After their big announcement of the latest in their Galaxy S line, Samsung's other big launches weren't strictly phones at all. Following on from last year's tepidly-received Gear watch, the company revealed their 2014 iterations, the Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit. In fact, the biggest change is under the hood, and the eagle eyed amongst you will notice the Gear 2 has lost its 'Galaxy' moniker. This is because the watches now run Samsung's Tizen OS, co-developed with Intel. In essence this provides the same functionality, but with less power use - up to three days in some cases.
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Yes, never a company to launch one product when three will do, the Gear 2 and Gear 2 neo are slight improvements on last year's product. The flagship Gear 2 reduces the weight and moves the camera from the strap to the body of the watch itself, and by doing so it means you can finally change straps yourself. The Gear 2 neo is a cut down version of the Gear 2, removing the camera and the ability to change straps. More fetching, though, is the base model, the Gear Fit. One of the first products to sport a curved OLED screen, the Fit is your basic fitness watch, including heart rate monitoring. It may not offer the range of features the Gear 2 offers, but it's the most striking and may well be the best value too.
With the Samsung Galaxy S5 being revealed to a somewhat muted reception, many reconsidered what they felt to be the device of the show. With HTC leaving its big announcement until March 25th, it fell to Sony's Xperia Z2 to scoop up the plaudits.


Slowly gaining momentum in the Android arena, the Z2 follows on from the well-received Z1 in much the same way as its predecessors. Like the Galaxy S5 is to the S4, there's not a huge difference in design. The 1080p screen has gained .2 inches (now 5.2 "), however.


Inside however there's plenty of grunt, with a quad-core Snapdragon 801 CPU at 2.3GHz, a roomy 3GB RAM, micro SD car slot and a barely touched Android 4.4. Where the Z2 is getting most praise, though, is for the excellent Sony imaging chips inside its 20.7mp camera. With names like G-Lens and BIONZ being thrown around, it sounds more like a robot than a camera, but this is all proprietary Sony tech to make its phone images closer to those of its successful compacts.


The Xperia Z2 is also Sony's first mobile capable of handling 4K video recording, so if you are one of those lucky enough to own a Sony 4K TV or projector, then you're pretty much set. Back to HTC and, as alluded to earlier, its lack of of a big Mobile World Congress announcement regarding an update to the excellent HTC One.


Instead HTC opted for two new Desire devices, the 610 and the 816 phablet. Both are strictly midlevel devices, but lets not forget that even mid-level these days gets you multi-cores and HD screens. Both take a little from the design of the HTC One and a touch from the HTC One X, with full polycarbonate, rounded shells that look slick.


The larger of the two, the 816, has a 5.5" 720p display, quad core 1.6GHz Snapdragon 400 CPU,4G, 1.5GB RAM, 13MP rear and 5MP (!) front facing cameras, and HTC's love-it-or-hate-it Sense 6 Android skin. It looks better than the specs suggest, and is very thin to boot, so it's certainly no budget handset.
By contrast, the smaller 610 is as close to low end as one would like to go this year. It 'only' has a 4.7" qHD screen and 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 CPU, but in real value terms it may look better than the reigning budget champ, Motorola's Moto G. It lags behind in specs like screen resolution, though.


2014 has been a quiet year so far in terms of major launches, with Samsung and Sony keeping things much the same. There were no major surprises at MWC, and though we did see curved OLED appear, it was on a watch not phone. Things may change in late March with HTC's new flagship launch, though leaks of the M8 hint that it's pretty similar to the present One.


Is this a sign that the mobile hardware and software explosion kicked off by the iPhone launch is calming down? Is the race for bigger and better finally costing the manufacturers too much each year? Who knows what the rest of 2014 will offer up, but in the meantime, the competition from cheap Chinese manufacturers may have forced the big names to turn away from their flagships to budget offerings, and that can only be good news for everybody's pockets.