Every year, the good and the great of the international mobile market get together to show off their latest and best developments at Mobile World Congress. It’s a huge show window for the industry and this year’s event was the biggest yet with over 67,000 visitors and representatives from over 1500 companies. So what trends has Mobile World Congress shown us that we can expect from phone launches this year?
Huawei and ZTE
Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE were keen to make a splash at this years’ event. Although they are actually two of the largest mobile phone producers on the planet they have a relatively unknown status outside of China as they typically produce handsets for other companies to rebrand.
Both manufacturers have their eye on conquering other markets and both have a firm intention of shaking off their proprietary past and cementing their brands as serious competitors to the likes of Samsung and HTC in the global smartphone market.
The two Chinese companies joined LG and HTC in offering some of the first quad-core phones to go on sale. Huawei with the Ascend D Quad and ZTE with the Era. There is no exact confirmation when these phones will be released but it is likely to be around the same time as the HTC One X and the LG Optimus 4X HD.
Expanding into the west is a key ambition for Huawei and ZTE and they have certainly attracted attention with their recent offerings at Mobile World Congress. The move by the two companies suggests that there will be more choice in the smartphone market this year.
In terms of cameras undoubtedly Nokia stole the show with the PureView 808’s whopping 41 megapixel camera. Smartphone cameras have often been a war of numbers with manufacturers slowly raising the megapixel count in order to get a competitive edge. The megapixel count doesn’t necessarily imply quality though, which is why Nokia has spent 5 years developing the PureView’s camera.
Although it has 41 megapixels at its disposal these extra megapixels will actually be used to provide superior image quality, reduced noise, lossless digital zooming and better photos in low level light, rather than hideously large images. In other words, it will still operate like an 8 megapixel camera but provide a far superior image quality. The PureView even includes a dedicated processor for its camera, and although the phone runs on the outdated Symbian OS, it could raise the bar on what people expect from a smartphone camera.
Screen Sizes, Processors and NFC
Screens are staying big in 2012. The average size now in the smartphone market must be around 4 to 4.5 inches with more and more manufacturers advocating watching and sharing media via their devices. Screens are sharper, crisper and cleaner meaning they are as good for graphics as they are for text. The devices (except for LG’s Optimus Vu) aren’t any bigger, the screen just takes over more of the front. With the rumoured Galaxy SIII reportedly having a 4.8 inch screen, this trend is only likely to increase, even if executives at Apple and Nokia believe it is a bit of a silly fad.
Quad core was flagged up as being a headline before MWC even opened with HTC, LG, ZTE and Huawei announcing quad core devices. Fast browsing, fast gaming, fast everything it will make devices notably quicker is exploring the interface and operating system. Having multiple cores allows smartphones to offer far greater multitasking powers and should enhance battery performance through more efficient processing.
Features like NFC are being rolled out as standard along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth meaning communications and sharing info is just as important as it always was. NFC sharing was made available on Android Ice Cream Sandwich, via the Galaxy Nexus, with Android Beam. So far, the Nexus is the only phone to enjoy this feature although the majority of phones launched at Mobile World Congress will get to make use of it too. Although there is no confirmation of it being used on the iPhone 5, Microsoft has already announced plans to offer a similar tap-to-share system on Windows Phone 8, which will be launched by the end of the year.
The Expanding Midrange
While large screens and quad-cores may make it seem as though at the top end of the market it’s all about price, another key trend is the explosion of mid-range and entry level devices. The Nokia Lumia 610, the LG Optimus 7, these are devices for under £200 and, thanks to Android, could be a real threat to Apple. It makes smartphone technology just that little bit more accessible. Smartphone usage is expected to expand dramatically throughout 2012, mostly because of the proliferation of cheaper handsets that more people can afford.
Yet even with these new trends there are two major gaps in the smartphone market for this year. Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and the Apple iPhone 5 are both expected to launch in 2012. While their competitors get into a lather about their offer and hitting the right notes, if either of the predecessors of these two devices are anything to go by then they will be game-changers. The likelihood is they will have features that the market hasn’t seen yet, which is why they wait until everyone else has done their launches.
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This post was provided by Simon from Best Mobile Contracts, the leading mobile phone comparison in the United Kingdom.