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MWC 2023: Day 3: Smartphones

by Neil Mawston | Feb 28, 2023

It is day 3 (Tuesday) at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

TECNO is the star launch of today. It showed off the Phantom V Fold 5G, India's first-ever left-right foldable priced (for early birds) under US$1,000 retail. The fold-out smartphone carries a 7.85-inch main screen, ultra-clear 5-lens camera system, 5000mAh battery, and MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ chipset. We trialed the new handset today and like its bright camera, crisp 21:9 screen ratio, huge battery for all-day usage, and keen pricing. This is one of the world's cheapest foldables. Whether Tecno can make profit at this "low" pricepoint remains to be seen. We understand TCL is the ODM manufacturer for Phantom. We note the Phantom's formfactor looks remarkably similar to Honor's recent Magic Vs foldable, and it is possible that they share the same third-party design template. We found the Pahantom formfactor to be slghtly thicker / bulkier than the Magic Vs, and (overall) we prefer the Honor model as the best folder to come out of China so far.

MEDIATEK is no doubt thrilled to be chosen as the flagship chip supplier for Tecno's biggest-ever global 5G foldable smartphone launch. Its Dimensity 9000+ chip and APU 590 AI processing engine do a great job of managing the multi-display dynamics inside the Phantom V Fold, controlling brightness and sipping on power without killing battery life. It is a timely reminder that Qualcomm will NOT have the foldable market or AI space all to itself.

HMD GLOBAL unveiled its Nokia G22 self-repair smartphone for midrange consumers in Europe and elsewhere. It comes with repairability at its core, enabling owners to replace a damaged display, bent charging port or dead battery, by contacting iFixit, its aftercare partner, who will happily ship you the required parts and tools. We like the idea of greener smartphones that last longer by repairability, but we think self-repair is a niche segment and unlikely to get mass-market acceptance. For example, Fairphone of the Netherlands has been promoting modular smartphones with high repairability for years, but its global sales today remain tiny.

TCL's Nxtwear S smartglasses are by far the most impressive demo we saw today. These tinted smartglases are tethered to a TCL smartphone by wire and they playback 3D VR films or games on a perceived 130-inch screen at 4 meters in front of your eyes. The cinema-grade video is incredibly rich and lifelike, the moving images jump out from the screen at you, and it delivers an immersive film experience that is way beyond anything we've yet to see on a home television or PC. If you want to be genuinely surprised, go play with a pair of Nxtwear S mirror smartglasses.

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