Mobile World Congress 2012 - Day 1
It’s only Day 1 here at MWC but already it has been an interesting day in terms of presentations. All major manufacturers have spent the day attempting to out-do one another at Hall 8 of the conference centre and we have a seen a lot of the devices that have been discussed heavily in the build up to the show.
Undoubtedly, the most striking stand award has to go to Google with its Android booth. For those who visited the show last year, the stall doesn’t present any major display developments with Google opting for the same location in the hall and the famous Android Slide and Android Carousel displays from last year. They have however decided to opt for a new Smoothie Bar on the stand! Google’s big surprise comes on the in the form of a new Bejeweled Robot and The Claw.
The new robotic embodiment of the Android mascot has taken on the guise of a jeweler for the show, claiming the backs of Galaxy Nexus handsets and ‘pimping’ them with Swarovski-style crystals and cool Android-themed engravings.
As for ‘The Claw’, the name might not be familiar but hopefully the acompanying image will bring a reminiscent smile to the faces of many! Having spent a small fortune on these wonderful contraptions in a mis-spent youth, we couldn’t resist a try at the latest tablet controlled incarnation. Needless to say, it was hard. No cuddly Android teddy for us this time…
After our initial fun and games with Google, we started the day with a visit to the Huawei booth, one of the younger manufacturers that has attended this years MWC. The Chinese manufacturer made the whole Ascent D range available to us on the stand. The ‘D quad’ and ‘D quad XL’ are the company’s pair of flagship handsets set to launch this year. The only thing that separates the two is the battery (1800mAh vs 2500mAh) and as a result a few grams in weight but the most curious feature is that Huawei have increased the battery without increasing the thickness! The D1 handset on show is the more wallet-friendly device in the series with “only” a dual-core processor compared to the quad-core chipsets housed by the other handsets on show.
Huawei did surprise visitors with a new, unexpected tablet at the show. The MediaPad 10FHD is in the pre-production stage at the moment so is still open to some last-minute adjustments before the final version is released to consumers. Following on from its range of smartphones, this is a tablet not seemingly happy to just make up the numbers, relying on advanced technology to separate it from the crowd. It has a 10-inch display and a full HD resolution of 1920x1200. The company didn’t expand on the technology the screen used to achieve this resolution but it looks stunning in the flesh! The device runs on the same processor as the Ascent D Quad and comes equipped with a rear 8 Megapixel camera. The specs on the device and screen certainly turned heads but the most surprising thing about this new tablet is that it’s only 8.8mm thick! Not much more is known about this up-and-comer but we’re sure that you will be hearing plenty more about it in the near future.
Next stop Samsung. The company announced that they would not present the Galaxy S III at the show but we still found a pleasant surprise at their stand, the Galaxy Note 10.1. The 10-inch tablet shares the same widely praised Pen S technology as the Galaxy Note. This allows you to write by hand on the screen of the tablet in the same manner and precision as if you were writing on paper. One notable improvement sees a processor upgrade to 1.4GHz from its predecessor - the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The tablet ships with the latest Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system as well as a 3 Megapixel camera and the ability to display full 1080p HD video. It comes with Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth 3.0 and to get the most out of S Pen, comes with a suite of Adobe applications and Samsung's own drawing and graphics apps.
The same Samsung stand also housed the Samsung Galaxy Wi-Fi 4.2 - a device similar to the Galaxy S2 in the same way that the iPod touch relates to the iPhone. The device uses Wi-Fi connectivity to communicate instead of the mobile network used by a smartphone device. Unlike the smartphone, the technology used for the screen is not SuperAMOLED with Samsung instead opting for the cheaper TFT option to keep costs down. The processor is an upgraded version of the chip used in the Galaxy S and has a discrete 2 Megapixel camera. Clearly, this device aims to compete with the iPod Touch and friends in the personal entertainment space.
The next booth we come to belongs to Korean manufacturer LG. Not content to be left behind in the technology race, they introduced the Optimus 4XHD, the first smartphone to enter the European market with a quad core processor. The chosen processor is the famous nVidia Tegra 3 that features “4-PLUS-1” technology, consisting of a main 4-core processor and one low-energy (“ninja” or companion core) dedicated to the most common tasks in order to save battery power. Thus, when we are not using high intensity graphic features (such as email, web, notes, social media, etc.), the 4 cores remain at rest and only require low power, extending battery life. We are yet to see how much battery saving this represents, because nVidia has so far failed to quantify this. Another prominent feature of this Smartphone is the technology used in the 4.7-inch IPS display; True HD. This, according to LG, is able to represent the three primary colors at once (RGB) and has greater pixel density than a standard SuperAMOLED panel. It will come with Android 4.0 ICS and an whopping 2150mAh battery that will help the phone support this impressive display. By the way, all this wizardry fits inside an 8.9mm body!
We also saw a competitor for the Samsung Galaxy Note, the Optimus VU. According to LG it is the ideal size for taking notes (1/4 of a tablet), while being wider than most smartphones, it has a 4:3 aspect ratio while keeping the display at 5 inches. The resolution is 1024x768 (typical for PCs) and uses the same technology as the aforementioned Optimus 4XHD. So far there is no more information about the processor contained inside the device.
Finally we come to the Sony mobile Booth in Hall 6. Although its official launch was yesterday, today we can have an up close look at the new Xperia P and U. They share similar robustness and design with the standard Sony Xperia S, but Sony announced a big shock; it will be available this Wednesday at Sony stores in Barcelona (and with a 10% discount if you do a foursquare check-in). With regards to hardware, Sony seemed to lag a little behind the competition, opting to avoid quad-core processors for the time being. The new models come to the market with Android Gingerbread, which will be upgradeable to Ice Cream Sandwich (although when exactly has not yet been announced) and the typical Sony user interface, which has always seemed straightforward for users to date. Sony also highlights its durability and stability, compared with the previous model, which had been criticized for being a little flimsy. Also present is an improvement to the usability of the application manager, and an increase in the number of applications already on Sony’s dedicated market – In the first week alone they have seen 50 launched.
And here ends the first day of MWC2012 in Barcelona. Plenty more still to come including tonight’s Networking by Moonlight Party! Watch this space for all the latest news and information flowing from the Mobile World Congress in the next few days.