New Smartphones, Tablets Roll Out at Mobile World Congress
The Mobile World Congress opened in Barcelona on Monday, and the goodies are beginning to roll out. This year's offerings include ultra-HD that streams from a smartphone to a TV, inexpensive phones from Nokia, and a new tablet/phone from Asus.
LG is showing ultra-HD streaming over Wi-Fi from a smartphone to an HD TV, which it is touting as a way to transform a smartphone into a better gaming device.
Nokia is showing four new phones. They include its least-expensive phone yet with a color screen -- the feature phone Nokia 105 for $20, targeted at emerging markets and intended to stabilize its position in the lower-end, basic handset market. The new Nokia 301, with video streaming, Web access and e-mail, will cost slightly less than $90.
Higher up the ladder, the company is also showing new models in its Lumia Windows Phone line. The 520, priced at about $180 before carrier subsidies, and the Lumia 720 for about $330, are intended to compete with mid-priced Android phones.
Asus announced its new PadFone 2, a 4.7-inch smartphone that can dock with a 10.1-inch tablet body for a bigger display. Its new PadFone Infinity has a 5-inch screen, 4G and a very high density screen with a pixel density of 442 pixels-per-inch. The Infinity can also dock into a 10.1-inch tablet.
Apparently intending to promote brand-name confusion, Asus is also releasing the new FonePad. The 7-inch, Android 4.1-based, 3G device offers phone capability and starts at $249.
Samsung debuted its long-awaited Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet, with an 8-inch, 1280x800 screen, a quad-core processor and a stylus. The new model fills the space between the company's 5.5-inch Note 2 and the Note 10.1, and is targeted at Apple's 7.9-inch iPad Mini. HP, eschewing a Windows-based consumer tablet for the time being, is launching its first Android tablet, an Android-based Slate 7 with a 7-inch screen that will be retailing for $169.
Galaxy S IV, Knox
Samsung didn't show a new version of its popular Galaxy line, but announced that it will launch one on March 14. Rumors place that new model as having a 4.9-inch screen and a 13-megapixel camera, and will be called the Galaxy S IV. At the Mobile World Congress, the company is expected to show a feature for smartphones called Knox that helps keep personal files separate from work ones, not unlike a similar separation shown by BlackBerry for its new BlackBerry 10 devices.
Ross Rubin, principal analyst for Reticle Research, said highlights in this first day included the release of the HP Slate 7 and the Galaxy Note 8 at the inexpensive end of the tablet category. He pointed out that the Asus FonePad joins the Note 8 in creating the subcategory of tablets that include phone capability, further blurring "the phone/tablet line."
The Chinese company Huawei, recently named in one report as the fourth-largest handset maker in the world, is trying to make its presence known at the trade show. It described one of its new products, the Android-based Ascend P2, as the fastest smartphone on the market because of a LTE Cat 4 chip that can enable speeds up to 150 megabits per second downstream.