What We Saw at MWC 2012
We saw much that we liked at this year's Mobile World Congress, including superfast phones and high-resolution tablets. The good included quad-core smartphones, large tablets with up to 2GB of memory, and even an impressive 41-megapixel (yes, you read that correctly) phone camera. But, as well, a few things were disappointing, or just didn't make sense.
Let's start with Nvidia's Tegra 3 chip.
Tegra 3 Phones Are Finally Here
At long last, Nvidia's Tegra 3 quad-core processor has arrived on smartphones. Four phones at the Mobile World Congress ran Nvidia's "four-plus-one" core chipset: the HTC One X, the LG Optimus 4X, the ZTE Era, and the Fujitsu Ultra High Spec Smartphone.
Interestingly, the U.S. version of the HTC One X will have a Qualcomm S4 chip instead of the Tegra 3 processor, as the latter is not compatible with current LTE radios. Still, it's exciting to see some progress in the quad-core world, and hopefully, when the Tegra 3 does become compatible with LTE networks, we'll get some 4G quad-core phones stateside.
Mozilla's Boot to Gecko
Mozilla has been working hard on a project code-named Boot to Gecko, which is now referred to as the Open Web Devices platform. Boot to Gecko is a completely Web-based platform written in HTML 5, but you'd never be able to tell.
The whole thing is just one big browser, with Web apps functioning like native phone apps--it behaves exactly like a standard phone operating system. Boot to Gecko isn't a new OS, it's a new way to bring inexpensive Web-based phones to market.
Image Credit: XDA-Developers
Phone Makers Get Serious About Cameras
Many of the phone makers at the show placed a huge emphasis on camera technology, especially in regards to High Dynamic Range (HDR) and low-light photography. With more and more people using their smartphones as their primary cameras, this is great news. HTC's One X, One S, and One V cameras will come with the HTC ImageChip and ImageSense software, which has an almost no-lag shutter speed, an f2.0 aperture, and a handful of different shooting modes--including High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Panorama.
The Nokia 808 PureView (shown) has a 41-megapixel sensor. Like most high-end Nokia phones, the 808 uses Carl Ziess optics, plus a new pixel-oversampling technology. You don’t necessarily need to use all 41 pixels in your photos; you can switch between standard resolutions like 2/3, 5, and 8-megapixels. But having those extra megapixels at hand means you can capture an image, zoom in, reframe, and crop without any noise or pixelation.
MIA: Windows 8 for Phones
While Windows 8 certainly looks a whole lot like Windows Phone, Mobile World Congress had no mention of Windows 8 on smartphones. Windows 8 itself is quite impressive, so the lack of announcements regarding phones with that OS was a bit of a disappointment in this mobile-centric show.
Huawei Ascend D Quad and Quad XL Smartphones
Huawei made a splash at the show with not one, but two, quad-core Android phones. The D Quad and D Quad XL both have 1280-pixel-by-720-pixel touchscreens, which look bright and vivid. Inside, both phones use Huawei's K3V2 quad-core 1.2-GHz and 1.5-GHz processors, and have 1GB of RAM and 8GB of ROM memory.
Samsung Galaxy Beam Phone With Projector
Projector phones (and mobile projector accessories) have been around for some time, but they tend to be on the chunky and not-so-attractive side. The Samsung Galaxy Beam measures only 0.49 inches thick while packing a 15-lumen projector. That's impressive, considering that most pico projector accessories sold today are only 10 or 12 lumens bright.
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity Series
Take the high-end Asus TF7001 introduced at CES 2012, add a Qualcomm 8960 Snapdragon S4 CPU and an optional LTE radio, and you've got the next cutting-edge tablet from Asus. The Transformer Pad Infinity's screen will have 1920-pixel-by-1200-pixel resolution.
ZTE's 15-Product Launch--Not Coming to the U.S.?
ZTE launched a total of 15 products at its press conference--but most of them will never see the light of day in the United States. Aside from the quad-core ZTE Era, however, it was hard to distinguish the differences among the Chinese company's multiple tablets and smartphones.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
This stylish slate combines the Galaxy Note's stylus with a more functional, 10.1-inch screen. Samsung provides a slew of pen-optimized apps to get you started, and promises more to come. Artists, writers, and pen-lovers alike will appreciate this tablet--we just wish the screen had a higher resolution.
Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD
Huawei has some big designs on where it wants to go in international markets, and products like the MediaPad 10 FHD should help immensely. This tablet's design is basic but appealing, and the slate has a whopping 2GB of memory inside--the most we've seen on a tablet. It will be interesting to see how the extra memory helps this tablet perform.
The Wireless Power Consortium pushed wireless charging at MWC. The consortium showed off some cool demos of a mobile phone charging through a transparent handbag (pictured), as well as a custom-designed cradle for high-end cars. We can't wait for more manufacturers to bring wireless charging to the United States.
Toshiba Thrive 7.7
Though not officially announced at MWC, the Toshiba Thrive 7.7 got its moment in the spotlight at Nvidia's booth. And rightly so: This model has a high-resolution 7.7-inch display and a stylish design that includes pleasingly contoured volume buttons.