A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015

  • An alphabetical listing of some of the smartphones launched at MWC
  • From the low-end to the high-end, and the ones between

THERE were at least two dozen new smartphones unveiled at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015 in Barcelona this past week, so here is a list of the models that would most likely hit this part of the world at some point this year (but may ship to other regions earlier).
 
They are listed in alphabetical order (by vendor), just in case you feel like adding any of them to your shopping list.

ACER

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015Liquid Jade Z

What is it? Acer’s highlight of the show, the Liquid Jade Z, is very much a mid-range device with a 5-inch HD (720 x 1280) IPS display with 'zero air gap' tech which Acer says will reduce reflections. Inside, a 64-bit MediaTek chipset along with 1GB or memory and 8GB of storage keep  things humming. This 4G handset comes with a 2300mAh battery.

Why should you care?  Acer claims the phone’s Read Mode eliminates blue light emissions from the display which help protect the eyes. The 13-megapixel rear camera also comes with a bright f1.8 sensor (which lets in more light) and can be voice-activated. On the front sits a 5-megapixel camera. Music fans may be pleased to know that this device can support 24-bit high-resolution audio thanks to technology from DTS.

How much is it going to hurt? At less than US$220, this shouldn’t be too hard on the wallet.

When is it available? In March 2015, starting in Europe.

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015

Liquid Z550

What is it? The larger of its budget models, the Liquid Z520 is a 5-inch smartphone with an underwhelming (480 x 800) display, a Snapdragon 400 chipset and an 80megapixel voice activation-enabled rear camera.  Disappointingly, the front shooter is just a 2-megapixel camera.

Why should you care? If you’re into Thai silk, well this phone’s back cover design is inspired by that fabric.  With the inclusion of DTS Studio Sound technology, Acer says this smartphone will “deliver astonishing stereo sound”.

How much will it hurt? At US$120, it will hardly break the bank.

When is it available? April 2015.


A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015Liquid Z250

What is it? This is the less-endowed version of the Z520, as it comes with a 4-inch display, a Snapdragon 200 chipset and a 5-megapixel rear camera. Since the resolution of the screen is the same, this device actually has a higher pixels-per-inch (PPI) count compared to the Z520.

Why should you care? Similarly designed with the Thai silk motif, this device is just shy of US$100 and clearly targeted at the fast-growing entry segment.

How much will it hurt? As stated above, it’s expected to cost less than US$100.

When is it available? In March 2015.

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015Liquid M220


What is it?  This is Acer’s entry in the Windows Phone 8.1 market, and it’s taken the budget handset approach with the Liquid M220. Powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, this device sports a 4-inch 480 x 800 display, 512MB of memory and 4GB of storage, with support for memory cards. This hardware would struggle in the world of Android, but on Windows Phone it can still perform decently. It comes with a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera.

Why should you care? If you like the Windows Phone platform but aren’t happy with what Microsoft is doing to the Lumia brand, this is clearly one of the few alternatives in the market today. Acer also says this device will get the Windows 10 upgrade when the time comes.
 
How much will it hurt? The Liquid M220 will be highly affordable at a sub-$90 price point.

When is it available? In April 2015, starting in Europe. Middle East and Africa.


ALCATEL ONETOUCH (TCL COMMUNICATION)
A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015

Alcatel OneTouch Hero 2+ (pic above)
 
What is it? The Hero 2+ is a minor upgrade from Hero 2, which was launched late last year. It comes with a 6-inch Full HD (1080 x 1920) display, a stylus, 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera, and updated with MediaTek’s mid-range MT6592 octa-core processor running at 2.0GHz. In terms of storage, it comes built-in with 16GB of storage and supports microSD card expansion up to 32GB.
 
Why should you care? The big difference with the Hero 2+ is CyanogenMod OS, an operating system that’s built on Android and well-known among Android developers and hobbyists for providing users better control of the phone’s hardware functionality, as well as personalisation features.
 
How much is it going to hurt? Not much. Price-wise, this phablet is targeted at the mid-range segment at US$299.
 
When will it be available? The second quarter of 2015 (Q2 2015) in North America.
 
A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015Alcatel OneTouch Touch Idol 3
 
What is it? This device comes in two flavours – the first sporting a 4.7-inch HD (720 x 1280) display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 chipset, along with a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera; while the 5.5-inch model has a Full HD (1080 x 1920) display and is powered by a higher-end Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor. It also comes with a better 8-megapixel front camera and significantly larger battery. Both devices support expandable storage up to 128GB.
 
Why should you care? With dual front-facing speakers powered by audio experts JBL and microphones on each side of the device, the Idol 3 works even when you hold the phone upside down while taking a call, useful in situations when you can’t decide which is the right way up – what Alcatel OneTouch calls a “unique reversible experience.”
 
