The best of Mobile World Congress

Cool concepts, foldables, and fast charging phones are amongst the highlights at MWC this year

The Honor Magic Vs hinge is more elegant in its design, and should last longer compared to other foldables

Last year, Mobile World Congress 2022 had us all buzzing over folding phones and super fast charging speeds. This year, though, our Best of Mobile World Congress 2023 awards are all focused on — well, still those two things. But better folds! And faster charging! And yes, even some completely unexpected surprises, as the show always manages to deliver. Here’s what got us excited for the year in mobile tech ahead.

Best of Mobile World Congress 2023

realme 240W charging on the realme GT3

realme GT Neo5 with 240W charging adapter
realme is continuing to improve charging tech by leaps and bounds with a 240W phone charging adapter that can charge a flagship phone to full in minutes

Sure, the realme GT3 phone is nice, but it’s its charging brick that we’ve got our eyes on! Last year, we geeked out on charging adapters that could help get a 4,500 mAh battery to 50 percent in five minutes — seems quaint, now that we’re looking at a whopping 240W charging adapter shipping with the realme GT3. realme’s charging solution, combining the adapter and a custom charging cable, will get the phone’s 4,600 mAh battery charged all the way to full in just nine minutes. Who knows what we’ll be seeing in 2024!

Motorola Rizr concept phone

Front view of Motorola Rizr
The Motorola Rizr display can roll out to give you more screen when using certain applications

Lots of folding phones this year, but Motorola might have given us our best look yet at what’s next — rollable phones! The Motorola Rizr concept on display at this year’s show has a compact form factor initially, making it easier to use with one hand and pocket. But, once you need the extra display size, the phone can roll out to extend the screen to a better aspect ratio for watching videos, or to give you more room to type emails. Very practical, and enabled by the same flexible OLED panels that allow foldables to work. Only question now: which will prove to be more durable?

Lenovo rollable concept laptop

Lenovo Rollable concept laptop
Lenovo Rollable concept laptop

We’ll keep rolling with rollables! While Motorola was rolling out the Rizr concept phone, Lenovo was showing off their rollable concept laptop. Same deal here, although in this case the screen can only roll out to give you a more portrait-oriented display. Little unusual, but still a nice thing to have for mobile workers who are used to using two monitors for productivity. Also easier to take notes while watching a lecture! Cool idea, we’re excited to see where it goes.

Honor Magic Vs

Honor Magic Vs
The Honor Magic Vs hinge is more elegant in its design, and should last longer compared to other foldables. Photo credit: Myriam Joire

Now that they’re out from under the shadow of Huawei, Honor is flying high — the once budget brand is now making leading smartphones and foldables, like the Honor Magic Vs. The phone has two displays — a smartphone display active when the device is folded, and a larger internal display that folds out. It’s a combination phone and tablet, and with a much more elegantly designed hinge that only uses four components, it should prove to be a more durable take on the foldable phone.

OnePlus 11 Concept Phone

Rear view of OnePlus 11 Concept
That’s actual cooling liquid spiraling around the ring that encircles the camera array

Now that it’s all about the camera race in smartphones, it’s cool to see someone bring something a little different to make their device stand out. The OnePlus 11 Concept phone was a test case for OnePlus’s new Active CryoFlux liquid cooling system, which is a tiny version of what goes into desktops. Helps better reduce temperatures and operating efficiency when doing high-demand things like gaming, and looks rad — they made the back clear to show off the pipes, and sent icy blue liquid coolant around a ring encircling the camera array.

Oppo Find N2 Flip

Woman holding Oppo Find N2 Flip to take a picture, with the smaller rear display turned on and displaying a preview of the photo
The Oppo Find N2 Flip has a handy rear display that can be used for photo previews and much else

The Oppo Find N2 Flip covers the other axis of foldables — the return of the clamshells. Clamshell-style foldables pass on the larger tablet screen in favor of ease of use and portability. The Find N2 Flip folds in half to become very easy to pocket, which is already a nice change, but Oppo also added a small secondary display on the back that can be used while the phone is closed. It’s great for photo previews, quickly managing notifications, and a lot else we’re sure folks will think of once they use it. And, it’s getting a global release this year!

