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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.

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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

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

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends


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

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

Editors' Recommendations

The Google Pixel Fold may not be as expensive as you thought
Alleged renders of the Google Pixel Fold in black.

Google’s long-in-development foldable phone — the Pixel Fold — is reportedly eyeing a late June launch. A recent leak predicted that the Pixel Fold will hit the European shelves priced at 1,700 Euros, which equates to roughly $1,800 based on current conversion rates. That’s not easy to digest, especially for a first-gen foldable phone and considering Google’s own shaky history with its Pixel hardware and software.
But it appears that the Pixel Fold’s price won’t be inexplicably exorbitant at all. Leaker Yogesh Bear shared on Twitter that the foldable phone could actually cost anywhere between $1,300 and $1,500. Assuming that turns out to be true, the Pixel Fold could undercut the Samsung Galaxy Fold 4 and its successor by a healthy $500.

In fact, such an asking price would put the Pixel Fold in roughly the same ballpark as the higher storage configurations of phones like the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro Max. Of course, Google won’t be able to match the asking price of foldables from Chinese brands, but it would at least look competitive in the Western markets.
Now, a price of around $1,300-1,500 makes a lot of sense. First, the biggest deterrent for foldable phones is their high asking price. There’s a reason Samsung managed to sell bucketloads of its flip-style foldable phones because they cost nearly half vis-a-vis the phone-tablet hybrids in the Galaxy Z Fold series.

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6 years later, the iPhone X still does one thing better than the iPhone 14 Pro
iPhone X.

I’ve been an iPhone user since the very beginning, starting with the original iPhone. You know, the one with the 3.5-inch display that was perfect at the time, making it super easy to use a phone with one hand? As the years go by, the iPhone — and every other smartphone out there — just get bigger and bigger. We now have phones that with almost 7-inch displays, and honestly, I don’t understand how anyone can comfortably use these giant phones — especially if you have smaller hands!

With the iPhone, we’ve gone from 3.5-inch to 4-inches, then 4.7-inches to 5.8-inches, and now the standard 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch of the iPhone 14/iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Plus/iPhone 14 Pro Max, respectively. I personally use an iPhone 14 Pro as my primary device, and while I have gotten used to the 6.1-inch size over the past few years, I still think it’s too big. In fact, the last perfect size iPhone was the iPhone XS with the 5.8-inch display ... and I really wish Apple would bring it back.
5.8 inches was a perfect middle ground

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Google Pixel 8: all the latest rumors and what we want to see
Google Pixel 8 leaked render.

The Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are on their way. Google's fallen in a pretty reliable release pattern for Pixel phones, meaning we can safely expect a new lineup of flagship Pixels each year. In 2023, that means the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro.

The Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are two excellent devices -- possibly two of the best smartphones Google has ever made. But while they have some serious strengths, a number of problems and missed opportunities drag both phones down. This wouldn't be a problem if the competition was standing still, but it's not. The Apple iPhone 14 Pro refreshed the iPhone design for the first time in years, and the recently released Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is quite possibly one of the best smartphones ever created. So what's a humble Pixel to do?

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