MWC 2013 Preview: What to Expect from Samsung, Nokia and LG

MWC-entrance

Mobile World Congress 2013 kicks off tomorrow in Spain, Barcelona, and to whet your appetite for some shiny new tech we thought we take a look at who is likely to be grabbing the headlines when the show kicks off Feb 25-29.

Samsung
While Samsung’s flagship S4 smartphone won’t be making an appearance, it has been rumoured that the Korea tech giant will be unveiling a slew of new tablets.

The first one is the much rumoured Galaxy Note 8, which is expected to get an official unveil at the show. Unlike Samsung’s Tab line of tablets, the Note 8 takes its design cues from its smaller brother, the Note II. The tablet is expected to be finished in the same Marble White and will be sporting a home button and back/menu touch buttons bellow the display, which means that device is expected to be held mostly in portrait, like a phone, rather than landscape.

The tablet is thought to be sporting a rear and front-facing camera, and there’s obviously a slot for an S Pen stylus. It’s thought the device is expected to target the mid-range market with a price tag of around £300-£350. The tablet is expected to be sporting an 8-inch HD display, 2GB of RAM and a 1.6GHz quad-core processor.

We’re expecting the Note 8 to go toe-to-toe with Apple’s iPad Mini and Google’s Nexus 7, although it may be priced more closely to Apple’s offering than Google’s.

Samsung is also said to be preparing to launch a third generation of Android-based Galaxy Tab tablets, starting with 7-inch and 10-inch models that will make appearances at Mobile World Congress too.

Nokia
Nokia has announced a press conference for 25 February, which is right at the beginning of the Mobile World Congress. Although there is no further information about this announcement, it can be assumed that is going to be about new devices and services.

According to the latest rumours, Nokia will introduce at least one new high-end smartphone codenamed Catwalk. It’s thought it will have an aluminium chasis that’s will differentiate it from the current raft of Lumias on offer. Also, there is another model, codenamed Eos, which could come with Nokia’s PureView camera technology. Last year at MWC, Nokia unveiled their 808 PureView, a Symbian device with a camera resolution of 41 megapixels, so is Nokia planning to bring that tech to it’s Lumia range? We’ll know more next week.

Another rumour doing the rounds lately suggest that Nokia is developing a tablet based on Windows RT, with the possibility that the device will be unveiled at MWC.

The rumour came about after a video showing Nokia’s Music+ app on a tablet was quickly removed from a recent YouTube promotional video – leading many to speculate that the company has a tablet in preparation.

LG
With a lot announcements happening at MWC, a lot of manufacturers will be looking to show off their wares at pre-show events in order to try and navigate the impending tech quagmire.And that’s what LG has done with a teaser posted to their Facebook page showing off a new Otimus Prime G smartphone.

Although the official details for the 5.5-inch handset are light, early rumours suggest that a quad-core 1.7GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and a 13-megapixel camera are in order.

The LG Optimus G Pro will find a home in South Korea in the coming weeks. It is unclear what other markets might offer the new smartphone. We hope to learn the full details of the new line of Optimus handsets at Mobile World Congress later this month.

Win a Nokia C2-02 touchscreen mobile phone

COMPETITION NOW CLOSED. Following the huge success of our iBeats competition, we’ve once again teamed up with the kind folks at Argos to giveaway another great prize. Argos stock a huge variety of gadgets, including the iPod Touch and Galaxy Tab and they’ve given us chrome black Nokia C2-02 SIM-free phone to giveaway. This is an ideal prize for anyone on a SIM-0nly plan or for those occasions when you might not want to use your smartphone.

The C2-02 comes with a touchscreen, enabling you to easily open apps, flick through photos and browse the web. It also features a 2.6″ QVGA display and a slide-open keypad for fast and easy typing. Running out of battery shouldn’t be an issue on this handset, with up to a whopping 600 hours standby time.

The handset also packs in Bluetooth, FM radio, MP3 player, and 2 megapixel camera. It’s currently on sale at £86.99 but could be yours for free if you win our competition!

Sound good? Well, all you need to do is enter this simple multiple choice question:

THIS COMPETITION CLOSED ON JUNE 6, 2012

Competition Terms: Delivery will be within 28 days of Argos receiving the winner’s address, and the competition prize may vary at the discretion of Argos. The prize as described will be supplied direct from Argos, and there is no cash alternative. This competition is open to UK residents only. This competition closes at midnight (BST) on Wednesday June 6, 2012. Winner will be notified by email.

MWC 2012 Review & Wrap Up

As the Mobile World Congress wraps up for another year, we showcase the highlights of the conference. The range of smartphones and tablets didn’t disappoint, and all the usual suspects were present, including Samsung, Sony, HTC and LG, with the latter three using the event to announce their smartphone releases for the year ahead.

