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The Big MWC 2013 wrap up

on March 8, 2013 – 8:02 pmNo Comment

The Mobile World Congress 2013 has been one hell of a ride! Our team was there at the event in full force and we got to cover a lot of stuff, churning out more than 70 posts and 38 videos right from the show floor. Pretty crazy, right? We really do hope it will be more than this on our next MWC adventure, but as of now, this is it, so lets get to the big wrap up then! Check out our video of the same -

Mobile World Congress usually attracts a lot of big companies launching big flagships, but this year, it was unusually quiet, with Samsung and HTC being a no-show for flagships at the event. HTC launched its One flagship at a separate event just before MWC and Samsung just announced the Galaxy Note 8.0 at the show, with its flagship event set at a separate date. But other biggies were still present, like Nokia, who were rumoured and expected to launch a camera flagship, instead launched four new phones. Smaller players like ASUS, ZTE, Huawei and Acer launched some phones too. However, LG re announced the Optimus G pro at the MWC, which makes it the one of the few flagship launches at MWC, the others were the Ascend P2 and the ASUS Padfone infinity. To get an idea of what was supposed to go down, you can watch our video we shot on Day 0 of Mobile World Congress.

Anyways, lets go through what all has been launched throughout MWC, with our special coverage as well. The zeroth day, which is one day before MWC, saw some announcements and ended up being quite a busy one, with events like the Showstoppers and the Pepcom mobile focus showing us some pretty neat products. Huawei decided to have an event before other companies and hence had a press conference on the Day zero of MWC, launching the Huawei Ascend P2, their new flagship device. They claimed it to be the fastest smartphone ever, with their own custom processor that powers it.  We had a quick hands on time with the Ascend P2, you can view the photo gallery here, and the hands on impressions here. We were quite surprised that the P2 didn’t sport a 1080p screen as surely, this was the current trend for flagship launches.

Next up, we had some hands on time with the yet to be released Blackberry Q10, the qwerty based Blackberry 10 device that carries the company legacy with the latest operating system. We did have a photo gallery up, and a hands on video demo too. Oh, and yeah, we checked out the Blackbbery Z10 again, but you know, you can just read our review here.

Among the surprise smaller launches was the HP Slate 7 that was announced at the Pepcom Mobile focus event. The Slate 7 is HP’s first Android tablet, marking their entry to the ever crowded Android tablet market. The Slate 7 is a budget tablet focused at the low end, you can read all about it in our hands on photo gallery here, and our impressions too, in a short video demo here. Alongside the HP Slate 7, there were a couple of Lenovo Android tablets launched too, the S6000 and the A3000 and we have a photo gallery of the A3000 here and the S6000 here.

Amidst all this, Samsung also announced the Galaxy Note 8.0, a 8 inch phablet that can make calls, like a phone, using an earpiece to your face, yes. Naturally, we went and took a look at it, and you can read about the Note 8.0 hands on here. That completes the content from the zeroth day at Mobile World Congress. Lets move on to the busiest day 1 then!

Day one of Mobile World Congress had lots of Press events scheduled, and three of them happened almost at the same time. Nokia, Sony and LG had overlapping press conferences and it was pretty hectic to be honest. So, first up with their press conferences were Sony and LG. Sony launched the Xperia Tablet Z at MWC, which looks like a great companion to the recently launched Xperia Z and Xperia ZL smartphones. We liked the tablet very much, especially the gorgeous 1920×1200 display. You can find our hands on impressions here, with it is a bonus video demo from a Sony rep. Don’t forget to watch it.

After Sony, or in fact, at the same time as Sony was LG’s turn to introduce new devices. Actually, LG re launched their Optimus G pro flagship device with a huge 5.5 inch 1080p screen. The Optimus G pro is the successor to the Optimus G, and was already announced in Korea a month back. Other devices that launched along with the Optimus G pro were the F series of devices, which were aimed at bringing LTE connectivity to the mainstream. These mid range smartphones have already been deployed all over, with the F5 and the F7 being the slightly better ones in terms of specs. We had a hands on of the F5 and the F7, you can check out the photo gallery of the Optimus F5 here and the hands on of the F7 here. LG also announced the successors to their mid range L series of devices with the L3 II, the L5 II and the L7 II. And last but not least, we did a quick comparison between the Galaxy Note 2 and the Optimus G Pro, do check it out.

nokia-wrap-up

Just after the LG press conference was Nokia’s “At Home in Barcelona” event, in which they announced four new phones. They announced two new Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone 8, the Lumia 520 and the Lumia 720, and two new ultra low end budget devices, the Nokia 105 and the Nokia 301. The Lumia 520 is the cheapest Windows Phone 8 device, and we quite liked the fact that the colours are all now trickling down to the mid end with similar designs. We had an extensive hands on time with the Lumia 520, you can check out our photo gallery here, and our hands on impressions here. The Lumia 720 is supposedly a Lumia 710 successor, but it is totally not that, except for the model number. With a terrific new laminated WVGA display and a beautiful unibody design, this was one of the most striking, if not THE most striking device at MWC this year. The 720 also comes with a special camera, sporting a 6.7 MP sensor and a f1.9 lens, promising some awesome low light performance. You can read our in depth hands on impressions post here, and oh yes, we have got a nice photo gallery up too!

