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Five exciting tech innovations for 2018

We’ve just returned from Mobile World Congress (MWC) – the annual mobile industry trade show where brands big and small showcase their latest phones, gadgets and technology. Over the four days the big hitters delivered as expected – including the unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy S9+[1] and the revamped Nokia 8110 4G[2]. But behind the crowds buzzing about the main stands were a quiet confluence of guests intrigued by some of the more eyebrow-raising innovations and developments.

Read on for some of the highlights, including a smartphone with an under-display fingerprint sensor, toe-tapping shoes and a pop-up webcam. Can’t wait for the future? Browse the Best Buy smartphones[3] you can pick up right now.


Vivo Apex – a bezel-less concept phone with an under-display fingerprint scanner

Vivo is a smartphone brand with little presence in the UK. But it seems to be leading the charge when it comes to integrating a fingerprint sensor underneath a phone’s display. The future of smartphone design is bezel-less and minimalistic.

We’re seeing more and more phones with very small bezels surrounding the display, notably the Apple iPhone X[4], LG V30[5] and Samsung Galaxy S9[6]. But in the march towards this design, it’s vital that important features aren’t lost. One problem has been trying to get a fingerprint sensor to work underneath a display – and the Vivo Apex concept phone is the latest iteration.

It’s an improvement on the Vivo X20 Plus UD. While this phone shows that an under-display fingerprint sensor is possible, the fingerprint sensor section on the display is very small. With the Apex, you can place your digit almost anywhere on the bottom half of the screen for it to unlock.

As you can see, the Apex has incredibly tiny bezels surrounding the screen.

It has managed to integrate the phone’s earpiece underneath the display, but unfortunately not the front-facing camera. Selfie fans needn’t be concerned though – incredibly the camera pops out from the top of the body.

The Apex is ultimately a concept phone, but it’s an exciting example of how smartphones in the near-future could develop.

2. A smartphone with five-day battery life

As smartphone displays get bigger and better, tech brands are working frantically to ensure the batteries can keep up.

At this year’s MWC, we’ve had our hands on a smartphone that takes mobile phone battery life to another level. You may think of Energizer when buying batteries for your TV remote, but the company also produces its own range of smartphones. This year’s most hyped mobile, the Samsung Galaxy S9[7], arrives with a 3,000mAh battery.

But that’s not nothing compared to the Energizer Power Max P16K Pro – it has a mind-boggling 16,000 mAh battery. We’re told it can last ‘up to five days’ on a single charge. Of course, that chunky battery has to live underneath the display, and the result is a smartphone that feels bulky in the hand.

But if battery life is important to you, you might be willing to overlook a slightly cumbersome design. Other features of the Power Max P16K Pro include a 5.99-inch Full HD display, 6GB of Ram and fast charge support. See what Energizer is up against in our guide to mobile phones with the best battery life[8].


Vuzix Blade AR smart glasses

AR could be the new VR, if you believe the hype. Augmented Reality works slightly differently but is arguably more useful, and works by overlaying information onto the real world around you. Think walking past a shop and seeing opening times or special offers in your peripheral vision, or seeing what a sofa looks like in your home before you buy it[9].

Apple[10] is interested, having recently released its ARKit – software that allows developers to get involved and make apps for its phones, and something caught our eye at MWC that could well be the sort of thing Apple had in mind. Vuzix claims its Blade Smart Glasses offer this hands-free connection between the digital world and the real world – you don’t have to take your smartphone out of your pocket or bag to check your notifications – instead, they’ll float into your view while you’re wearing the glasses. They can also do things like show you directions, so you don’t need to constantly check your phone to make sure you’re on track.

You can control the new glasses via voice command as well as by touch. The addition of an 8Mp rear camera also means you can quickly take photos on the move, increasing your chances of capturing the unexpected. The Vuzix Blade Smart Glasses live in the shadow of Google Glass, which proved unpopular.

