With so much going on in the world right now, it’s easy to forget that Mobile World Congress, the first of many tech events that was cancelled due to COVID-19, made its triumphant return this week to an in-person format in Barcelona. The show, while relatively muted given the current state of the world, remained center stage for many new gadgets and technologies to make their debut.
I got my hands on Lenovo and TCL’s announcements ahead of time and have articles covering virtually all of their newest products (up on the site now). Then, as per usual, a tsunami of news flooded my inbox and I wasn’t able to get to everything I wanted to cover. And by covering the show remotely, my job of sifting through headlines to find the best of the best was a bit more tedious than usual. So, I figured I’d spend some time skimming through the news and finding the MWC announcements I found the most interesting for this week’s edition of Wiretapped.
Super-fast recharge speeds for your phone are finally here
Oppo was among the most compelling of presenters with its unveiling of new 150W SuperVOOC fast charging. And no, I didn’t add an extra “1” to “50W” – this charging tech is rated at 150W and can fill your phone from one percent to 100 percent in as little as 15 minutes.
That’s at least according to Oppo which cites relatively early testing of the technology. It has yet to ship the crazy-fast speeds on a commercial phone, but devices from both OnePlus and Realme will be released with it onboard as early as this year.
What’s even crazier is Oppo’s more concept-esque announcement of 240W charging. This version of SuperVOOC charging will be capable of recharging a 4,500mAh battery from zero to 100 percent in as little as nine minutes, which seems crazy.
As long as Oppo, OnePlus, Realme, and any other company who decides to ship phones with these fast charging speeds can deliver on the experience (e.g. keep their phones from getting hot, include a compatible wall wart in the box, don’t charge a huge premium when buying an extra wall wart), we could be on the verge of seemingly instantaneous smartphone recharge speeds becoming mainstream. That’s very exciting, especially since the fastest charging speeds nowadays top out at 80W and a mere quarter of that on other popular phones.
Oppo’s Find X5 Pro is here
Of course, Oppo didn’t stop at charging tech. The company finally took the wraps off its Find X5 series, and the Find X5 Pro has been getting a lot of attention.
It’s probably all thanks to that design, which is nothing short of unique. The camera bump is melted into the rest of the ceramic backplate on the phone, and with the stark white finish, it’s hard to deny the resemblance to a Stormtrooper.
The specs are also all up to snuff with a 6.7-inch Quad HD 120Hz AMOLED display, Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, 12GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage, and a 5,000mAh battery with 80W fast charging. The cameras are Hasselblad-tuned with a main 50MP sensor on the back paired to a second 50MP ultra-wide lens and a 13MP telephoto. Oppo includes its own MariSilicon X imaging NPU for improved 4K HDR video.
Overall, the phone seems like a stellar offering for those in markets where it’ll be sold. Unfortunately, those details remain unclear, along with exactly how much the phone will cost. Sascha Segan at PCMag has a hands-on piece that details the phone a bit more for those curious about details.
Honor’s Magic 4 Pro wirelessly charges at 100W
Speaking of both crazy-fast charging and new smartphones at MWC, Honor took the stage to announce its new flagship, the Magic 4 Pro. The phone does all the flagship things you expect (fast processor, high-end cameras, big battery), but by far the most interesting aspect is its insanely fast wireless charging speed of 100W.
Obviously, Honor will be selling its own proprietary wireless charging accessory for the Magic 4 Pro to achieve the speed, and it’ll supply a 100W charging brick for those who prefer cable-based recharges. The phone’s 4,600mAh battery will be capable of going from zero to 100 percent in 30 minutes according to the company, which is nothing short of impressive.
I didn’t do a full article on these devices since I ran out of time, but I wanted to mention some of TCL’s concept phones that it spoke about briefly during the show.
There’s the 360-degree Ultra Flex which offers a basic hotdog bun-style form factor when folded and laid flat, but can then wrap 360 degrees around so you have a screen on both sides of your phone.
Then, then there’s the Fold N Roll which is definitely the highlight of the two devices. TCL says the device can not only unfold like the Ultra Flex or something like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3, but its screen can also be expanded by pulling or “rolling” out the rest of the panel.
The Ultra Flex, according to TCL, comes with an 8.01-inch PLP AMOLED screen with a 2480×1860 resolution, as well as support for an active stylus. Meanwhile, the Fold N Roll’s screen sits at 7-inches when retracted and 8.8-inches when rolled out. Its 2880×2160 resolution is backed up by a 360 ppi. In addition, the device ranges from 8mm to 18mm thick depending on whether it’s folded or unfolded.
By no means is TCL promising to ship either of these phones. Rather, they’re simple concepts it’s showcasing to say “hey, we’re thinking about weird stuff.” And let’s be honest – who doesn’t love a weird gadget?
Samsung updates its Galaxy Books with 12th-gen Intel processors, 1080p webcams, and Multi-Control (a.k.a. Sidecar)
In the laptop world, Samsung unveiled some new Galaxy Books in the form of a new Galaxy Book 2 Pro, Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360, and Galaxy Book 2 360. Each of the new devices ship with Full HD AMOLED displays, 12th-generation Intel processors, and 1080p webcams for sharper video calls.
A feature that caught my eye was Multi-Control, exclusive to the Galaxy Book 2 Pro. It allows you to pair the laptop with one of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8s and use it as a secondary monitor. It’s the same concept Apple followed with Sidecar on the Mac and iPad. Whether Samsung is able to match the quality of Apple’s rendition is unclear, but that’s what reviews are for.
Other than these changes, you can expect a very similar experience with these Galaxy Books if you’re familiar with the Galaxy Book lifestyle at all. Plenty of Samsung-oriented software features are onboard, the laptops remain extremely light, and they’re all relatively affordable. The Galaxy Book 2 360 starts at $899.99, the Galaxy Book 2 Pro starts at $1,049.99, and the Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 starts at $1,299.99. They’ll start shipping April 1st.
Lenovo’s ThinkPad X13s is the first to run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3
By far one of the most interesting announcements from Lenovo I covered during MWC was the ThinkPad X13s. The laptop is cited as being the first to ship with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 processor which is promising to deliver on both performance and efficiency. It’s also the first laptop to ship with Windows 11 running on ARM.
Because it’s a Snapdragon chip, Lenovo is able to claim insane amounts of battery life, as much as 28 hours of use on a full charge. It also includes 5G connectivity and the ability to keep the device always on so that you get those instant-wake times we all enjoy on our phones.
It’ll retail for $1,099 when it goes on sale this May.
Huawei reveals a high-end e-reader/Android tablet with stylus support
If you’ve wanted more from your Kindle but are tired of waiting for Amazon to give it to you, maybe Huawei has what you’re looking for. The company unveiled its new MatePad Paper tablet which, at its core, is an e-reader with a big 10.3-inch display.
However, go a little deeper and you’ll find that it’s actually an Android tablet (running HarmonyOS and everything). The MatePad Paper includes support for Huawei’s M-Pencil stylus for taking notes, and there’s a microphone for recording voice notes. Huawei even includes its App Gallery for downloading new apps.
Granted, I’m not sure how useful a completely gray e-Ink Android tablet can be, but if that’s appealing to you, it’ll launch for €499 (or about $558). Basil Kronfli at TechRadar has a great hands-on article if you wanna dive deeper.