Oppo Wi-Fi 6 router

Oppo Wi-Fi 6 Router on a white table with a display in the background
The Oppo Wi-Fi 6 Router promises better home internet speeds with improved range and stability

We’ve been saying it for years — routers don’t get to be ugly anymore. We’ve seen a lot of takes on the designer router over the last few years, but the vaguely French press sort of thing the Oppo Wi-Fi 6 router has going on is our favorite yet. It’s practical, too — the cylinder sitting atop the router itself better conducts heat away from the device, while hiding the router antenna. It can also handle dual band Wi-Fi simultaneously at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.

Motorola Defy Satellite Link

Lifestyle image of Motorola Defy Satellite Link tucked partway under a phone
The Motorola Defy Satellite Link can equip any phone with the ability to text over satellite, even if you don’t have cellular coverage

With Apple and now Qualcomm embracing satellite connectivity as one of the next big smartphone features, it won’t be too long before all phones can send messages over satellite connectivity — no more getting stranded if you’re out of cellular range. In the meantime, the Motorola Defy Satellite Link is a Bluetooth accessory that can be used with any phone out now, to give it satellite connectivity. That means you can text from the most remote of places, but you will need to subscribe to the service and use the messaging app from Motorola’s satellite service partner, Bullitt. Folks on the other line can still receive messages as SMS if they don’t have the app, but will need to download and use the app to respond. The device will be $100, or $149 if bundled with a year of service from Bullitt.

Tecno Phantom V Fold

Tecno Phantom V Fold
The Tecno Phantom V Fold costs nearly half of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. Photo credit: Issa Rodriguez

Here’s another foldable that impressed us this year — the Tecno Phantom V Fold has a smartphone 6.42-in display and a folding tablet 7.85-in display, both of which are LTPO displays with variable refresh rates between 10 Hz and 120 Hz. It’s an impressive device, and one that sees Tecno standing with MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000+ chipset, setting it apart from most Qualcomm-powered premium devices. But what really makes the Tecno Phantom V Fold stand out is it’s affordable price – this foldable costs nearly half of the price of the competing Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and it has bigger displays.

Xiaomi 13 Pro

Rear view of Xiaomi 13 Pro
The Xiaomi 13 Pro co-engineered with Leica has a pro-level camera array, with editing and processing tools to match

Not just a partnership in name only with Leica! The most impressive camera array on a smartphone this year was on the Xiaomi 13 Pro, designed by both Xiaomi and photography company Leica. The centerpiece is the main 50 MP camera, with the premium 1-inch Sony IMX989 sensor taking in lots more light for more detailed photos. That camera has a 23mm-equivalent wide-angle lens, with two other 50 MP sensors armed with a 14mm ultra wide-angle lens and a 75mm-equivalent floating telephoto lens. Oh, and the rest of the specs are top-notch, too, making up one of the most promising premium phones of the year!

Huawei Watch GT Cyber

Deconstructed view of Huawei Watch GT Cyber, with watch face separate from case and strap
The Huawei Watch GT Cyber takes customization to the next level, allowing you to switch out entire watch cases

Been a while since we’ve seen something different in smartwatches! The Huawei Watch GT Cyber takes things one step further than the replaceable strap — the watch face comes out of the case, allowing you to swap in different cases and straps on the fly. Great for if you want a more sporty feel when working out, and a more professional feel on the job, or if you want your watch to better match with different outfits. We’ll definitely be watching to see how many cases become available to make the most of the feature.

Best of Mobile World Congress 2022

Best mobile technology: Oppo SuperVOOC Flash Charging

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We get a lot of numbers thrown at us, and it all becomes numbing at a certain point. So, it’s good to stop and appreciate how bonkers charging a 4,500 mAh battery to 50% in five minutes is. As long as you’ve got a compatible fast charger with you, all you need is a few minutes with an outlet and you’re good. Just think back to what battery anxiety was like ten years ago, and you can appreciate how rad Oppo’s SuperVOOC 150W flash charging is — as long as your wall charger and phone are both compatible with the tech, you can get to 50% in five minutes or a full charge in 15 minutes. Not only that, but the tech is tuned to limit damage to the battery, halving degradation over the life span of the phone.