To be successful, the new release needs to be genuinely useful and not too interfering. We’re not completely sure on UK price or release date just yet – but we think they’ll cost close to GBP1,000 and be available to buy before the end of the year. As for Apple’s own smart glasses, we’ll have to wait and see.

If you haven’t given Virtual Reality (VR) a try – there’s never been a better time. Find out how to try VR for free on Apple and Android phones[11].

4. A hidden laptop camera

It’s not just smartphones that are aiming for thinner bezels – the new Huawei MateBook X Pro, with its stunning 13.9-inch 3K touch display, has such thin bezels running around the edge of the screen, there’s no room for an integrated webcam.

Huawei has come up with an ingenious way to make sure MateBook owners still get to make video calls – by installing a pop-up camera lens. It sits at the top of the keyboard, and a simple press on the camera key will see it rise slightly to reveal a wide-angle lens.

We expect to see pop-up cameras appearing on more laptops in the future from other big-name brands. Aside from providing a solution to thinner bezels, not having a webcam lens pointed at you all the time may give security-conscious users some peace of mind.

Find out more about Huawei’s MateBook X Pro laptop and MediaPad M5 tablets[12].

5. ‘Morse code’ smart safety shoes

Now for something a little bit different. A slightly bizarre addition to the MWC exhibition were safety shoes, designed by Intellinium and integrated with Sierra Wireless’ technologies. The shoes include a built-in smart Sim card, vibration module and audible alarm.

They’re pitched at teams of industrial workers, with the idea being they can tap out warning messages in a form of morse code to let others know of safety issues on site. Managers can also send alerts to workers’ shoes, which in theory they can feel or hear above noisy construction equipment. Putting visions of tap-dancing construction workers aside, these ‘smart shoes’ do seem to have potentially life-saving application – provided it’s easy enough to tell the difference between tapping ‘bad weather on the way’ and ‘two sugars please’.

What else did we see at MWC 2018?

Despite a lack of ‘flagship’ mobile phone launches from a lot of the big brands, there was plenty else to see and do at this year’s MWC.

The good news for those who feel phone prices are now too high, is that high-end features now appear to be filtering down to lower-end models. Our round up of the latest budget smartphones[13] shows what you’ll be able to buy for a song this year, and if you can spend a bit more, these mid-range mobiles[14] look pretty capable as well. One brand that did have a big presence was Nokia, which announced four new smartphones.[15] Nokia has really looked to cover all the bases with a handset for practically every budget, and we even saw the return of the ‘banana phone’[16], first launched in 1996.

And if you are happy to pay premium prices – Samsung has of course announced its new flagships for 2018.

Find out how the Samsung S9 and S9+ compare with the iPhone X.[17]


  1. ^ Samsung Galaxy S9+ (
  2. ^ Nokia 8110 4G (
  3. ^ Best Buy smartphones (
  4. ^ Apple iPhone X (
  5. ^ LG V30 (
  6. ^ Samsung Galaxy S9 (
  7. ^ Samsung Galaxy S9 (
  8. ^ mobile phones with the best battery life (
  9. ^ seeing what a sofa looks like in your home before you buy it (
  10. ^ Apple (
  11. ^ how to try VR for free on Apple and Android phones (
  12. ^ Huawei’s MateBook X Pro laptop and MediaPad M5 tablets (
  13. ^ latest budget smartphones (
  14. ^ mid-range mobiles (
  15. ^ announced four new smartphones. (
  16. ^ the return of the ‘banana phone’ (
  17. ^ how the Samsung S9 and S9+ compare with the iPhone X. (

Hands-on: the latest smartphones under £200

Samsung grabbed headlines at Mobile World Congress (MWC) with the S9 and S9+, but buyers on a budget still have something to get excited about. Several sub-GBP200 phones have been shown off at MWC here in Barcelona, and we’ve had our hands on them for some initial impressions. Features typically found on premium smartphones, such as dual lens cameras and facial recognition, are trickling down the price ladder.

