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Digital Trends’ Top Tech of MWC 2023 Awards

Mobile World Congress (MWC) is one of the biggest yearly showcases for the ever-changing world of mobile tech. Whether you’re an avid smartphone fan, are fascinated by smartwatches/wearables, or love strange tech that doesn’t really fit in a specific category, MWC is the place to be.

MWC 2023 was no different in this regard. Despite Samsung and OnePlus already launching their major flagships earlier this year (the Galaxy S23 Ultra and OnePlus 11, respectively), MWC 2023 was still home to numerous smartphone announcements — many of which push the foldable industry forward in big and exciting ways. In addition to peculiar wearables, new satellite technology, and a whole lot more, MWC 2023 gave us plenty of reasons to be excited about where the mobile tech industry is headed.

But what from the show really stood out to us? What was the best of the best? Without further ado, these are our picks for the best announcements of MWC 2023.

Honor Magic Vs

Honor Magic Vs
Image used with permission by copyright holder

While foldable phones still aren’t quite mainstream devices, the foldable market is growing at a rapid and exciting pace. The Honor Magic Vs is sure proof of that. The Magic Vs is Honor’s second foldable smartphone, and after getting an early preview of it in January, our second hands-on during MWC 2023 further cemented our excitement for it.

Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, the Honor Magic Vs folds up completely flat when you aren’t using its main, folding display. It feels great to open and close, and the back design has a lovely sparkle to it. That main display is a large 7.9-inch panel with a smooth 90Hz refresh rate, while the cover screen treats you to a 6.45-inch OLED canvas with an even smoother 120Hz refresh rate. In addition to the beautiful hardware, the Honor Magic Vs also boasts powerful specs. There’s a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, 12GB of RAM, and a 5,000mAh battery with superfast 66-watt charging.

The Honor Magic Vs isn’t coming to the U.S., but unlike many other folding phones, it is launching throughout Europe and in the U.K. — and for about $100 less than the Galaxy Z Fold 4. If you needed proof that the foldable market is still growing, the Honor Magic Vs is it.

Tecno Phantom V Fold

Tecno Phantom V Fold
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Still not convinced that folding phones are more prevalent than ever? If the Honor Magic Vs hasn’t sold you, then maybe the Tecno Phantom V Fold will. There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of Tecno before — and rightly so! Tecno primarily makes budget smartphones for Africa, the Middle East, and Asia while being absent from the North American market. At MWC 2023, Tecno took a big leap and revealed the Phantom V Fold as its first folding phone.

On paper, there’s plenty to like about the Tecno Phantom V Fold. It has a 6.43-inch cover screen and a 7.85-inch display on the inside, both offering a 120Hz refresh rate. You also get a powerful MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ chipset, 12GB of RAM, up to 512GB of storage space, three cameras on the back, and Android 13 out of the box.

But it’s not the specs that make the Phantom V Fold stand out. Instead, it’s the phone’s mere existence. While Samsung has gradually built a stranglehold on the folding phone niche, we’re still waiting for companies like Apple, Google, OnePlus and others to even attempt a foldable device. Tecno could have easily ignored foldables altogether, but instead, it went for it with a folding phone that’s here right now. It’s a task much easier said than done, and Tecno actually made it happen.

OnePlus 11 Concept

OnePlus 11 Concept
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But it wasn’t just foldable phones that got us excited at MWC 2023. Another highlight of the show was the OnePlus 11 Concept. At first glance, it looks a lot like the regular OnePlus 11. But look a little closer, and you quickly notice the strange, glowing blue lights on the back.

Those blue lights aren’t just for show. They’re part of a real liquid cooling system for the OnePlus 11 Concept, which OnePlus calls Active CryoFlux. Because of it, the OnePlus 11 Concept can game longer and charge faster than the regular OnePlus 11 without breaking a sweat. During intense gaming sessions, OnePlus touts that Active CryoFlux can decrease the temperature of the OnePlus 11 Concept by more than 35 degrees Fahrenheit. And on top of the temperature benefits, it also makes the OnePlus 11 Concept look unlike any other phone on the market.

OnePlus doesn’t have any plans to sell the OnePlus 11 Concept in its current form, but it is a fascinating look at where the company’s head is at. From the radical design to the increased focus on gaming, the OnePlus 11 Concept may tell us where things are headed for the OnePlus 12 and beyond — and what an exciting future it may be.

Nokia G22

Nokia G22
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The coolest thing about the Nokia G22 isn’t its design, screen, processor, or anything else like that. The reason it stands out as one of MWC 2023’s best announcements is because Nokia wants you to tear it apart. Seriously!

