The Mobile World Congress is only a day away, and already dozens of big announcements have been made from the biggest smartphone and tablet makers in the business. No matter if you're a fan of Android, Apple or Windows Phone, you'll find something to be excited about in this week's headlines. Let's get right into it, starting with Apple.
Apple - iPad 3
The biggest news this week has to do with the iPad 3, with is still rumoured for a March 7th announcement date. A new piece of the puzzle is a time (and place) for its actual launch: March 16th, at Harrods of London. The iPad 3's specifications continue to be detailed; at this point I'm confident in predicting a faster dual-core processor, a high resolution Retina display at 2048 x 1536 and a thicker shell to hold all that extra power. An Apple store is due to be finished on that date, and what better way to introduce both new store and new iPad to the public than a combination of the two?
There could be some creedence to the rumours. Just minutes ago, purported shipping documents for the iPad 3 were released, showing that the iPad 3 was shipping from Foxconn to the US from February 26th. With unusually high security around the shipments, it very well could be the iPad 3.
Above: Photo of iPad 3 shipments being loaded onto planes?
Another interesting Apple story this week was the rumour that Apple are set to ditch their iconic 30 pin dock connector. According to iMore, the move is a part of a continued miniaturisation effort by the company, having already shrunk their SIM card and externalised the iPhone 4 antenna. It won't be a micro USB port though; instead it'll be a new proprietary interface.
So, fairly interesting news for you Apple folk then - I am rather looking forward to that iPad 3 announcement. Let's move onto our Windows Phone news next, then we can tackle the glut of the Android released that have been made in the past few days.
Windows Phone - Nokia
Windows Phone has become increasingly synonymous with Nokia, and this week is no exception. Indeed, the news has come that after one quarter of trading, Nokia is already the biggest Windows Phone manufacturer. They shipped nearly 900,000 Windows Phones last quarter, good for 33.1% of all Windows Phone sales made.
Nokia have also been talked about quite a lot in the run up to the Mobile World Congress; this week we've heard that they'll be bringing three smartphones to the conference: The Nokia Lumia 610, the Nokia Lumia 900 for Europe, and the Symbian-based PureView camera phone.
The Lumia 610 is a low-spec Windows Phone that'll run the upcoming Windows Phone Tango OS, which is designed to run on slower devices. The phone will include a 3.2" display and 3 megapixel camera. The Lumia 900 has already been announced for the US, but would make its European debut without LTE. With the release of these two phones in addition to the already-released Lumia 710 and 800, Nokia will have a good spread of Windows Phones available.
They haven't completely given up on their Symbian roots though; they have also teased a PureView cameraphone that will be the successor to the N8. Called the N808, the PureView will include the best camera ever mounted on a smartphone.
That's the major Windows Phone news for the week... and now for our Android headlines. There are rather a lot of them, so I'm going to split this section up by manufacturer. Let's start with the Android leader Samsung.
It's been a hell of a week for Samsung so far. They've announced a number of tablets and smartphones in the run up to the Mobile World Congress: The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, the Galaxy Beam, the Rugby Smart, and the low-tier Galaxy Ace 2 and Galaxy Mini 2. A number of leaks have also been made, concerning the Galaxy S III and the Galaxy Note 10.1. Let's look at those leaks first, then the official stuff.
The Galaxy S III isn't coming out at MWC, but its beating heart - its CPU - might be. Samsung are planning to show off the Exynos 5450 quad-core chip, which runs at 2 GHz. The CPU is for tablets first and foremost, but could also find its way into a smartphone before the year is out and the Galaxy S III is a pretty good candidate for it. One tablet it won't likely appear in is the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, a supersized Galaxy Note that brings the phone/tablet firmly into the latter camp. Look for S Pen integration and a strong set of specifications on the unannounced tablet, as the Galaxy Tab 2 line takes up the mid-range.
Above: Samsung Galaxy Beam, with pico projector mounted on the top.
Samsung's other MWC offerings are looking to be quite good, particularly the rather inventive Galaxy Beam. This smartphone includes an integrated pico projector, allowing you to project up to 50 inches in HD directly from your phone. The rest of the phone's specifications aren't amazing (4" display at 480 x 800, 1 GHz dual core, 5 megapixel rear camera) but if the phone sells well then we might very well see the tech in many more phones.
The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is a confusingly named successor the original Galaxy Tab 10.1, offering a small boost in processing power and Ice Cream Sandwich. The Galaxy Mini 2 and Galaxy Ace 2 are similar upgrades to Samsung's low to mid range smartphone lines, with boosts in specifications to match 2012 standards. The Rugby Smart is a new ruggidised phone from Samsung that'll compete against Motorola's Defy+ in the resist-everything space. All in all, solid upgrades but nothing worth writing too much more about.
