Mobile World Congress has been and gone for another year and as usual it brought us loads of exciting new handsets. I’m not going to go through every single handset in detail as there were so many, but I thought I’d take a look at some of the handsets that stand out to me as potential stars of 2011.
I used to be a massive Sony Ericsson fan, but then the iPhone came along and that all changed. Sony Ericsson went from being one of the best phone manufacturers to someone who kept churning out the ‘same old, same old’ month after month.
Fortunately though, that’s all changed. They’ve jumped aboard the Android bandwagon and are now producing some really exciting phones. Four new handsets were announced in total, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo, Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro, Sony Ericsson Arc and most importantly the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play.
The Xperia Play has been rumoured for years as the PlayStation phone, and although it doesn’t carry the PlayStation branding, it will run PlayStation certified game and is set to be the first in a long line of PlayStation Certified handsets.
The Xperia Neo and Xperia Pro are very similar handsets, the main difference being that the Pro features a full slide out QWERTY keyboard.
HTC were one of the last of the big manufacturers to announce their new handsets, but it was an announcement worth waiting for. HTC revealed 6 new devices – 5 phones and a tablet.
The Desire S, Wildfire S and Incredible S are all upgraded versions of existing phones. Most have had processor and memory tweaks, with the Wildfire S getting a much needed screen upgrade. Adding the ‘S’ to the name is interesting too – after all, that’s what Apple did with the iPhone 3G when that received a fairly minor overhaul 18 months ago. It worked for Apple, but will it work for HTC?
The other two handsets have more focus on social networking – Facebook in particular. Both the HTC Salsa and HTC ChaCha have a dedicated Facebook button. I’m not entirely sure that it’s all that necessary as it’s normally only a swipe or two and a tap to launch the Facebook App.
The Salsa features a full QWERTY keyboard and is similar to BlackBerry phones in appearance. The HTC ChaCha is a slimmed down version of last year’s HTC Legend.
The HTC Flyer is the device that got most people talking. It’s a 7” tablet with a 1.5 GHZ processor. The Flyer will be running the HTC Sense UI on top of the standard Android OS. The Flyer will be running the same version of Android as mobile phones do (Android 2.x) rather than the tablet focused Android 3.0, but a future upgrade might change that.
The stars of Samsung’s announcement were the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Samsung Galaxy S 2. The Galaxy S was and still is, one of the most powerful smartphones you can get your hands on, but the Galaxy S2 is set to take it to the next level. It’s incredibly thin at less than 9mm, has a 1GHz Dual Core Processor and 1GB RAM. That’s a lot of power for such a small device, but it means that it can record HD video at 1080p and 720p. I love my iPhone, but the Galaxy S2 is sounding very, very tempting.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 isn’t a second generation Galaxy Tab, it’s a larger version of it and is more likely to be a strong competitor to the iPad. Unlike the Flyer, theTab 10.1 will be running Android 3.0, a version of Android that’s been created specifically with tablets in mind.
LG made most of their announcements back January at CES, but their stand out handset is the LG Optimus 2X. It’s pretty closely matched to the Samsung Galaxy S II, it has a similar 1GHz dual core processor, 1080p video capabilities but has a slightly smaller 4” screen and less RAM.
They also unveiled the Optimus 3D – a handset with a 3D display and 3D still/video camera. I’m still not sold on 3D yet, neither are most of us in the office, so time will tell whether 3D in a mobile phone is worth it.
Others worth noting
Motorola didn’t really have a lot to show off, although their tablet – the Motorola Xoom looks awesome. Palm also re-appeared as HP and the HP Pre 3 and the HP TouchPad both look really good, but WebOS lost its way after the launch of the Palm Pre 2, so it will be interesting to see if HP can play catch up with iOS and Android.
Between the Xoom, Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the HP TouchPad, the iPad is going to have a pretty tough year. Infact, Apple are facing some pretty tough competition this year. There are a number of excellent iPhone and iPad alternatives coming out so they’re gonna have to do something pretty special to stay on top.
More details on the handsets will be on the blog in the coming weeks.