It was a historic month at Talk Android. We attended Mobile World Congress in Barcelona for the first time in the publication’s 9-year run. MWC 2017 was hyped throughout February, and we didn’t leave disappointed. The phones, tablets, and smartwatches all impressed. Our team actually had a tough time bringing everything down to a small number of winners for awards.
These are our picks for the Talk Android Best of MWC 2017 Awards.
If there’s one device that stole the show, it was the LG G6. This was the only 2017 flagship to make an appearance as Samsung didn’t bring the Galaxy S8 to Barcelona. No one was able to generate as much excitement, and for a strong reason. The G6 makes up for where the G5 fell short and then adds things you care about. LG basically stripped last year’s flagship down, took the public’s feedback, and recreated what it thinks most consumers want and need out of a phone.
What’s new? First, the body. You’re not getting a modular platform with this phone. LG abandoned that because, frankly, the idea was poorly executed and required too much money to invest in. Now LG’s flagship shows a metal frame with glass back. It’s unquestionably premium. And the front has a spacious 5.7-inch DolbyVision display despite a footprint smaller than its predecessor. Then, on the inside, high-end specifications are available. Things like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 series processor, wireless charging, and Android 7.1 Nougat alongside Google Assistant are present.
We couldn’t think of a couple of faults after using the G6 for the first time. Catering to a wider audience, as well as getting to the market early, should help LG generate more sales than last time. The expectations are high for LG and the G6, and we expect them to be met.
Huawei isn’t going to sell the P10 Plus in every region. Most of the team at Talk Android won’t even be able to see it in person. But that’s not stopping us from giving this phone a well-deserved award. Huawei’s P10 Plus is something special. From the sharp-and-clean modern design to the innovative hardware to the refined software, the P10 Plus exudes luxury. You’re not finding phones like this often.
If you owned the P9, you might not see big differences in the P10 Plus. We can’t help but stare anyway. Huawei used “the first hyper diamond-cut finishing” on a phone. It’s beautiful. The P10 Plus’ curves and rounded corners add sleekness. Meanwhile, there’s still plenty of cutting edge technology to serve power users. Leica once again partnered with Huawei to put its camera technology at the forefront. Both the rear and front cameras were developed by the award-winning imaging company. Beyond that, Huawei inserted its in-house flaghship processor — the Kirin 950. Plus you’re getting the latest version of Android behind Huawei’s EMUI in its best take yet. Most phones that focus on a particular area fall flat elsewhere. Huawei’s P10 Plus, however, is no slouch anywhere.
The P10 Plus from Huawei could be a benchmark for others in the mobile industry. It’s stunning to the point where we want to give Huawei’s engineers an award of their own. Huawei pushed boundaries in overlooked areas.
Following MWC 2017, Huawei left Barcelona as the only winner of two awards from Talk Android. We loved the first Huawei Watch. It was easily the best Android Wear device from the last generation. Now, with Android Wear 2.0 on the scene, Huawei felt it was right to introduce new hardware.
Huawei believes diversity is key to the success of smartwatches. You’re not getting forced into choosing from two or three choices because rarely does the one-size-fits-all approach work. The Huawei Watch 2 comes in two variants with different focuses, and then you get multiple color options. Dynamic Orange, Carbon Black, and Concrete Grey are the color options for the sporty variant. The Huawei Watch 2 Classic is solely offered in Titanium Grey. The brilliant work by those engineers at Huawei allows each and every variant to look different. It’s not like Huawei just slapped a fresh coat of paint on them. Each gives a different vibe, letting consumers get a smartwatch unique to them.
Chances are the Huawei Watch 2 stands tall as the best Android Wear of this generation, too. Somehow Huawei is figuring out smartwatches while everyone takes notes.
It wouldn’t be a notable trade show without Samsung, right? We think so. The biggest partner for Android needs to be anywhere and everywhere the competition is. They sure did bring something bold to MWC 2017.
Samsung didn’t arrive to reveal any phones, but the world did get to see a beast of a tablet debut. The Galaxy Tab S3 isn’t cheap in any way. This is a real competitor to Apple’s iPad line. Maybe this will be Android’s first clearly high-end tablet. It has a glossy glass back encased in a metal frame, a Super AMOLED display just a hair under 10 inches, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820, a quad-speaker system firing sound in multiple directions, a 6000mAh battery tailored for longevity, and an optional full physical capable that doubles as a case. Do you need anything else? Everything you want is in this tablet.
The star of this tablet actually might not be any of the specifications we just mentioned. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3 marks the resurrection of the S Pen. Yes, the stylus from the Galaxy Note 7 and previous devices lives on for this tablet. It’s new, and it’s redesigned. Samsung didn’t recycle an old S Pen. Now you get an even thinner tip with increased sensitivity in addition to a grip. The line between the S Pen and a real pen is getting blurrier than ever.
If you’re giving us a capable S Pen, you’re probably going to win an award. Samsung continues to advance the usefulness of styluses.
Let’s put the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus in the past and keep them there. Those two devices came in hot but ended up underwhelming us. The Moto G (2015) blew us away the year before, but then its two successors were misguided. The combination of specifications didn’t make sense nor did the pricing. Thankfully the Moto G4 Play existed and brought the Moto G line back to reality for temporary relief. Still, the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus left lasting negative impression on us. The Moto G5 Plus looks like it’s going to return the mid-range line to its glory days.
Its low price shouldn’t fool you. Take a glance at the spec sheet and you’re not going to understand how a phone could be cheap but carry above an average design and respectable components. Plastic body? Gone. Lenovo didn’t even consider utilizing rubber like it has before. The Moto G5 Plus is crafted from high-grade aluminum, which maintains the water-repellent coating. Lenovo packed 5.2-inch Full HD display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625, a 12MP camera with dual-LED flash that is 4K-ready, a front-facing speaker, and a fast charging-ready battery into this body. Other phones with only a comparable processor are going for hundreds of dollars more.
No, the Moto G5 Plus doesn’t cost an astronomical amount of money. When it goes on sale this spring, the Moto G5 Plus will be priced at $229 in the United States. The value is going to be unbeatable if the hardware and software are seamlessly made for each other. We’re not kidding when we say the Moto G5 Plus could be 2017’s phone of the year.
There’s one phone that we can’t stop talking about: the BlackBerry KeyOne. TCL, which is currently the exclusive manufacturer of BlackBerry’s hardware, thought about what consumers expect from the beloved brand. The physical keyboard is, of course, a staple of BlackBerry devices. So that’s what you get from the KeyOne, but it’s not your ordinary physical keyboard that just has you tapping on letters, numbers, and symbols.
The KeyOne’s full physical keyboard supports gestures and assignments. This means you can swipe around on the keyboard to navigate an invisible cursor on the display. Or, if you prefer shortcuts, you can assign specific keys to launch apps. The “U,” for example, can be assigned to launch Uber. A fingerprint scanner is integrated into the keyboard, too.
It’s not not a one-trick pony, though. BlackBerry’s KeyOne is, believe it or not, a truly high-end phone. You’re getting a 4.5-inch display, a standout processor from Qualcomm, the same camera from the Google Pixel, and the latest version of Android. BlackBerry only adds its own apps and services, meaning you’re not getting a heavy software overlay on stock Android. All signs point to the KeyOne being a very good phone in 2017.
The BlackBerry brand appears to be in good hands, and we can’t wait to dive into the TCL-made KeyOne for an in-depth experience. It’s uniqueness and maturity are why we’re giving the BlackBerry KeyOne an award. Time to take the brand seriously again.
If you missed anything from Barcelona last week, visit our MWC 2017 hub for full coverage.