Another Mobile World Congress is in the bag, and as the CNET crew leaves Barcelona we can take stock of the mobile madness that was. It was my fourth year attending the show, and I can report that 2011 was one the busiest I've seen, with a ton of new and . It was a lot to handle, but Bonnie Cha of CNET Reviews; Ariel Nunez of CNET TV; and Maggie Reardon, Stephen Shankland, and Elinor Mills of CNET News were along for the ride.
As with any trade show, Mobile World Congress offered a series of satisfying devices and a couple of instances where companies fell short. Here's the report from Barcelona as we saw it. And don't forget to check out Maggie's insights in her.
Even before Mobile World Congress began, almost everyone knew about the PlayStation Phone. It wasn't just the endless leaks, but Sony Ericsson also teased us with a a week before the company held its MWC press conference. Indeed, I was glad to finally see the for real, and shocked by the news that it would come to Verizon Wireless. I liked the the handset when I , though I wasn't blown away completely. And my colleague Scott Stein thinks the gaming device he wanted.
Sony Ericsson also debuted the
We got only two devices from our friends at LG, but they were more than enough. The , and its G Slate , won Bonnie's (that's not an easy feat, mind you). She liked the hardware and display and thought that the 3D video was cool, if not entirely necessary. I felt similar when I the Optimus 3D smartphone. It's also a lovely device that feels good in the hand. And the 3D capability is nifty, but it's not a big selling point for me.
In an effort to be different and "simply brilliant," HTC revealed its new products on the second day of the show. It certainly succeeded on the first front when it put another rumor to rest by introducing the elusive Facebook phones. The (no relation to Bonnie) aren't really more than regular Andorid smartphones with Facebook content surfaced at a high level. The hardware doesn't look like much right now, and we're still wary of the whole concept, but we'll give them a closer look once we have the opportunity.
HTC also introduced the tablet and the . The Flyer has a few things going for it, including HTC's Scribe technology, but Bonnie didn't like it as much as the G Slate. The smartphone trio weren't bad either, but they're not much more than upgrades of previous models.
Sammy also kicked off MWC with a Sunday night press conference and did its best to entertain (for proof, check out the above ). It unveiled the and . Both devices have dual-core processors.
Judging from Google's booth alone (again, see the ), its operating system ruled Barcelona. Almost all of the 24 new phones introduced at MWC run Android, and Sony Ericsson wasn't shy about in that space. If you're still doubting that Android is on a roll, than MWC will convince you.
Just as they did at CES, tablets arrived at MWC in force. Seven new tablets had their debut from not only the manufacturers mentioned above but also Huawei and .
After going big at CES, Motorola made barely a dent at MWC. It had a big, flashy booth but revealed only that it was bringing the existing Moto
RIM was another company that kept a low profile in Barcelona. It announced plans for two new PlayBook tablets, but it didn't demonstrate any new devices. Maybe it knew about the Android onslaught and is biding its time for CTIA.
And the in-betweens
Nokia entered MWC with a lot of buzz, having announced only days before that it was with Microsoft to introduce Windows Phone 7 devices. Much of the mobile industry is still trying to digest the news--and opinions vary widely on how fruitful the relationship will be--but Nokia CEO Stephen Elop made his case at a and a .
It may still be growing in the U.S. market, but ZTE tried to make its presence known at MWC. Yet, its three new phones, the , the didn't leave a lasting impression.
The same was true for ZTE's main Chinese competitor. Though Huawei's new was kept mostly behind glass during the show, we got to handle the company's . But when with the tablets I mentioned above, I liked it least of all.