GADGETS GALORE: Nokia, HTC, Samsung @MWC 2012
As the Mobile World Congress wraps up for another year, we showcase the highlights of the conference. The range of smartphones and tablets didn't disappoint, and all the usual suspects were present, including Samsung, Sony, HTC and LG, with the latter three using the event to announce their smartphone releases for the year ahead.
MWC 2012 - or as we like to call it, Android's coming-of-age-party, was packed to the rafters with this year's top handsets. Even Panasonic got in on the action, with its new Eluga and Lumix lines.
Mobile service provider Orange unveiled its first smartphone at MWC, the Orange Santa Clara. With a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2460 processor and 16GB of storage, the Santa Clara runs using the Android Gingerbread OS and comes with an 8MP camera. It also has NFC capabilities, and is due to hit UK and European stores in the summer.
Quad core phones had a large presence at this year's Congress, with Huawei claiming their newest offering, the Ascend D, is the fastest smartphone on the market. During MWC, only Sony seemed to be sticking with the older dual-core processors, as smartphone manufacturers turn to devices with four processors to create faster, more powerful machines.
Also parading the quad-core hardware was LG's Optimus 4X HD. As well as the extra processing power, the company's new flagship boasts a high definition screen and a 4G receiver. Although LG stated that the smartphone has enough power to support hardcore gaming, they also added that, with normal use, consumers would only have to recharge the handset every two days.
The new Nokia 808 PureView has 41 megapixels. Forty-one. It accomplishes this through a 1/1.2" camera sensor - bigger than those found in a high-end point'n'shoot (and much bigger than in the iPhone 4S). The huge sensor means that it can digitally zoom without losing quality (probably up to about 5x), works better in low light and zooms 12x for 640×360 video.
It's also got a Carl Zeiss lens at F2.4 aperture (awesome), a xenon flash and five-years-in-the-making "oversampling" technology, to make pictures super sharp. And they paired it with Dolby 5.1 audio recording. Sick.
Also, Panasonic has revealed a Lumix Phone 101P, with a 13.2 megapixel sensor. Yawn.
Of course, another highlight of the event was Samsung Galaxy Beam. It has all the smartphone goodness of the other Galaxys (although not the size of the Note), as well as a 15 lumen projector, built right in. Shame, it runs Android 2.3, but beggars can't be choosers. If you want to project an image up to 50" onto a wall, this is your phone. No word on battery life or lamp life as yet.
Samsung showcased their tablet range, including the new 10-inch Galaxy Note. Samsung's product strategy executive, Hankil Yoon, admitted, however, that Samsung were still struggling to wrestle a chunk of the market away from competitors.
Sure, the Motorola Atrix was the original tablet where you could plug in a phone - but this will be better. Much better. From the geniuses behind the ASUS Transformer (there's two new ones of those out, too) comes the PadFone - a tablet you can plug your phone into.
Or rather, it's a big screen, which only activates when you put your phone in it. And the stylus acts as a Bluetooth headset. And you can plug in a keyboard. Its nuts, and it's awesome, and it will be mine.
The phone itself has a 4.3" AMOLED qHD screen, a Snapdragon S4 dual core processor and an eight megapixel camera. It runs Android 4.0, which then scales everything up to the 10.1" display of the tablet when you plug it in the back. The tablet also comes with 5x the battery of the mobile, meaning you'll be able to go on and on. No-one wants to carry two devices and have two mobile subscriptions - this solves the problem in one pretty neat solution.
Mozilla announced that they were opening up their own web app store ahead of the release of their new operating system, Boot to Gecko (B2G), which is based on HTML5. Handsets running B2G won't store any data on the device itself, instead the handset will require an internet connection to display, well, pretty much anything. The Mozilla Marketplace paves the way for developers to start experimenting with this concept.
While most of the event's buzz was focused on new hardware, operators NTT DoCoMo and SK Telecom showcased powerful new technology. SK Telecom revealed its Android operated robots, which function as a learning aid for children, while NTT DoCoMo unveiled its ticketing app, with which you can view and purchase event tickets just by tapping your phone against the relevant poster.
It's no surprise that Google dominated MWC 2012. With more powerful phones, more OS competition, and rumours of an iPad 3 on the horizon, however, we can only guess what next year's MWC will look like.