Catching up on Mobile World Congress

The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona has become a major event for tech companies to show off their new phones, wearables, and software features. Here’s what’s getting the most attention (and why).

Samsung’s smart ring: The Galaxy Ring will track sleep based on the wearer’s heart rate, movement, and breathing, offering advice for improvement. Future features include detecting signs of sleep apnea and a “vitality score” that tracks when someone is most alert.

  • Why it matters: Samsung is stepping up to challenge Oura in the smart ring market, which is not as big as other health trackers but growing fast. Rings are less cumbersome in bed than a watch, making them better suited for sleep tracking.
  • Apple could also throw its hat in the ring, based on several patents it has been working on.

Xiaomi’s flagship phones turn heads: The Xiaomi 14 Ultra has a really impressive camera, thanks to beefed-up sensors and a pair of telephoto lenses courtesy of a partnership with Leica. That, plus AI and hardware upgrades, have made it an early pick for the best camera phone of the year.

  • Why it matters: Xiaomi doesn’t directly sell phones in Canada, but its growing popularity in China could push Apple and Samsung to boost their phones to compete.

Google pumps more AI into Android: New Gemini-powered features include AI in the Messages app that can draft messages, plan events, or just be someone to chat with. Android Auto will also summarize, read, and respond to messages while you drive, while AI will also enhance screen-reading accessibility features.

  • Why it matters: Google’s Gemini rollout continues. Given that the company plans to integrate AI into everything it does, don’t expect these to be the only new ways Gemini shows up in your Android phone.

Motorola’s bendy phone: The concept features a fully flexible OLED display, which can bend backwards to be propped up on a table or wrapped around your wrist like a slap bracelet.

  • Why it matters: A phone exactly like this won’t hit the market — it’s a neat visual, but impractical. But Motorola has a track record of pushing the sector to be more imaginative, and bendy screens could wind up in other products.