Unleashing tomorrow’s technology, today

by Cyrille Joffre, Chief Technical information Officer

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In part two of our roundup of the Barcelona-based Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s largest and most influential connectivity event, we outline key insights from the event that featured more than 2,400 exhibitors. Here we share the latest developments in 5G software, how the metaverse is changing the way we interact and explore the world and preview the latest and greatest devices coming to market.

The latest and greatest devices

As always, the plethora of innovative new devices didn’t disappoint. We saw foldables, rollables, and even a sneaky look into concept ideas.

The long-anticipated HTC Vive was unveiled, further immersing consumers into the metaverse. The XR Elite is the latest virtual reality headset. Light and comfortable, this design has been significantly streamlined in comparison to the older, bulkier headsets most will be familiar with.

When compared to the likes of the PSVR 2, this design seems to have more in common with the previous Meta Quest Pro. Functionality wise, it can be used as a standalone headset, powered by the 5100mAh battery pack for a day’s charge on the back of the headband, or through a PC connection. The headset has a 4K display, 128GB of storage, 12GB of RAM, and 110-degree field of view, a benefit that sets this aside from others as the ingenious display successfully blocks the external field from view.

Foldable smartphones are a trend that is sticking around, and we were introduced to Honor Magic Vs - the industry’s lightest foldable smartphone to date. Set to rival industry behemoth Samsung, The Magic V pro features a 21:9 aspect and 90 per cent screen-to-body ratio, and a remarkably slim hinge that runs down the centre of the phone and opens like a book. Tested to open 400,000 times, double that of the Galaxy Z, Honor keeps the overall phone weight low and puts a big focus on cameras.
Cameras remain a strong selling point and Xiaomi announced the global launch of their 13 series, putting a huge emphasis on the Pro model’s 1-inch camera sensor, bringing the user the advantage of better light capture and a shallower depth of field in their photography.

With the Lite model available to the public for the first time, other notable software features include the addition of a Digital Car Key - a collaboration with Google and BMW, that gives you the power to unlock, lock, and start your connected car with merely a touch of your phone, taking inspiration perhaps from Apple’s car key feature, accessible in the wallet app.
A final exciting new development that is being explored, is that the industry is now looking upwards to space in order to close any coverage gaps by providing satellite connectivity – keep your eyes on the skies for that one.

5G – Connecting the world

With the mobile industry connecting some 5.4 billion people across the globe, it should come as no surprise that 5G reached one billion connections in 2022, taking it to around 12% penetration of the mobile customer base globally.
In January 2023, we saw 5G reach 229 commercial networks globally, and there are more than 700 5G-capable smartphones on the market. We have seen 5G’s level of take up happen significantly faster than 4G on a comparable basis. This reflects supply-side (network coverage) and demand-side (consumer willingness to upgrade) factors moving in the right direction.

The key subject for discussion was how well operators can monetise the 5G consumer and more crucially, enterprise segments? Especially given that overall mobile revenue growth is still in the low, single digits in high-income regions.
We know that existing 5G tariffs are generally priced at a 10-20% premium in comparison to its 4G counterparts, and the stats show us that consumers are willing to pay the increase for better capabilities. But fast forward three years into the future and will consumers stay without new services, justify the staying power of 5G? To counter this, we heard how operators are bundling 5G with video, music streaming, and gaming, with gaming hailed as the new video (in fact, 60% of adult population play digital games at least once a week!).

Extended reality (XR) also has the potential to usher in a new age of immersive consumer experiences that will benefit from 5G's advanced capabilities in terms of speed, latency, and capacity. But this remains in the early stages of the metaverse. With 6G looming on the horizon, enterprises are even now investing into research and development of this technology.

But 5G hasn’t yet reached its peak; it is anticipated to overtake 4G in 2029 to become the dominant mobile technology, with 5G adoption at over 85% in the top 5G markets by 2030.

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