The smartphone world never seems to stop turning. We've barely finished with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and we're already only weeks away from the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. While CES was a largely American affair, MWC is all about European and world-wide releases, so it's definitely the expo to watch if you're living in the UK.
Here in Part 1, we'll be looking at what smartphones and tablets we can expect from some of the biggest names in the business: Asus,Fujitsu, HTC, Huawei and LG. Let's get started!
Asus - Entertainment Rating: 4/5 | Surprise Rating: 1/5
The Taiwanese consumer electronics giant has been very open with its MWC offerings – officially confirming that the Asus Padfone will be launched at the Mobile World Conference. The unique phone-in-a-tablet was on-hand at CES and unveiled (hilariously) last year, so we know the basics already: It’s a 4.3” smartphone that can be housed in a 10.1” tablet dock, for when you need a little extra screen space. The Padfone is expected to come with Ice Cream Sandwich, and launch sometime this year.
Aside from the Padfone, we may also see more of Asus’ other tablet offerings, including the Asus Transformer Prime HD or the Asus MeMo.
Verdict: Tune in, if just for the Padfone.
Fujitsu - Entertainment Rating: 2/5, Surprise Rating: 1/5
Fujitsu are afirm who aren’t expected to shock with their MWC announcements. The one thing to look out for will be more information on their Fujitsu Arrows prototype, which proved popular at CES with its 6.7 mm frame packing serious quad-core Tegra 3 heat.
HTC - Entertainment Rating: 5/5, Surprise Rating: 4/5
Taiwanese smartphone superstar is looking set to provide some of the most exciting new phones and tablets of MWC. According to numerous leaks throughout the tail end of last year, we’ll be looking at seeing perhaps five new products, including four smartphones and one tablet.
The HTC Primo is one that’s been making the rounds recently, and seems quite likely to launch. It’s the ‘manly’ version of the HTC Rhyme, a mid-range smartphone that’ll be packing Beats Audio integration (as will all HTC phones this year.) Another solid mid-range phone could be the HTC Ville, which should be made from a single piece of brushed aluminium and be thin to boot, at less than 8 mm. It’s also reckoned to have an excellent point-and-shoot quality camera.
On the upper end of things, we’ve got two possible phones. The more likely is the HTC Edge, which also may be called the HTC Endeavour or HTC Supreme. It’s expected to be a quad-core Tegra 3 powered smartphone with a 4.7” HD display, making for one of the most powerful smartphones ever. We’ve also heard (and mostly discounted) rumours of an even stronger smartphone, the HTC Zeta. The Zeta was said to be just a concept when it was revealed last year, but may have moved closer to reality since then. It’d come with a 2.5 GHz quad core processor, quite a step above the 1.3 to 1.5 GHz quad cores in other Tegra 3 devices. Still, it seems to be an unlikely reveal.
The last thing we’ll see from HTC is a tablet. Expected to be powered by Tegra 3 as well, the quad-core HTC Quattro (see what they did there?) should be a full-sized follow-up to the moderately successful HTC Flyer of last year. Expect a low resolution display (e.g. current iPad 2, near 1280 x 768) and an HTC Scribe stylus to be included.
Verdict: Must-follow. HTC are looking to announce some amazing gadgets, and we may not yet know the half of it.
Huawei - Entertainment Rating: 4/5, Surprise Rating: 3/5
Huawei are very likely to show off their latest phones, the Huawei Diamond Series. These phones are supposedly a step up from the Huawei Ascend P1 S, which demoed at CES and packed a surprising amount of firepower into the thinnest chassis ever. We could conceivably see quad-core Tegra 3 and HD displays strapped into these miniscule bodies, which could prove quite a success. Following their surprisingly great Honor launch, Huawei are on a great streak and will look to continue to show up the bigger firms with excellently designed phones.
Verdict: Tune in – your next phone could very well come from these guys.
LG - Entertainment Rating: 3/5, Surprise Rating: 4/5
After a disappointing 2011, LG will be looking to hit the ground running with a strong MWC launch. They’re expected to be announced two phones, the LG Optimus 3D Max, the follow-up the LG Optimus 3D, and the LG X3, the follow-up to the LG Optimus 2X. The 3D Max will offer a 3D display in a much smaller chassis than last time, but has the 3D boat already sailed? The X3 looks like a more steady bet, rumoured to come with the now-standard Tegra 3 quad-core and some other impressive stats. Both of their predecessors sold poorly and got middling reviews, so LG will have to really excel this year to have a chance against Samsung and HTC.
Verdict: Hard to predict, LG have a mixed track record of late but could still easily come out with something truly exciting.
That's All, Folks
And with that, we come to the end of Part 1. Be sure to check back here tomorrow at 6 PM to read the next installment, where we'll cover more of the biggest names in the smartphone and tablet businesses - Microsoft, Nokia, RIM, Samsung, Sony and ZTE. The Mobile World Congress this year looks like it's going to be a massive one, so definitely tune in!
Thanks for reading, and farewell for now!
William Judd is a copywriter and technology blogger based in Bristol. If you'd like to hire me or just say hello, feel free to visit my website at williamjudd.com or chat with me on Twitter.