The Nokia 105 and Nokia 301 are Nokia’s efforts to refresh their low end lineup. Both the phones come with a T9 keypad in the age of touchscreens, because there is still a market for it. The 105 is Nokia’s cheapest phone till date, coming at 15 EUR, with a rugged build and a single piece keymat. It has all the makings of a 1100 like success in emerging markets. It has a 1 month battery life and comes with FM radio and pre loaded games. The Nokia 301 on the other hand is slightly costlier at 70 EUR but comes with a rather nice set of features for a low end phone. The S40 based phone comes with imaging specialities like panorama shot, burst shot and smart self shot  with its full focus 3.2 MP camera. You can read our in depth hands on impressions of the Nokia 301 here, with a panorama sample too. You can take a look at the Nokia 105 photo gallery here, it looks sweet! And in case you missed out on the press conference, you can watch the full video here below -

After Nokia, we got to attend the ASUS press conference, in which ASUS launched their new Padfone, the Padfone infinity. The new Padfone was a 5 inch 1080p device, and certainly one of the most attractive devices at MWC. It is also the first non Apple device to come with a nano SIM. You can read all about it in our hands on post here, and hey, we’ve got a photo gallery too! Definitely one of the high profile launches at MWC, so do check it out! Along with the Padfone, ASUS also unveiled a new product called the Fonepad. The Fonepad is a 7 inch tablet that can make calls and act just like a phone, which is very similar to what the Galaxy Tab 2 and the Note 8.0 does. So, we have a hands on post and a photo gallery for that too! Another interesting thing to note regarding the Fonepad is that it’s based on the Intel Atom Z2420 platform.

ZTE was the next one, with their press conference just inside the venue itself. They, along with Qualcomm re-announced the ZTE Grand Memo which was initially revealed in a press release the day before. The Grand memo was supposedly the first ever phone in the world to sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor which is the most powerful SoC from Qualcomm. We took some photos and went hands on with it, leaving a bit unimpressed by the quality of the device, but hey, it’s probably the fastest Android phone in the world right now, so that counts as something interesting. With the Grand Memo, ZTE also showcased the ZTE Open, which is a Firefox OS phone.

So, after all the press conferences got over, we tried to make the most of the event by exploring all the interesting booths at MWC. At the end of Day 1, we also did a cool round up video, you should check it out.

On Day 2, although there were no press conferences or launch events, we found some interesting new phones at the huge Samsung booth, which include the Galaxy Xcover 2, a rugged waterproof smartphone(hands on), the Galaxy fame(hands on), the Galaxy Young(hands on) and the Galaxy Express(hands on), all of which are mid range devices at various price points. We also found some new phones at the Alcatel booth, which housed the One Touch series of devices. The One Touch Fire we went hands on with was a Firefox OS device, the Scribe easy and the Scribe HD were Android devices, you can read all about them in our hands on posts, linked on the names respectively.

Besides all the big names from the industry, there were quite a few smaller names, but with really interesting devices. The Oppo find 5, which was the world’s first 1080p screen device was showcased at the MWC, and we went hands on with it. We really liked the display, and in our opinion, it is even better than the one on the HTC Butterfly. And then there was the Russian device manufacturer Yota with its new Yota phone with dual displays. A pretty neat concept in which you can have selected apps displayed on the e-ink display at the back of the phone. Basically a dual screened phone but has a much better use case and saves a lot of battery for mundane uses like reading a book, getting directions etc. The e-ink display activation is just a swipe away, it’s so cool. You can take a look at our hands on video here, you would definitely want to.

And yet another interesting phone from MWC was the Medias W Android phone from the Japanese manufacturer NEC. It has two 4.3 inch LCD screens and is insanely thin even in its stacked form. Basically the use of this phone with two screens is simul-tasking two tasks, which is nicely implemented on this device. You can take a look at our detailed hands on impressions in our hands on post here. Besides all this, we also take a quick look at the new Qualcomm Snapdragon platforms at their booth. We had a demo of the Snapdragon 800 features, the gaming performance and the 4K video demo, and we were left quite impressed, do check them out.

And finally, on the last day of MWC, we had a special something lined up which was unlike anything else. Yes, Jolla, the new start up from Finland that is working on the roots of Meego, with its own operating system called Salifish, had an event. At the event, we were given an extensive demo of the Salifish operating system from none other than the CEO of Jolla, Marc Dillon himself! You can check out the hands on video and our impressions here.

Phew, so finally we are at the end of our coverage. This year’s MWC was a great event to witness great products and meet a lot of like minded folks, and there were quite a few gems that shone through, in both cases. However, it would be foolish to not admit the fall in popularity of trade shows, with major companies opting to do their own events. Nevertheless, MWC always extends beyond just product announcements and we really appreciate that. It is a fact that it still remains the world’s biggest mobile show and it will hopefully remain the same for more years to come. With that said, we sign off with a special outtakes video for you. It’s just us, goofing up in front of the camera, watch and have a good laugh. See you at the next Mobile World Congress then!

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Bharadwaj is obsessed with technology and is a self taught designer who covers news, writes features, reviews, loves to take photos and produces videos. He is currently using a review unit.
You can follow him on Twitter @bharadc23 and on Google+