Below, we’ve rounded up the cheap phones that caught our eye at MWC.

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Best Buy smartphones – top-notch performance whatever your budget.[1]

Alcatel 1X

This is the cheapest Alcatel smartphone of 2018, coming with a 5.3-inch display and 16GB of storage. It’s being touted as the first smartphone with an 18:9 screen that costs below EUR100. As it has just 1GB of Ram, Android Oreo (Go edition) comes pre-installed.

Android Go is purpose-built for smartphones with low amounts of memory: non-essential features are removed, making the Google apps on board run more smoothly.

The 1X could be an option if you want a phone that can manage basic tasks and take decent pictures. It has an 8Mp rear camera and a 2Mp front camera. There’s no fingerprint sensor, but it does support facial recognition.

Alcatel refers to it as ‘Face Key’. The Alcatel 1X will go on sale from April.

Alcatel 3

Also starring in Alcatel’s refreshed smartphone line-up is the 5.5-inch Alcatel 3. A 13-megapixel camera sits on the back of the phone, and on the front there’s a 5Mp camera for selfies and video calls.

You get only 16GB of internal storage out of the box, but there’s a micro-SD card slot if you need more space for pictures and videos.

The phone runs on 2GB of Ram and has a fingerprint sensor on its rear. That should mean decent performance for most, but if you watch lots of video and enjoy gaming on the go, you might want to look for something more powerful. We like the look of the Alcatel 3’s glossy back, but be warned: it’s a fingerprint magnet.

Some may find themselves forever polishing it. The Alcatel 3 is slightly pricier than the 1X at EUR150. It goes on sale in March.

Nuu G3

Previously, Nuu has kept its focus on selling smartphones under GBP150.

But now, it’s launching its priciest smartphone yet, and the company is hoping a feature-packed spec sheet will turn some heads.

The Nuu G3 has a 5.7-inch 18:9 display. We got a chance to try it out at MWC and were impressed by the vibrant colours on screen. The G3 runs on 4GB of Ram (good enough for running multiple apps at once) and comes with facial recognition.

There’s also a 3,000mAh battery tucked inside. On the back of the Nuu G3 you’ll spot two lenses, comprising a 13Mp main camera and a 5Mp depth-sensing camera. The 13Mp front-facing camera is wide-angle, so you’ll be able to capture yourself and plenty of the background.

Nuu told us to expect the G3 some time in April, when it will be on sale online for GBP199.

Nokia 1

Shopping for a smartphone under GBP100? The new Nokia 1 is battling rivals for a spot in your pocket. The 4.5-inch mobile fits snugly in the palm of your hand, and you can inject some personality into it by clipping an Xpress-on cover onto the back.

It ships with 8GB of internal storage, a 5Mp rear camera and a 2Mp front camera, so don’t expect crystal-clear shots from the Nokia 1. Like the Alcatel 1X, it has 1GB of Ram and runs on Android Oreo (Go edition). It’s Nokia’s cheapest new smartphone, costing just £85.

We’re still waiting for word on UK pricing. See how we score Nokia mobiles with our Nokia smartphone reviews.[2]

Cheap mobile phones in our test lab

Not everyone wants to splash out on the latest flagship mobiles from the likes of Apple and Samsung. But as our rigorous lab tests prove time and time again, you don’t always need to spend big for a capable mobile phone.

To see our full line-up of affordable smartphones on test, see our guide to the best cheap mobile phones[3].


  1. ^ Best Buy smartphones (
  2. ^ Nokia smartphone reviews. (
  3. ^ the best cheap mobile phones (

Revamped ‘Matrix phone’ Nokia 8110 takes on new phones from Doro

With the release of feature-laden and pricey smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S9[1] and S9+[2], it’s easy to forget that brands such as Doro and Nokia still make mobile phones designed to be super simple to use. Doro has just announced the 7060 and 8035. The 7060 is a flip phone with physical buttons, while the 8035 is a simplified smartphone with a five-inch touchscreen.

