What mattered as MWC begins

Samsung, Huawei, and Mozilla get Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona off to a flying start.

Mobile World Congress 2013 officially kicks off today in sunny Spain, but a whole bunch of goodies were unveiled yesterday by the likes of Samsung, Huawei, HP, and Mozilla.

Samsung got the fiesta off to a flying start by lifting the lid on the Galaxy Note 8 , an Android tablet to rival Apple's iPad Mini. It'll launch with Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean onboard and proudly packs a 1.6GHz quad-core chip with 2GB of RAM.

With an SD card slot, a home button, and S-Pen stylus support, the Note 8 offers a level of functionality the iPad can't match, but it's too early to say whether that will guarantee it fame and glory. Expect this tiny tablet to appear worldwide sometime in the second quarter of 2013.

Tech journalists woke from their early afternoon siesta to discover that Huawei had decided to test its post-nap wits by announcing its only device of the trade show before its scheduled press conference. The Ascend P2 is a quad-core phone with a full HD 4.3-inch display. Huawei claims it's speedier than the iPhone 5 and packs a better battery than the Samsung Galaxy S3.

The P2 runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and will only be available online in the U.S., rather than through carriers, but is expected to go on sale more widely in Europe. It should be available in the middle of 2013 for around 399 euros or $525. With this kind of high-end pricing, it looks as though Huawei is attempting to try and take on the Android big guns. It's even promised another phone in the summer that will be "much more competitive and very disruptive." Menacing.

The Alcatel One Touch Fire is the first device to ignite with Firefox OS onboard. The chunky 3.5-inch phone comes splattered in Firefox's signature orange and is likely aimed at the budget end of the smartphone market, with only a single-core 1GHz processor and a 3.2-megapixel camera. Expect to see this flame-colored phone out and about in the wild no earlier than June.

In the spirit of " if at first you don't succeed..." HP announced it was trying its hand once more in the consumer tablet market, this time picking Android as its OS of choice. The Slate 7 is a 7-inch Google Nexus 7 challenger running 4.1 Jelly Bean. It's priced at a keen $169.

HP also promised that it will be releasing a series of Android smartphones in the near future.

Don't forget we're out in Barcelona, Spain, all week, bringing you previews, hands-on photos and videos, not to mention live blogs from all the major press conferences. Nokia has jump-started the second day already with an early press conference, and you can join us later today at 4:30 a.m. PT (1:30 p.m. local time) to discover what Asus' "Metallic Miracle" teaser trailer was all about, and at 7 a.m. PT (4 p.m. local time) to find out what ZTE is launching.

 

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