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Mobile World Congress 2013: 9 Hot Gadgets

Feb 23, 2013 (04:02 AM EST)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=240149064


Mobile World Congress, the premier event covering all things related to mobility, is held every year in Barcelona, Spain. It's an annual rite of passage for phone makers, network operators, technology purveyors, and app and service developers. If you're a gadget lover, you'll want to take a closer look at the smartphones, tablets and phablets we scouted out in advance of the show.

The show officially runs February 25 - 28, but the day before the show floor opens will be a busy one, with press conferences and other ancillary events.

MWC has grown significantly in recent years and is now the largest trade show to take place annually in Barcelona. In fact, the city built a brand new convention center, the Fira Gran Via, specifically to handle the 60,000 or so attendees, press and exhibitors who make the annual trek to Catalonia. The GSM Association, the trade organization that produces the event, says the new venue is 50% larger than the previous one, boasting some 94,000 square meters of exhibition space amidst 240,000 square meters of overall area. The Fira Gran Via offers more seating, more protection from the elements and better amenities.

Barcelona is a seaside city that offers travelers some of the best cuisine and nightlife in Europe. When attendees aren't busy with mobile business, they can dine on the city's excellent tapas, sip cava (local sparkling wine), stroll down La Ramblas, view Gaudi's incredible architecture and party at the city's many clubs.

MWC draws people from around the world and never fails to deliver plenty of fodder for both consumers and the enterprise. In its earliest days, MWC served as a showplace for new mobile technologies, and that focus remains very much at the core of the show. Wireless networking companies such as Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks and their carrier partners such as Vodafone and Telefonica will be demoing new mobile broadband technology, for example. At the same time, smartphone makers will reveal the newest camera technology for their devices, the latest in user interface designs and giant screens. Whatever is announced at MWC 2013, you can be sure it will trickle down to consumers and mobile professionals alike.

Although some of the industry's biggest players (Motorola/Google, Samsung, HTC) are sitting this year out, we still expect plenty of news. Major phone companies such as Nokia, LG, Sony, Huawei, Asus, Acer and ZTE will be announcing new products at press conferences throughout the week.

Take a closer look at a few of the intriguing new devices that will be on display at Mobile World Congress 2013.




Asus is primed to debut a new tablet called the Padfone. The company already offers a smartphone/tablet combo device, but this new Padfone -- dubbed the Metallic Miracle -- is different: It is a 7-inch tablet with Intel inside.

A source at Intel confirmed to InformationWeek that the PadFone is based on Intel's Clovertrail+ chipset. Further, this is no ordinary tablet: It lets users make regular voice calls over cellular networks. Does that make it a smartphone or a super-phablet? You be the judge. Asus will debut its Metallic Miracle on Monday, February 25.

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LG has been teasing mobile watchers with the Optimus G Pro for weeks now, and the company officially spilled the details earlier this week. Think of the G Pro as LG's answer to the Samsung Galaxy Note II phablet, and you'll get the general idea of what the G Pro offers. Key features include a 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 full HD display, a massive 13-megapixel camera, and a 3,140-mAh battery. It comes with many of LG's custom software tools and some innovative features, such as the ability to shoot video through the main and secondary cameras at the same time. It is powered by a 1.7-GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Processor, which is paired with 2 GB of RAM. It has 32 GB of built-in storage and also supports microSD cards for another 32 GB. It will ship with Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean.

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Acer took the wraps off its first two MWC smartphones a few days early. The Liquid E1 and Liquid Z2 run Android and target the entry-level and mid-range smartphone shopper rather than the high-end flagship seeker. The E1, for example, has a single-core 1-GHz processor paired with a 4.5-inch qHD display. It will be available in both single- and dual-SIM configurations and comes with stereo speakers and a 5-megapixel camera. The Z2 is an entry-level phone with a dual-core 1-GHz processor and a 3.5-inch HVGA display. As with the E1, the Z2 will be available with two SIM tray options. It comes with a 3-megapixel camera. The Liquid E1 will cost between €199 and €229 ($262 - $302), while the Z2 will cost between €99 and €129 ($131 - $170). These devices are slated for European markets in the coming month.

