Samsung dominates Mobile World Congress

(Reuters)
(Reuters)

It's a big week for geeks, with tech companies showing off their latest devices at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Samsung unveiled its new range of Galaxy devices today and also revealed it plans to focus on virtual reality with a new partnership with Facebook.

The event's a kind of Miss World for Mobile Phones. Samsung's contestants may look a little similar to last year, but there are improvements such as better battery life and camera quality, and features such as water resistance up to 1.5 metres.

But will they be enough to boost flagging premium phone sales?

"The big challenge for Samsung is, yes, they've got a great phone, but there are so many competitors in the Android space and the Chinese manufacturers are moving in very quickly," says technology commentator Paul Spain. "In fact in China, Samsung aren't even in the top five phone manufacturers anymore."

Samsung wasn't all about phones today. Its eye is still focused on virtual reality, which it hopes to expand by allowing people to create their own virtual reality videos. The Gear 360 comes with two fisheye lenses, each 15 megapixels, creating a 30-megapixel picture.

Despite LG launching a similar device, Samsung's grabbed the most attention -- partly thanks to Facebook. The two giants have partnered on virtual reality and 360 video.

"Three-sixty videos are even more immersive, because you aren't just watching passively; you feel like you're actually there," says Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO. "You're actually surfing in Tahiti or flying with the Blue Angels or exploring the surface of Mars."

LG did impress with its modular phone, which lets you do things like swap the battery out.

"I get it, it is different," says CNET chief executive Roger Cheng. "But we will see if it is different for difference sake or if it actually adds real benefit."

Also at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona are smaller players such as HTC, which has unveiled four phones, and Huawei, with its first-ever Windows tablet.

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