It’s 9 PM right now as I write this diary.
I can hardly feel my legs.
My back feels nearly broken.
No, I am not climbing Mount Everest. I just came back from the Press Day at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) at Barcelona in Spain. And I can bet on my numb toes that it’s the case of virtually every blogger and journalist here.
Having missed MWC last year (for the first time in 5 years), we were pretty excited to get back to Barcelona. Sayan and I had planned to go to the Catalan capital to cover the event, but he had to drop out (that is another story for another day). Which left me to fight the tech rat race all alone. I arrived in Barcelona day before yesterday, primarily because the flight rates had gone through the roof for later dates, and also because an early arrival would let me settle down nicely before the delightful madness that is MWC gets underway.
Well, the madness began today. While technically, the actual event starts tomorrow, today was the Press Day, where many of the major announcements happen. The day where the biggies try their best to get the most eyeballs through the media. And the day started off with LG.
Technically, it was Blackberry who had the privilege to kickstart the proceedings at MWC 2017. For us, the Indian media, the LG G6 launch was the first big event. With Samsung holding back the Galaxy S8, LG G6 was supposed to be the biggest launch at the event (until Nokia came and stole the thunder, more on that later). The venue was at an interesting place called the Sant Jordi Club, within the Barcelona Olympic village. With LG, you usually expect a little over-the-top launch, but by their own standards, the LG G6 was considerably subtle.
The presentation was, unfortunately, lengthy and boring. As has been the case with both Korean brands in recent times, it involved a Q&A based format with the MC asking away pre-conceived questions through a teleprompter, and at least ten different personnel reading out the (badly rehearsed) answers, all of which made it needlessly lengthy, and dare I say it, badly conceived. The phone itself looks decent, with a lot of importance given to the display and its ergonomic design, as well as an improved camera and IP-68 certification for water resistance. The 18:9 aspect ratio looks stunning for multimedia, but hardly any app on the Play Store is optimized for this screen size. The jury is still out to see if people are willing to even give a chance for LG to get back into the game of the biggies, currently being played out by just Apple and Samsung.
After getting some hands-on time with the LG G6, we managed to rush to Huawei’s event at the Montjuic Exhibition Center. To be honest, I say I was expecting a smaller crowd at Huawei as compared to LG. Well, I was wrong. It was a mad rush, so much so that we were still in the queue outside when the event started and some people were watching the livestream on their phones! Small wonder, some of us decided to head to Nokia rather than fight with the crowd here.
And guess what? We were literally the first ones to be at the venue for Nokia’s launch event. The energy level here was something else. Under HMD Global, Nokia has a considerably small team now, with some of the old guard joining back, but if the event is any indication, the brand is on the way back. From getting the choir to sing the iconic Nokia tone to the choice of Museum of Contemporary Art as the venue, the whole event was supremely well-planned. The presentation was crisp, the presenters were oozing with passion, and despite most things already leaked, the collective cheer to see the good old Nokia 3310 make a comeback at the very end was perhaps the highlight of the day. As one Nokia executive told me, they had a hard time to keep the look of the new Nokia 3310 under wraps with leaks flowing in from every nook and corner over the past few weeks. Yes, there were the new stock Android Nokia phones showcased as well, but the thunder on Day Zero of the MWC was well and truly stolen by a golden oldie in a new avatar.
Of all the announcements made through the day, the Nokia 3310 got the biggest cheer at the event or on social media. It’s another matter altogether as to who will ‘need’ this phone, but I know many (including myself) who would ‘want’ it.
Although Samsung was the last event of the day, I couldn’t attend as most of the Indian media didn’t get the invite from Samsung. Not that I regret it – hey, it is their call as to who to invite. What I regret, though, is that I couldn’t attend the launch of Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus, as someone at Lenovo thought it was wise to have the event at the exact time as Nokia’s. Sigh!
— TechPP (@techpp) February 27, 2017
So that was a wrap of Day Zero at the MWC 2017. Tomorrow will be another busy day, with Sony throwing its hat into the ring yet again, followed by Alcatel, Gionee, Coolpad and others. Do join in.
And now for some rest. Stay tuned for more. Oh, and the next time I plan to visit MWC, I will train for running a Marathon!