There are more smartphones rumored to debut at this Mobile World Congress than at any other in recent memory, which means tablets may play second fiddle in Barcelona. MWC 2012 officially starts on Monday and lasts four days; however, the first events will take place a day before, on Sunday.
The world’s biggest mobile devices manufacturers (apart from Apple, of course) have prepared well for Barcelona, and following a relatively weak CES, it is almost absolutely certain that they will present their top smartphone models, the majority of which will have quad-core processors and so-called XL screens with diagonals bigger than 4 inches. Many will also have LTE support.
Huawei will break the ice on Sunday, as its media event is scheduled first. The Chinese mobile-maker is expected to announce a smartphone called the Ascend D1 Q. This device could have a 4.6-inch screen with a 1280 x 720-pixel resolution, 2 GB of RAM and a quad-core processor on a 2.0 GHz clock manufactured by Huawei itself. Unlike Ascend P1 and P1 S, presented at CES, Ascend D1 Q will not be the slimmest smartphone in the world, but it will run Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0. In addition, Huawei could surprise with a Windows Phone 7 model. Huawei is also expected to follow up its surprisingly solid 7-inch MediaPad Android tablet with a 10-inch model, though details are scarce.
Sony is planning to hold its two-hour press event in Barcelona an hour after Huawei, and present several new Xperias. It’s almost guaranteed that Sony will take the wraps off the Xperia U smartphone, which is a scaled-down version of the Xperia S, presented at CES earlier in the year. Sony has been very quiet about any other plans, though rumors have surfaced suggesting Sony will also reveal a Windows Phone 7 unit. While we also expect Sony to show off its yet-to-be-released Tablet P clamshell device, perhaps even announcing a release date, there have been no leaks regarding other Sony tablets.
HTC has a late night press event scheduled for 9PM local time, and it has been very forthcoming regarding its announcements. Several smartphones will be unveiled, and the device dubbed One X will be the top model. It will feature a quad-core Tegra 3 chipset and a 720p screen with an 8-megapixel back-facing camera. HTC has posted a teaser on Facebook – a sketch of this device bearing the digit 5 on its display – which could be its diagonal display measurement or the number of cores on its NVIDIA processor (Tegra 3 is a quad-core processor with an additional, fifth, “companion” core).
HTC will also present One E, which will be a middle-class smartphone with a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen and a dual-core processor; as well as One S, a successor to the HTC Wildfire S with a single-core processor, 1 GHz clock and a 3.7- inch screen. It is believed that all HTC models will include LTE and NFC network support, run Ice Cream Sandwich and are intended for all global markets. It is expected that HTC is keeping several surprises under wraps. Hopefully that includes a tablet as the HTC Flyer debuted at Mobile World Congress last year and is due for a refresh.
Will ASUS or Microsoft Steal the Show?
While LG, Nokia, ZTE, Fujitsu, and others are also expected to unveil smartphones, ASUS may steal the show with its Padfone, first unveiled at Computex late last year. The Padfone is an Android smartphone that docks into a larger tablet for dual functionality. ASUS has a well-deserved reputation for innovative products and designs, and the Padfone seems to continue in that tradition.
Samsung has dominated MWC in the past with industry-leading Android smartphones and tablets. Too bad Sammy does not have an event scheduled for MWC 2012. It’s very clear that the highly-anticipated Samsung Galaxy S III will not be launched at MWC. Still, it would be incredible if Samsung did not steal a piece of the media limelight from its competition at the show. To that end, information has leaked from the Seoul headquarters that a Galaxy Note 10.1 might appear on MWC. As the name suggests, the new tablet would be a 10.1-inch version of the Samsung Galaxy Note, complete with S Pen support.
Finally, Microsoft is expected to launch its “Consumer Preview” edition of Windows 8 on the last day of the show. This could make things interesting, as it appears a brazen attempt by Microsoft to upstage any and all Android products at Mobile World Congress.