Nokia, on the other hand, is building on the popularity of last year’s re-release of the 3310[3] by introducing another old model to its current line-up. The 8110 was originally launched in 1996, but it’s back once again with plenty of new features to make it fit-for-purpose in 2018. Below, we dig into the detail of each new launch to help you decide whether one could be your next phone.

But before diving into that, check out our first look video of the new Doro phones, and below, the re-launched Nokia 8110:

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Simple mobile phone reviews[4] – our latest tests found the best and worst handsets we’ve seen

Doro 7060: what you need to know

The Doro 7060 has a 2.8-inch display, and is the first flip phone we’ve seen with 4G web browsing. This means it has the look and design of a basic flip phone, but you can download apps and quickly catch up with the news. It has large and well-spaced buttons, making it easier to press the right one each time.

The Doro 7060 also has some nice accessibility features, such as hearing-aid compatibility and an assistance button on the back. Pressing this sends an automated message to pre-selected contacts to let them know you might need some help. The Doro 7060 is slated to cost around GBP130.

This is quite expensive for a phone of this design – but it’s the 4G connectivity that ramps up the price. It should be released within the next few months, and we’ll be bringing you our full review as soon as possible.

Doro 8035: what you need to know

The 8035 is a smartphone that’s specifically designed to be as simple to use as possible, even for those who have never owned a smartphone before. You have two menu options to choose from – a traditional Android layout and an action-based one.

With the action-based menu, you’ll see a list of options such as “call”, “view” and “send”. If you’re fairly confident with technology, the Android menu might be a good choice – but if you’re not, the action-based menu could help you get to grips with the smartphone more quickly. You can browse the web and download apps on the 4G network, like you can with most modern smartphones.

Like the 7060, this simplified smartphone has a nice selection of accessibility features – including an SOS button and hearing-aid compatibility. Find out whether any Doro phones are actually any good by consulting our Doro mobile phone reviews[5].

Nokia 8110 4G: what you need to know

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As mentioned above, the Nokia 8110 was first launched in 1996 – and was famously featured in The Matrix (1999). It’s not the first time that the Finnish brand has brought back an old favourite – the return of the Nokia 3310[6] last year caused quite the stir.

The 8110 has retained its curved slider design, which explains its nickname of “banana phone”. It’s a pretty iconic look, and the idea is that the phone covers all the space between your ear and your mouth while you’re calling someone. Unlike the original 8110, the new version runs on the superfast 4G network.

This means you should be able to browse the web with speed, and use a few apps – such as Facebook or Twitter. The 2.4-inch screen is in colour, and the phone also comes pre-loaded with the Snake game, made most famous by the 3310.

It’s available in black and yellow, and you should be able to buy it from around May 2018 for around GBP70. Is Nokia capable of making good simple mobile phones?

Head to our expert Nokia simple mobile phone reviews[7] for the answer.

What makes a Best Buy simple mobile phone?

A simple mobile phone has to excel across our range of tough tests to earn our Best Buy recommendation. Our key tests include:

Unfortunately, we’ve found basic mobile phones that are unnecessarily tricky to use, and have terrible battery life. These phones take a spot in our Don’t Buy hall of shame – and we’d strongly recommend you don’t buy them, to avoid disappointment.

Check out our Best Buy simple mobile phones[8] to make sure you buy a handset you love and that won’t let you down.


  1. ^ Samsung Galaxy S9 (
  2. ^ S9+ (
  3. ^ 3310 (
  4. ^ Simple mobile phone reviews (
  5. ^ Doro mobile phone reviews (
  6. ^ Nokia 3310 (
  7. ^ Nokia simple mobile phone reviews (
  8. ^ Best Buy simple mobile phones (

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