Digital Trends Top Tech of MWC 2015 Award Winners

top tech of mwc 2015 award winners digital trends nominees

Mobile World Congress grows in stature every year, and it’s never been bigger than 2015. Now the biggest mobile-focused show in the world each year, more than 90,000 people poured into Barcelona to see the latest and greatest in gadgets and gizmos.

Digital Trends sent a team of four to cover the madness. We’ve seen hundreds of devices and products already, and sifted through thousands of emails and pitches. Now, we’re skimming the cream of the crop in five categories: Phones and Tablets, Wearables, Cool Tech, Apps, and Accessories. And at the head of the list is our pick for the best product at the entire show.

We’ve still got two more days here in Barcelona and can’t wait to see what else we find, so be sure to watch our MWC 2015 page for all the latest in hot tech and big ideas.

Make sure to check out our full list of nominees for every category to peruse some of our other favorite tech from Mobile World Congress 2015. 

HTC Vive
Jeffery Van Camp/Digital Trends

Best of Show
HTC Vive virtual reality

MWC 2015 best in show

Developed in partnership with Valve Software, HTC’s Vive is the most immersive, transformative virtual-reality experience I’ve ever had. Oculus Rift doesn’t hold a candle to this. VR is a popular buzzword right now, and we’ve tried out the current wave of VR headsets, which are mostly Oculus clones. But the Vive is a totally new kind of virtual reality. I’d compare it to the difference between playing a 3D game and being inside one. Microsoft’s HoloLens is the closest product to what Vive is going for, but even it may not compare.

With the Vive, you wear a VR headset and physically walk around what is approximately an 8 x 8 space with your real legs in the real world, but the entire setting is replaced with whatever game or app you are using. In our demo, I started out in a very Matrix-like white gridded room. Amazingly, the system tracked my movements so perfectly as I moved around, that I began to feel I was really somewhere else entirely.

I saw eight different demos, but one in particular had me walk around an underwater ship on a cliff. I could walk along the bow and even peer out over the edge. The feeling of looking over the edge was so realistic my fear of heights actually kicked in. When a blue whale appeared behind me and almost hit me with its tail, I instinctively ducked to avoid it.

My description here does this virtual reality system no justice, but simply put, it’s so immersive that I felt very strange when I took the glasses off. After 20 minutes in HTC’s virtual reality, the real world seemed … well, dull. This technology will blow minds.

Read our full hands-on impressions.

– Jeffrey Van Camp, Deputy Editor

Samsung Galaxy S6
Jeffery Van Camp/Digital Trends

Phones and Tablets
Samsung Galaxy S6

MWC 2015 phones tablets award winner

Samsung lost momentum with the Galaxy S5 last year. Though a great phone in many ways, its plasticky exterior didn’t win fans, and its interface was bloated and full of useless apps. What a difference a year can make.

What can we say? We love the Galaxy S6. It’s one of the most beautiful and comfortable phones we’ve ever held. With a soft, brushed-metal finish on the sides and a reflective, multi-color glass back and front, Samsung outdid itself.

The interface and apps show similar thoughtfulness and restraint. Instead of packing in a dozen new features no one needs and filling the phone interface with visual garbage, Samsung scaled back, simplifying its menus and concentrating on features with wide benefits to everyone instead of gimmicks. And the camera is amazing.

And while we prefer the standard Galaxy S6 because of its comfort and sturdiness, the Galaxy S6 Edge has virtually no downsides to it. They’re the same phone with the exception of those gently curved edges.

A lot of our readers have complained about the lack of a waterproof body, and the missing MicroSD slot and removable battery. We mourn these losses as well. But the quality of design in the Galaxy S6 still makes it easily one of the best Android phone of 2015.

Read our full hands-on impressions.

– Jeffrey Van Camp, Deputy Editor

LG Watch Urbane LTE
Jeffery Van Camp/Digital Trends

Wearables
LG Watch Urbane LTE

MWC 2015 wearables award winner

We’re not sure if it will ever come to the United States (it’s currently slated only for South Korea), but we’re very excited about LG’s Watch Urbane LTE because of the bold choices it represents. Though LG is hedging its bets by continuing to support Android Wear (which is in the standard Watch Urbane), the Watch Urbane LTE runs on a totally new and arguably better operating system based on WebOS. Don’t remember WebOS? Think back to the Palm Pre — or just take a look at LG’s top-selling HDTVs, which use a repurposed version of it to offer one of the best smart TV experiences available.

The Watch Urbane LTE uses WebOS to create a working apps menu and a smartwatch that doesn’t require a phone to use. It’s designed to connect directly to your wireless carrier’s network by itself, take calls, make calls and texts, and do other basic functions. The app selection isn’t great yet, but apps remain in their infancy on all smartwatches.

And did we mention that it fits better and looks nicer than any LG Watch yet? The Watch Urbane LTE is an experiment for LG, and we can’t wait to see what’s next.

