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Rumour check: which smartphones will be launched at MWC?

Rumour has it that the big names will all have big releases at the Mobile World Congress 2014. Rajiv Makhni separates rumour from the news and paints a realistic picture of what to expect.

brunch Updated: Feb 22, 2014 18:20 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Rajiv Makhni,techilicious,Hindustan Times

It’s almost here, you can smell it, almost taste it. It’s the world’s biggest convergence of all things mobile and it hits Spain every year like a sledgehammer deep into the gut. Back-to-back press conferences, new phones and products announced at the speed of light, garish T-shirts and stickers being collected with unrivalled ferocity, and of course me running around trying to tweet, post and shoot everything my grubby little techie paws can get. The MWC2014 will get rumour mills churning. Who’s likely to display what this time? headline-making company of 2013 may also be the MWC show stealer with a flurry of announcements and products. The biggest of them is the Nokia Normandy or (as it is now being called) The Nokia X. For all its mystery and aura, this is a phone that could make headlines above and beyond Nokia’s buy out by Microsoft; it’s a Nokia phone that RUNS ANDROID! It may not look or behave like an Android phone, but at its heart, that’s what it is. Looks and specs are all top-of-the-line and it could well be the biggest announcement of MWC 2014. Also likely to be showcased is the Lumia 930 with a 4.5-inch full-HD screen and a 20-megapixel Pureview camera, the Lumia 1820 and a much awaited Lumia 2020 8-inch full-HD tablet.

Rumour X-ray: I’m going with the Nokia X actually being announced at MWC and the 930 and 2020 tablet also making it to the final list. One of the big guys at MWC every year; and this year they’ve sent out an invite for a press event titled ‘Unpacked 5’. Most people believe this will be the launch of the God phone – the Galaxy S5. Having burnt its fingers with a mediocre S4, this maybe the unveiling of a new class of phones for Samsung. A 5.25-inch display with a 2K ultra-high resolution, an Exynos 6 64-bit octacore processor, water- and dust-proof, Samsung’s new ISOCELL camera sensor, all-metal body and an eye scanner. Samsung may also showcase the Galaxy Gear 2 watch with seven-day battery life and a lower price point (much needed), a cheaper lower resolution (720P) version of the Note 3 called the Note 3 Neo (great idea), its new and boring Galaxy Tab 3 Lite and a showcase of in-house Android rival – Tizen.

Rumour X-ray: While some or all of the above specs may make it to the final Galaxy S5, I’m still not sure that Samsung will unveil its biggest phone of the year at a cluttered event like MWC. The Gear 2 is a strong possibility and the others are a sure shot. Sony’s already gone all-out at CES, so its MWC offerings may be a little sparse. Rumours are strong that codename ‘Sirius’ may be showcased as the Z2. This is a flagship phone with a 5.2-inch display, all-aluminum frame, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor backed by 3GB RAM, Android 4.4 KitKat, a 20.7-megapixel camera and an edge-to-edge screen. There is also talk about the Sony Castor tablet making an appearance. This has a 10.1-inch screen and is super thin at 6.4 inches.

Rumour X-ray: It’s too early for a Z2, so I’m calling that a no-show. But at least two new mid-range phones and one top of-the-line tablet should be on the list.

LG LG may use MWC for creating a bit of hype and buzz. The first rumour is that the Samsung Galaxy S5 killer, the much awaited LG G3 with a 5.5-inch screen, a 2560x1440 resolution, 3GB RAM and housed with LG’s new Odin octacore ARM processor, may be shown. Also around will be the downgraded version of the LG G Mini and prototype of the LG Flex 2. There’s excitement around a Google Glass rival called Glasstic, and G Arch, a full-function smartwatch.

Rumour X-ray: There is almost no chance of a G3 this early, so I would file that into the ‘dream on’ category. The G Mini, a few prototypes and the smartwatch are on the ‘can be’ radar, but the Glasstics rumour is a typical ‘techgasm’ before reality can catch up. This is a company most have given up on and that’s exactly why it may just be able to pull off a few very pleasant shocks. The new BlackBerry strategy is to release phones priced so low that they become an impulse purchase. Up first at MWC could be the BlackBerry Z3, a 5-inch phone with a 540x960 pixels resolution, powered by a 1.2-GHz dual-core processor clubbed with 1.5GB RAM and a 5-MP camera. It may be priced at $249. Rumours are also strong about a QWERTY Q3 phone with a smaller screen for about $199.

Rumour X-ray: Both seem probable. But I don’t see both the Z3 and the Q3 being outed at the same event. The Z3 is the stronger contender here. One was for a long time the best Android phone your money could buy, but somehow it didn’t translate to bringing the accolades that HTC deserved. Rumours now suggest that the HTC One Two (HTC, please, please don’t call it that), codenamed M8, may make it to the MWC announcement stage. It is said to feature a 5-inch 1080p full-HD display, a quadcore Snapdragon 800 processor and run Android 4.4 KitKat with the new HTC Sense 6.0 UI, but the form factor and materials used truly set it apart.

Rumour X-ray: The leak of a HTC New York event in March now seem to suggest that the HTC One Two may not make it to Barcelona.

Lots of other companies will make big news and announcements there. Gionee has a serious follow up to its E5 and E6, Xolo could have another big platform release, Micromax will have a flagship announcement and ZTE may have its 6.44-inch ZTE Nubia Z7 and the ZTE Geek also outed. As soon as I’m done with collecting all my loud and garish tees, watch out for a follow-up column to test how the rumours mills rated against the real MWC.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, February 23

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First Published: Feb 22, 2014 15:49 IST