Mobile World Congress: higher, faster, further with the smartphone

Status: 02/27/2023 10:55 a.m

The Mobile World Congress, the largest industry meeting in Europe when it comes to mobile communications in general and smartphones in particular, starts today in Barcelona. The motto is Velocity, in German: speed.

By Christian Sachsinger, ARD Studio Madrid

When it comes to speed, people in the mobile communications industry first of all imagine how fast the data zips back and forth between our smartphones and laptops. The 5G mobile network is supposed to provide more speed, which – at least if you ask network operators like Vodafone, Telefonica or Deutsche Telekom – has already come a long way: “If I look in Germany, we have a range of 95 percent,” says Abdurazak Mudesir, Telekom Managing Director for Technology.

Whereby 95 percent of the people should be reached – not 95 percent of the area. Still, 5G is now about to overtake the average home landline in terms of speed. “You can expect a total of 500, 600 Mbits per second,” says Mudesir. However, it is also true that on trains or in cars not even the previous technology, i.e. the 4G network, is well received.

5G in development, 6G in sight

The industry prefers to look ahead and announce 6G – a network that is supposed to be significantly faster and that can also send communication via satellite. This is already possible, as the British company Bullit is demonstrating at the Mobile World Congress. The company has developed a charm for the belt buckle that has it all: The small, flat device connects to any normal Apple or Android cell phone via an app and establishes a connection to the nearest satellite. So you can also send short messages in the mountains or on the high seas or where there is no other mobile network.

And the little thing can also be used without a smartphone: “We have the button to switch it on, and that’s the check-in button. That means if I’m walking up a mountain, I can press it and it works sent a message to a predetermined recipient,” explains Bullit’s Pete Cunningham. The recipient then knows that everything is in order or that the sender has reached his next station. “And here we have the alarm button, if you press the five seconds, an SOS signal goes out,” Cunningham demonstrates the beeping small device.

AI as a clone

Higher, faster, further: speed at the Mobile World Congress also means how quickly technologies are developing. Artificial intelligence in particular is now pretty much everywhere. It can imitate speech – and it’s quite good at it, as you can see with the text bot ChatGPT. But it should also copy whole people.

In Barcelona, ​​Memori Yamato from the Japanese company Alt AI shows how artificial intelligence monitors its users so well that it can imitate them in emails, conversations or videos. “If I make a clone of you, it will look like you, speak with your voice and think like you,” explains Yamato. And if you want, you can let your deputy continue to work after your own death. That’s not cheap, though: the company offers the basic version of the clone for $100,000.

Sustainability new mobile phone trend

But back to velocity, i.e. to speed. This is now taken to the extreme when charging cell phone batteries. Full again in just ten minutes, that is now possible. Otherwise, the technical progress in smartphones seems to have been somewhat exhausted. Collapsible screens, cameras with five lenses, loudspeakers in cell phones with flawless sound: all of this has been seen in recent years.

The company HMD Global, which bought the Finnish mobile phone brand Nokia a few years ago, is trying to be sustainable. The G22 model is said to be durable and easy to repair. The smartphone comes with a three-year warranty and access to spare parts and repair instructions. And that also fits the motto of the trade fair, because velocity here also means “oriented towards the future”. And a sustainable cell phone is seen as very promising in Barcelona – even if the Nokia does not have 5G and is therefore not really fast.

MWC23 Hot mobile phones, warmed up promises – and anything else?

Christian Sachsinger, SWR, 27.2.2023 10:34 a.m

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