The best Android phone showings from MWC 2016

Mobile World Congress 2016 was filled with a lot action in the Android space, and we wouldn’t expect any less. But in all the hubbub, it be can overwhelming to consolidate the best showings in our head. So, leave that to us. Here’s a roundup of the top Android phones we’ve been presented over the multi-day event.

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LG G5

LG G5

The G5 should be hailed as the most innovative phone at MWC 2016. This is the first production phone that we’ve seen with a modular design. Sure, the capability to lock and load add-ons is in its infancy. At launch there will only be a camera control module and HiFi 32-bit DAC. But we appauld LG nonetheless for the effort.

phone-back

Inside, we have the latest and greatest from Qualcomm, the beastly Snapdragon 820. LG felt the need to shrink down the display to 5.3″; we suspect that’s for better differentiation with its bigger brother.

[alert color=”green”]Specs:

  • Display: 5.3″ QHD IPS LCD
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 820 (quad-core, Adreno 530 graphics)
  • Memory: 4GB of RAM
  • Storage: 32GB on-board, up to 2TB expandable via microSD
  • Cameras: 16 + 8MP dual rear (standard and wide-angle) and 8MP front
  • Battery: 2,800mAh (removable)
  • Software: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)[/alert]

LG up’d the G5 to a metal build but didn’t compromise the functionality. The bottom bezel drops to reveal the removable battery, and there’s a microSD slot on the side. The Always-On Display feature is also always welcomed.

On the software-front, LG supposedly lightened up its UX interface. It stirred up some controversy when folks noticed that the Android app drawer was absent. We’ll have to wait and see how well the new software performs.

Stories about the LG G5:

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

galaxy-s7_overview_kv_l_2

Of course the new Galaxy phones would be on this list. Samsung played it safe in a lot of ways. Users will be hard-pressed to visually tell that the Galaxy S7 is different from the S6. Aside from the S7 Edge’s blown up size (compared to the S6 Edge last year), the changes are under the hood. But boy, are they good.

[alert color=”green”][row][double_paragraph]Galaxy S7 Specs:

  • Display: 5.1″ QHD Super-AMOLED
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 820 (quad-core, Adreno 530 graphics)
  • Memory: 4GB of RAM
  • Storage: 32GB on-board, up to 200GB expandable via microSD
  • Cameras: 12MP Dual Pixel rear and 5MP front
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Software: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)[/double_paragraph][double_paragraph]

Galaxy S7 Edge Specs:

  • Display: 5.5″ QHD Super-AMOLED
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 820 (quad-core, Adreno 530 graphics)
  • Memory: 4GB of RAM
  • Storage: 32GB on-board, up to 200GB expandable via microSD
  • Cameras: 12MP Dual Pixel rear and 5MP front
  • Battery: 3,600mAh
  • Software: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)[/double_paragraph][/row][/alert]

First, we have the flagship Snapdragon 820 SoC. Both the microSD slot and IP68 water/dust-proofing is back from previous Galaxy phones. And Samsung joins the Always-On Display club.

galaxy-s7_design_strong_grip_phone_visual02

The camera got a reduction in size (less hump on the back) but increase in technology. Coined as Dual Pixel, Samsung says that all the pixels will assist in focusing to make the auto-focus blazing fast. It can also absorb more light thanks to a f/1.7 aperture lens.

The S7 Edge got a 0.4″ increase in display size. This allowed the battery to be bigger, at a whopping 3,600mAh capacity.

Stories about the Galaxy S7:

Sony Xperia X line

Xperia X
Xperia X

Sony dropped a bit of a surprise this year. Where we typically get an Xperia Z refresh, a whole new lineup moved in instead – the Xperia X. Aside from a streamlined 5″ display size along the whole lineup, there was actually little done to what we’ve known Xperia phones to be. From low to high-end we have the: Xperia XA, Xperia X, and Xperia X Performance.