HTC are continuing to promote (and have leaked) their One X and One S smartphones. Accoring to Greek website FullGSM.gr, the phone previously-known-as-Endeavor will come with a 4.7" S-LCD display, a quad-core 1.5GHz Tegra 3 processor and Ice Cream Sandwich - pretty much what we've heard before. Some other details are an eight megapixel rear camera that can record HD and take images simultaneously, Beats Audio, NFC and 32 GB of internal storage.
The One S (Ville) has also been leaked substantially, with photos appearing over the weekend. The phone looks set to be a stunner, with a very thin chassis and powerful dual core Snapdragon S4 processor running at 1.5 GHz. The phone only includes a qHD display though, so if you've got the lust for HD you'll need to pick up the One X.
LG have taken the rather unusual step of leaking their entire 2012 lineup before the Mobile World Congress has actually kicked off, courtesy of Italian website Telefonino.net. They've certainly got a wide raft of devices this year, with a high-fashion L series line containing the L3, L5 and L7, the 3D-packing Optimus 3D Cube/Max, the Galaxy Note competitor Optimus Vu, and even the NFC-enabled Optimus LTE Tag.
Their biggest gun is the Optimus 4X HD, the followup to the first dual-core phone, the Optimus 2X. The Optimus 4X HD, as the name suggests, will include a quad-core Tegra 3 processor and a 4.7" 720p IPS display. It runs Ice Cream Sandwich with a reportedly heavy skin.
The other announcements aren't quite as interesting - the L Series essentially copies the styling (but not the price) of the recently released LG Prada 3.0 at three price and size points: The L3 is the cheapest and a single core at 3.2", the L5 is a dual core and runs Ice Cream Sandwich at 4", and the L7 is the leader at 4.3", dual core and ICS once again.
The Optimus LTE Tag will come with some NFC-enabled tags, which'll allow automatic actions like toggling wireless, bluetooth and silent mode based on your location. The LG Optimus VU is a bit more remarkable, being another phone/tablet hybrid at 5". Unlike almost all other displays, it's a full-screen 4:3 aspect ratio, which could work well with its integrated stylus.
Finally, LG's Optimus 3D has been succeeded by a the confusingly name Optimus 3D Max (or 3D Cube). According to reports, it will include mid-range specs (1.2 GHz dual core processor, Gingerbread) and a 3D display and camera. The phone will be thinner than the clunky original, but I can't imagine it selling any better than its predecessor.
Acer marks the start of the smaller Android manufacturers, who are bringing fewer devices each to MWC. Acer's contributions will be the CloudMobile and LiquidGlow. The CloudMobile has been seen by Notebook Italia, who have said the 4.3" screen runs at 720p and will be powered by a dual core 1.5 GHz processor. The award-winning shell also includes Dolby Mobile sound, NFC and Ice Cream Sandwich (possibly the unannounced Android 4.1). The LiquidGlow is a smaller handset, running a 3.7" display and presumably slightly worse internals.
Asus should be having a fairly big MWC, but we haven't heard much from them. We know that we'll see the phone-in-a-tablet Padfone, but beyond this we have no idea. Presumably at least one smartphone will be announced, and an HD tablet may also be on the cards given their recent ads.
Sony have released a beta version of Ice Cream Sandwich for some of their handsets this week - the Xperia Arc S, Xperia Neo V and Xperia Ray. Beyond this small titbit, we haven't really heard from them - looks like they'll be having a smaller MWC than some of their competitors, with only the mid-ranger Xperia U being rumoured for an MWC launch.
Fujitsu, Panasonic, NEC, Huawei, ZTE
I've lumped these manufacturers together as they're all respected East Asian companies that sell primarily to their domestic markets, but are now turning their attention to the rest of the world. All are expected to announce rather exciting phones at MWC based on their previous press: Fujitsu will be bringing their quad-core monster handset, Panasonic will announce a tablet and continue to promote the recently revealed Eluga, and NEC are bringing three gadgets to MWC, including a book-style tablet with dual screens.
Huawei and ZTE are also set to bring some high-end devices despite being known as primarily being a provider of excellent budget phones. These include Huawei's quad core Ascend D Quad ("the world's fastest smartphone") and ZTE's Mimosa X, which is the first phone to come with an all-Nvidia chipset.
I'll likely be looking at how these new companies measure up to the big three of Android (HTC, Samsung & LG) in a later article, so let's leave it there for now. I'm really quite excited by these new handsets, so definitely keep an eye out for them as the week progresses.
So with that massive section of Android news finally over, we come to the end of this weekly gadget news round-up – thanks for reading! If you found the article helpful, then please hit that Kudos button – it makes me feel good inside.
Next week will be MWC proper, so stay tuned for more breaking headlines and the week's biggest smarpthone and tablet stories.
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