MWC 2012: Android Smartphone and Tablet News Highlights

Our Seth Heringer on the Android beat digs through the pile of Android smartphone and tablet announcements at this week’s Mobile World Congress 2012. Here’s what he thinks are the announcements, demos and trends most worth watching.

MWC 2012: I cut through the enormous pile of mobile news to find what I consider to be the most important news and trends relating to Android smartphones and tablets. Check it out.



Image courtesy of HTC


HTC impressed me with its new flagship Android smartphone. The One X runs Android 4.X Ice Cream Sandwich (ics) with HTC’s Sense 4.0 skin. Sense 4.0 now allows more of the vanilla Android to show through — thankfully. This change is welcome given that even HTC admits its previous Sense 3.5 suffered from feature bloat. It sports a stunning 720p 4.7 S-LCD 2 screen and an 8-megapixel camera on back. I’m relieved HTC is taking recent criticisms to heart — the result is an ultra-competitive smartphone.

On the downside, at least for those of us in the United States, just the international version of this smartphone sports a 1.5GHz Tegra 3 quad-core chipset. That version of the HTC One X snagged it an MWC 2012 award this week. The US version with AT&T service carries a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core chip, execs at MWC 2012 said. Expect the international and US versions to hit the market in April.



Image courtesy of Sony


Sony Experia S
Sony showed off its Experia S smartphone, a sibling to the Experia Ion it revealed at CES for United States customers. Its specs generally match the batch of current generation smartphones: a 1.5 dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and a 4.3-inch 720p display. Its design is impressively light and thin. Another unique feature I should note: There’s a clear plastic bar on the bottom of the phone that serves as its antenna. It looks cool. Even though it isn’t an Android 4.x ics phone — it runs the older Android Gingerbread mobile OS, it does include a 12-megapixel camera. If you’re a faithful Sony customer, like the unique look of this phone and the camera is key to you, this is definitely worth a look. The international version of the Sony Experia S is shipping now. The US version — the Experia Ion — will be out this month, execs said.





Image courtesy of Asus

Asus Padfone tablet/smartphone/doc
Initial models of the Padfone tablet/smartphone/dock package looked ridiculous. There was a weird, large bump on the back of the tablet where the phone slipped in. The latest generation Asus showed at MWC 2012 arrives minus the dumb bump on the tablet. The package includes the phone, tablet dock and a keyboard. The idea is you’re able to replace your desktop system with it.  Although the idea of using one CPU and GPU across multiple form factors is appealing — and there’s an odd, yet interesting headset-stylus setup where the stylus doubles as microphone when you get a call, this instance of such a solution still has a ways to go before I replace my phone and tablet with it. Let us know what you think. It’ll arrive in April. Pricing is as yet unavailable.



Huawei Ascend D Quad: Image Courtesy of Huawei

Smartphones with Nvidia’s Tegra 3 quad-core processor were a big hit at a show. Huawei, ZTE and Tianyu were just three among several companies that introduced Tegra 3 Android 4.x ics smartphones at the show. This was a big trend at MWC 2012 — smartphones with the Tegra 3. Because the Tegra 3 won’t yet work with LTE, they’re off the radar in the US. In the future, though, I expect such manufacturers to offer improved designs — and likely at low price points that make them competitive against the better-known and more expensive smartphones around now.


At MWC 2012, the fact that the current generation of the Tegra 3 chipset is incompatible with LTE was evident. That’s why, of course, the HTC One X coming to the USA isn’t going to have a Tegra 3 chipset but, rather, a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. A dual-core processor is no slouch. But compared to the international versions with Tegra3, it’ll feel like a downgrade for AT&T customers. I’m hoping these issues will be resolved with future nVidia chips and the upcoming Exynos processors from Samsung.

For a lot of people, this show was so centered on Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview — but for me, it was all about Android. I should note that, at his keynote, Google Chair Eric Schmidt promised a world “with an Android (smartphone) in every pocket.” Given the spate of announcements at MWC 2012 this week, I believe that’ll happen. Well, I’m an Android guy. So take that with a grain of salt.

Great show!