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As posted on 9 things from Mobile World Congress you should be excited about

Yes, there was no Samsung Galaxy S8 and yes, its absence was felt. But even without it, Mobile World Congress — the largest mobile show of the year — was anything but boring. 

This year, everyone’s crazy for retro phones. LG slapped competitors in the face with a surprisingly solid flagship. A futuristic-looking, hyperconnected car debuted at MWC instead of at the Geneva Motor Show. And there were just enough weird gadgets for us to geek out over while we sped through the Fira Gran Via’s sprawling convention center halls.

We’ll spare you the boring laptops and mid-range Android phones, regular security updates and huge batteries be damned — here’s just the fun stuff.

Nokia 3310

Image: Manuel Blondeau/Mashable

The star of the show, without any doubt, was Nokia’s reboot of the legendary, near-unbreakable Nokia 3310 feature phone. The new model is still a simple affair, feature-wise, and it still has tons of battery life. It’s been modernized with a larger color screen and comes with a great price tag of 49 euros ($52).

Is it really going to sell as the hype suggests? We have no idea. Some folks might want it for the nostalgia factor, some might want it for the price, and in some markets, it simply might be what it is: a cheap, solid feature phone. But even if it tanks, we’ll still have this crazy moment when everyone obsessed over a Nokia dumbphone in 2017. 

BlackBerry KEYone

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Still refusing to accept defeat by Android and iPhone, BlackBerry — well, technically, TCT — launched a new QWERTY-equipped BlackBerry called the KEYone

With a metal body, classic BB features like the Convenience button, 52 programmable physical keys, a solid 4.5-inch screen, cameras that aren’t total garbage, and Android 7.0 Nougat, the KEYone already looks like it’s the best BlackBerry in years. It might even be better than the generally well-reviewed Priv

Android and iPhone users probably won’t ditch their beloved phones for the KEYone unless they really want the physical keyboard, but one thing’s for sure: Kim Kardashian would absolutely love this phone.

LG G6

Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

With the Galaxy S8 a no-show, LG got its big chance to spread its wings, and the company delivered with a surprisingly solid flagship. Gone is the G5’s flimsy modular design and in is the LG G6 and its big 5.7-inch screen (with an lengthy 18:9 aspect ratio), beautiful metal design, solid set of specs, and some great improvements over its predecessor.

Its glass back could be prone to cracks, and the phone only has a 5-megapixel selfie camera, so not everything is perfect. Still, LG has set the bar pretty high and it’ll be interesting to see what features and designs other phone giants like Samsung and Apple counter with.

Peugeot Instinct concept car

Image: Manuel Blondeau/Mashable

It’s nowhere near production. It’s just a lot of buzzwords. The self-driving tech is 10 years away. All of the above might be true, but it was still very cool of Peugeot to unveil its Instinct concept car in Barcelona, which is mobile-centric event.

Peugeot has envisioned a car that drives you, all by itself, while playing music matched to your current mood. And because it’s so connected, it could also remind you if you’ve left your stove on. 

Such a reality is closer than a lot of people realize since most of the pieces of the puzzle, including autonomous driving, already exist — the hard part is getting the different technologies to work together harmoniously. 

For anything like the Instinct to actually hit to market, there are still a number of regulatory and security-related hurdles that need to be overcome. For a brief moment as I sat in the car, I imagined listening to Brahms and reading a book — while being driven around by AI — and it felt strangely relaxing.

Huawei Watch 2

Image: manuel blondeau/mashable

Huawei launched its flagship P10 phone at MWC, but it didn’t exactly wow us at first glance. On the other hand (no pun intended), the company’s sports-oriented smartwatch, the Huawei Watch 2, left quite a first impression.

It’s one of the lightest and comfiest 4G-equipped smartwatches we’ve ever tried. With 4G, a built-in speaker, GPS, a heart-rate monitor, IP68 dust and water resistance, the Huawei Watch 2 easily competes with other 4G smartwatches like the LG Watch Sport.

On the software side, it’s rocking Google’s new Android Wear 2.0 and the Google Assistant. And while none of the Huawei Watch 2’s features are revolutionary, they’re a nice combo that makes us feel good about Android smartwatches again.

Snake

Image: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

You’re damn right we included a decades-old game on our list. Not only did Nokia resurrect the game on the newly-relaunched 3310, but the company also launched a slightly updated version of the original game on Facebook Messenger.

To play, start a Messenger conversation with someone, click the little controller button in the lower right corner, find “Snake” and click on it. 

Also, we know it’s not a gadget. Shut up. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3/Galaxy Book

Galaxy Tab S3

Image: manuel blondeau/mashable

With no flagship phone to show off, Samsung turned to beefing up its tablets. The Korean electronics giant announced the Android-powered Galaxy Tab S3 and the Windows 10-powered Galaxy Book.

Though we still don’t know pricing and release details, both tablets offer a lot in terms of design and  features. Samsung says it brought the best of what made its Galaxy phones so great to the two tablets, and we’re inclined to agree.

Both are sleek, powerful devices that are clearly aimed at the iPad Pro and Surface Pro 4. Both support detachable keyboards and improved S Pen functionalities (like the awesome GIF maker), longer-lasting batteries, Super AMOLED displays, improved sound, expandable storage and LTE.

If you’re in the market for a new tablet, these should be on your list for consideration.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Image: manuel blondeau/mashable

LG and BlackBerry weren’t the only phone makers that got to shine at MWC thanks to the Galaxy S8’s absence. Sony’s flagship Xperia XZ Premium wowed us with its 5.5-inch screen — the world’s first and only phone with 4K resolution and High Dynamic Range (HDR) support (the LG G6 supports HDR, but the screen isn’t 4K).

In addition to the spectacular display, the XZ Premium is the world’s first phone with super slow-motion video capture at 960 frames per second. 

The grease-attracting design leaves a little to be desired, and the disabled fingerprint sensor in the U.S. version (it’ll be activated for international models) is ridiculous, but if you can overlook those shortcomings, it’s an excellent phone. It doesn’t hurt that it packs the latest Snapdragon 835 processor, allows for expandable storage and has impressive audio capabilities.

Samsung Staedtler Noris digital S Pen

Image: manuel blondeau/mashable

You can hate on styluses all you want, but we’re really digging Samsung’s Staedtler Noris Digital S Pen.

Designed to look and feel exactly like the German company’s iconic pencil, the Noris Digital is one of the best looking and most comfortable styluses we’ve ever used. It also works almost exactly like the Tab S3 and Galaxy Book’s improved S Pen, meaning it supports up to 4,096 levels of pressure and the 0.7mm tip is super precise. 

The Noris Digital’s only downside is its missing function button. Without a button it can’t be used to turn on the Galaxy Tab S3’s useful “Screen-off memo” feature that lets you write directly on the screen without turning the entire display on.

We could live with the missing button, but we’re praying the Noris Digital won’t cost as much as an Apple Pencil.

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