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Mobile World Congress 2012 - Expectations and Predictions
By Wong Casandra - 26 Feb 2012,10:29am

Mobile World Congress 2012 - Expectations and Predictions

Mobile World Congress 2012 - Expectations and Predictions

Come end-February, the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2012 will commence in Barcelona, shining the spotlight on the latest mobile technology, trends and products. On our team's end, we have been rounding-up news to shed some light on the definitive mobile device convention of the year.

As was last year's spotlight primarily on Android devices, this year's focus seems to take on a more myriad nature of its own, shuttling between upcoming quad-core smartphones, LTE technology, bigger screens, and so forth. Here, we dissect the trends that we see prevalent in MWC and round-up some expectations and predictions that we have for the exhibition.

 

Quad-core Processors

Possible Sightings at MWC 2012

Much has been waxed and elaborated about the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processors late last year, with Tegra 3 smartphones projected for a Q1 release this year. We have seen it in action on the ASUS Transformer Prime, with MWC certainly setting the stage for more mobile devices to come.

The Tegra 3 processors will come with five times the performance of Tegra 2, and a fifth companion core for low power needs is said to take up 61% less power and offer up to 12 hours of video playback compared to the existing Tegra 2 processors. This fifth CPU core is called the Companion core and its main duty is to execute low-powered tasks like being on active standby, music or video playback.

With smartphones becoming more prevalent in day-to-day usage, performance and battery longevity are key aspects for manufacturers and users alike; the next-gen Tegra 3 quad-core processor is naturally the next step in the mobile industry with more manufacturers slowly ditching dual-core processors on their flagship products. Unsurprisingly, leaks, rumors and alleged details of possible quad-core equipped smartphones have been making its furious rounds around the Internet. Above, we've reported some of the confirmed and unconfirmed mentions made on the internet to-date, but we feel there's more to be shared during the event, so do keep up with our updates next week!

 

Android 4.0 Devices

Possible Sightings at MWC 2012

The Ice Cream Sandwich Android 4.0 OS took the limelight towards the end of the year in the form of the Galaxy Nexus. Unfortunately, no other recent devices have been preloaded (yet) with the Ice Cream Sandwich variant. On the bright side, many existing Android 2.3 devices are slated for a Q2 to Q3 update to Android 4.0.

Those looking for Android 4.0 alternatives can rejoice for now - we are set to see a handful of ICS smartphones to be unveiled at MWC. Most of these devices are also equipped with powerful quad-core processors, making them top of the line flagship smartphones.

 

LTE and NFC Connectivity Options

Possible Sightings at MWC 2012

Aside from quad-core processors, LTE and NFC connectivity options are as prominently featured in this year's MWC. Most next-gen smartphones featured at the event are said to come with both features built into their hardware.

This is especially important in a local context, given the introduction of LTE services by Singtel. LTE data plan promises theoretical download speeds of up to 75Mbps, ensuring that consumers get download speeds that are improved by ten times from the existing HSPA+ speeds. While the service is expensive now, with the announcement of more LTE-ready devices at MWC, local users can expect to see some models brought to Singapore and this would also mean reduced service pricing with more users to benefit from it.

On the NFC front, there will be a growing infrastructure in Singapore, with NFC connectivity at more than 20,000 retail points and even on taxis from mid 2012 onwards. Meanwhile, manufacturers such as Nokia and Sony Mobile have plans to get the ball rolling on a consumer level, so we are expecting to see something similar in action from other major manufacturers.

 

Larger Screens

Possible Sightings at MWC 2012

Size does matter, and it is no different in the mobile device industry. The line between tablets and smartphones is blurring, with the latter getting bigger.

Last year, we saw the advent of 4.3- to 4.7-inch screens for smartphones with the 5.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note splashing onto the scene late last year. LG has also officially announced the 5-inch LG Optimus Vu (4:3 aspect ratio) for MWC and the 4.7-inch LG Optimus 4X, joining in the rest of the manufacturers - HTC, Samsung, Motorola - in the screen size race.

Will this set the pace for other manufacturers to adopt the 5 and above-inch size for their devices? That plus the alleged appearance of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 adds more pressure for major players to conform: we wouldn't be surprised to see more devices of that caliber at MWC.

 

Affordable Feature Phones

Possible Sightings at MWC 2012

Nokia has not been resting on its laurels, with its constant promotion of its WP7 Lumia phones. That's not to say that it has abandoned its more affordable Asha line.

Three feature phones under the Asha portfolio are said to join the other three smartphones that the Finnish company is planning to unveil at MWC 2012. Running on the S40 platform, the Nokia Asha 302, Asha 203, and Asha 202 will most probably be targeted at emerging markets, one of Nokia's key sales area over the last few years.

We expect also Nokia to shed some light on how developers can take the next steps with both Lumia and Asha device ranges.

In the future, we expect Windows Phone OS to scale better on phones with more basic hardware, but we'll try our best to confirm Microsoft's timeline and commitment to widening the ecosystem with Nokia and other brands.

 

OS and UI Updates

 

Possible Sightings at MWC 2012

This year's MWC seems like a timely place to start talking about software updates and a few of the major vendors present will be doing just that. That includes RIM, Samsung, Microsoft and HTC.

The allegation that BlackBerry 10 devices will make an appearance at the event seems fairly unlikely given their projected release of Q4 this year. Nonetheless, we are expecting to see the elusive BlackBerry 10 operating system make some headway at the trade show, given their declining market share and propensity for bad press in 2011. One thing's for sure, we will definitely see the BlackBerry Play Book 2.0 OS in some form or another, given its release on the 21st Feb.

The last thing we heard about Samsung's homegrown operating system is that it will merge with the Linux-based Tizen, a piece of information that was revealed during CES this year. We expect to hear more details about the new platform as well as live demonstrations - keeping fingers crossed on seeing at least one to two bada-Tizen devices making their appearance as well, despite Samsung's no-press-conference act at this year's MWC.

Following in the last two years' footsteps, Microsoft is said to unveil more details about Tango, the next Windows Phone 7 update after the relatively recent Mango. In a bid to break into the entry-level market, the incremental Tango update will see products with a lower price point. Thus, Tango phones are said to sport a more relaxed criteria, including a downsized minimum requirement of 256MB RAM and inclusion of a 3-megapixel camera. If we are lucky enough, Microsoft might reveal some details about the Windows Phone 8 Apollo update, which will bring us more insight into its future Window 8 integration plans.

HTC has always been in the limelight for its innovative and polished Sense UI, and the Taiwanese company has chosen the best time to unveil its latest user interface version, Sense 4.0. An early leak has pointed out some interesting changes, including support for landscape orientation on the home screen, Dropbox and Beats Audio features.

Come rain or shine, transport strike or not, stay tuned for next week as we bring you MWC updates straight from Barcelona. Meanwhile, we'll be providing more updates till MWC 2012 does its curtain call. For the latest updates, you can check out our ongoing MWC 2012 news and articles round-up just below.

MWC 2012 News Highlights

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Delayed

Mobile World Congress 2012 Highlights

MWC 2012: Sony Mobile Communications

MWC 2012: Nokia

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