We’re here at Mobile World Congress 2022 in Barcelona, where a raft of new devices have been unveiled. It certainly isn’t the biggest year for mobile phones at the event, particularly for products coming to the US. Notably missing are the splashy releases by Samsung we've seen in years past.
Nevertheless, HMD Global (maker of Nokia phones), TCL, and Motorola have done their best to keep the gadget-reveal hype going. Meanwhile, a brand like Oppo (in the absence of a major new model from sister brand OnePlus) is highlighting what’s on offer for a global audience, with the US sadly missing out on a heavy hitter.
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TCL Has Too Many Phones
TCL and HMD are two brands without the strongest showing in Barcelona, with a wide range of tech being launched. As such, TCL takes pride of place in this roundup with two dedicated entries.
The straightforward phone launches from TCL come in the form of a new TCL 30 5G, TCL 30+, TCL 30, TCL 30 SE, and TCL 30 E. (That's not confusing at all.) They're successors to the 20 series from 2021. The big news here are the prices—the most expensive is the 30 5G at €249 (roughly $280 in US dollars), and the price drops in a sliding scale down to the 30 E (€139). US pricing and availability have yet to be confirmed, but the 30+, 30, and 30 SE are all available to buy now in Europe, and the other two models are set for release in April.
And the specs offer good value for the money. Each phone gets a 50-MP triple-camera setup, except for the TCL 30 E, which settles for a 50-MP dual camera team-up. The displays and big batteries are likely to appeal to many. The TCL 30 5G, TCL 30+, and TCL 30 all get 6.7-inch FHD+ AMOLED panels. The full range is sporting roughly a 5,000-mAh cell, which should offer battery life well into a second day.
The one obvious downside is that only some of these devices are guaranteed to get one Android OS upgrade (to Android 13) and two years of security updates.
TCL Has More Weird Concept Phones
It wasn’t all about quantity for TCL though, with some quality inbound in the form of interesting concept devices. First, there’s the TCL Fold 'n Roll. The name says it all here: This phone is both foldable and rollable, allowing you to both extend the display and shrink it down to size, then close it shut.
Next is the 360-degree Ultra Flex, again continuing TCL’s useful theme of explaining it all in the name. This foldable can be closed shut with the screen on the inside or the outside. The final one, in some ways, combines both these ideas. The TCL Surround Display features a display on the front when closed. Then, when open, you get a larger display on the front and a display half the width on the back. It’s an interesting look, but the practical benefits remain unclear.
It's worth noting that we've yet to get our hands on TCL’s foldable line, and this is not the first time we’ve seen such devices. These are all just concepts, so it's unlikely we'll see any of them available for sale, though TCL has been hinting that it might launch a foldable this year.
Motorola Makes a Flagship—With a Stylus
Motorola is keeping things simple at MWC 2022, with one phone headlining its offering—the Edge+ (technically announced last week). The brand’s latest flagship sports the top-end Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, a swift 144-Hz screen refresh rate, and a triple-camera setup with optical image stabilization.
The design is as straightforward as it gets, but additional appeal comes from three years of bimonthly security updates and two OS upgrades. That's still not as great as what Samsung now offers, but it's a start. Oh, and there's a stylus, like on the new Galaxy S22 Ultra.
The phone is listed at $1,000, but Motorola is offering an $899 starting price for the first few weeks of the phone's launch—which suggests that you should probably never pay $1,000 for it. Motorola didn't share any official release dates.
Three New Nokia Budget Phones
Closely following TCL when it comes to the sheer number of devices being revealed at this show is HMD Global, which makes Nokia phones. Along with new earbuds and wireless headphones, the company showcased three new smartphones.
The top dog is the Nokia C2 2nd Edition—a modest device you can expect to be super cheap. It comes with a 5.7-inch display, up to 32 GB of internal storage (expandable to 256 GB via MicroSD), and a single 5-MP rear camera. This model also comes with a removable 2,400-mAh battery (you read that right, and no, you haven’t gone back to 2010), and a headphone jack.
Next, there’s the Nokia C21 and C21 Plus. The smaller model also comes with a removable battery, while the Plus does not. Both models have a 6.5-inch HD+ HDR display. So in this case, “Plus” does not indicate a larger size. Instead, the Plus offers a higher megapixel count on the camera and a larger battery. Both also offer a headphone jack and a fingerprint sensor. Pricing and availability are yet to be confirmed for all these new models.
Weirdly, HMD didn't tie a feature phone announcement with its lineup, though that might be because it announced a remake of the Nokia 2760 as a flip phone at CES 2022 (alongside four other smartphones).
