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6 things we’ve learned at one of the world's biggest tech conferences

There was a lot to take in, but some things stood out more than others.

MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS, one of the biggest tech conferences in the world, has just finished in Barcelona. spent an exhausting few days taking the whole thing in. Here’s a few things we learned.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 08.27.55 Microsoft's stand at MWC 15. It went for a city park look complete with artificial trees and lampposts.

No matter how much planning you do, nothing prepares you for the opening day

If you’re lucky enough to start on the Sunday, then you will probably be a little tired before The first day can simply be described as organised chaos. Everyone’s arriving, the big announcements are happening while attention spans are at their highest and companies and businesspeople mingle in the hope of striking partnerships and deals

This is par for the course at all conferences, but what makes MWC different than many others is the sheer scale of it. Even if you took the walkways, it would take a good fifteen minutes, maybe twenty to go from the north entrance to the south.

In short, there’s a lot of walking involved so if you don’t have comfortable walking shoes, you better hope you only have to stay in the one place otherwise you won’t be able to feel your legs come day four.

Booths are now less about showcasing and more about personality

Booths aren’t a way to showcase your products, they’re a way of expressing your company’s personality and show you’re not something that only cares about the bottom line. The bigger ones use it as a way to craft their image and give you an idea of what they’re about.

A lot of stands went for the futuristic look with large screens, bright lights and washed out colours, but others took a different approach. For example, Sony’s booth was designed in the style of a loft apartment, complete with couches, wooden floors and large devices which says “hey, we’re looking after all your entertainment needs”.

Microsoft’s went for a garden/central park look, complete with a balloon displaying tweets and a DJ playing underneath it. Likely to convey an adventurous theme around its products which is something it’s been experiencing for the past year now under Satya Nadella reign.

And Netflix went the extra mile and actually got an apartment in downtown Barcelona, decking it out with posters of current and upcoming shows. Encapsulating the type of environment you want to be in when watching TV.

In short, when you have the opportunity, use it to define who you are.

Competition is brewing, and that’s a good thing

Part of the reason why smartphones were stagnating was because development hit a plateau of sorts. For most people, there wasn’t any other way to improve than to add better specs or improve the battery saving capabilities (most went for ultra power saving modes as a way to remedy this), but the last year seems to have reinvigorated most companies.

Samsung has come out all guns blazing with a proper followup to its flagship S range. Sony, you would presume, is taking a more measured approach with smartphones. Microsoft is doing something similar as the release of Windows 10 slowly approaches and other competitors like Huawei are upping their game in the mid-range market. HTC has announced one of the most exciting partnerships in VR and appears to be living up to the young hype.

On top of that, you have the likes of Ubuntu and Jolla trying out new OS to break up the dominance Android has on the market. There’s still a long way to go before they can mount a serious challenge, but at least there are some companies willing to make a proper go of it.


Amateur photographers will have an exciting new feature to look forward to

While the quality of smartphone cameras have improved rapidly in recent times, so much so that even the mid and low range devices can take decent snaps provided you get the lighting and framing right, one development that many people will soon appreciate is the improvements to low-light photography.

Samsung Sony and HTC have incorporated it into the cameras of their latest devices and it’s going to really expand the type of photos you’ll be able to take. Effectively, it will mean less effort for users to capture a good photo at night time, and combine that with the bootup speeds of the newer smartphone cameras and you have an almost frictionless experience.

Samsung Mobile / YouTube

HTC may have achieved the coup of the year, and under everyone’s noses too

While there were rumours that Valve was working on a VR headset, some questions were asked about the provider but it wasn’t dwelled upon too much. Yet few would have guessed HTC to be the answer to that question.

This is massive for HTC as in the past, it’s been slow to embrace new trends. It’s only coming into fitness trackers now, its action cam, the RE camera, has struggled to set the world alight – when a product that’s not even six months old is being handed out as a gift at a press event, you know things aren’t going well – and it took a number of attempts to get its smartphones right.

Yet it’s managed to achieve a major deal under the noses of all its rivals, especially Samsung and Sony who are working on their own versions.

Perhaps the biggest coup is just how positive the press has been surrounding it. From first impressions, it seems to have removed the nausea and sickness associated with VR headsets and if it manages to keep it that way for prolonged play, then HTC has cracked the one thing holding VR back.

HTC Vive_White HTC's new VR headset Vive. HTC HTC

This will likely the most exciting year for tech in a long while

Admittedly, that’s a statement which is thrown around often, but once you got past the hype, you were left with some very exciting products.

We’re barely a quarter of the way through the year yet the gantlet has been thrown down in smartphones, wearables, and VR. While it’s hard to tell whether this momentum will continue, it certainly has made the next few months very interesting indeed.

Read: Some great smartphones were announced this week, but what are they like? >

Read: Spend ages browsing on Netflix? Its proposed new look could change that >

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