Moto batwings

Lenovo has confirmed it will retain the Moto brand and batwings logo - confirming that reports of the brand’s death were premature. Lenovo will use its Vibe phone brand for cheaper models in emerging markets and the Moto brand globally, Motorola president Rick Osterloh confirmed. The company ruled out rushing into VR.
Lenovo MWC minisite

Out of sight drones call home

Intel is to help AT&T to control drones over a cellular network. Military drones typically use a ground station or satellite control, while public cellular network antennae point the wrong way for a drone: down, not up. Consumer drones require a line of sight. Intel wants to speed up the adoption of drones for civilian use, such as agriculture and transportation.
YouTube demo Intel AT&T

Google RCS client does RCS Google’s way

Google will support the telco establishment's official RCS standards in its Android clients. Operators today agreed to “transition toward a common, universal profile based on the GSMA’s RCS specifications and an Android RCS client provided by Google.” RCS was the operators answer to OTT upstarts like Skype and WhatsApp, which offered more sophisticated group chat and voice, but it flopped on launch. It’s based on Jibe, which Alphabet bought last year.
Full Story

Cyanogen lures devs with forbidden Android APIs

The company commercialising the hobbyist CyanogenMod flavour of Android has opened its doors to developers - and further raised the hackles of the modding community. Its Mod SDK allow hooks into functionality that Google doesn’t allow. Quite coincidentally, the SDKs have generous hooks for Cyanogen Inc investor Microsoft, which Cortana, Skype and OneNote integration.
Full Story to follow

Now look in your bin for your immersive VR experience

What better way of shedding your reputation as a budget brand than throwing in a free VR headset? Hong Kong-based Alcatel wants to shed its cheapie image, so it’s throwing in a free Google Cardboard VR headset with its new phones. Alcatel shipped over 40 million phones last year, most of them outside China, making it a Top 5 global vendor, but without leaving much of an mark on mature markets. It’s going up market with its OneTouch Idol 4 devices announced yesterday, priced at $279 and $449. The box doubles as the Cardboard VR viewer. Unfortunately, a strap isn't included, so you'll have to hold the VR headset to your face.

Sony seeks 'sub-flagship' niche for new Xperias

Sony finally has a response to being left behind by value Chinese rivals. It's revived the Xperia X range with three new models, packing some top-end features alongside Sony’s hallmark design and long battery life. The Xperia X Performance is a metal-backed 5 incher (with Qualcomm 820 Snapdragon inside) and a 23MP main camera. The new X uses the Snapdragon 615 part, while the Xperia XA uses a cheaper 720 pixel display and MediaTek processor. Sony reckons a five minute fast charging top up adds two hours of life to the phones. Prices have yet to be confirmed for the “sub flagships”, which will hit the street in the Summer.
Corporate Blog

LG goes modular

LG’s new flagship boasts expansion slots. The G5 isn’t as ‘modular’ as Google’s Project Ara, which allows every part to be replaced. Instead, the expansion units clip onto the bottom. Two expansion units were announced at launch: a combo camera grip-battery pack, and B&O Play, a 32bit DAC audio player made by Bang & Olufsen. The 4GB 5.1 incher features two rear cameras a glance display, and a removable battery. Full story
Release Product page

4.5GB will slake your 4K video thirst. Maybe

5G is still years away, but Huawei is touting 4.5G as an interim. Formally called 3GPP LTE-Advanced Pro, it’s a combination of carrier aggregation (bonding) and multiple antennae (MIMO). A trial with Aussie network Optus claiming a peak download speed of 1.23Gb/s . Enough for 4K video? Ericsson boasted a 5G prototype trial with NTT Docomo with throughput of 25Gb/s.

Huawei’s MateBook is a cheaper Surface

Huawei unveiled a Surface-style hybrid that's a bit cheaper than Microsoft’s boutique hardware, but just as light and thin. The 12-inch MateBook starts at €799 for the 12-inch 2160x1440 display MateBook. As with Microsoft, you’re gouged for the keyboard (€149), stylus/laser pointer (€69) and dock (€99). It’s about the same weight as the Surface, but boasts a fingerprint sensor.
Product page

HTC keeps flagship under cover

HTC broke with tradition and didn’t use MWC to announce a flagship - but it did give its midrange some One lustre. The 5.5-inch all-metal X9 $370 features a Mediatek processor. Release HTC also announced its Valve HR headset bundle, which includes a headset and two controllers, will hit the shelves in April, priced at $799 (US), more than Facebook’s $599 Rift.

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Zuck: Facebook won't retry Free Basics in India

Mañana: Nokia’s in no hurry to go back to phones

Is Facebook about to get a Virtual Reality check?

Hands On with the LG G5

LG vs Lego: why modular never caught on

Facebook sniffs at slow telcos, launches own Telecom Infrastructure Project

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge: Betting on VR with a dash of Vulkan

Imagination unfurls blueprints to 2017's TV, car dashboard chips

Alcatel drives upmarket with Idol 4 smartphone series

After a decade, HP returns to phones with the Elite X3

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