Mobile World Congress: 3 Big Tech Takeaways for 2016 and Beyond

PHOTO: Visitors check new ZTE devices on the opening day of the World Mobile Congress at the Fira Gran Via Complex on Feb. 22, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. David Ramos/Getty Images
Visitors check new ZTE devices on the opening day of the World Mobile Congress at the Fira Gran Via Complex on Feb. 22, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.

Mobile technology may take center stage at the Mobile World Congress but this year has proven a smartphone can be so much more.

As the annual show bringing together the biggest companies, innovators and analysts in technology comes to a close, here's a look at three of the biggest technology takeaways for 2016 and beyond.

Modularity: Your Smartphone Can Become So Much More

Your smartphone can become so much more with add-ons that can turn it into an incredible camera, a high-fidelity speaker or even a substitute for a laptop.

"This whole concept of modularity or extending the use of the phone to do other things better is a big theme," Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told ABC News from Barcelona, where he was attending the event.

LG introduced a series of add-ons for its new G5 smartphone. The LG CAM Plus gives the user physical buttons for power, shutter, record, zoom and a better grip, among other features, letting them take even better photos. Another module turns the phone into a high-fidelity speaker.

Another product Moorhead said demonstrated this year's embrace of modularity is the HP Elite x3, a smartphone-sized device designed to replace your computer. HP is also selling accessories to help the device transform into a full PC.

"It's taking a smartphone and extending its use to do things other devices were doing before," Moorhead said.

Everyone Can Make Virtual Reality Videos

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed at the event that more than 20,000 360-degree videos have been uploaded to Facebook since late last year -- and that number is expected to climb exponentially.

In a year when many virtual reality headsets including Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are coming to consumers, this year's show also focused on how to make it easier for everyone to create 360-degree video.

Samsung is making a play for the consumer market with a new pocket-sized VR camera that made its world debut at Mobile World Congress. The spherical camera has two lenses that capture 195-degrees each of video, ensuring nothing is missed when the footage is seamlessly stitched together to create an immersive 360-degree experience.

"The important piece that got filled into the show was the consumer creation of the [virtual reality] content," Moorhead said. "I was very impressed with how easy the Samsung 360 camera was."


The next big thing to revolutionize the way we connect may be 5G -- fifth generation wireless technology that can allow more of your devices to get online via a wireless network and respond faster than ever.

Nokia has been one of the companies leading the charge in testing 5G. A number of other companies have been testing the technology or have said they plan to in the near future.

"There were demonstrations of 5G at very fast rates that literally could replace cable," Moorhead said. A common timeline being discussed by the industry is sometime around 2020.

While we wait for 5G, Moorhead said 4.5G -- that's half a "G" more than we have now -- was also a hot topic at Mobile World Congress. Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company, said it planned to commercialize 4.5G in 2016, while other companies announced plans to test the technology this year.