The biggest European mobile technology show of the year has now closed down in Barcelona, leaving a record number of global smartphone premieres behind (as well as a few tablets). What all of these devices have in common is their operating system: the Android OS.
Even though Nokia and Microsoft started the hottest topic of the show three days before the Mobile World Congress even began by announcing their strategic collaboration, as this tradeshow ended it was clear that the biggest star and winner was actually Google. This was the first time in MWC history that there was no premiere of a device with Symbian OS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry OS or any other platform that is not Android.
The story that Nokia would be using the Windows Phone 7 as its main platform for all future smartphones got watered down by the end of the tradeshow, largely because of big spectacles made at the start of the show by Samsung and Sony Ericsson to announce their new Android OS models.
First, Samsung presented its Galaxy S II as the successor of a smartphone which has sold over 10 million units all over the world. The Galaxy S II will have a bigger screen, even though it is going to be slimmer and lighter than its predecessor -- it might even be the world's thinnest smartphone as well, but that is still in question. It will also have a dual core processor, a Super AMOLED Plus display and TouchWiz 4.0 user interface.
More information on this model is available in this preliminary review:
Straight after this, Sony Ericsson revealed three cell phones with Google's operating system: the XPERIA Play, XPERIA neo and XPERIA pro.
By far, the one that garnered the most attention was the "PlayStation Phone", XPERIA Play, which represents the first actual gaming console and cell phone hybrid with its 4-inch 480 by 854-pixel screen, 1GHz processor and Adreno 205 GPU. XPERIA Play will be released by Verizon this spring, and about 50 games will be available for it at launch.
A first-look review of this smartphone can be found here:
The remaining two models from Sony Ericsson, the XPERIA neo and XPERIA pro will use Android OS 2.3 (Gingerbread) as their platform with the Timescape/Mediascape user interface, as used by previous Sony Ericsson phones supporting Android. Both will have 3.7-inch capacitive screens, 8-megapixel back-facing cameras, and Qualcomm 1GHz Snapdragon processors. The difference between these two devices will be that the XPERIA pro is a slider with a QWERTY keyboard.
All of these announcements came before the Mobile World Congress had even officially started. On the first "real" day of the tradeshow, LG unveiled the Optimus 3D, which lives up to its name with a 4.3-inch 3D display, for which special glasses are not necessary. A 3D camera is also going to be included.
For a more in-depth look at this Android-based smartphone, read this first-impressions review:
Not to be outdone, HTC announced five smartphones -- all running the Android OS.
The Desire S, Incredible S and Wildfire S will only receive minor upgrades hardware-wise compared to their currently-available predecessors which do not have the "S" in their name. This left MWC attendees more interested in guessing why the Taiwanese manufacturer chose to add this letter to their names than in the actual devices themselves.
The HTC ChaCha and Salsa show a bit more innovation -- the two HTC "Facebook Phones" will include Gingerbread and a special key with the Facebook logo. When it is pressed, the phones are going to automatically bring up Facebook to the very segment of this social network that is associated to what the user is doing. For instance, if they were taking a photograph, a punch of this key would automatically upload the image to their Facebook profile.
The ChaCha will have a 2.6-inch screen, a 600 MHz processor and a QWERTY keypad, while Salsa will not have a physical keyboard, but it is going to include a 3.4-inch display. Both of these models are headed for AT&T.
Mobile World Congress 2011 was about more than smartphones, as this has become a venue for tablets, too.
Samsung presented its Galaxy Tab 10.1, its first Android OS 3.0 (Honeycomb) tablet. It comes with a touchscreen measuring 10.1 inches and weighs in at just 1.23 pounds, making it noticeably lighter than the iPad and Motorola XOOM. The secret behind it all is that it is entirely crafted out of solid plastic.
A preliminary review can be found on Brighthand's sister site, TabletPCReview.com:
In addition to its 3D smartphone, LG also presented a tablet which has 3D features -- the Optimus Pad, also known as the G-Slate. This is going to be an 8.9-inch tablet with Android OS 2.3 (Honeycomb), a stereoscopic back-facing camera for recording 3D video which can be watched on its screen with 3D glasses.
A first impressions review is on TabletPCReview.com:
The tablet which got the most exposure in Barcelona was presented during the second half of the show, the HTC Flyer. It will come with a 7-inch display and Android OS 2.3 (Gingerbread) and HTC's Sense UI, adjusted for tablets. The Flyer will have an additional level of functionality due to the N-trig pen and HTC`s Scribe technology.
LTE Was MIA
Apart from Google's Android OS, all of the devices presented in Barcelona have one more thing in common: they do not support LTE. Given that several smartphones and tablets that will use this up-to-date 4G technology were presented at CES in Las Vegas last month, Europe continues to lag behind the United States when it comes to LTE expansion.
Two of the biggest hits of the show were the Samsung Galaxy S II and the HTC Flyer support HSPA+ technology, but, it is clear that Europe will have to wait a while for new devices that support LTE.
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