Best smartphone: Realme GT 2 Pro

realme GT 2 Pro

At MWC, we get to see a lot of goodies that never end up coming stateside. One of those happens to be the best smartphone we saw at the show — the realme GT 2 Pro. A flagship phone at $900, the GT 2 Pro has almost everything we could possibly want — a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC, a massive 5,000 mAh battery, a 6.7″ WQHD+ AMOLED display, and a fantastic camera system that could’ve only been improved by a more powerful sensor behind the macro lens. All that rests in a case made of a biopolymer that in part uses recycled paper and doesn’t emit as much carbon as the usual processes during production. Hence the green color!

Best connected product: Oral B iO 10

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Now that electric toothbrushes have become as ubiquitous as regular toothbrushes, how does one move this particular field forward? Putting machine learning to work! The Oral B iO 10 can figure out a lot of things based on how you brush, but the most important thing it does is a solve a problem way too many of us have — brushing too hard and screwing up our gums. A red light will flash when you’re jamming it in there a little too hard, warning you to ease up. Much appreciated!

Best laptop: Lenovo ThinkBook X13s

ThinkPad 13s

The main argument behind laptops powered by Qualcomm processors? Battery life. If you need a basic work laptop to last you the whole day, and I actually mean the whole day, the Lenovo ThinkBook X13s does that and then some — running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 processor, this laptop gets up to 28 hours on a single charge. Even once battery performance starts to wear down, this thing’s going to be able to hang for the average workday much better than most.

Best headphones: Realme Buds Air 3

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The wind noise reduction features are nice, but pair that with more supercharging magic, and you’ve got a solid pair of buds in the realme Buds Air 3. You can get 100 minutes of listening in just 10 minutes of charging using the case, so you shouldn’t ever be stranded without tunes as long as you have the charging case with you. The 10 mm drivers also help the audio hear reach AAC standards, always a plus when we’re dealing with something as small as true wireless earbuds. Best of all, they’re priced affordably at just 59 Euros.

Best Wearable: Honor Watch GS3

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Need proof Honor is shedding the budget image? Look no further than the Honor Watch GS 3 — their updated smartwatch comes in three colorways, with the silver case/dark blue nappa calfskin strap and gold case/brown nappa calfskin strap options nailing down the timeless look.

Best Budget phone: Nokia C21

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When you put a phone that’s just over $100 in front of us, we don’t expect that much. Blow away those expectations with a quad-core processor, a 6.5″ display, an 8 MP rear camera, and a 3,000 mAh battery, and you have our attention! The Nokia C21 promises to be an outstanding value, with competent specs that won’t sap that battery too much, truly giving you all-day battery life. Great if you just need a proper smartphone that won’t die on you near the end of the day.

Best concept device: TCL Ultra Flex

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Usually, when I’m folding things both ways, I’m trying to rip something in half. I’m going to have to suppress that instinct if something like the TCL Ultra Flex ever manifests — it’s one of the first foldables that can fold both ways, closing on itself or going into a 2-in-1-like tent mode. With a chunky bezel and an oddly placed camera system, the design still has to go through a couple iterations, but this device has got as excited for the future of foldables!

Best 2-in-1: Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360

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A mobile art station, a machine secure enough to make the IT team happy, and super-fast Wi-Fi? It’s all there in the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360, a 360-degree 2-in-1 that caught our eye at MWC. The laptop meets Microsoft’s secured-core PC requirements and uses blockchain tech to help you easily secure and verify documents shared with multiple people. Combine that with a Super AMOLED display, top-end hardware, and stylus support, and you’ve got a remote work 2-in-1 that can do it all!

Best accessory: Lenovo ThinkVision M14d

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Lenovo improved on its external monitor with the ThinkVision M14d. Once again, the monitor only requires one cable to function, with the USB Type-C cable doubling as a power cable and an A/V cable. While it’s still backpack-friendly, this monitor has adopted the new standard 16:10 aspect ratio on a 2.2k display. Not bad for $300!

Best entertainment product: Realme smart tv 4k

realme smart TV 4K

Not only is realme coming out with incredible smartphone, laptop and headphone products that are all priced really well – but now they’re also making 4K smart TVs. The realme smart TV 4K comes in a choice of 43” or 50”. It packs in Dolby Vision for great visuals and Dolby Atmos for great audio, alongside a bezel-less design, all for under 500 euros.

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