Folding, with artificial intelligence and other MWC bets to revitalize mobile sales | Technology

The fact that the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona is no longer what it used to be was already clear in other editions. And that’s because the industry smart phones That’s not what it was either. After a rebound in 2021, due to accumulated demand during the most difficult period of the pandemic, in 2022 the market fell by 12%, according to Canalys data. Last year, 1.140 million units were sold, a decrease of 4%. The decline is easing, but not stopping, and manufacturers are racking their brains thinking of formulas to revive sales.

Integrating artificial intelligence into devices or launching foldable formats are some of the trends published in the smart phones of this MWC. A decaffeinated show in terms of new features, since many of the terminals on display have already been presented previously. The efforts that manufacturers previously made to launch the most spectacular mobile phone of the event have turned into a general yielding. The promise of global prominence (a large part of the global technology press is turning to mobile) doesn’t even encourage brands.

Xiaomi was the only major manufacturer to launch its top of the range, although it was preceded by a presentation in China. In their devices, it is the camera that acts as the pole of attraction. Thanks to an alliance with Leica, the Xiaomi 14 has quad and triple lenses, designed to provide versatility when photographing different scenarios, in poor lighting conditions, on distant, very close or moving targets. There is no shortage of doses of artificial intelligence (AI) for taking or retouching photos.

The introduction of AI to enhance camera function has, however, been present in the market for quite some time. Specifically since 2017, when Google introduced it in its Pixel 2 as an ideal complement to lens hardware. These had started to multiply a year earlier, with the Huawei P9, equipped with a dual sensor. Everything had been there for a long time. The novelty consisted of complementing what existed year after year.

The new wave of AI

Beyond photography, the new wave of AI, called generative and based on models like GPT or Gemini, is presented as a catalyst for the industry. The Counterpoint analyst firm foresees that in 2024 100 million will be sold smart phones with this type of technology. By 2027, there would be 522 million units, or 40% of the total.

In the image, the Samsung Galaxy S24 phone. Albert Garcia

The first models can be seen at MWC 2024. The Samsung Galaxy S24, as we have already seen in its presentation, has multiple options supported by AI. It allows you to enhance photos, remove reflections, blur editing or fill backgrounds through pixel generation. But it also has tools to transcribe an audio file, summarize an article from any online site or translate it easily. The Samsung company invited EL PAÍS to the show.

Galaxy AI technology, which will arrive in March on the Galaxy S23 and whose introduction in previous generations is planned later, differs from the artificial intelligence of other terminals in certain features. It allows you to simultaneously translate a conversation from a phone call or makes it easier to find contextual information about any object that appears on the screen by surrounding it.

Honor presented its Magic6 Pro at MWC, previously presented in China, and announced its international launch. It is now on sale and integrates the LlaMa 2 AI model (developed by Meta), which returns responses, ChatGPT style, and allows the creation of texts. Its camera function also has artificial intelligence. It has an algorithm that predicts movements and facilitates the capture of ultra high definition images. Among its three cameras, the telephoto lens stands out, with 180 megapixels, an optimal zoom of 2.5x and digital, 100x.

The folding ones are installed

MWC 2024 also echoes the trend to present smart phones foldable. Launched by Samsung – which invited EL PAÍS to this trip – which is exhibiting its Galaxy Z Fold5 and Galaxy Z Flip5, it has spread to a large number of manufacturers. Motorola, Huawei, Oppo and Google itself have launched their articulated devices. In 2023, Counterpoint estimates that 16.7 million such devices would be sold, or just 1.5% of the total market. But for this year, we expect an increase to 30.6 million terminals, or a share of 2.6%.

Some show visitors browse the Xiaomi booth.Albert Garcia

Sales are rare, but they are increasing little by little and companies are turning to this niche, small in units, but lucrative, if we look at the profit margin. At MWC 2024, the Honor Magic V2 RSR landed, in its Porsche Design version, which has a 6.43-inch exterior screen, 2376×1060 pixels and a refresh rate of 120 Hz. When you open it, the inner panel appears, 7.9 inches, with a resolution of 2344×2156 pixels and also at 120 Hz. A two in one, smartphone and tablet at the same time, with a design inspired by the Porsche 911 and a high price even for a foldable: 2,699 euros.

At the show, you will also be able to see ZTE’s first foldable, the Nubia Flip 5G. In its case it has a 6.9 inch internal screen, a little larger than that of a smartphone big. Folded, it looks like one of those phones from the early 2000s, which revealed its keyboard when opened. The refresh rate of its panel is 120 Hz and it has a dual camera of 50 megapixels each lens. The ZTE exhibitor confirms that it will go on sale in Europe between March and April and that it will have a price starting at 599 euros. This will make it one of the cheapest foldables on the market.

Looking for an incentive

Coming full circle, some brands are banking on alliances in the design of their terminals to boost sales. If Honor has an alliance with Porsche Design, the company HMD, owner of the Nokia brand, announced a collaboration with the toy company Mattel. From there will come, boosted by the success of the 2023 film, a Barbie-themed mobile. There isn’t much more information, but the manufacturer plans to partner with other mainstream brands to develop more models in this range.

TCL, for its part, is committed to attracting consumers through price. He presented three terminals below 250 euros. The cheapest of all, the TCL 505, with a 6.75-inch screen, 128 GB of storage and a 50-megapixel dual camera, costs 109 euros.

Mobile is not given more in devices. This year, some mobile phone brands have significantly reduced their presence – such as Oppo -, while others – such as Huawei – remain oriented towards the Chinese market. THE smart phones They give symptoms of exhaustion. Brands rode a wave that we thought would be infinite, but which faded like all waves. For now, he will remain stuck on the shore, waiting for news. That this year they did not dazzle.

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