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Mobile World Congress 2012: The Recombu Round-up

Mobile World Congress 2012 was a veritable banquet of new phones, new tablets, new chips and new everything. So much seemed to happen all at once (especially over the first two days) that we literally couldn’t sit still for announcements, unveilings and keynotes. In order to help you digest everything we’ve broken down our coverage into bitesize chunks.

We’re still uploading pictures and video right now, so we’ll update this piece as we go. Let us begin…

Sony unveils the Sony Xperia P and Sony Xperia U

First up on our radar was the Sony Xperia P and the Sony Xperia U. These mid-range and lower-mid range siblings that joined the Sony Xperia S in Sony’s big new post-Ericsson branded family.

‘Mid-range’ however belies their impressive specs. Though it’s worth noting that these phones aren’t quite as powerful as the Sony Xperia S.

The Sony Xperia P rocks a 4-inch 960×540 (qHD) Reality Display which came with ‘White Magic technology’. Rather than casting Curaga on the entire party, this gives the Sony Xperia P a super-bright screen.

Other specs of the Sony Xperia P include a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 8-megapixel camera, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich sporting the same UI as found on the Sony Xperia S.

The Sony Xperia U has a 3.5-inch 800×480 (WVGA) screen, a 1GHz dual-core CPU and a 5-megapixel camera. You can also swap out the bases of the Xperia U with different coloured caps. The transparent bar at the base of the Xperia U also changes colour depending on what music you’re listening to (based on album art) or what picture you’re viewing in the gallery which is a nice touch.

We were literally just finishing off our review of the Sony Xperia S when official word of these phones hit; we’re looking forwards to seeing how they stack up.  

HTC announces the HTC One Series: HTC One X, HTC One S and HTC One V  

At a packed out press event, HTC President and CEO Peter Chou unveiled three new phones, the HTC One X, HTC One S and the HTC One V.

Powered by quad-core, dual-core and single-core processors respectively, the HTC One X, HTC One S and HTC One V all differ in terms of performance but are unified by a similar design aesthetic and the same camera optics. Every phone in the HTC One Series has an f/2.0 lens, a BSI (back/side illuminated) sensor, average autofocus times of 0.2 seconds and a dedicated imaging chip. The HTC One X and HTC One S have 8-megapixel sensors while the HTC One V has a 5-megapixel sensor – aside from this the camera spec is the same.

As well as the new phones, HTC also took the wraps off the HTC Media Link HD accessory, a gadget that hooks up the new HTC One Series to your TV via a combination of HDMI and DLNA; check out the video below for a better idea of how this works.

Nokia Lumia 900 (international edition) Nokia Lumia 610, Nokia 808 Pure View and Nokia Asha 202, 203 and 302

Despite hitting CES with the Nokia Lumia 900 Ace on AT&T in the US and the Nokia Lumia 710, Espoo’s finest wasn’t holding back at MWC 2012. No less than six new phones were announced by Nokia at Mobile World Congress with one of them being the Nokia Lumia 900 ‘international edition’ (i.e. the same phone as the Nokia Lumia 900 but sans LTE).

This was followed up by the Nokia Lumia 610, another aim at the lower end of the price spectrum for Nokia’s Windows Phone efforts. Running the latest iteration of Windows Phone (Tango) the Nokia Lumia 610 has a smaller-than-usual 800MHz chip and 256MB of RAM. In our quick hands-on with the Lumia 610, the Windows Phone experience doesn’t seem to suffer from the slower specs. Going for a super-low €189 (£160), the Nokia Lumia 610 could be the Windows Phone device that breaks through to the masses.

Then there was the Nokia 808 Pure View. With its eyebrow-raising 41-megapixel sensor we first wondered if Nokia had lost the plot. Then we got a hands-on demo of the phone and saw that the camera app itself is actually pretty neat; we were called ‘cheeky monkeys’ when we asked if we could put our microSD card in the phone and snap some pics ourselves as we’re curious to see just how big those files are space-wise. We’ll have to wait until we get our review unit to find out for ourselves.

