This weekend, Android smartphones took centre stage at the Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona for two good reasons.

They are affordable and did not have to compete with the most popular Samsung brand whose upcoming pricey and loaded S8 will launch on March 29.

The average consumer cares about price, battery performance, nice screen and picture quality. These phones, don’t use the fastest processors and typically shave off one or two MB of RAM and feature one notch down Full HD screen resolution at best. More are using metal body instead of plastic. If you want a phone that won’t break the bank, here’s what will be arriving at a phone store near you starting next month.

Availability, unless noted, will be announced soon, so keep in touch.

  • Motorola’s Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus, two new additions to the Moto G Family are paying attention to the basic features the average consumer cares about. Only the Moto G5 will be in Canada, featuring a sleek aluminum design, full day 2800 mAh battery, 10 W rapid charger, 1.4 GHz octa-core processor, fingerprint reader, 13 MP camera with phase detection autofocus (PDAF) for faster than average focusing. Prices will start at $280 CAD. 4 GHz octa-core processor Motorola also announced more “Moto Mods” for its premium Moto Z phones like the Game Pad with D-pad, A/B/X/Y button cluster, built-in battery and internal storage. Later this year a Mod will let get users into Amazon’s Alexa voice-activated assistant. Future Moto Z phones will have Alexa built-in. A battery add-on with 50 per cent more power “Mod” was also announced.

  • Following the Android-powered Nokia 6, Nokia 5, and Nokia 3, HMD Global is bringing the past back from the 2000 era with a newer version of the popular Nokia 3310 feature phone – with a modern look. It features a 2.4-inch QVGA display, 2-megapixel camera, and a microSD slot. Not sure Canada will get these, but I expect at least one version to make it.

    Sony announced and showed two mid-level models, the Xperia XA1 and Xperia XA1 Ultra with a curious blend of held back top tier features like no water-proofing but top notch 24 MP cameras. Similar to previous versions, the XA1 features a 5-inch IPS 720p display with hardly a bezel and SIM/microSD tray and headphone jack in same places, but a Type C USB connector and a 2,300mAh battery. Surprisingly, it has a 23MP 1/2.3 Exmor RS image sensor, similar in past devices and the same low-light f/2.0 aperture lens. It will run Android 7 Nougat, making it compatible with DayDream headgear. The Xperia XA1 Ultra features a sharper 6-inch 1080p IPS display, 2,700mAh battery, USB-C port and  MediaTek helio P20 chipset. It increased storage to 32GB, with 4GB of RAM and up to 200GB expansion. It will also have the same rear 23MP camera but its front selfie camera is now a 16MP 1/2.6 Exmor RS sensor with optical image stabilization and front-facing flash. It will also run on Android 7.0 Nougat. Sony’s higher end phones include:

    Xperia XZ Premium is Sony Mobile’s most ground-breaking smartphone to date with new Motion Eye camera system, the world’s first 4K HDR display and Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 processor.  

    Xperia XZs, also featuring super slow motion imaging technology, delivers a stylish large screen with a great camera while keeping the same Xperia XZ body.

    Xperia XA1 Ultra (6”)  integrate superior audio and visual technology, premium 23MP cameras and borderless displays. 

  • Huawei mid-level phone, the P10, features a 5.1-inch Full HD, Corning Gorilla 5 screen, a snappy Kirin 960 (64-bit), Octa-core processor, 4GB RAM and smartly, 64 GB storage. What stands out is the Leica Dual-Camera 2.0 20MP monochrome or 12MP RGB, SUMMARIT-H F/2.2 with optical stabilization while the front is served by a Leica 8MP F/1.9 lens. A generous 3200 mAh battery and USB Type-C. Rogers, Fido, Bell and Videotron will sell the P10 in stores across Canada, while Rogers will be the exclusive distributor of the P10 Plus which festures a larger 3750 mAh battery.

  • LG, still in search of a top tier phone that stands out from the rest, announced the LG G6 with an extra wide 18:9 “Full Vision” 2880×1440 pixel and very sharp 564ppi display compacted on a 5.3-inch phone, still designed for one-hand use. LG said it wants to be ready for more 18:9 online games and apps and can run two apps side-by-side on its extra wide screen. It features high-end TV-like HDR10 and Dolby 10, HDR imaging technology and seems to have abandoned its modular design in favour of a unified metal and glass design. It is keeping it’s popular and smart dual 13 MP rear cameras, including a 125-degree view and 5 MP f2.2 100 degree view selfie. It features a top performing Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, 32 GB, 4GB RAM. A seemingly sufficient 3,300mAh non-removable quick-charge battery will drive all those extra screen pixels.

  • ZTE’s Pre5G Giga+ MBB chips will see download speeds reaching up to 1Gbps on the Gigabit phone. Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile platform with an integrated Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, it utilizes a combination of carrier aggregation, 4×4 MIMO antenna technology, and 256-QAM modulation to achieve LTE download speeds that are up to 10x faster than first generation LTE devices.

Samsung was still at MWC 2017 with a quieter launch announcement of upgraded Galaxy Tab S3 and the Galaxy book two-in-one devices.

The Galaxy Tab S3 will be available in Canada for $799 CAD with pre-order starting on March 1, 2017 at Best Buy, Staples, and Samsung Experience Stores, with retail availability kicking off on March 24th. Canadians who register for pre-orders will also receive a complimentary Samsung book cover, valued at $89.99.

The Galaxy Book, and the new Gear VR with sharper lenses and Controller were also announced.

The Windows 10 Galaxy Book comes in 10.6” HD TFT LCD, and 12” 4K, Super AMOLED, models and uses the familiar Galaxy Tab Pro 2-in-1 format with an improved removable keyboard/cover and new S Pen. It is powered by an Intel Core m3 or i5 processor, RAM is 4/8GB and storage is 128/256GB with SD card support.

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