Next week the mobile world converges on Barcelona for the annual Mobile World Congress exhibition. Though last year's show proved to be a bit disappointing for new products, 2011 is promising to be a complete reversal, with bold new product announcements expected from nearly all of the major manufacturers.
This year is set to be a huge year for smartphone lovers, with big leaps in power and features set to define the differences between the sea of new phones we expect to see. Below are our top five new products to watch out for as we cover the festivities next week.
LG has already unwrapped two of its top-tier offerings for 2011 at CES, with the Optimus 2X and Optimus Black, and yet the Korean manufacturer still has a trick or two up its sleeve for MWC. Over the last week we've been teased by official LG tidbits hinting at a 3D smartphone. The phone will apparently sport a glasses-less 3D display and be capable of recording and sharing 3D content.
This is one of our must-see products for the exhibition, but it is also the smartphone we have the most questions about. Do we really want a 3D phone? Will the glasses-less display give us a headache after long sessions of viewing? LG is really getting behind the idea of users creating their own 3D content, but can the addition of a third dimension really make Australia's Funniest Home Videos funny? Only time will tell.
If the Samsung Galaxy S was a Hollywood movie you'd be understandably cautious about a sequel. In the world of phones, sequels tend to mean bigger, badder, brighter and more powerful and this is exactly what we're expecting to see from Samsung. The world's number two phone manufacturer is unlikely to release a product that looks poorer on paper than what we've already seen from LG and Motorola, so expect dual-core processing, a huge battery and the next-generation of Samsung's AMOLED screen tech.
Don't hold us to the name, but expect HTC to follow up the success of its Desire range with something big and Android-y. While LG and Samsung battle it out for the best in specs, we're expecting HTC to speak more about user experience and integrated services, possibly including another step forward in the company's iconic Sense user interface.
There are also rumours that we'll see a 7-inch tablet running the 2.3 Gingerbread version of Android with HTC's Sense on top. Let's hope this one stays a rumour. Announcing a Gingerbread tablet while your competitors promote their upcoming Honeycomb tablets would be a major misfire. If we're really lucky, HTC will surprise us with a Honeycomb tablet and news that it plans to leverage its recent investment in cloud gaming service OnLive with a mobile-gaming solution that would blow the competition out of the water.
Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play gaming smartphone might be one of the industry's worst-kept secrets, but that doesn't dampen our enthusiasm to take a peek. While the leaked videos of the phone give us a pretty good idea about how the phone will look and feel (imagine the Xperia X10 with a slide-out game pad), we're mostly curious about which games the system will be able to play. Will they be exclusive Xperia Play games or current PlayStation Mini titles? Will there be any compatibility with older PlayStation titles? Will these games be exclusive to the Xperia Play or will Sony Ericsson release a marketplace that Android users will be able to access? So many questions that we'll no doubt have answers for in a few days time.
The announcement of Xoom at CES 2011 simply didn't satisfy our need to get our hands-on time with one of this year's most anticipated tablet computers, so we have our fingers firmly crossed that we'll be able to spend some quality time with the Xoom at MWC.