The days are getting longer, the Winter Olympics are in full swing and Mobile World Congress has finally arrived. February is the month that keeps on giving. To be honest, the ITProPortal team isn't particularly into winter sports, nor are we afraid of the dark. Barcelona's Fira Gran Via conference centre is where it's really at.
In just a few hours, we'll be weaving our way through the crowds in Spain, fighting for the affections of technology's superpowers at MWC. From 24-27 February, Catalonia will play host to tens of thousands of company delegates, industry experts and journalists, all eager to make their mark on one of the biggest events on the calendar.
While we're really excited about hitting the floor and getting our pearly whites stuck into some really tasty news, we understand that not everybody is fortunate enough to be in attendance. That's why we're delivering comprehensive live coverage of the tradeshow and exhibition, just for you. Expect plenty of news, announcements, launches, interviews and, of course, beautiful pictures.
This year's edition of the conference is shaping up extremely nicely, and looks like it could be the most explosive in years. With Samsung expected to launch the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Gear 2, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg set to wow us all with a Monday evening keynote and a couple of MWC debutants threatening to leave some of the more established players in the shade, we will not be short of talking points. There's also the small matter of crowning the best smartphone in the world.
Thirsty for more juicy gossip? Bring yourself up to date with Aatif Sulleyman's MWC 2014 preview, which highlights the key themes of this year's show. Meanwhile, our dedicated MWC 2014 hub is bursting with techie goodness. James Laird is just putting the gloss on his roundup of the best new devices we expect to get our dirty mitts on, so keep an eye out for that.
Ready? Good. Let the entertainment begin.
- 28 February
Mixed messages much?
Believe it or not, 5G did actually play a big role in this year's conference, which was kind of confusing. While the consumer business units of several firms talked up 4G LTE, and how it could enable a "world without boundaries," different branches of the same companies were busy preaching about how crucial 5G is.
A lot of good things tend to come in fives. Here's the five most important trends we saw over in Barcelona. Do you agree with our selection?
I know what most of you are probably thinking. Is the Samsung Galaxy S5 better than Sony's Xperia Z2? Is Nokia onto a winner with the X? Check out our breakdown of the five best devices at MWC.
As you all probably know, MWC 2014 has drawn to a close and we're back in London (recovering).
Hello again avid readers.
- 27 February
She told us that her company actually benefited from the PRISM scandal (which she also slammed) and that security is really just a never-ending fight between goodies, more goodies, and a hell of a lot of villains.
By the way, we managed to track down Trend Micro CEO Eva Chen at the show and had a thoroughly enjoyable chat with her.
Meanwhile, head over to our dedicated MWC hub (above) and catch up on all the biggest news. After all, it's not over yet!
While things are a bit less frantic, we're going to take a long walk through the stalls and reflect on our action-packed days here.
We, on the other hand, are obviously looking as fresh as daisies.
The clamour we've grown to associate with these halls is dying down, and the incredible week we've had out here in Barcelona looks like it's taken its toll on the people still standing.
What a difference a day makes. After the hustle and bustle of yesterday evening, when IBM boss Ginni Rometty came to town, the Fira Gran Via conference centre is fast turning into a bit of a ghost town.
Hotels have been checked out of, suitcases have been packed and tears have been shed. It's the final day of Mobile World Congress 2014.
"Chaotic" barely begins to describe that.
Cor blimey, what a morning!
- 26 February
By the way, Rometty is the only head of IBM to have ever delivered a keynote at Mobile World Congress.
It was truly intriguing, and well worth the status of Wednesday's headline act.
Robots - supercomputer Watson, in particular - featured extremely heavily, as well as what Rometty considers the three biggest shifts in today's world of business.
In case you somehow missed IBM CEO Virginia Rometty's MWC keynote, have a looksie here.
Also, you might want to check this out if you're one of the many people out there who think that passcodes are dead.
He also let us know what he thinks of Apple's continued snub of NFC technology.
As mentioned yesterday, we managed to have a chat with Visa Europe's Jon White, who told us about how mobility has transformed the payments market.
We've been busy soaking up words of wisdom from loads of the brilliant people around us.
Sorry we've been so quiet today.
- 25 February
Ooooh, la la.
James' busy little hands have also been wrapped around the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet, and he was shocked by the quality of it.
We spent some personal time with the devices, so check out our initial impressions.
Two days in and we're already calling the Nokia X family one of the best value groups of Android smartphones on the market. At just €89 (£73), €99 (£81) and €109 (£90) respectively, the X, X+ and XL look like cracking value for money.
Glaser also let us know how he set about restoring the company he built, after it suffered a number of setbacks in his absence. For all of this and more, stick with us, because we'll be delivering the whole scoop shortly.
