Wednesday 29 February 2012

Impressions from MWC 2012 a.k.a. "This Is My Next"

Although I'm self-proclaimed mobile gadgets maniac, somehow I don't usually follow major events in the industry as closely as someone could think. However, since I consider getting a new smartphone to replace my current HTC Desire Z sometime soon'ish, I was keeping an extra eye on the recent happenings in Barcelona where Mobile World Congress took place.

Let's get first things first - MWC 2012 brought a total of zero new qwerty-equipped smartphones to the world. I was hoping HTC might unveil Desire Z successor, or perhaps Sony Ericsson could tease us with refreshed Xperia (mini) pro line-up. Bzzt, wrong! Nothing like that, whatsoever. Yet, in some way I actually expected that could happen. Observing trends for high-end qwerty handsets in the past couple of years I couldn't escape the feeling it's basically a species to extinct. Or a deep niche, at best.

So what we've got instead? Sony-sans-Ericsson seems to be very keen to hit the market much harder this time round with the Xperia S, P and U handsets. I'm particularly interested in Xperia S which is their top offering in 2012 Xperia range, bearing very impressive 1280x720 screen resolution enclosed in 4.3" display as one of the most standing out feature among various other goodies.

Then there is HTC which I recently blame a lot for over-bloating their handset line-up with zillions of virtually identical and extremely boring devices. A bit like Samsung, just uglier. But this approach is hopefully going to change soon. Similarly to Sony, HTC chosen to come up with naming convention consisting of catchy name for a series of devices followed by a single letter representing specific model in that series. So since last Sunday we have the new HTC One X, S and V smartphones, whereas "X" model is the top one, "S" sits in the middle-tier and "V" is the one for cheapskates.

Interestingly, I tend to like this new line-up from HTC and white "X" seems particularly attractive (despite still looking very similar to last-year's Sensation, at least on pictures), although "S" is nice and insanely thin too. Shame there wasn't One Z announced as a successor to Desire Z, but that's just life, I guess.

Nokia, well well well. Yes, I've been quite sarcastic initially regarding their announcements at MWC - I can't deny that - but that's just a sign how much I still love them somewhere deep in my heart, I guess. Anyway, I tend to believe that "megapixels race" is pretty much pointless. I don't really care if my camera has 5, 8, 16 or 41 megapixels as long as it produces decent quality photos. Having said that I took 41mpix announcement as a gimmick that doesn't really make much sense - especially with Symbian on board. Yet, on a second thought and after reading a bit about the technology behind, I'm much less sceptical. Yes, it would be super-uber-extra-cool to see such monster camera paired with Windows Phone straight away, but hey - Rome wasn't built in a day! And it will get there eventually as Nokia 808 is just a teaser of what is really next in the pipeline.

Regarding Nokia Lumia 900 and 610 announcements - well, hard to say anything particular about these two. First one is known already from US market and is pretty much the same as Lumia 800, just bigger, while 610 seems to reach even lower ends of the market than 710 known already. Frankly, nothing as exciting as 808 PureView and its camera.

Finally, I think it's worth noting both Huawei and ZTE for their attempts to attract European mobile market with genuinely interesting devices. I was particularly impressed by Huawei's Ascend D model which they boldly claim as "the fastest smartphone in the world" (which is undoubtedly a gimmick) which not only has pretty amazing specification but also doesn't quite look like cheap plastic crap as one could expect from Chinese manufacturers. I'm really keen to see Ascend in real life someday, as it might turn out to become a massive hit if reasonably priced (as you would expect from Chinese manufacturer, of course).

Obviously, there were lots of other announcements made during MWC 2012, however I solely focused on smartphones that I might consider as "the next one" after my current HTC Desire Z. Yet, seeing no new and decent qwerty offering on the horizon I have my doubts on way which I should go. Unless something completely new crops up within next 2-3 months, it seems like I'm going to give up on hardware qwerty after few good years and go for all-touchy-feely phone as a default one. Question, which? Samsung Galaxy Nexus? Sony Xperia S? HTC One X/S? Or maybe ditch Android and go for Lumia 800/900? Or iPhone4? Hmm, that's what twitterverse would hashtagged as #firstworldproblems, I guess.

PS. I bet all of these new fancy gadgets from MWC 2012 will get overshadowed with Samsung Galaxy S3 anyway, which will most likely just come around and crush everything. And cost the Earth at the same time.

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