[alert color=”green”][row][third_paragraph]Xperia XA specs:

  • Display: 5″ 720p IPS LCD
  • Chipset: MediaTek MT6755 (octa-core, 64-bit)
  • Memory: 2GB of RAM
  • Storage: 16GB on-board, up to 200GB expandable via microSD
  • Cameras: 13MP rear and 8MP front
  • Battery: 2,300mAh
  • Software: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)[/third_paragraph][third_paragraph]

Xperia X Specs:

  • Display: 5″ 1080p IPS LCD
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 650 (hexa-core, 64-bit)
  • Memory: 3GB of RAM
  • Storage: 32GB on-board, up to 200GB expandable via microSD
  • Cameras: 23MP rear and 13MP front
  • Battery: 2,620mAh
  • Software: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)[/third_paragraph][third_paragraph]

Xperia X Performance Specs:

  • Display: 5″ 1080p IPS LCD
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 820 (quad-core, 64-bit)
  • Memory: 3GB of RAM
  • Storage: 32GB on-board, up to 200GB expandable via microSD
  • Cameras: 23MP rear and 13MP front
  • Battery: 2,700mAh
  • Software: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)[/third_paragraph][/row][/alert]
Xperia X Performance
Xperia X Performance

Some design refinements, such as a curved front glass and rounder sides, give a better in-hand feel (and metal replaces the previous glass backings). Sony put a new trick into its Exmor RS camera sensor – “Predictive” Hybrid Auto-Focus. It intelligently tracks a moving object to maintain focus despite movement.

Stories about the Xperia X lineup:

Xiaomi Mi5

Xiaomi-Mi-5

Xiaomi wanted to make a statement at MWC 2016 and I think it succeeded. The Mi5 can be thought of as a high-end phone at a mid-end price. The build is not unlike some top-end flagships, particularly, Samsung. A metal frame is sandwiched between glass panels (on the back, it’s even round on the sides, just like Samsung has done). Internally, the Mi5 rocks the latest from Qualcomm as well.

[alert color=”green”]Specs:

  • Display: 5.15″ 1080p IPS LCD
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 820 (quad-core, Adreno 530 graphics)
  • Memory: 3GB or 4GB (Pro edition) of RAM
  • Storage: 32/64/128GB on-board (no microSD expansion)
  • Cameras: 16MP and 4MP front
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Software: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)[/alert]

What’s more, there’s a “Pro” variant of the Mi5 with a specialty ceramic back cover (and 128GB of storage), if you don’t mind paying a little more. We also don’t see compromise in the Mi5’s features: USB Type-C port, fingerprint scanner, 4-axis OIS f/2.0 camera, and 3,000mAh battery.

Click here to read about the Xiaomi M5 announcement

Notable mentions

Alcatel IDOL 4S and 4

IDOL 4

The Alcatel IDOL 3 was a quiet hit last year. Therefore, Alcatel went guns blazing with the follow-up. Actually, there’s two follow ups: the higher-end IDOL 4S and more affordable IDOL 4.

[alert color=”green”][row][double_paragraph]IDOL 4S Specs:

  • Display: 5.5″ QHD AMOLED
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 652 (quad-core, 64-bit)
  • Memory: 3GB of RAM
  • Storage: 32GB on-board, up to 512GB expandable via microSD
  • Cameras: 16MP rear and 8MP front
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Software: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)[/double_paragraph][double_paragraph]

IDOL 4 Specs:

  • Display: 5.2″ 1080p IPS LCD
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 617 (octa-core, 64-bit)
  • Memory: 3GB of RAM
  • Storage: 16GB on-board, up to 512GB expandable via microSD
  • Cameras: 13MP rear and 8MP front
  • Battery: 2,610mAh
  • Software: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)[/double_paragraph][/row][/alert]

They have really good specs for the prices, and Alcatel clearly knows what it’s doing. These should be on your radar if you prefer not to drop an arm and a leg on your next smartphone.