Best-of-MWC

Newcomers

Mobile service provider Orange unveiled its first smartphone at MWC, the Orange Santa Clara. With a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2460 processor and 16GB of storage, the Santa Clara runs using the Android Gingerbread OS and comes with an 8MP camera. It also has NFC capabilities, and is due to hit UK and European stores in the summer.

New Technology

Quad core phones had a large presence at this year’s Congress, with Huawei claiming their newest offering, the Ascend D, is the fastest smartphone on the market. During MWC, only Sony seemed to be sticking with the older dual-core processors, as smartphone manufacturers turn to devices with four processors to create faster, more powerful machines.

Also parading the quad-core hardware was LG’s Optimus 4X HD. As well as the extra processing power, the company’s new flagship boasts a high definition screen and a 4G receiver. Although LG stated that the smartphone has enough power to support hardcore gaming, they also added that, with normal use, consumers would only have to recharge the handset every two days.

Trailblazing down a different path, Nokia used MWC to reveal its 41-megapixel 808 Pureview. The company’s newest offering isn’t the sleekest on the market – with extra weight and Nokia’s Symbian operating system – however, the device’s powerful camera, with enhanced low-light performance and image compression, could make up for its flaws. See Jack’s article on it yesterday for more detail.

The Best of the Rest

Samsung showcased their tablet range, including the new 10-inch Galaxy Note. Samsung’s product strategy executive, Hankil Yoon, admitted, however, that Samsung were still struggling to wrestle a chunk of the market away from competitors.

Mozilla announced they are opening up their own web app store ahead of the release of their new operating system, Boot to Gecko (B2G), which is based on HTML5. Handsets running B2G won’t store any data on the device itself, instead the handset will require an internet connection to display, well, pretty much anything. The Mozilla Marketplace paves the way for developers to start experimenting with this concept.

While most of the event’s buzz was focused on new hardware, operators NTT DoCoMo and SK Telecom showcased powerful new technology. SK Telecom revealed its Android operated robots, which function as a learning aid for children, while NTT DoCoMo unveiled its ticketing app, with which you can view and purchase event tickets just by tapping your phone against the relevant poster.

It’s no surprise that Google dominated MWC 2012. With more powerful phones, more OS competition, and rumours of an iPhone 5 on the horizon, however, we can only guess what next year’s MWC will look like.

MWC 2012: Android’s coming of age party

This year’s Mobile World Congress was the best ever. No – this isn’t one of those super-positive articles that vapidly attempts to befriend everyone. It genuinely was the best. Why? How about this: 41 megapixel camera; projecting mobile phone; a phone that plugs into a tablet. Does your iPhone do any of that?

Nokia-PureView

MWC 2012 – or as we like to call it, Android’s coming-of-age-party, was packed to the rafters with this year’s top handsets. Even Panasonic got in on the action, with its new Eluga and Lumix lines (more about those later). It seems that with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich finally providing a solid, versatile operating system for mobile users, mobile manufacturers have gone a bit mad. And it’s brilliant.

How Many MegaPixels?

The new Nokia 808 PureView has 41 megapixels. Forty-one. It accomplishes this through a 1/1.2” camera sensor – bigger than those found in a high-end point’n’shoot (and much bigger than in the iPhone 4S). The huge sensor means that it can digitally zoom without losing quality (probably up to about 5x), works better in low light and zooms 12x for 640×360 video.

It’s also got a Carl Zeiss lens at F2.4 aperture (awesome), a xenon flash and five-years-in-the-making “oversampling” technology, to make pictures super sharp. Basically, it’s the best camera phone ever – by a long way. And they paired it with Dolby 5.1 audio recording. Sick.

Panasonic has revealed a Lumix Phone 101P, with a 13.2 megapixel sensor. Yawn.

Project It!

Of course, if you want to look at stuff rather than photo it, you’ll need the Samsung Galaxy Beam. It has all the smartphone goodness of the other Galaxys (although not the size of the Note), as well as a 15 lumen projector, built right in. Shame it runs Android 2.3, but beggars can’t be choosers. If you want to project an image up to 50” onto a wall, this is your phone. No word on battery life or lamp life as yet.

Padfone?!

Sure, the Motorola Atrix was the original tablet where you could plug in a phone – but this will be better. Much better. From the geniuses behind the ASUS Transformer (there’s two new ones of those out, too) comes the PadFone – a tablet you can plug your phone into.

Or rather, it’s a big screen, which only activates when you put your phone in it. And the stylus acts as a Bluetooth headset. And you can plug in a keyboard. Its nuts, and it’s awesome, and it will be mine.