The product, which launched in the US late last year, is coming to the UK very soon, and we managed to get a sneak peek of how it works.
While we're creating and consuming more video content than ever, it's still actually pretty difficult to share them with the people and devices you want to. RealPlayer cloud wants to change that.
We've just spent a brilliant hour with RealNetworks founder and CEO, Rob Glaser, and Johan Hansen, the firm's MD and GM for EMEA/LATAM.
We were big RealPlayer fans back in the day, but hadn't really seen much from the company until September last year, when it made its big comeback, through the power of the cloud.
Who remembers RealNetworks?
Wondering how the new Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone compares to Sony's new Xperia Z2 waterproof phone?
We've got all the details in this breakdown.
He also mentioned Toq, Qualcomm's smartwatch which debuted late last year. Although originally sceptical about using the device, he says that he has found many a use for it.
Chandhok said that, regardless of how useful (or useless) the IoT could eventually turn out to be, it is something that is gathering momentum, regardless.
Qualcomm's Rob Chandhok, on the other hand, talked to us about the rise of the Internet of Things.
White also said that, despite what many people have been saying about the passcode being outdated, he doesn't expect it to go away any time soon.
Visa's John White just told us that it's not ideal that Apple has so far refused to build NFC technology into its products, but this can easily be overcome with NFC tags. However, who wants to apply a sticker to a £500+ device?
Just emerged from briefings with Qualcomm and Visa, who are both relying on mobility to push their brands forwards.
We're all pretty much wetting ourselves over the Samsung Galaxy S5 after last night's blockbuster launch, but when is it coming to the UK in earnest? Learn more by checking out our Samsung Galaxy S5 UK release date and pricing roundup.
Also, is it too early to call it the best smartphone in the world?
You can also check out some of our spec comparisons, to find out how the mobile fares against some of the other high-end phones on the market:
We managed to get our hands on the brand new smartphone last night - here are our first impressions.
- 24 February
Get on our third MWC live blog now!
Don't think that today's over though. James Laird has made his way over to the other side of town for the (probable) launch of the Samsung Galaxy S5.
Yep, we were just as shocked as you probably are right now. Zuckerberg does not always come packaged inside a hoodie.
WhatsApp, Snapchat and the NSA also got mentions, though (with some pretty comic consequences).
It revolved mainly around the Facebook-led Internet.org alliance, and how the company can get the rest of the world online.
Well that was pretty exciting, wasn't it? If you somehow missed our live coverage, have a looksie here.
By the way, Mark Zuckerberg's due on stage in just over half an hour. We're celebrating with another live blog.
Just emerged from a terrific meeting with McAfee's Raj Samani and Gary Davis. Personal highlights:
- Bacardi Breezers are a major threat to security
- Loyalty schemes are screwing us over
- Facebook picked up WhatsApp (and all of our information) for a snip
You won't find just phones at MWC - SanDisk have muscled in on the action with the launch of the world's largest MicroSD card. That's a whopping 128GB, in case you were wondering.
But before we can leave a trail of fingerprints on that Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint sensor when the phone's officially released later, we've been playing with the Acer Liquid E3 and Z4.
Spoiler alert! Pictures of the much-anticipated Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone have been leaked online ahead of its launch at MWC tonight. Someone over at Samsung PR is getting a royal finger wagging as we speak.
After countless leaks and months of speculation, Nokia finally took the wraps off of its latest project — the Nokia X. And true to all the rumours, the X runs on a highly modified Android base.
If you haven't yet checked out our hands-on with the Sony Xperia Z2, what are you playing at? Don't you like sexy new smartphones?
While you're here, in case you missed it HP has introduced its Pavilion x360 convertible laptop, which is rather cleverly both a PC and a tablet slate.
You guessed it. We've just spent some time with the lovely (but slightly hipster-ish) people from Jolla.
Warning: Sexy images incoming.
Check out exactly how YotaPhone has upped its game at this year's MWC, by covering 70 per cent of its latest next-gen smartphone offering with full-touch screens on both sides. Is this the future?
Sony announces the release of the Xperia Z2, an updated and souped-up incarnation of its popular waterproof Z1 smartphone.
The Russian firm has supplemented its phone with a backlit E-ink display and extra useful functionality. stand by for more details, because we'll be getting our grubby mitts all over this baby soon.
Yes, we'll be following the actions of Facebook's father this evening. In the meantime, have you checked out Yota's latest offering?
Ever heard of some geezer that goes by the name of Zuckerberg?
- 23 February
Do any of today's gadgets take your fancy? voice your opinions at the bottom of this page (or via Twitter and Facebook). Positive feedback is encouraged but rants (within reason) are also accepted.
