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Opinion: What will be the best-selling mobile phones of 2012?

With over a week having passed now since Mobile World Congress closed its doors for another year, the time has come to take stock of the veritable smorgasbord of new products that made their debut.

While some of the headlines may have been focused on what was not in Barcelona, from the no-show of a Samsung Galaxy S 3 to the release of invitations to the new iPad press conference, MWC nonetheless highlighted many of this Spring and Summer’s leading devices.

So based on previous flops and successes, Rob Williams from Expansys predicts what 2012’s key new tech from Mobile World Congress might be.

HTC’s One family of phones

2011 didn’t end well for HTC, with lower than expected sales in Q3 putting a slight downer on the Taiwanese manufacturer’s year. In response HTC announced it would be releasing fewer models in 2012, focusing all their substantial know-how on a less-diluted range of premium handsets.

The first fruits of this new approach arrived at MWC, and to much acclaim. The HTC One series all share a similar design aesthetic and many of the same excellent components, including great camera optics, plus a new streamlined version of Sense running on top of Ice Cream Sandwich flavoured Android.

HTC’s press conference was one of the most well-received events in Barcelona, headlined by the stunning-screen toting HTC One X. Despite lower sales later in the year, we saw a great deal of customer interest in HTC’s flagship from 2011’s MWC, the Sensation, and pre-orders for the One X are already strong. With HTC’s new focus on marketing fewer, better devices, and HTC being the largest smartphone name (with respect to LG, Huawei and ZTE) to release a quad-core phone, we see the One series proving to be a MWC success story.

The continued resurgence of Nokia

Of course, the story of Nokia’s comeback to smartphone relevance started last year with the Nokia Lumia 800. But at MWC several releases were confirmed that will help push along the Finnish revival.

Firstly there’s the Nokia Lumia 900, first seen at CES in January, but now confirmed for a European release and already generating much interest, especially in the announced white hue. The Nokia Lumia 900 with it’s larger 4.3 inch screen that looks fantastic thanks to the ClearBlack AMOLED display gives Nokia, and Windows Phone a premium with the looks and screen real-estate to compete with Android’s finest.

Nokia have remained masters at serving the other end of the scale, those looking for entry-level handsets. And with the Nokia Lumia 610 the company hopes to continue tapping into some of that (huge) market, but with some smartphone goodness. Presented at MWC as an ‘introduction to Windows Phone’, the Nokia Lumia 610 makes use of the Tango update to Microsoft’s OS to introduce less powerful, and thus cheaper, components, bringing the 610 in at around £160 sim-free.

A fully featured Nokia smartphone for £160? This could well be a breakthrough for Windows Phone, as similarly priced Androids do not have the same sparkle, nor smooth user experience.

Finally, Nokia stole many of MWC’s headlines thanks to the unveiling of the Nokia 808 PureView, a phone with a jaw-dropping 41 megapixel camera, a stat which led to many double-takes. This might seem like a niche product, but with tech-fans always keen on having the best, we can see this phone doing (perhaps surprisingly) well.


Quad-core power, and the rise of the Chinese manufacturer

One of the prominent themes of MWC is that it shows off the latest generation of technology. Last year it was all about dual-core, this year quad-core devices were the definite theme.

With HTC, Huawei, LG, ZTE, Asus, Fujitsu and more all announcing quad-core products, the race to be ‘the powerful’ continues, as early-adopters will want the most impressive set of stats possible for their latest weapon of choice.

And one source that might be supplying more of these quad-core monsters could be Chinese manufacturers. After cutting their teeth making branded handsets for others in recent years, both Huawei and ZTE are making a big push in 2012 to become the next HTC.

The Huawei Ascend D (right) quad debuted as the ‘world’s fastest smartphone’, and ZTE lifted the lid on its Era, both of which come with quad-core power and plenty of other premium specs. The Huawei Ascend D quad in particular looks like it could give the bigger names a run for their money, and if ZTE continue their very strong value-for-money pricing, we could well see more customers turn to these newer names in the smarpthone market.

So, that’s our look at what the potential sim-free winners are from Mobile World Congress; what were your favourites, and what do you predict will make a splash in the coming months?

Rob Williams works for online retailer Expansys


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