– Jeffrey Van Camp, Deputy Editor

EyePrint ID on the ZTE Grand S3
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Cool Tech
EyePrint ID on the ZTE Grand S3

MWC 2015 cool tech award winner

Forget about unlocking your phone using anything as archaic as a PIN code. The future is all about biometrics, and ZTE’s EyePrint ID retina unlock feature is as cool as they get. Why? Not only does using it feel suitably sci-fi, but it actually works, and works really well. The set up takes just a few moments, after which your phone’s home screen is nothing but a literal glance away.

Using the blood-vessel pattern of your eye is very secure. ZTE stores the data only on the device so there’s no security problems, and it’s quicker than using some other phone unlocking methods. Secure, speedy, and not a privacy nightmare in sight — that’s phone security everyone will want.

Read our full hands-on impressions.

– Andy Boxall, Contributing Editor

tunnelbear
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Apps
TunnelBear

MWC 2015 apps award winner

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can help keep your browsing private, and even help you watch streaming services (like Hulu) that aren’t available in your country. But they can be tricky to set up on a computer, much less a smartphone.

The awesomely named TunnelBear app for iPhone or Android provides an easy-to-use VPN, regardless of which app you use. Running it is as simple as choosing the country in which you’d like to pretend to be located, then tapping a big on/off button.

The secure connection created by TunnelBear is fast enough for Netflix and Hulu use, and secure enough to avoid being tracked online. Plus the interface is cuter than a VPN has any right to be.

– Andy Boxall, Contributing Editor

Kristall Liquid Screen Protector front
Simon Hill/Digital Trends

Accessories
Kristall Liquid Screen Protector

MWC 2015 accessories award winner

Applying a screen protector is annoying, and it never looks right, but it’s often a necessary extra level of defense against scratches. Even the special little machines made to help position them correct rarely helped alleviate the frustration. Enter the Kristall liquid screen protector, from the Malaysian company E-Mark Global Trade. Applying it is so simple, it’s no more complex than cleaning the display with a cloth.

Once applied, it smooths out distortions, and gives the display an imperceptible coating that has the same 9H hardness level as sapphire. The process takes only a few minutes, there’s a kit for phones and tablets, and once it’s on, you’ll never know it’s there.

Read our full hands-on impressions.

– Andy Boxall, Contributing Editor

News

Browse safely and securely with Opera’s unlimited VPN on Android

Opera has added a new VPN to its Android browser, offering an easy way to keep your privacy and data locked up solid, and with no limits on usage or cost, you can keep it on all the time.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Mobile

5G's arrival is transforming tech. Here's everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

Google Fi: Phones, plans, pricing, perks, and more explained

Google's wireless service, formerly Project Fi, now goes by the name of Google Fi, and it's now compatible with a majority of Android phones, as well as iPhones. Here's everything you need to know about Google Fi.
Mobile

Scientists wreck a smartphone in a blender, but not just for fun

It’s oddly mesmerizing to watch a smartphone get torn apart inside a blender. Researchers recently did just that in a bid to find out which materials make up a handset, and also to encourage people to think more about recycling.
Movies & TV

Apple’s next big event is minutes away: Here’s what you can expect

Apple's next big event takes place on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to make several announcements related to its services, including Apple TV, so follow our guide to get ready for the big event.
Wearables

This $76,000 Grand Seiko watch has something in common with a plug-in hybrid car

How can a watch that costs $76,000 possibly have anything in a common with any car, let alone a plug-in hybrid? It's all about the complex, technically incredible Spring Drive movement inside this Grand Seiko watch.
Deals

The excellent Apple iPad gets even deeper price cuts on Amazon

The humble iPad from 2018 is still one of the best tablets around -- and a solid choice for most people. Amazon has seen some great price drops for these tablets recently, and now you can own an iPad for even less than before.
Mobile

More than a screenshot: How to record the screen on an Android device

If you've ever want to record video of your Android screen, there are plenty of apps that can help. Here's an easy guide on how to record the screen on an Android device with the right settings and apps.
Apple

Apple March 2019 Event Coverage

Apple’s next event will take place March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California at 10 a.m. PT. We’ve got a handy guide on how to watch, but don’t expect to see any new iPads, iMacs, or AirPods at the show, all of…
Product Review

Want to see how powerful the Snapdragon 855 chip is? Just rev up the Xiaomi Mi 9

How fast do you want to go? If the answer to this is “as fast as possible,” then take a long look at the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s one of the highest performance smartphones you can buy. It’s a real monster, and we’ve been using it.
Mobile

Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for and start using with your iPhone

Apple is getting into the credit card business. Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for directly on your iPhone, and it doesn't have fees. There's a lower interest rate and you can even get Daily Cash from all purchases.
Gaming

Apple Arcade might be the new game subscription service worth signing up for

Apple Arcade will launch this fall bringing a new game-subscription service with cross-platform support for iOS, Mac, and Apple TV. At launch, the service will feature more than 100 exclusive games, with more added to the service regularly.
Mobile

Check out 22 of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers for your shiny new phone

The iPhone 7 might be attractive, but it’s not rugged. To keep your device in pristine condition, you really need to think about proper protection. That's why we've rounded up some of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers available.