6 things we learned as virtual reality and 360 video dominated day one of Mobile World Congress

With some of the biggest names in tech revealing their plans for smartphones and other gadgets with a bundle of announcements at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, we went along to find out what to look out for this year.

So what did we learn on day one?

1. Virtual reality is here…

(John Locher/AP)

2016 is going to be a massive year for virtual reality (more on that later), and HTC confirmed the retail price for their headset Vive.

$799 is the figure for the full system go headset, two controllers, base stations, and link box to get you started.

That figure is yet to be officially priced in pounds, and you still need a fairly powerful gaming computer to run Vive, but the early April launch of what remains the best VR headset we’ve tried suddenly feels a lot closer.

2. …And everyone loves it

Not only is VR now upon us thanks to the three major launches in the coming months (Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR), it seems everyone is keen to get involved, with LG announcing their own headset too. 360 VR works by pulling a phone into the headset to power it, but then has an independent lens for each eye to improve clarity, LG says.

3. Samsung’s next iPhone rivals

(Manu Fernandez/AP)

Not only that, but Samsung used their Gear VR headset to announce the S7 and S7 edge, placing one of the headsets on every seat in their press conference of around 1,000 people.

Looks-wise, the much expected S7 and S7 edge are similar to the S6 that has gone down so well with everyone. The big difference this year is the camera, which has some DLR-style technology packed into it to help you take better photos.

They’re waterproof again now too, and have expandable storage – two features that were ditched last year but have now been brought back. The smartphone wars rumble on.

4. Mark Zuckerberg steals the show

(Manu Fernandez/AP)

There was also a surprise appearance from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at Samsung’s press conference. The billionaire was here to big up 360 video and virtual reality, and told the audience how it will share social media in the future.

He spoke of hoping to film his daughter’s first steps in 360 video, and how Facebook is embracing the technology as the sharing method of the future. The fact that he seemingly magically appeared on stage as everyone was taking off their Gear VRs was a nice piece of stage-managed drama from Samsung too.

5. Modular is the new cool


Modular was a rarely-used word in technology before Sunday. Yes, Google has spoken of, and shown glimpses of, a modular smartphone that users can pull apart at will and reorganise to suit their needs – but it’s still a prototype.

LG has gone and made one. The new G5 comes with a removable battery, which doubles as a modular platform where users can slot in a better camera lens or a high resolution audio speaker as they see fit.

6. Everything in 360

(Manu Fernandez/AP)

You know a theme is becoming big in tech when two of the biggest names announce products in that line on the same day. On this occasion it was the already-mentioned topic of 360 video. Both LG and Samsung announced handheld cameras that can capture pictures and video full circle.

Given that Facebook and YouTube, pretty much the two biggest hubs of images and video on the internet already support it, expect to see more and more of this type of upload from now on.


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