HTC, Samsung, And Nokia At Mobile World Congress: New Smartphones, New Tablets, New Strategy
Mobile World Congress, the annual celebración de los smartphones in Barcelona, Spain, has come to an end. Almost 70,000 people attended the tech convention, where 1,500 tech firms showed off their latest smartphones, tablets, mobile apps and software. It was just three companies, however, that together made the biggest splash in the MWC piscina: HTC, Samsung and Nokia.
Sure, Microsoft sent PC users racing to grab the free Consumer Preview of Windows 8 (there were over a million downloads of the Win8 Consumer Preview on the first day of availability alone), and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt captivated the crowds with his wide-ranging rant against Internet censorship (despite being mistakenly interrupted -- ahem -- by the announcement of an invitation to a certain Apple event). But it was HTC, Nokia and Samsung that told the most compelling, and most controversial, stories at Mobile World Congress. Nokia and Samsung both showed off innovative and divisive gadgets, unveiling a smartphone with a 41-megapixel camera and a 10-inch tablet whose main selling point is a stylus, respectively. HTC, meanwhile, announced a total reversal of course, revealing that from now on, all of its smartphones would be united under one single brand name: All For One And One For All, as a trio of literary swashbucklers might have said.
Which of these three musketeers of smartphones and tablets (and phablets) had the best, most exciting, most game-changing 2012 Mobile World Congress? Read on to find out more about the Nokia 808 Pureview, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, and the HTC One series, all of which have the potential to transform what our mobile gadgets are capable of in the future, and shift the landscape of handheld devices as we know it:
Samsung Unleashes Another Tidal Wave Of Tablets And Smartphones
Some companies, like Apple, have a "One Size Fits All" approach to product design. Samsung, meanwhile, seems to be taking the opposite approach: If One Size doesn't Fit All, then surely All Sizes Will Fit All, right? Don't like this 10-inch tablet? How about a 7-inch tablet, or a 7.7 inch tablet, or a 5.1 inch half-phone/half-tablet? Surely one of those meets your needs? Samsung continued its effort to please all-comers at MWC, showing off (DEEP BREATH) the <a href="http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/44697/samsung-galaxy-ace-2-pictures" target="_hplink">Galaxy Ace 2</a>, the <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/02/29/samsung-galaxy-ace-plus-hands-on-video/" target="_hplink">Galaxy Ace Plus</a>, the <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/02/28/a-closer-look-at-the-samsung-galaxy-note-10-1-video/" target="_hplink">Galaxy Note 10.1</a>, the <a href="http://www.slashgear.com/verizon-samsung-galaxy-tab-7-7-lte-launches-march-1-28216011/" target="_hplink">Galaxy Tab 7.7</a>, the <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/02/29/samsung-galaxy-s-advance-hands-on-video/" target="_hplink">Galaxy S Advance</a>, the <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/02/28/samsung-galaxy-mini-2-hands-on-video/" target="_hplink">Galaxy Mini 2</a>, the <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/02/28/samsung-galaxy-s-wifi-4-2-hands-on-video/" target="_hplink">Galaxy S WiFi 4.2</a>, the <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/02/29/samsung-galaxy-tab-2-10-1-hands-on-video/" target="_hplink">Galaxy Tab 2 10.1</a>, the <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/article/250742/samsung_shows_off_galaxy_tab_2_series.html" target="_hplink">Galaxy Tab 2 7.0</a>, and the Galaxy Tab Ace 3 10.7.1.5 Plus (4G). Okay, that last one was made up (I think), but the point is that Samsung showed off a ton of new hardware, from big to small, at Mobile World Congress. No word on when Apple will begin suing all of these Samsung devices for patent infringement, but I would guess that the paperwork is being drawn up as we speak. So, what's important, interesting, controversial, sexy here? Hard to say. The Galaxy Note 10.1 is a ten-inch tablet (iPad-sized) that comes with a stylus and is <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/article/250880/samsung_galaxy_note_101_a_handson_tour.html" target="_hplink">getting good reviews</a> from those who have tried it. The Galaxy Tab line of non-stylus tablets, meanwhile, adds a new member with the Galaxy Tab 7.7, while the 10-inch Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 7-inch Galaxy Tab 7.0 received their first updates. Actually, the biggest Samsung news of the week probably didn't even come out of Barcelona: <a href="http://www.bgr.com/2012/02/27/samsung-galaxy-s-iii-full-specs-1-5ghz-quad-core-1080p-display-ceramic-case/" target="_hplink">Boy Genius Report claimed to have the scoop</a> on the Samsung Galaxy S III, the next flagship Galaxy smartphone. Rumor has it the S III will be a 4.8-inch monster, with a quad-core processor, a "full HD display with 16:9 aspect ratio," and an intriguing ceramic shell case.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
Here is the 10-inch version of the Galaxy Note, which I am confident in calling the most high-profile stylus-packing tablet in the market. It runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich and is quite thin at 0.37 inches. It boasts a dual-core 1.4 GHz processor, 1GB RAM and up to 64GB storage and 32GB available via microSD. And, yes, it comes with an S-Pen stylus for doodling, note-taking, and the like. For full specifications, <a href="http://www.phonearena.com/phones/Samsung-GALAXY-Note-10.1_id6935" target="_hplink">check PhoneArena</a>; for a video tour of the 10-inch Galaxy Note, <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/02/28/a-closer-look-at-the-samsung-galaxy-note-10-1-video/" target="_hplink">head to Engadget</a>.
