The first official day of Mobile World Congress was riddled with exciting launches and delivered press conferences from some of the big guns of the smartphone world. Without Samsung and HTC to stand in their way, the likes of Asus, LG and ZTE threw down the Android gauntlet, and Nokia revealed the latest handsets in its ever-expanding range of Windows Phone 8 devices.
Despite the early hour, CNET staff were out in force with not a bleary eye in sight to cover Nokia's 8.30 a.m. press conference. A series of budget and midrange handsets were launched, chief among them the latest additions to Nokia's Windows Phone 8 range, theand . At the budget end of the scale was the , a 15-euro phone, which with a 1.5-inch screen and weeks' worth of battery life in standby mode, harks back to the Nokia we know of old.
According to Nokia, its target demographic for the Lumia 720 are younger, trendier, social people who don't require the highest level of hardware technology, but who still demand quality. It sports a 4.3-inch LCD display and a 6.7-megapixel camera and will go on sale for 249 euros at full retail price, or about $338. Its little brother the Lumia 520 will be available for around 139 euros, or if you're in the U.S look out for it on T-Mobile in the guise of the Lumia 521 around late spring or early summer.
LG, determined to build on the success of the Google Nexus 4, unveiled a range of devices across the whole pricing spectrum. At the top end was the 5.5-inch "phablet," the , with the aiming to offer LTE functionality to those on a midrange budget, and the bringing up the rear.
In a move that reinforced Samsung's position as a company that likes to set itself apart from other manufacturers of high-end Android phones, it did not deign to announce a premium phone at Mobile World Congress for the second year running. Insteadthat it would unveil the Galaxy S4 at an event next week in New York. To keep Samsung fans happy, we managed to go hands-on in the meantime with the budget and , as well as the rugged and waterproof .
You'll have to concentrate for this one, as Asus revealed the secret behind itstrailer was not one, but two very different devices with almost, but not quite, identical names. The is a pricey 5-inch LTE smartphone that becomes a 10.1-inch tablet when docked into the Infinity Station. The , on the other hand, is a $249 7-inch Jelly Bean tablet that makes calls. Got that? Good.
The last press conference of the day saw ZTE launch the, a 5.7-inch challenger to the , and its first phone to run the new , the .
These devices represent the biggest, splashiest products of the day, but if you don't want to miss out, be sure to head over to our dedicated Mobile World Congress page, which is jam-packed full of first takes, slideshows, and hands-on videos. We'll be adding plenty more analysis and news about hot products throughout the week, so keep checking back.
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Feb 20•Former phone stars of Mobile World Congress (pictures)
Feb 12•A guide to all the Nokia Lumia Windows phones (pictures)
Sep 12•Budget-friendly Nokia Lumia 520 comes to AT&T
Jun 4•Samsung Galaxy Fame is a small phone let down by a poor screen