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Mobile World Congress 2017: Much More than Mobile Phones
By Jef Cozza
Posted: February 27, 2017 10:03am PST

Wearables are proving to be another major theme of this years show. Huawei has already introduced its Watch 2 smartwatch, which it claims can go up to 25 days on a single charge. The device also comes equipped with GPS, a heart-rate monitor, and an NFC chip that will make digital payments possible.

Although the Mobile World Congress (MWC) has typically been a showcase for handset makers to show off their latest mobile devices, the event has evolved into something much larger this year. Produced by the GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association), MWC is the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry. MWC 2017 runs this week -- Feb. 27-March 2 -- in Barcelona, Spain.

Many of the products and technologies taking center stage this week involve some aspect of consumer technology other than mobile phones.

Much of the focus will likely be on the new 5G standard for cellular technology set to debut this year. Beyond mobile phones, 5G technology is going to have a major impact on the Internet of Things (IoT) and a variety of mobile devices that have nothing to do with phones.

Tablets Are the Real Stars

One of the larger non-phone device categories on display at MWC this year is the tablet. Samsung is using the event to launch its HDR-ready 9.7-inch Galaxy Tab S3. The company also announced the availability of its Galaxy Book running Windows 10.

Available in either a 10-inch or 12-inch form factor and including a detachable keyboard and stylus, the Galaxy Book appears aimed at users of the Microsoft Surface. The 10-inch Galaxy Book sports an Intel Core m3 processor, while the 12-inch model comes with an Intel Core i5 processor.

Hewlett Packard also seems to be taking a run at the Surface crowd with the launch of its HP Pro x2 612 G2. The 12-inch tablet comes with a unique fold-out kickstand and boasts a durable chassis.

Panasonic is also going the durable route with its new Toughbook CF-33 debuting this week. The new Toughbook is available as either a standalone tablet or with a detachable keyboard. Lenovo, meanwhile, is going for the low end of the market with add-ons for its Tab 4 devices and the new Miix 320, a 10-inch Windows 10 tablet available for under $200.

Wearables and NFC

Wearables are proving to be another major theme at this year's show. Huawei has already introduced its Watch 2 smart watch that the company claims can run for 25 days on a single charge. The device also comes equipped with GPS, a heart-rate monitor, and an NFC chip that will make digital payments possible.

NXP also announced some new NFC (near field communication) goodies. Its latest chip, the NCx3320, fits inside a car door handle and is designed to allow users to unlock their vehicles from their mobile phones. The chipmaker announced that five auto companies plan to implement its technology.

And Samsung showed off a new version of its Gear VR headset. This update to the 2016 model now includes a controller (dubbed “Controller”) to allow users to interact with the headset’s virtual environments. Samsonite, meanwhile, plans to unveil an IoT tagging system for luggage that will let users track their bags while flying.

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