Nokia Shocks With A 41 Megapixel Camera On A Smartphone, The 808 PureView
The Nokia 808 PureView so thoroughly stole this show that they should have called it the Nokia 808 Thomas Crown Affair. Well, maybe not -- I don't work in marketing. In any case, the talk of the show was indeed the 808 Pureview, the smartphone with a FORTY-ONE megapixel sensor that won the MWC's Best New Mobile Handset prize. <a href="http://allthingsd.com/20120227/the-inside-story-of-nokias-41-megapixel-camera-phone-five-years-in-the-making/?mod=googlenews_editors_picks" target="_hplink">Five years in the making</a>, the 808 PureView has some pretty nice specs on its own-- a 4-inch ClearBlack AMOLED screen, a 1.3 GHz processor, 16GB memory with up to 32GB available via MicroSD slot -- but it is the pixel-packing camera that shocked the crowds in Barcelona. 41 megapixels: It's easily the most ever for a smartphone camera and more than many expensive digital cameras (Pixels aren't everything, of course: <a href="http://www.mobot.net/bigger-picture-nokia-808-pureviews-massive-image-sensor-compared-38459" target="_hplink">click here to read why</a>). Nokia points out on its website that the camera on the 808 PureView isn't taking gigantic, wall-sized photos, but is rather combining and overlapping pixels to create what it calls "purer" pixels. Tech pundits are split as to whether the 808 PureView will really deliver meaningfully better photos -- <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/27/why-you-cant-dismiss-nokias-41-megapixel-phone/" target="_hplink">TechCrunch says yes</a>, <a href="http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/02/nokias-808-pureview-redefining-the-stupidphone/" target="_hplink">Gizmodo says no</a>, dubbing it a "stupidphone" -- but one thing is for sure: Nokia's latest was the surprise of Mobile World Congress. And now for some 808 Heartbreak for American consumers: The PureView will only be available in Europe in Q2, running the Symbian OS. Nokia <a href="http://allthingsd.com/20120227/the-inside-story-of-nokias-41-megapixel-camera-phone-five-years-in-the-making/" target="_hplink">has said it plans</a> to make a Windows Phone version in the future, without providing a timeframe for its release.
Nokia PureView 808, Front View
A camera that can make phone calls, or a phone that can take pictures? Here are <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/27/see-what-a-41mp-camera-can-do-nokia-releases-808-pureview-sample-shots/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29" target="_hplink">some sample shots taken</a> with the PureView 808, provided by Nokia. <a href="http://conversations.nokia.com/2012/02/27/nokia-808-pureview-%E2%80%93-revolutionary-camera-technology-great-smartphone/" target="_hplink">Full, uncompressed images available here</a>.
HTC Unveils One Smartphone
The headline says HTC Unveils One Smartphone, but HTC actually unveiled three smartphones at MWC: All of them just happened to be named the One. That is to say that at MWC, HTC unveiled three One smartphones. (I'm asking you: What's the guy's name on first base???) Though this is, indeed, quite a mouthful, HTC believes it is merely simplifying its offerings with its One line. In 2011, HTC made available to consumers -- by my count -- the Evo, the Rezound, the Titan, the Sensation, the Radar, the Rhyme, the Explorer, the ChaCha, the Salsa, the Incredible, the Desire, the Wildifire, the HD7, the Trophy, the Surround, the Mozart, and the Aria. In 2012, and for the foreseeable future, the Taiwanese handset maker will release smartphones under one moniker: The HTC One. All of these HTC One phones will run Android Ice Cream Sandwich with a modified, <a href="http://www.bgr.com/2012/03/01/htc-sense-ui-got-too-complicated/" target="_hplink">less complicated HTC Sense interface</a>. As for killer features, HTC is really pushing the image and audio quality on its One phones, bestowing upon them the tagline "Amazing camera. Authentic sound." On the audio front, the HTC One phones will come pre-loaded with Beats Audio, which for the first time will work for all audio played on the phone (not just in the Beats player, as was the widely-derided reality on last year's Rezound). Click forward to get the details on these three new One phones from HTC, including its big new flagship phone, the HTC One X...
The HTC One X
Here's the flagship phone that HTC hopes will change its fortunes: The HTC One X (<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_X-1" target="_hplink">not to be confused with the X1</a>, which changed the fortunes of aviation and -- well -- science). It has a brilliant 4.7-inch screen with a 1280 x 720 pixel resolution, is super-light at 130 grams (4.6 ounces) and boasts an 8 megapixel camera with an interesting continuous shooting mode feature, allowing for dozens of pictures to be taken in seconds. It will come to the United States on AT&T with 32GB of storage, 1GB RAM and a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor (quad-core everywhere else, sparking a <a href="http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13970_7-57385088-78/sadly-at-ts-htc-one-x-wont-be-quad-core-and-heres-why/" target="_hplink">miniature, very nerdy scandal</a>). The One X will come to America exclusively on AT&T in the coming months. And though the One X was one One introduced at MWC, it was not the only One: HTC also outed its One S, its "mid-sized" 4.3-inch smartphone that will hit T-Mobile soon, and the One V, a 3.7-inch budget One smartphone with a small bump like a Jay Leno chin at the bottom of its face. For full specs on those two One phones, click <a href="http://www.htc.com/www/smartphones/htc-one-s/#specs" target="_hplink">here for the One S</a> and <a href="http://www.htc.com/www/smartphones/htc-one-v/#specs" target="_hplink">here for the One V</a>. HTC was, briefly, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/01/htc-smartphone-shipments-top-samsung-apple_n_1069282.html" target="_hplink">the number one smartphone maker</a> in the United States, topping Apple and Samsung in the third quarter of 2011, but it had a weak Q4. With the One line, it hopes to retake that crown in 2012.