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Opinion: Forget CES, it's all about Mobile World Congress

CES was once the world's biggest gadget-fest. But this year manufacturers are saving up the good stuff for a different event in February.

CES, the horrifyingly massive tech trade show in Las Vegas is finished for another year. My feet have healed, my internal clock has switched back to UK time, and my local newsie has hung that sign out again that says he doesn't sell Mountain Dew so can I please stop asking.

But while I saw some cool stuff, the year's most-anticipated gadgets were notably absent in Vegas. Fancy OLED TVs and skinny laptops are all well and good, but where were the smart phones? Where were the tablets?

They're coming, but we won't see them until Mobile World Congress, the phone-focused trade show that takes place in Barcelona in late February. Ignore the boring name, MWC is where we'll be getting our paws on the Samsung Galaxy S3, the HTC Edge, new Sony, LG and Motorola phones and undoubtedly a host of spangly new tablets.

Mobile World Congress logo

Yep, while CES held a few pleasant surprises, it's been harshly snubbed in terms of hot gadgets. LG even said during its press conference that we should check back at Mobile World Congress for "many more exciting smart phones". Sony lifted the lid on one phone, the excellent Xperia S, but Samsung won't show off its new flagship until February, choosing instead to focus on TVs and a version of the Galaxy Note for the US.

Samsung's choice to hold back on the mobiles at CES is even more surprising when you bear in mind that the company has said the massive profits it expects to report shortly are largely down to record smart phone sales.

What can we glean from this? If you're a tech industry insider, it's a clue that one of the biggest events in the tech calendar is on the wane. But more importantly than that, the fact that CES is over and we're still waiting for 2012's coolest kit to emerge is proof that mobiles and tablets are the hottest ticket in tech right now.

The world of phones and tablets is advancing so fast, I'm afraid to buy one of the blighters in case it's obsolete by the time I've left the shop. Meanwhile new apps and games continue to change what we expect a phone to be able to do.

CES is done, but I'm not satisfied. I'm sure you're not either. But CNET will be on the floor in force come February to stuff you full of mobile phone and tablet news, videos and hands-on previews. See you then.