Finally there were three new additions to Nokia’s budget Asha range; the Nokia Asha 202, Nokia Asha 203 and the Nokia Asha 302. The Nokia Asha 202 and 203 are virtually identical in spec – they’re resistive touchscreen plus keypad Symbian’s – but the Nokia Asha 202 has two SIM slots instead of one. Chances are in the UK we’ll only see the single-SIM Nokia Asha 203 in shelves.

The Nokia Asha 302 looks like a sexed up version of the Nokia Asha 201 which we recently reviewed. Packing 3G and Wi-Fi – which the Asha 201 lacked – the Nokia Asha 302 is available to buy in a range of metallic colours now for €90 (£79).

Asus Padfone, Asus Transformer Infinity (formerly Transformer TF700) and Asus Transformer 300

For us the standout moment for all Mobile World Congress 2012 was when Asus Chairman Jonney Shih unveiled the Asus Padfone.

This hybrid Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich phone/tablet/laptop was everything we’d been expecting it to be – and more. As well as showing off the docking capabilities of the Padfone, which gives is up to nine times the amount of battery life, Shih answered a question we’d be wondering about ever since we first heard of the Padfone concept; how would you answer a call on the Padfone if you were in tablet mode?

Why you’d use the supplied stylus of course. As well as letting you swish around screens and scribble notes on the Padfone, the stylus also has two microphones built in, letting you take calls as they come through. We want one. Now please.

Between wowing us with secret agent-style talking styluses, Shih, who clearly relishes the role of the keynote speaker, took the time to announce that the Asus Transformer TF700T would now be called the Asus Transfomer Infinity.

This will be joined in the summer by the new Asus Transformer 300 range (aka TF300T) which we later got to play with at Nvidia’s gaming event.

LG Optimus 4X HD, LG Optimus 3D Max (Cube), LG Optimus Vu and the L-Style series – LG Optimus L7, LG Optimus L5 and LG Optimus L3

Though all of these devices had been announced by LG ahead of Mobile World Congress we headed over to the stands to have a look-see as soon as we were able.

Though LG’s mobile division hasn’t enjoyed the rosiest reception of late we were impressed by what we saw with the LG Optimus 4X HD. Though a mouthful of a name, it’s got a quad-core processor (actually Nvidia’s Tegra 3), it can record HD video (1080p) and it’s got a True HD IPS (HD resolution of 1280×720).

The jury’s out on the LG Optimus 3D Max (née Cube) coming to the UK but for 3D enthusiasts we hope so. It’s a much slimmer phone than last year’s LG Optimus 3D, features a 4.3-inch 800×480 (WVGA) screen and a 5-megapixel stereoscopic camera that can shoot pictures and video in 2D and 3D. It’s also capable of rendering 2D games in 3D as well as 2D apps like Google Earth.

The LG Optimus L-Style series was also announced ahead of MWC and we got to check out the whole line up. A decidedly mid-range lineup with the LG Optimus L7 being the most powerful and the specs decreasing accordingly, the L-Style range boasts a unifying aesthetic.

Finally we got some hands-on time with the LG Optimus Vu. Though note headed to the UK, we decided to have a look at LG’s answer to the Samsung Galaxy Note and see what the 5-inch, stylus toting phablet/phone/tablet had to offer.


Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and Samsung Galaxy Beam plus Samsung Galaxy S Advance, Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus, Samsung Galaxy Ace 2, Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 phone and Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) and Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) tablets  

There was no Samsung Galaxy S3 to be had at Mobile World Congress but that didn’t stop Samsung bringing an entire galactic spiral arm of phones to Barcelona.

Of note there was the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, a full-blown tablet-sized version of the original Galaxy Note and the Samsung Galaxy Beam, a mid-range Android phone with a pic projector built in to its head.

Then there was the Samsung Galaxy S Advance, the first mid-range dual-core phone which we’d heard about earlier this year along with the Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus, another mid-range Android phone with a rather sharp screen.

Fleshing out the lower end for Samsung was the Galaxy Ace 2 and the Galaxy Mini 2, follow-ups to last year’s Galaxy Ace and Galaxy Mini.

