World descends on Barcelona as biggest players roll out latest smartphones

New flagship unveilings follow new product launches from Nokia, LG and Huawei

Galaxy S9 launch

Galaxy S9 launch
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Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone maker, rounded off a busy day of device launches on Sunday in Barcelona ahead of the opening of the Mobile World Congress, with the unveiling of its flagship Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones.

The South Korean company’s new smartphones, launched yesterday evening, contain variable aperture camera systems for enhanced low-light performance, alongside super slow motion video recording capabilities.

The S9 and S9+ allow users to create their own 3D AR Emojis for use across messaging platforms, a nod to the Animoji feature introduced last year by arch-rival Apple.

“Not only do the Galaxy S9 and S9+ enable consumers to shoot great photos and videos anywhere, it’s a smartphone that’s designed to help them connect to others and express themselves in a way that’s unique and personal to them,” said DJ Koh, Samsung’s president and head of IT & Mobile Communications Division.


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Such features come on top of an otherwise largely-unchanged smartphone designs, in line with predictions of an “evolutionary” launch made by industry analysts Ovum.

“The S9 and S9+ are refined versions of the models from last year,” said Abbas Jaffar Ali, managing editor of TechRadar Middle East.

“Samsung seems to have addressed most concerns from the S8 and S8+ along with making it faster and with a camera that looks to be the best ever seen in a smartphone.”

Preorders for the S9 and S9+ open on Monday, with the devices expected to go on sale in the UAE in mid-March.

Five Nokia devices were launched on Sunday by HMD Global, which acquired the rights to the legacy smartphone brand in 2016.

These included a rebooted version of the Nokia 8810 feature phone, which featured prominently in 1999 sci-fi blockbuster The Matrix, the Nokia 1, a budget device that will run the newly launched Android Go operating system for lower-spec smartphones, and premium flagship Nokia 8 Sirocco.

LG unveiled its V30S ThinQ handset, an updated version of its V30+ handset with added AI capabilities for improved imaging and voice recognition functionality. The handset is slated for launch in the UAE later in the year, with exact dates yet to be determined.

China’s Huawei, the world’s third largest smartphone maker, did not unveil any new handsets yesterday, its P20 device due to be launched at a separate event in Paris in March. The vendor yesterday its MateBook X Pro laptop and three MediaPad Android tablets.

Sony is expected to round off the major launches of Barcelona on Monday with the widely anticipated XZ2 and XZ2 Compact smartphones. Abu Dhabi-based cybersecurity provider DarkMatter is due to hold a press event Monday, where it will launch its secure Katim phone, discuss its holistic approach to tackling cyber threats and will highlight the use of big data analytics to help telcos drive incremental revenues.

Mobile World Congress is expected to attract over 108,000 visitors between its opening today and its conclusion on Thursday. Keynote speakers at the event include Softbank Vision Fund CEO Rajeev Misra, Ajit Pai, chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission, and World Bank president Dr Jim Kong Ying.