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NVIDIA has revealed the Tegra 4i, a low-power, low-cost alternative to its monster Tegra 4 mobile processor. The Tegra 4i is a system-on-a-chip that combines a processor and LTE modem onto a single piece of silicon for mid-range smartphones and tablets. It features a quad-core ARM R4 Cortex A9 cluster clocked at 2.3 GHz per core, which is mated to a fifth low-power core to help handle tasks that don't require much horsepower, in order to conserve power. The 4i may be aiming for the middle of the smartphone road, but it offers some huge functionality. It can handle gaming on full 1080p HD displays, as well as always-on HDR photography, thanks to its 60 GPU cores. NVIDIA claims the 4i SoC is roughly half the size of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 (Qualcomm's top-of-the-line chip), making it ideal for compact, low-cost devices. It will be ready for production later this year.

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LG is offering its own take on the Windows 8 convertible in the Tab-Book. The Tab-Book is a tablet/notebook hybrid that LG says is ideal for users on the go. The Tab-Book includes built-in LTE for mobile professionals, who'll have access to 4G for speedy mobile broadband. It is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor and has an in-plane switching LCD panel for a wide viewing angle and natural color. LG hasn't shared all the details about this device yet, however -- we don't know how big the screen is, nor do we know specs such as battery, camera, size/weight, and more. LG is planning to reveal the full Tab-Book story in Barcelona.

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Are you ready for 3 GHz of processing power in your smartphone? ST-Ericcson believes you are. The company will demonstrate the NovaThor L8580 integrated smartphone platform with a 3-Ghz eQuad application processor and a multimode LTE Advanced modem supporting Carrier Aggregation. The NovaThor L8580 boasts some impressive specs, such as support for 3GPP Release 10, LTE Category 4, which offers (theoretical) maximum download speeds of 150 Mbps. It supports most other wireless radio interfaces and can handle VoLTE (voice-over-LTE) and HD Voice. The NovaThor L8580 is based on an ARM Cortex A9 chip. It is built using a 28nm process that ST-Ericsson claims offers power savings of up to 35% over previous designs. It will first be available with the four cores clocked at 2.5 GHz, but ST-Ericsson will ramp that up to 3.0 GHz later in the year. 3-D gaming smartphones, anyone?

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Asus sure does like to fire off video teasers. This one shows off another tablet in the works from Asus: the MeMo Pad Smart 10.

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As the name implies, the MeMo Pad is a 10-inch Android tablet that will be powered by a NVIDIA Tegra 3 chipset. It has an in-plane switching display for a wider viewing angle, and offers a 5-megapixel rear camera for imaging. Other specs leaked by Asus point to some SonicMaster sound technology that will improve audio performance. Other than that, we'll have to wait for the full reveal from Asus on February 24. (Oh, and it'll come in both silver and pink!)

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If there's one company that's done an excellent job of hiding its MWC 2013 plans, it's Nokia. Just because there have been no leaks, however, doesn't mean it isn't going to deliver a potential knock-out punch. Nokia hasn't announced any new flagship smartphones since September, though it rolled out a number of entry-level smartphones for emerging markets in the latter part of 2012. Rumors suggest that Nokia is prepping a new flagship Windows Phone that uses its PureView camera technology. PureView was developed for a Symbian handset last year, and it has yet to make an appearance in Nokia's Windows Phone lineup. That's why people are expecting a Lumia device with PureView on board. The name could be the Lumia PureView EOS. Nokia is pretty consistent in its MWC product announcements. In addition to a single high-end smartphone, it will also likely debut several mid-range and entry-level models for world markets.

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Samsung is not holding any official press conferences during MWC this year, but some mobile watchers suspect a sneaky announcement is in the works from the Korean giant. Specifically, recent leaks point to a new Galaxy Tab from Samsung. Photos posted by the company revealed an unannounced device. Based on its position related to other Galaxy Tabs, it falls somewhere between the Galaxy Tab 7 and Galaxy Tab 10. It is believed to offer an 8-inch display, and will be called the Galaxy Tab 8. The 8-inch display will position it perfectly to compete with the Apple iPad Mini, which has a 7.9-inch display. Will it happen? Let's hope so!

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