The 2013 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona has just ended and we’re recapping only the best that there was. It’s a great way for those of you that didn’t follow the show to know what really matters in the world of technology after MWC 2013 has ended. Also, we’ll try and talk about the things that we missed covering in early days of the event. In such a crowded place, it’s only natural that enough stuff remains uncovered.
As always, the MWC in Barcelona has been about mobile, this year’s theme being “the new mobile horizon“. We’ve seen in actions new phones, tablets, operating systems and new technologies. We also had fun while in Barcelona, playing with new operating systems, admiring awesome booths or taking part in different contests.
New phones at the MWC 2013
Unlike previous years, most of the major announcements were made few days prior to the MWC. For instance, HTC announced HTC One on 19th Feb, while LG unveiled their Optimus G Pro a little later.
We really loved the Optimus G Pro, HTC One & Nokia Lumia 720. Others like ZTE Grand Memo, Asus Padfone Infinity & Nokia Lumia 620 were memorable as well. Below are the complete list of smartphones we got to see at MWC 2013.
- ZTE Grand MEMO Hands on: Mammoth Phablet with Unique Features
- Hands On with YotaPhone: Impressive Dual-Sided Concept
- Hands on with ZTE Open: Our First Feel of Firefox OS
- Hands on with Nokia Lumia 520: Nokia’s Cheapest Windows Phone
- Hands on with the Nokia Lumia 720
- Nokia Introduces Cheap, but Good Phones: 105 for €15 and 301 for €65
- HTC One Hands on Review & Comparison with iPhone 5
- Hands on With NEC Medias W: Bizarre Smartphone for Niche Market
- Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 Hands On: Beautiful Design with a Tough Finish
- Hands On with Huawei Ascend P2: Fastest 4G Antenna Alive
- Hands on with LG Optimus G Pro: Love at First Sight
- Nvidia Phoenix hands-on: the 5-inch, quad-core blueprint for mainstream superphones
- Samsung Knox: a work phone inside your personal phone
- Optimus L5 II and L7 II: hands-on with LG’s new low-end smartphones
- Alcatel One Touch Idol X hands-on
- Hands On: Alcatel One Touch Fire Firefox OS Phone
- Caterpillar CAT B15 rugged smartphone hands-on
- Acer Liquid E1 and Liquid Z2 smartphones hands-on
It is pretty hard to say which phones/smartphones were the best at the MWC 2013, so obviously, this is going to be a subjective selection process. We liked many phones, and what we like them for were their special features, in most cases. We like the ZTE Grand Memo for its special features, such as Dolby Sound, great camera and enhanced security. We like the YotaPhone for the awesome dual-sided concept that it comes with. We also had a very good impression of the Nokia Lumia 720, which comes at a good price, offering some premium features. And yes, we couldn’t say no to the HTC One, which has one of the best designs and build qualities we ever witnessed.
New tablets at the MWC 2013
HP had got the biggest surprise at MWC 2013. Just a day before the event started, they unveiled their first ever Android tablet, HP Slate 7 at Pepcom’s Mobile Focus event. But it failed to impress us much. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 was announced a couple of days prior to the event, and was pretty much what we had known all the while, thanks to the leaks. Sony’s Xperia Tablet Z was announced during CES, but we got to see and use it over here, and boy, weren’t we impressed with the ultra-light beauty?
- Hands-on With the HP Slate 7: Company’s First Android Device
- First Look at Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0
- Hands on with Asus Fonepad: Intel’s Low-cost 7-inch Tablet
- Hands-on with the Asus Padfone Infinity: Dual-Pleasure, at a Whopping Price
- Lenovo A1000, A3000 & S6000 Hands on
- Alcatel One Touch Tab 7HD video demo
This is a smaller list, so the choice process is much easier. Here, at Technology Personalized, we found HP Slate 7 to be really nice to hold in hand and very responsive. The Galaxy Note 8.0 is a proud member of the galaxy line of products and we saw creativity being put at work while using it. Asus’ Padfone Infinity was also something really nice to throw a glimpse at, but the price will be a big restriction for many possible buyers.
New operating systems at the MWC 2013
Firefox had a big booth at the Mobile World Congress and that’s thanks to the emergence of their new product – the Firefox OS. There were a couple of devices that had Firefox OS inside and we heard news about more incoming. ZTE had the Open handset, Alcatel had One Touch Fire and Geeksphone, who is actually a Spanish start-up company, had the Keon and Peak devices on display. From our own experience with it, we can somehow found it to be very similar to Android.
One of the things that we did like the most was the ability to test applications before buying them. Firefox OS devices will start appearing in emerging markets, but some of them will also penetrate USA and Europe, but I think it will be hard for them to gain market share, but, nonetheless, it’s great to see that competition to Android and iOS is getting stronger. This is a good start.
