With mere days and hours left before the biggest event in the mobile world’s social calendar – which is as packed as you’d expect - some manufacturers have already blabbered about the high-tech goodies they plan to unleash. In the runup to Mobile World Congress, here are some smartphone trends already spotted – we’ll see from Sunday afternoon how on the money they are.
We’ve already seen and loved the world’s first quad-core tablet and its smartphone counterparts are set to launch next week in Barcelona.
LG has gone official on its Optimus 4X HD, a logically monikered smartphone that follows its world’s first dual-core phone, the Optimus 2X. It’ll come with a Nvidia Tegra 3 1.5GHz chip, and an IPS display, iPhone 4S-stylee. LG’s the only one to go for the sanctioned pre-show press – but we do have the odd possibly-controlled leak to suggest that: HTC has a four-cored goodie, the One X; as does Motorola with the Atrix 3; and so does Huawei, with a potential Ascend D1 Q, a stablemate to the super-skinny Ascend P1 announced at CES. The flip side: Increasing need for battery tech to amp up already so your 3D gaming-media-super-device-thing doesn't die before the afternoon coffee run
Ice Cream Sandwich
There is an upside to fragmenting your own OS with seven upgrades in three years – everyone’s always talking about you.
Google solved that one with the launch of the latest tablet-smartphone uniting Ice Cream Sandwich but with only one phone launched on ICS, it's still big news for a phone that comes with ICS out of its box. Acer, LG, Huawei, ZTE, HTC, Panasonic, Motorola and Samsung have all announced at least one and mostly three or more Android Ice Cream Sandwich devices – even if Samsung did decide to scrap their press conference after announcing a slew of Galaxy phones and the Galaxy Tab 2. Meanwhile, ZTE and Nokia have both confirmed a Windows Phone, while rumoured Windows phones clock in at one - the LG Miracle. BlackBerry, it’s assumed, will be showing off some PlayBook software. The flip side: Increasing complaints about phones and tablets that all... look... the... same...
This time last year, the buzz was over 4.3-inch smartphones. "How big is too big?" cried the tech watchers. Imagine/remember the furor when the HTC Titan launched with a 4.7-inch S-LCD screen.
This year, all the beefiest phones on the rumour mill are clocking 4.7 inches - suggesting that the trend is leaning towards big equals better (and you can get used to anything if you wait long enoug). LG's Optimus 4X HD and HTC OneX both pack 4.7-inch displays, and the the popular screen size for your average superphone is now 4.3-inches, with the LG Optimus 3D Max, HTC One S, and ZTE Mimosa X all running Android at that dimension.
The iPhone is the solitary outlier, the smallest high-end smartphone at just 3.5-inches. But a four-inch display has been rumoured since the iPhone 4 - so perhaps even Apple is in for some supersizing this autumn. The flip side: A year of size does/doesn't matter debates
Smartphone price dips
Mobile's so much fun, everyone wants to play - and two manufacturers are coming up in a big way, but at (comparatively) low prices.
We'll be checking out Huawei's official announcements at 3.30pm on Sunday, ZTE at 10.30am Monday. Neither company is new to making mobiles - both are following in the footsteps of HTC to create own-brand devices after years of OEM goodness. If in doubt, behold ZTE’s Tania, a Nokia-challenging Windows phone at £250-ish, for a taster of its dual-core ICS-packing Mimosa X (above). Meanwhile, Huawei isn’t just going quad-core, it’s also got an ICS-packing MediaPad 10 to show off as successor to its MediaPad (branded here as the Orange Tahiti and going for £69 with a 24-month contract). We're expecting the hitherto unannounced price points for its announced devices to clock in similarly. The flip side: Budget tablets and phones whose USP is just that - and only that.
This column was brought to you courtesy of official announcements from Acer, ZTE, Samsung and LG – a major contrast to last year’s leak- and rumour-ridden prediction list. The flip side: Samsung's main official announcement was the cancellation of its press conference, suggesting we might not actually see much just yet - at least until the confirmed separate launch of the Galaxy S III.
For a comprehensive breakdown by manufacturer, check out our Ultimate MWC Lowdown – and of course head back to Mobile Choice from Sunday afternoon for all the latest news direct from Barcelona.
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the behind-the-scenes MWC action. You can also follow Natasha and Chris on our personal Twitter feeds, as we get increasingly more hyper on coffee and taurine.