Unlike most smartphones today, which are notoriously difficult to repair and often require proprietary parts and service from the companies that make them, the Nokia G22 is designed so that virtually anyone can disassemble, repair, and reassemble the phone in minutes. It’s part of a new program called QuickFix. In partnership with iFixit, you’ll be able to purchase tools and components for the Nokia G22 to replace the display, camera sensors, battery, and more. A new battery costs just over $30 and takes around five minutes to replace. Need to swap in a new display? Expect to pay about $50 for a new panel and to spend just 20 minutes on the entire repair process.

Combined with a body made from 100% recycled plastic and two years of guaranteed Android updates, the whole point of the Nokia G22 is to be a smartphone that’s easy to repair and capable of lasting for years to come — even if some of the components break along the way. It’s something we rarely see from any other smartphone manufacturer, and we hope the Nokia G22 acts as a catalyst to change that.

MediaTek MT6825

MediaTek MT6825
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Smartphone chips are everywhere — so what makes the MediaTek MT6825 stand out as one of the best things from MWC 2023? It’s not a chip with a powerful processor or bleeding-edge graphics. Instead, it’s a dedicated chipset that enables two-way satellite messaging and SOS calling on any device it’s added to.

MediaTek hasn’t just copied Apple’s approach and created a chip to mimic the iPhone 14’s satellite connectivity. In addition to communicating with LEO satellites (the same ones the iPhone 14 talks to), the MT6825 also connects to GEO satellites. Giving you a wider range of satellite connectivity compared to the iPhone 14 also means you don’t have to point your phone in the air to get a connection — it can just latch on to one with you holding your phone normally. Even more impressive, MediaTek’s satellite chip isn’t limited to emergency use. You can also send and receive text messages through the Bullitt Satellite Messenger app (the company MediaTek has partnered with to support its satellite messaging service).

Does this mean every new phone coming out will have a MediaTek MT6825 chip inside of it? No. But MediaTek offers the option of a small, simple, and relatively affordable addition companies can make to their smartphones if they wish. It’s a necessary piece of foundation to making satellite connectivity on smartphones more ubiquitous, and as you’ll see with the product below, we’re already seeing innovative ways in which it can be used.

Motorola Defy Satellite Link

Motorola Defy Satellite Link
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro got everyone’s attention last year when Apple announced satellite connectivity for the two phones — enabling you to share your location or call for help even when you’re without cell service. But that satellite connectivity is only available if you buy the new iPhone. What if you don’t need to upgrade right now? It’s an important question that the Motorola Defy Satellite Link boldly answers.

At a glance, the Motorola Defy Satellite Link doesn’t look like much of anything. It’s a small, black dongle that fits in the palm of your hand. But when you connect it to your iPhone or Android device via Bluetooth, it enables your phone to send and receive text messages — and call emergency services — using satellites when there’s no other wireless service available. The Satellite Link is also built to last, featuring IP68 dust and water resistance, a MIL-Spec 810H durability rating, and days of battery life on a single charge.

The Motorola Defy Satellite Link is powered by the MediaTek MT6825 chip mentioned above, and all of your satellite messaging is handled via the Bullitt Satellite Messenger app. It’s not a device you’ll need or want to use all the time, but for just $99 upfront and then $5 per month afterward, it could be an essential safety gadget that hikers and adventurers won’t want to leave the house without.

Huawei Watch Buds

Huawei Watch Buds
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You might own a smartwatch, and you may also have a pair of wireless earbuds. But do you have a smartwatch with a pair of earbuds that go inside of it? That’s precisely what Huawei is proposing with the Huawei Watch Buds, and it’s a smartwatch unlike anything else we’ve seen before.

When you’re just wearing it like a smartwatch, the Huawei Watch Buds looks like any other smart wearable. There’s a 1.43-inch AMOLED display, an IPX7 water-resistance rating, and health tracking via Huawei Health, plus it can connect to both Android phones and iPhones. But that familiarity changes the second you flip open the screen to reveal the tiny earbuds hiding inside. Although they’re much smaller than other earbuds the like AirPods Pro 2 or the OnePlus Buds Pro 2, the Watch Buds pack a surprisingly big punch. The earbuds deliver active noise cancellation, wear detection, customizable tap controls, and more.

Huawei announced the Watch Buds earlier this month, but they officially went on sale during MWC 2023 on March 1.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13
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Lenovo refreshed its popular ThinkPad Z13 during MWC, which normally wouldn’t be an occasion to note. This time around, though, the ThinkPad Z13 comes with a major aesthetic upgrade. The top cover is now an organic material made from a fiber derived from flaxseed – yes, you read that right, Lenovo covered a laptop in flaxseed.

The laptop itself is still made of aluminum, which Lenovo says is at least 75% recycled. The update proves that sustainability can still look great, adding some much-needed flair to Lenovo’s storied ThinkPad machine. There are updates under the hood as well, including one of AMD’s new Ryzen 7000 CPUs, up to 64GB of memory, and up to 2TB of SSD storage.

Joe Maring
Joe Maring is the Section Editor for Digital Trends' Mobile team, leading the site's coverage for all things smartphones…
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