Joining the Galaxy Note 10.1 on the Samsung stand were the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1), Samsung’s latest tablet range. These looked a little outclassed by the the Galaxy Note 10.1 which was afforded greater prominence on the Samsung stand. Spec-wise, neither tablet looks to offer a great leap forwards from last year’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 and are fairly underwhelming. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, which we’d seen at CES, was back at Mobile World Congress and that Super AMOLED Plus put the screens of the other two tabs to shame.

Fujitsu’s quad-core Android phone and Stylistic M532 tablet

Frustratingly, we still don’t know the name of Fujitsu’s forthcoming quad-core Android phone. But we did get to play with an early version of it and learn a bit more about Fujitsu’s design philosophy.

The ‘human brain science’ ethic will see the unnamed phone coming with active, context-sensitive noise cancelling functions. As well as dual mics for cancelling out wind noise, there’s active echo cancellation and an adaptive call ringer that automatically cranks up the volume of the ringer if the phone senses that it’s in a pocket.

We also had a quick look at the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 enterprise Android tablet and took the Fujitsu F-07D for a swim in a fish tank.

Huawei Ascend D quad, Ascend D1 and MediaPad 10FHD

Huawei is a company that hasn’t made any big waves in mobile phones in the UK, previously known for making budget white label phones like the Vodafone Smart. But this year the Chinese company came out all guns blazing; the Huawei Ascend D quad uses Huawei’s own quad-core processor and is apparently the ‘world’s fastest’ phone. In our hands-on time with it, it certainly felt pretty slick. We’ll have to wait and see whether it can stand up to the rest of the quad-core pack in a side-by-side comparison.

Then there was the Ascend D1, a lower-specced phone with the exact same outer shell as the Ascend D quad.

We also got to play with the MediaPad 10FHD, Huawei’s first high-end tablet, that looks set to come to the UK.

Then there was a colossal Pegasus sculpture made up of 3000 Huawei phones that dominated the central Fira plaza.

ZTE Era, ZTE Mimosa X, ZTE PF112

ZTE announced a raft of phones prior to kick-off at Mobile World Congress, including the high-end ZTE Era, the ZTE Mimosa X and the ZTE PF112.

The ZTE Era is the most powerful ZTE phone we’ve seen so far. Coming with Nvidia’s Tegra 3 processor, an 8-megapixel camera and a 4.3-inch 960×540 (qHD) screen its ticking the right boxes spec-wise.

The ZTE Mimosa X and PF112 weren’t specced quite as highly but are nice-looking phones and are a leap up from ZTE’s usual cheap ‘n cheerful fare.

We understand that ZTE will be continuing its white label plans as it has done up until now, so its possible that we’ll see the ZTE PF112 rebranded under a more catchy and network-specific name. Speaking of which…

Orange Santa Clara and the Intel Atom Z2460

Orange and Intel have joined forces to make the Orange Santa Clara, a mid-range Android phone that houses Intel’s 1.6GHz Atom Z2460 CPU. We got treated to a quick hands-on demo of the Orange Santa Clara and were impressed by the burst shot mode of the camera and its gaming capabilities.

The Orange Santa Clara will be coming to the UK sometime in the summer. No official word on who will be making the phone, but we’ve a strong hunch that it’s ZTE.

BlackBerry Porsche QNX car and BlackBerry Confetti concept app

BlackBerry didn’t have any new phones or tablets to show off at MWC but we did get the chance to hop in the heavily customised Porsche Carrera S that was parked on the BlackBerry stand.

As well as having two PlayBooks installed in the back of the headrests, the music player had been pulled out and replaced with another PlayBook. Ideal for using apps like Poynt to find your way about, perhaps not ideal for playing Angry Birds when behind the wheel.

What’s more important is that this hints at RIM’s future intentions to make good of the fact that QNX is installed in a huge number of cars across the world.

We also got to play around with BlackBerry Confetti, a concept app that would make board meetings a bit more visual and a lot less boring.

And that’s all for now?

There’s a few more things to come. Be sure to check back here later and subscribe to our YouTube channel if you’ve not already done so.


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