Click here to read about the Alcatel IDOL 4S and 4 announcement

HTC Desire line

A16 - Desire 530/630 - Handset - Image - Global - SprinkleWhite
A16 – Desire 530/630 – Handset – Image – Global – SprinkleWhite

I’m sure that many were expecting HTC’s next flagship, the One M10, to drop at MWC 2016. Leaks suggested that it’s not ready, which turned out to be true. But the company did have new stuff to show – a trio of updated Desire phones.

[alert color=”green”][row][third_paragraph]Desire 530 specs:

  • Display: 5″ 720p Super-LCD
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 210 (quad-core, 1.1GHz)
  • Memory: 1.5GB of RAM
  • Storage: 16GB on-board and microSD expansion
  • Cameras: 8MP rear and 5MP front
  • Battery: 2,200mAh
  • Software: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)[/third_paragraph][third_paragraph]

Desire 630 Specs:

  • Display: 5″ 720p Super-LCD
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 400 (quad-core, 1.6GHz)
  • Memory: 2GB of RAM
  • Storage: 16GB on-board and microSD expansion
  • Cameras: 13MP rear and 5MP front
  • Battery: 2,200mAh
  • Software: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)[/third_paragraph][third_paragraph]

Desire 825 Specs:

  • Display: 5.5″ 720p Super-LCD
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 400 (quad-core, 1.6GHz)
  • Memory: 2GB of RAM
  • Storage: 16GB on-board and microSD expansion
  • Cameras: 13MP rear and 5MP front
  • Battery: 2,700mAh
  • Software: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)[/third_paragraph][/row][/alert]

This new Desire lineup isn’t targeted at phone enthusiasts, whatsoever. Rather, HTC hopes it can capture the attention of the lower-budget market with some interesting styling. Influenced by “Streetwear,” the chassis has a multi-colored speckle scheme going on and various background colors to choose from.

Click here to read about the HTC Desire announcement

Lenovo Vibe K5 and K5 Plus

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 9.23.55 AM

On this list, Lenovo is probably the least recognized in the Android phone space. It’s hoping to change that with the K5 and K5 Plus. Like a lot of the Chinese manufacturers these days, the K5 phones have a snazzy metal build, but super affordable pricing.

[alert color=”green”][row][double_paragraph]Vibe K5 Plus Specs:

  • Display: 5″ 1080p IPS LCD
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 616 (octa-core, 64-bit)
  • Memory: 2GB of RAM
  • Storage: 16GB on-board and microSD expansion
  • Cameras: 13MP rear and 5MP front
  • Battery: 2,750mAh (removable)
  • Software: Android 5.1 (Lollipop)[/double_paragraph][double_paragraph]

Vibe K5 Specs:

  • Display: 5″ 720p IPS LCD
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 415 (octa-core, 64-bit)
  • Memory: 2GB of RAM
  • Storage: 16GB on-board and microSD expansion
  • Cameras: 13MP rear and 5MP front
  • Battery: 2,750mAh (removable)
  • Software: Android 5.1 (Lollipop)[/double_paragraph][/row][/alert]

The K5 Plus comes in at only $149, while the K5 drops the price down to $129. They won’t bust any benchmarks, but you can’t argue that you’re getting some good bang for the buck.

Click here to read about the Lenovo Vibe K5 announcement

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Thoughts

MWC never fails to disappoint. We’re getting some great showdowns in the fight for our money. Both LG and Samsung are head-to-head with totally different approaches. Xiaomi stepped into the spotlight with a strong and promising flagship. Sony delivered a whole new lineup to re-calibrate its mobile division. And there’s a handful of refreshed smartphones that are offering you more for your money, more than ever before.

Did you feel that MWC 2016 was a good show? Which upcoming phone do you have your sights on?

  • Anyone know if the Xperia X Performance supports adoptable storage?

    • Josh Noriega

      It has microSD support for up to 200GB

      • @joshnor:disqus So do the G5 & S7, but they don’t support adoptable storage.

  • MCDroid

    Great list..

  • patstar5

    I can’t believe alcatel didn’t put a fingerprint scanner on the idol 4 and 4s but added one to one of their pop line phones…