How much is it going to hurt? Prices start at US$199 for the smaller model and US$249 for the larger one.
 
When is it available? April 2015, starting in Europe.
 
BLACKBERRY

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015

BlackBerry Leap (pic above)
 
What is it? Blackberry’s new, mid-range all-touch device targeted at emerging markets is a 5-inch smartphone that has a two-year-old Qualcomm chipset under the hood, an HD (720 x 1280) display, a decent 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera, plus a beefy 2800mAh battery to keep it juiced up for more than 24 hours (BlackBerry states 25 hours on its website, based on a heavy usage scenario).
 
Why should you care? For US$275, you’re getting BlackBerry’s enhanced security for all your personal data on your smartphone, as well as its suite of software like the BlackBerry Hub and BBM app to help you be more productive. It supports Android apps (compatibility issues notwithstanding) through the Amazon App Store.
 
How much is it going to hurt? As above, US$275.
 
When is it available? Available for pre-order today in selected markets.
 
GIONEE

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015Gionee ELIFE S7
 
What is it? Gionee’s ELIFE S7 is the follow-up act to its ultra-slim ELIFE S5.5 launched last year. The Chinese vendor has seen fit to improve the battery capacity to a decent 2750 mAh, and endowed it with a MediaTek 6752 octa-core 64-bit chip running at 1.7GHz. The dual-SIM, 4G-enabled handset now comes with a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED display and features a 13-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera. The 16GB of non-removable storage though, is a disappointment.
 
Why should you care? This is currently the thinnest dual-SIM smartphone in the market, but Gionee has gone a step further to enhance the overall rigidity of the device with what it calls “aviation level aluminium magnesium alloy” and scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and back.
 
How much is it going to hurt? There is a price to pay for thinness, though, as it will be priced at US$449.
 
When is it available? March 2015, a global rollout is expected.
 
HTC

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015

HTC One M9 (pic above)
 
What is it? The new flagship model from Taiwanese handset manufacturer HTC brings improvements to the hardware specifications, even though the design itself hasn’t changed that much except for the dual-finish metal body, which HTC claims is the first in the world. Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 processor running at 2.0GHz, along with 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage, the HTC One M9 is an evolution of its previous generations of flagships with beefed-up specifications. The 5-inch Full HD display however, remains the same.
 
Why should you care? Better imaging and sound. HTC One M9 now sports a 20-megapixel rear camera and a 4-megapixel ‘UltraPixel’ front camera (larger pixels, captures more light), and the dual ‘BoomSound’ front speakers have been enhanced with audio experts Dolby’s technology. HTC has also improved its Sense 7 software on top of Android 5 (Lollipop) to provide higher levels of personalisation based on your usage patterns.
 
How much is it going to hurt? A lot. This device will set you back US$650.
 
When is it available? March 2015, a global rollout is expected.
 
HUAWEI

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015

MediaPad X2 (pic above)
 
What is it? Huawei is testing the boundaries of how big a smartphone can really be with the MediaPad X2, since this 7-inch 4G-enabled device can also be reasonably held with one hand to make phone calls. Available in 16GB and 32GB variants, this phablet is powered by Huawei’s own HiSilicon Kirin 930 octa-core chipset. Featuring a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera, the MediaPad X2 comes with a display that goes beyond Full HD (1920 x 1200).
 
Why should you care? Thanks to its super thin bezels on the left and right sides, the MediaPad X2 seems designed to be used more as a smartphone than a tablet, especially when it supports voice calls.
 
How much is it going to hurt? It may prove to be a value buy for the specifications, as the price would probably be in the region of US$450, based on the original MediaPad X1.
 
When is it available? No word as yet.
 
LENOVO

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015

VIBE Shot (pic above)
 
What is it? The VIBE Shot is Lenovo’s smartphone that mimics the look and feel of a compact camera. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core 64-bit chipset, this device comes well-endowed with 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage, along with an expandable microSD card slot.  The battery isn’t shabby either, clocking in at 2900mAh. A 5-inch Full HD display and dual-SIM 4G support also feature.
 
Why should you care? The highlight is the imaging technology, as the VIBE Shot sports a 16-megapixel rear camera with 16:9 BSI sensor, optical image stabilisation and triple LED flash (that lights up skin tones better). On the front there is an 8-megapixel camera for high resolution selfies.  Lenovo has also included a two-step auto-focus and shutter button, paired with a physical switch for its Smart (auto) and Pro (manual) camera software modes.
 
How much is it going to hurt? Priced at US$349, this is one for the shutterbugs.
 
When is it available? June 2015, a global rollout is expected.

