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Ice Cream Sandwich with quad-core chips ready for Mobile World Congress

CNET offers a taste of all the wireless news that we expect from this coming week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Attendees stroll the grounds of the Fira de Barcelona at the 2011 Mobile World Congress. Kent German/CNET

Over the last month, CNET has written a lot about an upcoming trade show called Mobile World Congress. And over the next week, we'll be writing even more about it.

If you've never heard of the event before, I don't blame you. Indeed, Mobile World Congress doesn't have the same name recognition that CES commands in the United States, but for the wireless world, it's almost as big and just as significant. Each February, folks from all corners of the industry and around the world meet in Barcelona, Spain, to make deals, demonstrate the latest technologies, and show off the latest and greatest phones and tablets.

LG's Optimus 4X HD has a quad-core chip and Android 4.0. LG

This will be my fifth year at the show, which begins Monday in Catalonia's Gaudi-obsessed capital city. Though a possible transit strike threatens to make getting around a little difficult, there's guaranteed to be a (metric) ton of new devices, from the very fancy to the strictly functional. It will be a massive amount to cover, but CNET will have a large team on the ground, including editors Jessica Dolcourt, Roger Cheng, Maggie Reardon, and Stephen Shankland. And thanks to CNET TV producers Jamie Yee and Mark Licea, the new handsets will get their star turns on video.

Android avalanche
So what exactly will we see? I covered the early round of preshow rumors two weeks ago, but the leaks and releases have only ramped up since then. As in past years, Google's Android OS will have the biggest role at the show with new devices expected from LG, Huawei, HTC, ZTE, Sony, Samsung, Asus, and possibly Lenovo. That means a lot of players battling for the spotlight, but at this point, LG is doing everything it can to grab it. The company has released eight phones just in the last week, including the Optimus 3D Max, Optimus Vu, three L-Style handsets, and the Optimus 4X HD. That last device should be the most promising of the pack, with an Nvidia quad-core processor and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Nokia Lumia 900
Nokia may introduce a global version of the Lumia 900. Bonnie Cha/CNET

Ice Cream Sandwich with quad-core chips
But don't think that the Optimus 4X HD will be alone with those specs. After barely registering at CES, both ICS and quad-core chips should show up in plenty of devices. ZTE has promised at least three Android 4.0 phones, including the Mimosa X, plus an unnamed quad-core handset. Meanwhile, HTC hinted on Facebook that it would bring something "fast" to Barcelona. The rumored HTC Ville may have a dual-core chip so something else should be in store. Nvidia also is spreading the quad-core gospel with its own promises for the show, and Huawei could unveil its quad-core Diamond series of phones.

Windows Phone and Windows 8
Don't fret, Windows Phone 7 fans, as the show that begot the upgraded OS two years ago will keep the ball rolling. Nokia, of course, should dominate the category. The company hasn't made any firm promises, but we're betting on a budget-friendly device called the Lumia 610 and a global version of the previously announced Lumia 900. It's pretty, clear, though, that we won't get a Lumia 910.

Outside of Nokia, LG may introduce a Windows Phone 7 smartphone called the Miracle, and ZTE has confirmed that it will have its first device with Microsoft's OS. Unfortunately, we're not expecting to see major upgrades to Windows Phone (so no Windows Phone 8), but Microsoft is holding a Windows 8 customer preview on Wednesday. Windows 8 will focus on tablets and PCs, and we'll see the company's new Metro interface.

What else?
Of course, there will be many more wireless tales to tell from Barcelona and Mobile World Congress. I'd bet on lots of LTE announcements, for one, and a fair amount of buzz over NFC. But whatever happens, your CNET team will be working hard to bring you the news and get plenty of hands-on time with the new devices. Sony, HTC, and Huawei kick off the fun with press conferences on Sunday afternoon Barcelona time, so check back then for all the mobile excitement in words, pictures, and video.