Have a gander at our freshly-published hands-on preview with the phablet here.
What's that you say? You don't believe what you're reading?
As we just mentioned, we think the MediaPad X1 could give Apple's and Google's finest a run for their money.
Uh-huh. We've even got pricing too.
There's a new mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, a couple of smartphones - one of which could rival the iPad mini with Retina and Google Nexus 7 II - a tablet and a rather curious "smart band" - fancy a sneak peek of everything?
Meanwhile, Huawei has just launched a load of new products that we've been busy getting to grips with.
Anyway, check out the entire contents of Belfiore's pretty eye-opening presentation by following this link.
However, Belfiore wasn't entirely happy about rumours that Nokia is planning to launch an Android-powered smartphone this week.
This basically means cheaper devices, a better enterprise and education experience and some much-needed improvements for dissatisfied Windows 8.1 users.
He talked us through Microsoft's product strategy for the near future. We can gladly confirm that a couple of major updates to Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone will be on their way shortly.
Apologies for the stop in play, people - we've been very busy!
Okay, Wi-fi issues aside, we'll resurface soon, with news from the likes of Microsoft, Huawei and Mozilla. Nothing major then...
Subtle, but there are definitely differences here, I'm sure you'll agree. Interestingly, Samsung has not yet revealed how much the devices will set you back. Surely after that £299 Galaxy Gear debacle, the company will have learnt some lessons.
You want to see more pictures don't you? Hang on a minute...
This is definitely the first piece of major news to come out of MWC this year. Samsung has outed its latest wearable devices, which will ship globally from the start of April. Check out all the specs and whatnot here and let us know what you think.
Samsung has officially announced the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo. Stand by for all the details.
Can anybody guess what these little babies are?
Morning all! We've got some big news coming up...
- 22 February
Has that suitably whet your appetite? Excellent. See you tomorrow.
It might not be quite that romantic, but you get the picture.
Right, it's time to stumble across to the promised land (hotel), where we'll settle in and fuel up for tomorrow. We'll be grabbing a spot of lunch with Microsoft, tea at Huawei's place, followed by a candle-lit dinner with Mozilla.
"We strongly believe that those who look at things from different perspectives can see the complete picture" - Vlad Martynov, CEO, Yota Devices. Who agrees?
The company is preparing to make several big announcements on the opening day of the conference, and we can barely contain our excitement. Meanwhile, we've got another little teaser for you...
Another outfit we expect big things of is Russian firm Yota (with whom we'll get some quality, one-on-one time with on Wednesday).
Luggage has arrived, badges have been picked up... we're still nervously waiting for our first hiccup.
Phew! We've made it to Barcelona!
Make sure you keep this page open on your browser throughout the week. Things are going to get really frantic really soon, and we don't want you to miss anything. We'll be back online later this afternoon - see you then.
Unfortunately, that's just about all we've got time for this morning. We need to catch a bus to a tube station, the tube to another bus station, a coach to the airport, and an aeroplane to another - more sunny - airport.
Okay, that one's fairly straightforward, but some of the others are pretty tricky. After all, what can we gather from "free5" and "humor5"? Will the new device be able to tell jokes? Is Samsung set to trial the most wallet-friendly pricing plan ever?
Pretty cryptic, eh? What on earth could "wet5" mean..?
By the way, the South Korean giant yesterday released its latest (and probably final) Unpacked5 trailer. Wanna see?
We're not saying that it definitely will launch, but we're willing to eat our hats if it doesn't.
Now, after all the teasers, leaks and speculation we've seen over the past month or so, we (and the rest of the world) would feel more than a little disappointed if Samsung fails to launch the much-hyped Galaxy S5 on Monday.
In case you're new to Mobile World Congress and can't work out what all of the fuss is about, check out our short history/background piece on the tradeshow. You'll be an expert in no time.
Of course, we hope that all presentations go as smoothly as possible, but we can't promise that a gaff or two wouldn't bring big, evil grins to our faces.
Will Sony upstage Samsung? Will Huawei steal Nokia's thunder? Is Blackphone strong enough to slap the NSA in the face? Will Zuckerberg go the same way as a certain movie director at CES?
In case you need reminding, MWC is back, and it's armed to the teeth with drama. So much so that we're struggling to pinpoint the event we're looking forward to most.
The alarm went off at the right time, the shower water was hot and I remembered to pack my European plug adaptor - so far, so good. Now there's just the small matter of getting all the way over to Spain. Thank goodness for aeroplanes.
Laptop? Check. Suitcase? Check. Sensible shoes? Check. Passport? Check.