At MWC 2014, phone makers go after the next billion, biometrics

BARCELONA, Spain -- Mobile World Congress will always have its fair share of high-end, gee-whiz devices and crazy concepts, but apart from the high-end Samsung Galaxy S5, MWC 2014 belongs to the humble low-cost phone.

Emerging markets have been a huge theme in mobile lately, but this year handset-makers really dug in, using press conferences to vocalize their goals at nabbing the next billion users and presenting low-cost phones meant for first-time smartphone owners.

Take the Nokia X family of phones, for instance. Based on Android, but with a look and feel that merges Asha and Windows Phone, this low-memory, … Read more

The chips of Samsung's Galaxy S5 -- Exynos and Snapdragon

BARCELONA, Spain -- Qualcomm and Samsung are back in the newest Galaxy device, the Galaxy S5.

The Korean electronics giant on Monday unveiled its newest flagship phone with a slightly tweaked design and updated specs. The Galaxy S5 has a 5.1-inch display HD screen and a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera with a bunch of bells and whistles that are supposed to improve the experience of taking and viewing images. The device also contains a fingerprint sensor and heart-rate monitor, as well as updated components.

When the Galaxy S5 launches in April, it will hit the market with two different processors … Read more

Sony finally puts full weight behind Xperia phones

BARCELONA, Spain -- You would think Sony's mobile executives would be even a little nervous.

After all, for more than the past year, they have been touting one unique feature for a premium smartphone: the ability to withstand dust particles and be dunked underwater.

So there must have been some cause for concern when Samsung said its flagship Galaxy S5 -- unveiled just hours after Sony's own flagship phone and tablet announcement -- would also be resistant to water and dust, right?

Not really.

"We started the waterproof trend," Ravi Nookala, head of Sony's US … Read more

Super-slim Gionee Elife S5.5 could be world's thinnest (hands-on)

BARCELONA, Spain -- If there's one thing I learnt at this year's Mobile World Congress show, it's that sometimes you have to look to the Chinese vendors for surprises. Where Samsung failed to really surprise anyone with the design of its new flagship handset, I found a few gems from the various Chinese manufacturers such as this one from Gionee.

Encased in a 5.5mm-thin metal frame, the Elife S5.5 packs a MediaTek eight-core 1.7GHz processor, a 2,300mAh battery and a 5-inch full-HD (1,920x1,080 pixels) Super AMOLED display.

CNET's full coverage of Mobile World CongressRead more

Samsung: We're working on 64-bit chips for this year

BARCELONA, Spain -- Samsung likely will join the 64-bit processor club this year, but it doesn't have the technology ready just yet, CNET has learned.

"64-bit is very important ... in the sense that there's a real demand, whether you need it or not," Kyushik Hong, vice president of marketing for Samsung's system LSI business, told CNET at Mobile World Congress here. "We are very actively working on it."

The Korean electronics giant not only builds mobile devices but also makes many of the chips that power those products. It's the world's … Read more

Samsung Galaxy S5: Everything you need to know (FAQ)

BARCELONA, Spain -- Unless you were dead-set on a metal design and futuristic features, then Samsung's Galaxy S5 is a worthy successor in the evolving Galaxy S line.

Here at Mobile World Congress, where Samsung introduced its marquee phone to the world, I dove deep into the phone's new fingerprint scanner and heart-rate monitor, tested out the new 16-megapixel camera, and uncovered a few other new features besides.

I know you still have questions, so I've put together a list of some answers. If you've got more, shout them out in the comments below.… Read more

Corephotonics' dual-camera tech will change smartphone imaging

BARCELONA, Spain -- Two-year-old Israeli company Corephotonics is ready to change how you take pictures with your smartphone, and it could happen as early as this year. The company's dual-camera technology has been making waves here at Mobile World Congress, and it's hard not to see why.

Before we begin though, I've checked with Corephotonics to see if the company is working with HTC's upcoming flagship, and it vehemently denies any claim of involvement. So no, the HTC M8 will likely be using a different technology.

Using two 13-megapixel cameras, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 platform and … Read more

To avoid Android pitfalls, Mozilla shoulders Firefox OS update burden

BARCELONA, Spain -- Mozilla will take over some responsibility for issuing Firefox OS updates that carriers today have, a move that could help users avoid the fate of Android phone owners saddled with older operating system versions.

"We are pushing that envelope," Chief Technology Officer Brendan Eich told CNET. "We think we can get people on Wi-Fi upgrading through Mozilla."

That would mean a person could step into an Internet cafe then update the software as soon as Mozilla releases a new version or security fix, rather than waiting for a handset maker to build, test, … Read more

YunTab S5 Android phone uses 3D infrared for secure face unlock

BARCELONA, Spain -- Everyone knows how easily you can beat Android's Face Unlock feature with a simple photograph, but it will take a lot more to crack Chinese smartphone maker YunTab's solution.

Found on the company's $135 S5 Android-powered smartphone (not to be confused with Samsung's Galaxy S5), the 5.5-inch handset uses two infrared emitters, a secondary infrared camera to map a 3D image of your facial features.

Setting up the process is simple -- like Android's Face Unlock, the Facial Identification Technology (FIT) feature takes a scan of your face, and then requires … Read more

Motorola's new Moto X coming this summer?

Some have feared that Lenovo buying Motorola from Google meant the end to the company's popular low-cost phones, such as Moto X and Moto G. But it appears the Moto X will stay the same at least for a while longer.

During this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Motorola held a Q&A on Twitter letting people ask what's the deal with the company's line of phones. One follower asked, "When is next version of Moto X?" and Motorola coyly responded, "Keep posted - hint - late summer."

Q … Read more