Is MWC as relevant as it once was? That's the question being debated by mobile enthusiasts as the annual industry showcase readies itself to kick off on 25 February.
With Sony unveiling the Xperia Z at CES and both HTC and Samsung opting to hold independent launch events for their next flagship handsets, there's a convincing argument to be made that the 2013 instalment of Mobile World Congress lacks the wow factor of years gone by. However, a consideration of expected launches reveals an event that still packs a powerful punch, and what's really interesting to note is the significance the show seems to have taken on for aspiring Far Eastern companies.
LG might be an established entity in the display and TV markets, but it's still looking to make significant inroads in mobile, and in the Optimus G Pro, it could well have the breakthrough product it needs. Rising industry stars Huawei and ZTE are set to break cover with impressive new-generation devices, too, as they look to build their respective followings outside of native and emerging markets. Nokia scrapes in to bookend our watch list, providing an indication of the increased presence of Windows Phone at this year's gathering. Read on for more, and make sure you boomark our dedicated MWC 2013 hub, as ITProPortal will be jetting out to Barca at the weekend to report on all the hottest goings-on. In the meantime, why not check out editor Desire Athow's MWC 2013 preview?
Huawei's ultra-thin Ascend P2 has a real chance to steal the show at MWC this year, especially if it comes with the monster 8-core processor some onlookers are predicting. The device is lined up to feature a Full HD display sizing up at either 4.5in or 4.7in - meaning it will be competing directly against CES darling the Sony Xperia Z and newly-launched HTC One - and could measure less than 6.5mm in girth. Elsewhere, it's set to sport a super-snazzy 13-megapixel camera and offer 2GB of RAM. If the Ascend P2 isn't the best device we see at MWC 2013, it's certainly going to be close.
With a full-suite of new -generation specs thought to include a quad-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 processor, 13-megapixel camera, and Full HD display, LG's 5.5in Optimus G Pro is a potentially world-beating device that will take the fight to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 in the hugely competitive "phablet" segment. The G Pro is also likely to provide a good idea of what to expect from the next Google Nexus handset, provided the search giant's partnership with the Korean firm does another lap of the smartphone circuit. LG has promised a "breakthrough" 2013 for its mobile operations, and if the Optimus G Pro is any indication of what is has planned, there's little reason to doubt this bullish prediction.
In lieu of a show-stopping smartphone offering, Samsung will use its MWC platform to launch the Galaxy Note 8.0, an aptly named 8in mini-tablet that some pundits have earmarked as a potential iPad mini killer. There will be new handsets on display, of course, but entry-level devices like the youth-oriented Samsung Galaxy Fame aren't going to tempt many people away from Las Ramblas. But with specs rumoured to include a quad-core processor clocked in the region of 1.6GHz, 2GB of RAM, and a Herculean 4,600mAh battery, the Galaxy Note 8.0 could cause a real stir down in Spain and is certainly likely to be one of the best non-smartphone gadgets on display at the show.
ZTE has confirmed that it will debut two handsets at MWC, and while its Firefox OS smartphone is likely to be an entry-level or mid-range device aimed primarily at emerging markets, the 5.7in Grand Memo has been conceived as a Galaxy Note 2 rival capable of seducing European consumers. Set to pack a quad-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon 4 chipset and sport a 13-megapixel camera, the Grand Memo won't win any awards for its clunky copycat moniker, but it's still one of the gadgets we're most looking forward to getting our paws on next week.
Compared to some of the other major manufacturers competing for the spotlight at MWC 2013, Nokia's plans for the yearly industry showcase are shrouded in mystery. But speculation is of course making the rounds, and it points to the Finnish firm introducing new additions to its Windows Phone 8-based Lumia smartphone line. If the company's Mobile World Congress outing is indeed largely an exercise in filling in the gaps, then we're going to see a budget Lumia 520 and a mid-range offering in the form of a Lumia 720 (possible specs pictured, below). Could Nokia break cover with a new flagship handset as well? We've heard muted chatter of a Lumia 1000 in the near future, as well as the persistent rumours of a device codenamed EON that supposedly sports a 41-megapixel PureView camera. If either of those appear, expect Nokia to be the star of the show; otherwise, it will likely play second fiddle to the large-display Full HD offerings of firms like Huawei and LG.
Image credit: MetroUI