Mobile World Congress from above

After four action-packed days, the 2012 Mobile World Congress has come to an end. As CNET puts Barcelona, Spain, and a couple dozen new smartphone announcements in the rearview mirror, we bring you the sights of the wireless and mobile industry's most important mobile trade show.

Barcelona's Fira Montjuic has been the home of Mobile World Congress since it moved from Cannes, France, in 2006. The complex of exhibition halls and courtyards sits between Placa d'Espanya and Montjuic, a large hill with some of the Barcelona's most important sights, including the Joan Miro Museum and the 1992 Olympic stadium. The white telecommunications tower on the right side of Montjuic in the distance was designed by prominent Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

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Photo by: Kent German/CNET / Caption by: , ,

A show so big

Mobile World Congress is so big that it takes over an entire street with temporary pavilions and huge monitors that broadcast keynote addresses from one of the halls. The show is so massive, in fact, that beginning in 2013 it will move to the Fira Gran Via, a new exhibition center closer to the airport that opened late last year. Though the modern facilities will have their appeal, you can't beat the Montjiuc location for character. The Venetian Towers in the distance serve as the show's main entrance from Placa d'Espanya.
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Fira de Barcelona fountains

The Fira complex climbs the hill past the Font Majica, a huge fountain that puts on a spectacular water and light show at night.
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Water and light

As we said, it's spectacular. The illuminated fountains extend all the way down the venue.
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An embarrassment of Ethernet riches

A tech reporter's dream come true: a wired Ethernet connection at every seat. Wireless networks at most big speeches and press conferences are crushed by interference and heavy traffic, and that ticks off reporters while messing up Wi-Fi-based demos. HTC's press conference was a breath of fresh air. Next up: power strips, please.
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HTC One mob scene

A horde of reporters attended HTC's press conference announcing the HTC One line of Android phones. The event took place in the Arenas de Barcelona, a former bull ring built in 1900 that now houses a shopping center, restaurants, and an auditorium.
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The Arenas is across the Placa d'Espanya from the Fira. For 1 euro you could take the elevator on the left side for the awesome view in the first photo.
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Huawei gets creative

Huawei's Pegasus statue was made entirely from 3,500 of the company's handsets. The columns behind the Pegasus are part of The Four Columns, which symbolize the flag of Catalonia.
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Ohh, shiny!

Here's a close-up shot of the winged horse's smartphone skin.
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Museum on a hill

Towering above the Fira is the Palau Nacional, or National Palace, which houses the Catalan Museum of Art.
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The National Palace at night

The National Palace, illuminated here with spotlights on the eve of Mobile World Congress, looms above the mobile technology trade show.
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Standing guard at the Fira

Two rows of heavily armed policemen prevented anyone from entering the Fira when student protestors demonstrated near Mobile World Congress.
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In this corner...

Four giants of the cell phone world, Samsung, ZTE, Huawei, and LG, face off in Hall 8.
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Chow time

When you're hungry, the Fira has everything from fast food counters to full-service restaurants with bars and table service.
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Barcelona's Googleplex

Google's Android booth was party central in Hall 8. Always crowded, it had a slide, an Android robot that made smartphone cases, and a bar serving Android-shaped ice cream sandwiches. Above it all, the expressionless eyes of Google's Android mascot had all the warmth of HAL 9000's red oculus.
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An Android gallery

But the best sight in the booth was the parade of Android devices that displayed the history of the OS in smartphones and tablets.
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HTC Magic

The devices ranged from the very old, like the HTC Magic, aka the T-Mobile MyTouch...
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HTC One X

...To the very new, like the HTC One X.
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Androids everywhere

Mobile World Congress isn't properly called the Android show, but given Google's outsize presence even outside its booth (not to mention Apple's absence), it might as well be. Indeed, Android is everywhere.
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Intel loves Android, too

An Intel-outfitted Android guy eagerly awaits a bus for the Intel press conference. Intel has been trying to make the point that it's serious about mobile, and, accordingly, about supporting Android. But mobile phones today use ARM-based processors, and a lot of Android apps have components that run natively on those chips, so there's a lot of work to be done moving to Intel.
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Galaxy Beam demo

The Samsung Galaxy Beam isn't for everybody, but it's certainly different from most Android phones. Here it's used to show an image of a frog on the ceiling.
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Nokia's World

Nokia's booth in Hall 7 was one of the show's biggest. After fighting the crowds, you could handle the company's new phones such as the 808 PureView and the Lumia 610.
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Around and around

Comverse, a manufacturer of telecommunications systems and software, incorporated a whimsical wall of spinning pinwheels into its booth in Hall 8.
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Samsung Galaxy Note

As LG introduced the Optimus Vu, Samsung did its best to remind attendees of its own phablet, the Galaxy Note.
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iPod in the fishbowl

Waterproofing treatments for electronics are all the rage. Here, HzO showed an iPod that had been immersed in a bowl of water for 53 minutes.
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All that glitters

At the Fira's main office in Hall 1, displays from scores of smartphones lit up a dark room.
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