There's something to interest almost everyone at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week:
For the Lost
GPS is built in to an increasing number of mobile phones. Nokia is still the most aggressive vendor. This year it plans to sell 35 million phones with GPS. The Finnish phone giant is not alone: its competitors are also embracing navigation, so don't be surprised if in a few years GPS is as common in phones as cameras are today.
Trendsetters: HTC P3470 and Samsung G810
Phone makers also continue to develop cameras. Among the features that popped up during this year's show are face-detection, image stabilization and the ability to take better pictures in the dark. Phone cameras with a 5-megapixel resolution are also becoming more common, although you still only get a digital zoom.
Trendsetters: Sony Ericsson C902 and Samsung F480
Apple isn't the only company redrawing the mobile phone map. Linux is nothing new in mobile phones, but the launch of Google's Android has given it a lot of extra attention. On the show floor several chip manufacturers showed prototypes. The first real phones should be ready before the end of the year. One benefit with Android is the reduction in the time it takes to develop a new phone, according to Texas Instruments.
Trendsetters: ARM and Texas Instruments
If the mobile phone makers are to be believed, we should also use our next phone to watch movies. Two things that get us there: bigger screens in a widescreen format and larger storage capacity.
Trendsetters: Nokia N96 and Sony Ericsson Xperia X1
Geotagging is a feature that combines built-in support for navigation and photography. When you take a picture your location is also saved. Then you can overlay that information on services like Google Maps, and see where you've been.
Trendsetters: Sony Ericsson C702 and Nokia 6220
With Sony Ericsson on board, four out of five of the biggest phone makers have phones based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system. The last holdout is Nokia and it still has no plans. One interesting thing about a few of the Windows Mobile phones launched at the Mobile World Congress is that they fit just as well at home as at work.
Trendsetters: Samsung i200 and LG KS20
For Speed Freaks
Phones with support for HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) are arriving at a steady pace. A few phones now support 7.2M bps (bits per second) -- but to get the most out of that bandwidth you need a laptop. A few phones also support HSUPA (High Speed Uplink Packet Access), an abbreviation that in the real world means faster upload speeds.
Trendsetters: Toshiba Portege G810 and LG KF700
For Speed Freaks II
To get more bandwidth to your phone you can also use Wi-Fi. Support for this technology is also becoming more common. One of the advantages with Wi-Fi is that you can sometime sbrowse the Internet for free. Good luck doing that on a mobile network.
Trendsetters: Motorola Moto Z6w and Sony Ericsson G900
For Your Car
So how do you listen to your MP3 player without using headphones? One solution is to use the FM transmitter integrated in some new phones, and listen on your car radio. A small step for technology, but a big one for usability according to Nokia.
Trendsetters: Nokia N78 and Sony Ericsson W980
For the Touchy
Touch-based user interfaces are fast becoming the norm in mobile phones -- although buttons will still not disappear. The goal is, if all goes well, to make phones easier to use. Only the imagination of the phone makers limits what can be done.
Trendsetters: HTC Advantage and Samsung Soul