OH, THE THINGS we do for fashion! Like wearing pants with gaping knee holes in the dead of winter. Tech fashion has its pluses and minuses, too, as seen at last week's preview of spring phones at the giant Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, Spain.
SAMSUNG STANDOUTS: Sleek newbies from Samsung are sure to accessorize well with your spring wardrobe. But some phone-atics will be upset with the trade-offs, features abandoned in the soon-coming Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones.
To compete better with the premium look and pricing of the top-selling Apple iPhone 6s, both Samsungs feature metal front and backs. (Bye-bye, plastic parts.) Also, the S6 Edge boasts a "world's first" curved-edge screen that wraps the glowing display around the sides of the phone. The look is akin to one of those "infinity pools."
But to work these tweaks, Samsung had to eliminate two features prized by techies in earlier Galaxys and never attainable on iPhones. One's a slide-off back cover, allowing users to swap out the battery. (To compensate some, Mophie announced a $99 Galaxy 6 case with booster-battery built in.)
Also missing on new Galaxys is a microSD card slot, useful for sideloading music and photos. Ironically, SanDisk was at MWC introducing an enormous 200 GB microSDXC card, priced at $400.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE: That wraparound screen doesn't kill me. But two other enhancements in the Galaxy S6 phones - Samsung Pay and Wireless Charging - are to die for.
Come summer, early adopters will be able to flash an S6 at almost any checkout counter, working it as a surrogate charge card. Samsung Pay uses Near Field Communication, as does Apple Pay, and Magnetic Secure Transmission technology from LoopPay that works with almost all credit-card-swiping devices.
The ability to charge a phone wirelessly by placing it on an induction charging platform is being handled with added flexibility by Samsung. S6 phones can get a charge on with either of two rival wireless technologies:
* The Qi (pronounced chee) format (a/k/a WPC 1.1) that's also available in Nexus 5 and Nokia Lumia Windows phones and through in-car charging stations in models from Toyota, Jeep, Cadillac and Audi.
* And PMA 1.0, the charging format supported in Samsung phones and promoted in Duracell Powermat gear, can be found at some West Coast Starbucks locations and Euro-based McDonalds.
And, starting next month, you'll be able to bring home Ikea tables and lamps with built in Qi chargers.
E.T. PHONE HOME: Some of the coolest looking and acting smartphones in the MWC fashion parade might not get to the U.S.
Take (please) the Lenovo Vibe Shot, a superslim beauty meant to be held and used in "horizontal" mode. Kinda resembles a camera.
Audiophiles here may be craving the Lenovo A7000. It's the world's first smartphone that can produce impressive "flyover" audio effects with Dolby Atmos processing and companion 7.1-channel headphones.
The Blackphone 2 by SGP Technologies doesn't just carry a stealthy, black look. It also runs a security-hardened version of Android called PrivatOS, chock-full of special encryption tools. Also promising rock-solid security is the GranitePhone, from Brazil-based Sikur.
The new HTC One M9 clings to the stylish aluminum unibody case of predecessors but adds two-tone finishes and a pretty-in-pink option for fashionistas. Battery capacity is up, likewise rear-camera resolution (to 20 MP), though the maker has eliminated that second backside camera that allowed users to shift focus after a picture was snapped.
OTHER NEWBIES: Multiawarded a "Best of MWC," the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 boasts a unique, 100 percent reversible design and superior JBL sound. Also be watching for the next curved screen and flexible LG Flex 2, bargain but well-equipped Motorola Moto E, BlackBerry's midrange Leap and Sony's less posh, more plastic but still waterproof Xperia M4.