Editors note: This was written on February 23, 2013.
So today is Sunday and Mobile World Congress has kicked off in Barcelona.
Mobile World Congress or MWC is one of the big technology expos along with CES (held every January in Las Vegas) and Computex (the large vendor showcase held in Taiwan). Over the last decade MWC has grown in importance as smartphones and mobile devices have become a part of everyday life.
This year’s MWC is likely not to hold a lot surprises with many handset makers expected to show off new devices running (hopefully) the most current version of Android. Samsung is expected to showoff the next version of its Galaxy S phone tomorrow with a possible refresh of its Touch Wiz skin. LG (excuse me for not being omnipotent) showed the G2 Pro. I also expect to see phones that highlight the shift to low end devices moving the mobile landscape. Another example is Mozilla showing off the next update to Firefox OS with a new swipe feature and new hardware. Chinese manufacturer Huawei and ZTE are now joining the Firefox OS bandwagon with phones and Mozilla itself is looking at pushing the OS to new form factors (tablets) and lower prices ($25).
Nokia is expected to show of its last handsets as a mobile device maker before selling the hardware and manufacturing to Microsoft with a device running Android. The Nokia X is rumored to be the replacement for its Asha line of entry level phones aimed at the emerging markets. The X phone is supposed to run a modified version of Android. I am not sure of the specs, but most reports say it will be close to the Lumia 520 or 525 which are low powered but higher spec devices than the Asha phones. Recent post from tech sites have rumored Nokia may announce one or more Windows Phone devices but at this point those are unknown.
Beyond phones, there was some news on tablets.
Both Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard (HP) showed off refreshes to some of their current tablet lineups. Lenovo showed an update to their Lenovo Yoga tablets. The “possibly Ashton Kutcher designed” Android tablets have had a slight tweak to the design and a bump in screen resolution and performance. HP came to Barcelona not only showing their first smartphone since the HP Pre, but also a refresh to the HP ElitePad 900. The ElitePad 1000 replaces the 900 and comes with improved screen, the new Intel Baytrail chipset, and 64-Bit Windows 8.1. HP also showed off a variant of the ElitePad, the 600, aimed at the Point of Sale (POS) market.
In a bit of irony, HP also announced the Pavilion x360, a sub $400 laptop similar to Lenovo’s popular Yoga laptops. The x360 looks to be a blend of the HP Envy x2 (their 2-in-1 hybrid PC) and the HP Chromebook 14 (with the use of colored plastic and faux aluminum finish for the keyboard). Last in HP news is the Slate 6 Voice Tab. The Slate 6, which was previously released recently in India, is a 6 inch phone running Android (its not the current Android KitKat so stop asking). Coming in multiple colors their is no date of when the devices will hit the US.
The last bit of news from Sunday was Microsoft.
While the Redmond software company was expected to be a presence at the Conference it was not expected to make any news. However in an event held early Sunday (my time), Microsoft revealed news on the next updates to Windows and Windows Phone. In addition to confirming features and the existence of Update 1, Microsoft also revealed new partners for Windows Phone. Along with new partners original Windows Phone 7 maker LG has returned.