We haven’t been this excited about getting our hands on something since Gollum misplaced his precious a long, long time ago in a land far, far away (that’s right, right?).

The phone itself has a 4.3” AMOLEDqHD screen, a Snapdragon S4 dual core processor and an eight megapixel camera. It runs Android 4.0, which then scales everything up to the 10.1” display of the tablet when you plug it in the back. The tablet also comes with 5x the battery of the mobile, meaning you’ll be able to go on and on. No-one wants to carry two devices and have two mobile subscriptions – this solves the problem in one pretty need solution.

Nokia and Spectrum Interactive now provide free wifi for London

Telecomms powerhouse Nokia, and Spectrum Interactive, the UK’s leading independent provider of Wi-Fi services, recently announced the first large scale trial of free Wi-Fi access in some of the busiest areas of the capital. Yep, that’ll be you then Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road, Bloomsbury, Bayswater, Knightsbridge, Westminster, Sloane Square, Victoria, Marylebone, Mayfair and Lancaster Gate… phew. This is (believe it or not) the first ever public Wi-Fi scheme in the UK that’s specifically aiming to make it easier for people on the move to access online services for free.

Nokia-Wifi

So what’s the big deal, then? If you’re in one of the above areas (the “special” ones focused on for the launch which took place on November 1) users do not need to register to use the service; they simply log-on to the network, accept the terms and conditions and browsing can begin immediately. How very nice?

The Wi-Fi network supports access speeds of up to 20Mbps via equipment installed in street-side phone boxes owned by Spectrum Interactive. Lovely. Net access is initially available for a trial period at 26 street hotspots from now until the end of 2011 and will test how consumers interact with the free Wi-Fi service. Following a successful trial, plans are in place for a large-scale roll-out across London from early 2012. Nifty.

Simon Alberga, Executive Chairman at Spectrum Interactive, commented: “While 4G mobile access is firmly on the horizon, Wi-Fi coverage currently fills a much needed niche between 3G mobile internet and home broadband. Tablets and mobile phones are capable of incredibly high-end browsing experiences now, but Wi-Fi access is often a requirement to support the tasks many of us want to be able to do on the move, such as uploading multimedia to Facebook or watching YouTube. It’s great to be able to implement a service that so many people will quickly come to regard as indispensable.”

The two-month trial (accessible right now, don’t forget) is intended to assess both the demand for free Wi-Fi access and the browsing behaviour of consumers using the service across the city. The findings will be used to determine the best locations for future hotspots and the necessary bandwidth to meet robust consumer demand.

Chris Bull, Founder of Selective Media continued: “Bringing together all the different parties involved in this rollout has been a fantastic experience. This is a service that Londoners need and want and Nokia and Spectrum Interactive make a great team. We look forward to working with Nokia moving forward on similar projects.”

For more information visit the Spectrum Interactive website: http://www.spectruminteractive.co.uk

IDAPT i2 Wire-Free Universal Charger

If you’re anything like me then you watch too many cartoons and bore people at parties extolling the brilliance of The Venture Bros. You also have far too many gadgets strewn across your desk, all demanding juice. I have a complex ritual, shuffling mini-, micro- and big-fat USB leads across to power my iPhone, DS and whatever else is demanding power that day. One day all gadgets will have inductive charging cases and I can simply throw them on my desk at watch them automagically charge. Or maybe we’ll finally crack wireless charging and I can have everything continually topping up from my pocket.

IDAPT

But until that day I can play around with the IDAPT i2 Wire-Free Universal Charger with USB. The £30 dock lets you charge three devices at a time – two in swanky dock fashion and one by snaking out a cable round the side. Which three devices you may well ask? Well according to the company the i2 supports 4000+ devices – and with all flavours of USB and iOS devices supported, then there is a very good chance that could be an accurate assessment.

The i2 works via a series of interchangeable tips that suit your particular phone, handheld console or tablet. In the box are six tips: Nokia 2, Samsung 4, Sony Ericsson 2, miniUSB, microUSB and iPod-iPhone. There is also a standard USB slot at the side. Not got the tip you were looking for? You can buy extras for about £6 (which seems a little steep to me).

There are little LED charging indicators that let you know what is charging and a big old fashioned on-off switch at the back. The i2 is a cool looking shiny unibody black box that manages to look classy on the average desktop and can actual help to reduce visual clutter.

Available from the IDAPT store here. www.idaptweb.com/shop. You may well expect a pun about charging your credit card but I’m better than that.

Premier Inn smartphone app: Booking made easy

For the travellers out there, Premier Inn  offer a new app allowing to book and manage you hotel booking on the go. Premier Inn is the UK’s largest budget hotel chain. Perhaps you are going away for a romantic weekend or a quick business trip. They say there is an app for everything, so why not one to book your hotel?

