Every February, smartphone makers and technology journalists converge on Barcelona, Spain for the annual Mobile World Congress. Like the gaming industry’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (aka. E3) held every June, Mobile World Congress is the platform many technology companies use to unveil their latest and greatest smartphones and tablets, and outline their mobile line-ups for the remainder of the year.
For the last few years, Android devices have dominated the showfloor and various press events, and they continue to do so this year (though Windows Phone and even Symbian still have a presence at the show). Though today marks the official Day 1 of Mobile World Congress 2012, Huawei, HTC, and Sony – in true tradeshow style – held their press events yesterday, showing off the latest and greatest of their upcoming smartphones lines. Here’s a look at what Mobile World Congress brought us on Day 0.
Huawei kicked things off by announcing the Ascend D Quad, a 3G quad-core smartphone that the company claims to be “the world’s fastest”. The Ascend D Quad runs Android 4.0 atop Huawei’s new K3V2 1.5GHz quad-core processor, and sports a 4.5” 720p display, a relatively standard resolution for smartphones these days. The phones weighs in at 4.6 ounces, and a svelt 8.9mm thick. In terms of shooters, we’re looking at a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera, and an 8 megapixel rear camera that shoots 1080p video. Huawei also promised an LTE variant for later this year.
Huawei rounded out their D Series lineup with the Ascend D1 – a dual-core version of the D Quad – alongside the Ascend D Quad XL, which packs a whopping 2500mAh battery. Huawei did not announce pricing or availability for any of these three models.
Sony started off their first MWC sans-Ericcson by announcing two new members of their Xperia family: the Xperia P and Xperia U.
The Xperia P is the higher-end of the two: an aluminum unibody handset with a 4” display. Sony has introduced a new display technology they call WhiteMagic that adds an additional row of white pixels next to the standard RGB configuration, which the company claims will make the phone more readable in direct sunlight. Inside you’ll find a 1GHz dual-core processor running Gingerbread – though Sony promised an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade for Q2 – as well as an NFC chip. The Xperia P also sports an 8-megapixel rear camera that shoots 1080p video. The Xperia P will be available in Silver, Black, and Red.
Sony’s Xperia U features a 1GHz dual-core processor, 3.5” Reality Display, and a 5-megapixel camera – it’s essentially a smaller version of the Xperia P. The Xperia U and Xperia P both feature the glowing transparent bar below the screen that was first introduced at CES in the Xperia S. Unlike the other Xperia phones, the Xperia U’s transparent bar will illuminate different colours for notifications, and will change colour to match on-screen elements like your homescreen wallpaper. The Xperia U also features a removable bottom cap below the transparent bar, which users can swap out to change the colour. The phone will come in Black (with an additional pink bottom cap) and White (with an additional yellow bottom cap).
Both the Xperia P and Xperia U are expected to launch globally sometime in Q2.
Arguably the biggest and best announcements of Day 0 came from HTC. The company has previously stated they plan to take a “quality over quantity” approach in 2012, focusing on making better phones and releasing less models. The company used Mobile World Congress to unveil HTC One: their flagship line for 2012.
The HTC One X fills the high-end slot of the One smartphone family. Featuring a 4.7” screen, the HTC One X is the companies first phone to employ a quad-core Tegra 3 processor. The phone runs Ice Cream Sandwich with HTC’s new Sense 4.0 interface, and comes equipped with NFC, 32GB of storage (though unfortunately no microSD card slot), a 1280×720 Super LCD display, 1800 mAh battery, and an 8-megapixel rear camera capable of 1080p video capture, as well as a front-facing VGA camera with 720p video. The One X features a unibody polycarbonate design and employs a microSIM slot, allowing the device to be thinner and lighter, and will come in both White and Grey. AT&T has already announced they will carry the One X in the United States, albeit with a few sacrifices being made: in order to include LTE connectivity, the AT&T One X will run a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 in lieu of the international version’s quad-core Tegra 3. HTC says the One X will launch in all territories “within 60 days”, meaning it should be available by the end of April. The LTE variant of the One X will also be coming to Canada by way of Rogers Wireless.
Next up is the HTC One S, the mid-range member of the One family. The One S packs a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor, with 16GB of onboard storage and a 1650 mAh battery. It features a 4.3” qHD Super AMOLED display (that’s 960×540), as well as an 8-megapixel rear camera and VGA front-facing camera, all in a package just 7.6mm thick. It’s an aluminum unibody phone, and the body is treated by a process called “microarc oxidation”, which HTC says will make the shell five times more resistant as regular anodized aluminum. No need to worry about tossing this baby in a purse or pocket alongside your keys. Like the One X, the One S utilizes a microSIM card, and unfortunately lacks microSD support. T-Mobile will bring the One S to the US in “spring” while Bell and Virgin Mobile will launch the device in Canada.
Occupying the low-end is the HTC One V – my personal favourite. Sure, it’s the least powerful in terms of specs, but it features a design very reminiscent of 2010’s HTC Legend, which I still regard as one of the most beautiful smartphones ever released. The One V sports a 3.7” WVGA (480×800) screen, with a 5-megapixel rear camera capable of 720p video recording. It runs a 1GHz single-core Qualcomm processor, and unlike it’s One siblings, supports microSD cards due to its lack of onboard storage. HTC plans to release the One V around the same time as the One X and One S, around early April. No US launch plans have been revealed for the One V, but Bell has already claimed this one as well for the Canadian market.
HTC has made considerable upgrades to Sense 4.0 on Ice Cream Sandwich, features that all of the aforementioned HTC One phones will benefit from. The company has placed a particular emphasis on camera improvements, dubbing their new system ImageSense. A dedicated image processor helps reduce image noise and increase quality when compressing shots to JPEG. Camera speed has also been greatly increased: the camera app takes only 0.7 seconds to launch, and autofocus is clocked at 0.2 seconds. HTC has also merged the camera app’s photo and video modes, allowing users to snap a still while capturing a video. The UI is said to also have been improved and unified. HTC has also struck a deal with Dropbox, providing HTC One owners with 25GB of storage free for two years.
MORE TO COME…
Mobile World Congress 2012 is just getting started, and we’ll have more announcements from the likes of Samsung, Nokia, Microsoft, Asus, and others in the coming days!