The Mobile World Congress is under way in Barcelona, Spain, and the superphones are out. New features in even more powerful new devices include quad-core processors, 4G LTE, Android 4.0, and cameras with resolutions up to 41 megapixels.
Take HTC's new One X, for instance, the most muscular offering of the new One series that includes the One S and the One V. Running Android 4.0 OS also known as Ice Cream Sandwich, it offers a Tegra 3 quad-core processor, running four 1.5-GHz main cores plus a core for low-power tasks. The 1280x720-pixel screen has a 4.7-inch Super LCD for HD display, its 8-megapixel camera can shoot every 0.7 seconds, and it offers Beats Audio advanced sound processing software. The One X will be available in the U.S. in the spring, via AT&T.
Projectors, 3D Video, NFC Tags
The Samsung Galaxy Beam phone, with a mere 1-GHz dual-core processor and a 5-megapixel camera, has a 15-lumens projector that can show an HD 50-inch image at 720p on any surface.
LG's new Optimus 3D Cube Android smartphone can both shoot and edit 3D video right on the device, and its 3D MAX, which can also shoot 3D video, can display it on a 3D HD TV set.
LG is also hoping to create a new way of interacting using the near-field communication (NFC) technology now appearing in its -- and others' -- devices. NFC is generally used for mobile e-commerce transactions, so that users can leave their plastic credit cards at home.
But LG is releasing NFC Tag stickers that a user can place anywhere, to trigger desired functions. For instance, a Tag sticker could be placed in a , so that, after a user touches the phone to the tag, the phone automatically increases its volume.
Tablets are part of the mix at the MWC. LG, for instance, is demoing its Optimus Vu, whose 5-inch screen is being compared to Samsung's Galaxy Note in that it is somewhere between a smartphone and a tablet. Observers are straining to come up with a proper nickname for this cross-breed, hopefully something better than "phablet."
The megapixel race in cameras seems to have a winner, at least for the moment, in Nokia's new PureView 808 smartphone. Its image sensor boasts a whopping 41 megapixels, as well as Carl Zeiss optics, Dolby headphone technology, and Dolby Digital Plus for 5.1 channel surround sound.
The PureView808 can capture images in 5, 8, and 38-megapixel resolutions. Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis who is attending MWC, noted that the PureView 808 is a Symbian-based device, which means its lifetime is limited as Nokia completes its transition to the Windows Phone platform.
But, Greengart said, Nokia has indicated the technology will be moving to Windows phone. He also pointed out that the high resolution is not 'really about being able to blow up photos to poster size, but to offer better low light performance and to allow extreme close ups without special lenses.
Greengart said that most of the news at MWC appears to be on the hardware side, including 720-pixel quad-core phones "from just about everybody." One company that is talking a good deal about software, he said, is Nokia, such as its apps for emerging markets to learn English or to remotely communicate with a doctor.