Sadly, we didn’t get to play with the Tizen OS with our own hands. For those that don’t know yet, Tizen OS is an open source operating system governed by Samsung & Intel. What makes it special is that its main aim is to simplify and unify the user experience across many different devices, not only phones or tablets. It is found in tablets, in-vehicle infotainment devices and smart TVs – Samsung makes all of these devices. Thus, phone and tablet OS is only a part of it, its bigger role is to cross-integrate more devices that we’re using.
And this unique concept might prove to be very useful for Samsung, even if they’ll use Tizen in a very small part of their products. This year, Samsung has announced that it will release Tizen-based handsets. We’ll be able to judge its impact on the mobile market only then.
Though Jolla didn’t have a booth, per se, we still managed to play a little with the Sailfish OS, and we got a few hands-on pictures. We were pleasantly surprised by it and we can say that it’s something different. I personally feel that the Sailfish OS is made in a minimalist mode that surprises the user. We found the multitasking interface very, very useful and intuitive. And even if some will say it’s very similar to the one found in BlackBerry 10, you should know that they didn’t copy a bit, at least that’s according to the one Jolla representative.
Sailfish OS is, like many other mobile operating system, is based on the omnipresent Linux and being a combination of MeeGo and Mer software. Just like Android, Jolla wants to make Sailfish OS open source and they will also allow Android apps to work on compatible devices. We saw the Sailfish OS on a “old” Nokia N950 device, but we can say it was pretty smooth for a software in its yet-to-be released stage. We have we’ll have more details about it in the near time.
This year is truly the year of new mobile operating systems and Canonical made sure they’ll jump on the wagon as well. We’ve talked about Ubuntu for mobile devices before but at the MWC we had to chance to see it in action on a developer handset. The experience on a Ubuntu-enabled smartphone is more or less, the same as on tablets and desktop, so Canonical’s bet is to unify and deliver the same environment across multiple devices.
But Ubuntu should not be perceived as a big competitor in the mobile field because, it’s actually a challenger for Windows. Ubuntu Touch wants to be the “synergy” between your desktop OS and your pocket OS, to say so. We also had a hands-on demo at CES this year, so you should check it out!
LG and WebOS
This is not a new OS, of course, but the fact that LG bought is actually big news that happened around MWC. We don’t have to ask ourselves what they are going to do with it when everything’s that obvious – make their own software for their upcoming devices. And when LG will be finished with the crafting and polishing of the WebOS, then most obviously, they’ll release phones sporting their new OS. One more player on the market can’t do any harm, right?
New technologies at the MWC 2013
We got to see some interesting new technologies and applications at MWC this year. HTC SenseTV is surely one of them. Intel had something interesting with face tracking and gesture controls. LG’s 4K streaming from smartphones is good as well. Below is the complete list for you to check out.
- HTC SenseTV Demo at MWC 2013
- Intel’s creepy face-tracking technology
- Samsung video discovery
- LG unveils 4K/Ultra HD streaming technology
- Nvidia Tegra 4: the first benchmarks
- EyeVerify lets you secure your smartphone with your eyes (hands-on)
- Opera WebKit-based browser hands-on
- AMD claims Turbo Dock boosts APU performance by 40 percent
New gadgets at the MWC 2013
If you thought Mobile World Congress is all about phones and tablets, you’re so wrong! You’ll be surprised to check the small list below of some of the most interesting gadgets we got to see this year in Barcelona.
- Fujitsu’s futuristic cane
- Samsung HomeSync pictures and hands-on
- SK Telecom’s Atti learning robot hands-on (video)
How we had fun at MWC 2013
As interesting as a place like MWC could get, one still needs to get a break from so many devices. One such good way is just to roam across the event and look for a good booth and just to get entertained. For example, we believe that the best booth belonged to Nokia – there were free drinks (a nice cocktail amongst them), fruits and even huge cushions where you could, well, sleep, if you really wanted to. Also, at the Nokia booth there were to interesting contest: one where you had to be the quickest in a bike ride and a second one where you had to transfer pictures across 3 new Asha phones as quickly as possible.
Really entertaining for me personally was the contest that Qualcomm Life had: www.wirelesswalk.com. You had to walk as much as possible, and for that you were awarded money for each contest day. The grand prize was consisted of a Dell XPS tablet. Also, at MWC there was a small golf pitch, enough to stretch your muscles. For car lovers, outside the event, there were some Ford cars that you could park and they were also displaying some awesome technology inside.
Another interesting contest was held by SanDisk and you could win by trying to increase the write/read sequences as much as possible. So, for those of you that want to go to the MWC for the first time, do make time to attend the contests, look for relaxing spots and just have fun. Networking with folks is a must, so don’t be afraid to meet new people. Let’s hope that we’ll be equally satisfied next year.
Raju PP contributed to this post.