Home / Mobile / At Mobile World Congress, old-style phones are new again – CBS News

At Mobile World Congress, old-style phones are new again – CBS News

The Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest trade show for mobile devices, kicked off Monday in Barcelona, Spain, with brands like Blackberry and Nokia showing off their latest phones, while Samsung opted to spotlight two new tablets instead. 

Following last year’s Galaxy Note 7 recall after the batteries in some phones exploded, Samsung won’t unveil its next generation phone, the Note 8, until the end of March, CNET reports. 

“I think maybe they (Samsung) wanted a little more breathing room,” CNET senior editor Dan Ackerman told “CBS This Morning.”

Ackerman said that while last year’s recall was a “bad problem” for Samsung, consumer loyalty remains with the Galaxy brand. 

“I knew some people who were such big fans of that phone that they didn’t want to give them up even after the recalls, so I think the brand does still have a lot of goodwill,” Ackerman added. “They say they are very committed to testing, to safety, so they say this new phone might be the safest phone ever made.” 

For now, Samsung is spotlighting its new Android and Windows tablets, which will both share the Galaxy brand and include many of the Note 7’s features, the Associated Press reports. 

Beyond Samsung, this year’s Mobile World Congress has featured a big brands from the past looking forward in new ways. Once dominant, now struggling BlackBerry returned with the KeyOne, a new phone that takes the popular BlackBerry-style keyboard and software and brings it to an Android phone. The KeyOne is actually from Chinese company TCL, which is licensing the BlackBerry name and brand, CNET reports. 

“It’s a cool way to bring back something that we used to like and put it in a new phone, because we’ve kind of hit a plateau in terms of these new phones,” Ackerman said. 

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BlackBerry is back, courtesy of TCL. Whether people will pay attention is still up in the air.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Ackerman said that BlackBerry’s return is part of a larger trend of making everything old new again. He said some consumers see an “almost hipster cred” to owning a more old-fashioned phone that isn’t loaded up with all the apps and smartphone features that have become the norm thanks to the iPhone and its competitors. 

Like BlackBerry, Nokia had a prominent presence at the trade show and is also leading that trend. The Nokia 3310 “candy bar” phone is another throwback to the pre-iPhone era. 

The nostalgic product was brought back thanks to Finnish startup HMD, which was founded and staffed by many former Nokia employees, CNET reports.

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The throwback Nokia 3310 was the highlight of the HMD presentation for new Nokia phones.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Steve Cistulli, head of TCL’s North American business, told CNET that it’s all about looking at a brand’s “legacy.” 

“I don’t use the word nostalgia as I use the word legacy,” Cistulli said. “When you take that legacy and move it forward, that’s where we have a lot of the passion ingrained.”

Ackerman said that some consumers are tired of feeling “too distracted by all the apps” and features of smartphones. Besides, these retro phones’ batteries last longer. 

“Here’s the real key,” Ackerman said. “Leave it around for a month, and the battery still has some charge to it.” 

Of course, this craze for phones from the past could soon fall by the wayside. Ackerman stressed that tech watchers are eager to see what Apple has in store for the next big iPhone release this fall, marking the device’s 10th anniversary.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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