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015A7000

What is it? While it probably won’t win any design awards, this smartphone is targeted at movie and music mavens on a budget. Sporting a 5.5-inch HD (720 x 1280) display and built-in Dolby ATMOS audio technology (a world’s first, according to Lenovo), it aims to improve the quality of your music, movies and games through enhanced surround sound algorithms. Powered by a mid-range MediaTek MT6752 octa-core processor, the phone comes with 1GB of memory and 8GB of storage with a slot that supports up to 32GB memory cards. The 8-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front camera and 2900mAh removable battery round out the offering.
 
Why should you care? Licensing Dolby’s ATMOS enhancements for an entry-level device helps set the A7000 apart.
 
How much is it going to hurt? It comes at an attractive US$169.
    
When is it available? March 2015, a global rollout is expected.
 
LG

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015

LG Magna
 
What is it? The largest among the quartet of mid-range smartphones announced by the South Korean giant, the LG Magna borrows the curved display and styling from the G Flex 2 flagship, comes with a 5-inch HD (720 x 1280) display, a 1.2GHz quad-core chipset, and features an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera.
 
Why should you care? LG brings its high-end technology to the mid-range market with this device, including enhanced display technologies and rear volume and power control buttons, but the 1GB memory and 8GB built-in storage (despite support for expandable storage) seem a little paltry by today’s standards.
 
When is it available? Q2 2015.
 
LG Spirit
 
What is it? Consider this a smaller version of the LG Magna, a curved smartphone with a 4.5-inch HD display, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor and now standard 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel selfie camera.
 
Why should you care? It’s not easy to find a new 4.5-inch device with a decent quality screen these days since most manufacturers have moved up to 5-inch displays and above. Some users still consider this to be the ideal size of a smartphone for one-handed usage.
 
How much is it going to hurt? The expected sub-US$200 price point is another plus.
 
When is it available? Q2 2015.
 
LG Leon
 
What is it? This device is designed with a premium feel but is anything but in terms of hardware.  Powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, LG Leon offers 1GB or memory and 8GB of storage along with memory card support. The front camera has been pared down to VGA quality but on the rear there is at least a more decent 5-megapixel or 8-megapixel camera (region dependent). The 4.5-inch display is of a lower-resolution variety (480 x 854); however LG did apply some display enhancement technology to improve the colour and responsiveness.
 
Why should you care? If you really are on a tight budget but yearn for LG’s brand of smartphone design (with the power and volume buttons on the back cover) or if you’re on the hunt for a really affordable 4.5-inch smartphone, this could be on your list.
 
When is it available? Q2 2015.
 
LG Joy
 
What is it? An entry-level offering from LG, this 4-inch smartphone sports a 480 x 800 display and different configurations of processor (dual-core or quad-core), memory (512MB or 1GB) and storage (4GB or 8GB), depending on the region. No pricing has been announced yet, but we would be surprised if it even went beyond US$80, considering the specifications.
 
Why should you care? To see how Android 5 (Lollipop) runs on really low-end hardware.
 
When is it available? Q2 2015
 
MICROSOFT

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015

Lumia 640 (pic above)
 
What is it? Microsoft’s Lumia 640 is a mid-range dual-SIM Windows Phone handset, with a 5-inch HD (720 x 1280) display enhanced with sunlight readability technologies.This phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor running at 1.2GHz, comes with 1GB of memory and 8GB of storage (expandable to 128GB), with an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 0.9-megapixel front camera.
 
Why should you care? At just a touch below US$180 for the 4G model, you get access to a fairly well-specified Windows Phone device that would be upgradeable to Windows 10 when that new OS lands. And you can be productive on-the-go with the free one year subscription to Office 365 Personal (this includes a license for a PC/ Mac and a tablet), a whopping free terabyte of OneDrive cloud storage, plus 60 minutes of free Skype calls per month.
 
How much is it going to hurt? Barely, at US$180.
 
When is it available? April 2015.

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015

Lumia 640 XL (pic above)
 
What is it? A larger and improved version of the Lumia 640, this phablet sports a 5.7-inch HD display and shares the same Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB of memory and 8GB of storage as its smaller counterpart. However the imaging specs have been bumped up to a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front shooter. It will be available with dual-SIM support (region dependent) and 3G and 4G varieties.
 
Why should you care? Expected to retail at US$245 for the 4G model, the Lumia 640 XL represents good value for a Windows Phone phablet, particularly with the bundled Office 365, OneDrive and Skype freebies mentioned above. Those keen on test-driving Windows 10 on a smartphone should also consider both these Lumias.
 
How much is it going to hurt? As above, US$245.
 
When is it available? April 2015.
 