Oppo’s Flagship Is a Fingerprint Magnet
Oppo phones aren't readily available in the US, but the company often creates impressive flagship experiences that rival the likes of Samsung, Google, and Apple elsewhere in the world. The new Find X5 series is no different.
The Oppo Find X5 Pro is the flagship, sporting a unique look that has evolved from its previous version. Rather than having an angular camera bump on the rear that looks like it has been attached after the fact, here the camera module is molded and blends in.
That’s not the only thing that may make the phone’s design divisive; the black color option is extremely shiny and reflective—showing off even the slightest smudges and prints. Here's hoping the white version won't have the same issue.
Oppo’s cameras have long been a selling point. Here we get a 50-MP main camera, a 50-MP ultrawide, and a 13-MP telephoto. Interestingly, while this device is powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, Oppo has opted to use its own MariSilicon X Imaging NPU to power the image processing. This will certainly make for an intriguing point of comparison against flagships using Qualcomm's processor.
Oppo has also adopted a Hasselblad partnership, following in the footsteps of its sister company OnePlus. The partnership here is for software only, with some Hasselblad-themed styles included.
The final big proposition of Oppo’s latest is super speedy 80-watt wired charging and 50-watt wireless charging—both backed up by a pleasingly sized 5,000-mAh battery. The phone is set to start at £1,049 (about $1,400) in the UK, making it one of the pricier flagship phones around.
Poco Has Promising Budget Phones
The next three phone brands don’t quite reach the heights of Oppo in showing US phone buyers what they're missing, but they certainly represent added choice across the rest of the world. You may be familiar with Poco, a Xiaomi subsidiary that got plenty of praise for its Pocophone F1 back in 2018, though it never made it to US shores.
Poco now has a wide range of phones, with its MWC offering consisting of the new Poco X4 Pro 5G and Poco M4 Pro. Like many budget phones outside the US, these brands focus on cramming flagship-worthy speed into a low price bracket, and they often come with a surprisingly strong camera, particularly when compared to brands like HMD Global.
The X4 Pro, for example, offers a 120-Hz AMOLED display, a 108-MP camera, and 67-watt charging—all at a starting price of €299 ($336/£250). The Poco M4 Pro, despite lacking 5G, looks interesting with its 90-Hz AMOLED screen, triple-camera setup, and MediaTek Helio G96—a chip range that typically favors mobile gaming performance compared to Snapdragon’s offerings. This too comes in at an extremely low price: €219 ($246/£184).
Realme's Phone Is Made With Bio-Based Polymers
Realme, another sister brand of Oppo and OnePlus, has been on a similar path to Honor as we approach this MWC. Both brands have typically offered value-for-money options but are now are hoping to get in on some flagship action.
Realme’s headliner is the GT 2 Pro. This phone was launched in China on January 4, but now it's coming to the rest of the world … er, except for the US. It sports plenty of top specs, but its most interesting feature is what it's made of—the GT 2 Pro is constructed from a bio-based polymer. It’s a combination the company believes promotes both style and sustainability. Bio-based polymers are made up of renewable raw materials alongside nonrenewables like fossil-fuel-based carbon.
Aside from its intriguing construction, a unique 150-degree ultrawide camera is another eye-catching feature that might let you ditch the awkward swivel you need to do for panorama shots.
Realme has yet to reveal pricing and availability, but it is a brand known for drawing you in with aggressively low costs. It'll be interesting to see how much it can undercut rivals like Samsung and Oppo.
Honor Makes a Flagship
It isn’t all about budget devices for these ambitious non-US manufacturers, though. Honor, a former subsidiary of Huawei now trying to make it on its own, had its biggest launch yet at MWC 2022 with the Magic4 Pro.
The Magic4 Pro is a fully-fledged flagship with a 6.81-inch LTPO OLED display and a smart 120-Hz refresh rate. The camera system is the big sell, with a 50-MP wide, a 50-MP ultrawide, and an exciting 64-MP periscope telephoto lens for getting some great zoom shots.
The top Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip is backed up by a healthy-sized 4,600-mAh battery and remarkably speedy 100-watt charging—wired and wireless.
Honor’s main difficulty since its revival has been widespread availability, with a confusing mix of Chinese and global launches, often falling short of making the phones easily available in Europe. Things were more promising with its previous launch, the mid-range Honor 50, which got more eyes in the UK with various retailers. Pricing and availability for the Magic4 Pro haven't been announced yet, so time will tell.
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