Premier-Inn-App

The Premier Inn is available not only on iPhone but Nokia, Android and Blackberry phones. It has real-time availability and prices of the all the UK hotels and it can also show where the nearest Premier Inn is, useful if you are on the go. The app has photos of the hotels so you can see what they look like before you get there.

A big plus about the app is it is free. I took the time to download and give it a test drive. The app was quick to load. There are hotel details which show the facilities available like parking, restaurants and disabled access. However, the icons are a bit small so it can be a bit hard to make out what some of them are. You can obtain the booking details and show them to concierge in arrival to make things a bit faster. There is a description of amenities near each hotel so you have an idea of the area which can prove useful if you do not know the area well. The app pinpoints the hotel so you can plan your route. It is a simple app to use with a simple premise which it does well.

The higher-end hotel chains have their own apps, some are elaborate and make booking difficult but Premier Inn is the first budget hotel chain to provide an app. If you stay in Premier Inn, this app is a dream. Available to download now from the iTunes store here. Sweet dreams!

Mobile World Congress (MWC) preview

With the Mobile World Congress MWC upon us we thought we’d give you the low-down on what is thought to be unveiled at the world’s largest mobile phone trade show.

Samsung-Galaxy-S-II

Sony Ericsson PSP Phone

One of the phones that it thought to be unveiled will be Sony’s PSP phone – now the amount of leaks recently would suggest that Sony is ready to show the world the future of mobile gaming, well at least until the NGP get released later this year. And with the arrival of extensive Xperia Play video it almost a certainty.

Samsung Galaxy S Mini

Having launched in July last year to much acclaim and eventual 2010 global sales that topped the 10 million unit mark, the Android powered Samsung Galaxy S marked Sammy’s first true competitor to the market dominating HTC Desire and Apple iPhone.

Called the S5830 it looks to be quite a bit smaller than the Galaxy S with a 3.5-inch display with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels. The Samsung Galaxy S mini will apparently come with Google Android 2.2 Froyo, and will feature a Qualcomm MSM7227 processor and will come with quad band and WCDMA support.

Samsung Dual-Core Phone

After CES saw the battles lines draw in the dual-core phone war, we’d bet of bottom dollar that Samsung will be announcing their foray into battle with a dual-core Galaxy S2 (pictured).

HTC ‘Flyer’ Tablet

According to the ever-excitable rumour mill there is a high chance that a HTC tablet will be unveiled at MWC – if anything does surface we’ll be on hand to let you know. Expect it to run on Android 3.0 – other than that we can’t be sure.

Nokia N9

Can we expect Nokia to make a splash at MWC – maybe, but don’t hold your breath – there might just be too many announcements which would probably swamp Nokia in a sea of unveilings – but if it does happen we’ll get the scoop.

BlackBerry Curve Touch

?One of the most beloved BB phones, after a recent leak of the RIM 2011 roadmap reveals that the Curve is set to get a fully touch-based interface, removing the speedy keyboard.

Spec-wise the BlackBerry Curve Touch is looking at a mid-range 800MHz Qualcomm processor with 512MB of RAM, powering the 3.25-inch HGVA touchscreen. There’s also inbuilt NFC tech, GPS and a 5-Meg camera. We expect to hear more about the Curve Touch.

HTC Desire 2

PocketNow appeared to have stumbled across images of the alleged HTC Desire 2 while a further three suspiciously accurate albeit grainy images have since emerged. And that, it seems, is not all. Images of a button-less smartphone have also been spotted which could may also show up in just under two weeks time in Barcelona.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2

Having already revealed four new members of the Galaxy smartphone family already, Samsung could complete the pack by revealing the sequel to the Galaxy Tab. Oled-info.com claims to have uncovered the specs which include an eight megapixel camera, 1080P HD video, dual LED flash, three megapixel camera amongst the most notable specs.

LG Optimus 3D smartphone

A launch that has an air of inevitability about it after we saw mobile 3D screens at CES, online retailer Phonehouse.nl, the Dutch arm of the Carphone Warehouse, has the LG Optimus 3D listed on its website. Apart from the revealing picture, no specs are listed. But it could be safe to say that 3D is on the MWC 2011 agenda for LG.

BlackBerry Torch 2

Despite the Torch seemingly only being available for a relatively short time, RIM could be looking to a sequel to the touch screen Smartphone already. Tipped to fix a lot of the main internal problems that dogged its predecessor, namely the sluggish computing power, the BlackBerry Torch 2 will have a 1.2GHz processor with 512MB of RAM, which should see it whip around BlackBerry OS 6.1.