SAMSUNG

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015

Samsung Galaxy S6 (pic above)
 
What is it? Samsung makes an impressive comeback after the disappointment that was the Samsung Galaxy S5. The Galaxy S6 looks and feels like a premium flagship with an aluminium metal body and Gorilla Glass 4 on the front and back. The 5.1-inch Super AMOLED Quad HD display (2560 x 1440) has one of the highest resolutions in the industry. It’s powered by Samsung’s latest Exynos 7410 octa-core processor and comes in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB storage versions, doing away with expandable storage. It has an improved fingerprint sensor that’s linked to Samsung’s new mobile payment system. Its cameras have been bumped up to 16-megapixel in the rear with an f1.9 sensor (great for low-light conditions) and 5-megapixel at the front, and it has streamlined its TouchWiz software by removing unnecessary apps and simplifying the menus. The only downside is the non-removable battery but on the other hand, the device supports ultra-fast charging and different wireless charging standards.
 
Why should you care? If you aren’t already a Samsung user longing to upgrade to the South Korean giant’s next big thing, perhaps the Galaxy S6’s high-class looks or the premium hardware specs will entice you away from your iPhone.  
 
How much is it going to hurt? Be prepared to dish out at least US$780 for the lowest 32GB variant.
 
When is it available? April 2015.

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (pic above)
 
What is it? The Galaxy S6 Edge has a ‘three-sided screen’ with the bezels disappearing as the screen curves around the phone on the sides. The edge screens provide some light functionality but it’s the overall polish that grabs the attention. Aside from that, its specifications are pretty much on par with the Galaxy S6, in terms of the super high resolution display, processor, cameras, fingerprint sensor and wireless charging. 

Why should you care? This curved screen version of Samsung's flagship received a lot of praise for the unique and premium design as well as software tweaks that take advantage of the side screens.  Samsung has played its high-spec, high design card well.
 
How much is it going to hurt? If brandishing the latest, highly-desired, premium design flagship smartphone is your thing, you’ll want to set aside US$950 for the privilege.
 
When is it available? April 2015.

SONY
 
A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015Xperia M4 Aqua
 
What is it? Unlike last year, Sony didn’t launch a new flagship smartphone at MWC 2015. Instead, it focused on the Xperia M4 Aqua, a mid-range model that borrows the design and some features from its high-end Xperia Z3 cousin. Key among them are the waterproof body (IP65/8 rated) and imaging technology. The M4 Aqua is equipped with a 13-megapixel rear camera that boasts an f2.0 aperture and ISO 3200 sensitivity, allowing users to capture better photos in low-light environments. On the front sits a 5-megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens. All this is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octacore 64-bit chipset, 1GB of memory, and 8GB of storage, with an expandable storage option. Sony says this 5-inch smartphone can squeeze two days of juice from its 2400mAh battery, a reasonable claim considering it’s not pushing out as many pixels on its HD (720 x 1280) display.
 
Why should you care? Sony’s water and dustproof Xperia Z flagships are typically priced beyond the reach of the mass market, but the Xperia M4 Aqua brings that feature to a larger crowd.
 
How much is it going to hurt? At US$335 it won’t be the most affordable mid-range handset, but it will be unique.
 
When is it available? August 2015, a global rollout is expected.

ZTE

A rundown of the smartphones launched at MWC 2015ZTE Grand S3 (pic, left)

What is it?  Chinese mobile network and handset manufacturer ZTE launched an enhanced version of its current flagship smartphone, ZTE Grand S3. This 5.5-inch Full HD (1080 x 1920) device runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset, backed by 3GB of memory and 16GB of storage, with support for expandable storage.  ZTE has also included a 3100mAh battery which should get you through the day, as well as Dolby’s audio wizardry.

Why should you care?  While the 16-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel front camera are top of the line in terms of imaging tech, what’s grabbing attention is ZTE’s tie-up with biometric firm EyeVerify to include an eye-based biometric security system.  This ‘Eyeprint ID’ can be used to unlock the screen, authorise payments and access private files. Is it better than fingerprint sensors? That’s still unproven, since the ZTE Grand S3 is one of the first smartphones with this technology.

How much will it hurt? At just below US$500 (based on its current price in China), it may be too eye-watering for some.

When is it available? It is already available in China and will be shipping to Europe within the next quarter, but no word yet on when it will hit South-East Asian shores.

Summary
 
And there you have it, a list of the smartphones that were introduced at Mobile World Congress 2015.
 
Which ones are you most looking forward to? And did we miss out on any specific smartphones?  Just drop us a comment below, we’d love to get your feedback.
 
Related Stories:
 
Mobile World Congress: Moving beyond device launches
 
MWC 2015: Samsung unleashes Galaxy S6, other goodies
 
MWC 2015: HTC rolls out most powerful smartphone, gets into VR and wearables
 
MWC 2015: Huawei rolls out wearables, new MediaPad
 
 
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