Technophile

The Apple hangover at this year’s Mobile World Congress

Our Bureau | Updated on: Feb 28, 2018

Talking faces The AR emojis on Samsung’s latest flagships REUTERS

Talking faces The AR emojis on Samsung’s latest flagships REUTERS

The notch, rear-camera set and an imojis are all ‘inspiration’ for launches at Barcelona

The one-stop shop consumer gadget-centric show for all things mobile, The Mobile World Congress Barcelona, is on. The most talked-about launch at this year’s edition happened last Sunday, with Samsung launching the S9 and the S9+, its successors to the widely-acclaimed S8 phones.

As conspicuous as Samsung’s presence at the event was Apple’s absence. Then again, Apple doesn’t really strut its stuff at events like the MWC or even the CES held at Las Vegas at the beginning of every year, preferring to ‘go-it-alone’ at its own flagship launches.

But even though the Cupertino tech major’s gadgets were missing in action, companies aping the latest iPhone X’s design were present, reminding users of how all-pervading Apple’s design cues really are.

The first few inspirations made it to markets well before the MWC itself, with Xiaomi’s Note 5 Pro’s rear camera set-up going with the vertical orientation seen on the iPhone X. And even before the latest iPhone made it, you had OnePlus 5, with everyone talking about its design being ‘inspired’ by the dual camera set-up on the iPhone 7.

In Barcelona this year, there are a bunch of hardware and software innovations being bandied about and a lot of them are reminiscent of what the iPhone X brought with it last September.

Hardware cues

To be fair, it was really Xiaomi that brought bezel-less displays to consumers first and Samsung’s minimal-bezel Infinity Display was ahead of the iPhone X. But a lot of thin-bezel phones started hitting markets after the latest iPhone.

And now, Asus has given the world the Zenfone 5 and the Zenfone 5Z, which look a lot like the iPhone X. Notch included.

In fact, Asus at their press briefing even indicated that they are following the “trends”. Well, the bezel-less display is one thing, but the famed notch has seen mixed reactions from even the most die-hard Apple fans. Even the orientation for the primary dual camera set-up on the new Zenfones is vertical with the noticeable difference being that the flash is placed below the lens. A fingerprint sensor on the back makes the larger difference though, with the iPhone X not having one.

But coming back to the phones. The Zenfone 5Z is the flagship model, boasting specs like Qualcomm’s latest 845 Snapdragon processor that also powers Samsung’s S9 phones. It won’t be long before all high-end and budget flagships phones will be powered by this chipset, going by how the 835 found its way to a plethora of devices. The Zenfone 5Z boasts a large 8 GB RAM, which Asus first brought to its Zenfone AR, last year.

The Zenfone 5 is powered by the Snapdragon 636 chip, also seen on the Xiaomi Note 5 Pro. Again, we expect this chip to be the one powering a lot of mid-range phones, going forward. The Zenfone 5 offers 4 GB and 6 GB RAM versions. Both the phones have a 6.2-inch full HD display with a 19:9 aspect ratio. The 5 and the 5Z are expected to hit markets in April and June respectively.

Software ‘inspiration’

The AR-enabled animojis on the latest Apple flagship were quite the rage and seem a hit, because you already have other companies implementing them.

Samsung has introduced AR emojis on the S9 and S9+, where a user’s face is scanned and emojis that look like the user are then generated.

The emoji avatars can be tweaked to sport different hairdos, clothes, etc.

Asus’ latest Zenfones also have the companies take on AR-enabled emojis, called ‘Zenmojis’.

The process is simple; you take a selfie which is then turned to 3D emojis that can be shared.

Another noteworthy launch at the MWC is the Nokia 8 Sirocco, with a curving display reminiscent of Samsung’s flagships. It is powered by the Snapdragon 835, which we think is the one department it’ll fall short when drawn up against this year’s flagships. But make no mistake, the 835 is a great processor that will handle just about anything thrown at it.

Wait and watch this space for reviews as and when we get our hands on these new launches.

Published on February 28, 2018

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