It's a crazy world, one where 8-inch slates can take phone calls and 5-inch slates is the new home for 1080p full HD. This week is Mobile World Congress, and the only rule is "no keyboards" — even that isn't strictly enforced, to be honest. The Verge is live from Barcelona covering all the action. This is the best of what we've seen so far!
Feb 28, 2013
Nokia launched its latest Lumia devices at Mobile World Congress this week. While many were hoping the company would unveil a 41-megapixel PureView device, or a Windows tablet, Nokia opted to flesh out its range of Lumias and give us an early look at where it's heading for 2013. With 12 Lumia products launched, excluding variants, Nokia's strategy is clear: offer colorful Lumia devices at various price points by pushing high-end features down the range. Nokia's Lumia series is broad and complete (for now), but Microsoft has to help Espoo catch the competition.Read Article >
Nokia's high-end flagship is the Lumia 920. Launched in early November, the 920 has helped boost Lumia sales to their highest point, 4.4 million, in the most recent quarter, but supply issues have dampened the launch slightly. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has previously admitted that the company was "very deliberate" and "thoughtful" about Lumia supplies in a move that appears to be designed to avoid oversupply issues.
Feb 27, 2013
At MWC this week, showgoers are finally getting a look at the first Firefox OS devices that will come to market in the next few months.Read Article >
To be blunt, they’re not very good: the ZTE Open and Alcatel One Touch Fire look and feel like low-end handsets from two or three years ago. The operating system — which is "made of the web," as Mozilla proudly proclaims — seems to struggle at times to overcome the cheap silicon it’s been saddled with.
Feb 26, 2013
The 2013 edition of Mobile World Congress will be remembered for two rather antithetical things: the enormous new venue of Fira Gran Via, and the distinct lack of headline-grabbing devices. In years past, attendees in Barcelona would be treated to grandiose and glitzy battles for attention between powerhouse manufacturers like HTC, Nokia, and even Microsoft. Just last year the show played host to the launch of HTC's One series, the Nokia 808 PureView, two new Sony Xperia phones, and the full Consumer Preview of Windows 8. Now contrast that to today: Nokia, Samsung, and LG all fleshed out the flabby middle of their device portfolios, Sony had no new products to announce, and even the traditionally wild Asus merely iterated on its tablet-dockable phone paradigm.Read Article >
There's no denying that a major cause for this shift can be found in the increasing importance of software and commoditization of very capable hardware. It's now simply harder to stand out on the strength of specs or design alone, so companies are dedicating more of their resources — both behind the scenes in development and in their on-stage speeches — to software.
Feb 25, 2013
For all the speculation surrounding Nokia's MWC plans, the eventual launches from the Finnish company this morning proved somewhat underwhelming. High-end features like wireless charging and a super-sensitive touchscreen were trickled down into lower price ranges with the Lumia 520 and 720, but there was no new hero device, no translation of the 808 PureView's 41-megapixel camera into the Windows Phone realm, and no tablet.Read Article >
We've been eagerly awaiting Nokia's entry into the highly competitive tablet space since way back in 2011 — when Stephen Elop confessed it has great potential and is of great interest to Nokia — but today the company's CEO remained demure on the subject of actually releasing such a product anytime soon. He told us that Nokia is "monitoring the dynamics" of this developing market, with an obvious curiosity about what Microsoft has done with Surface, but insisted that Nokia still has enough unique strengths and advantages to deliver a competitive tablet.
What do you get when you mix a phablet and a tablet? You get the Asus Padfone Infinity, which the company just announced at MWC. The docking device remains first and foremost a phone, just a big one now — a 5-inch, 1080p phone that feels surprisingly comfortable to hold despite its size. We've spent a few minutes with the Infinity, and while the device's gimmicky purpose clearly hasn't changed, the handset itself has definitely improved. It's better-made and the screen is absolutely gorgeous — docking a 1080p screen inside a 1080p screen almost seems silly.Read Article >
The transition between phone and tablet mode used to be a little awkward and slow for the Padfone, but the Infinity does a better job – it worked really well. The phone itself is really light, and even the pieces together don't make for a particularly large or clunky experience. It feels like an expensive machine, and, well, it is — the Infinity will run 999 Euros when it's available later this year, and for that price you could get a really good phone and a really good tablet. Asus just hopes you want one device that does both.
Before Asus announced the Fonepad at MWC in Barcelona today, we knew the device's name and little else. Now we know what Asus gets when it inverts the Padfone, in name anyway — the Fonepad is a 7-inch tablet that's a dead ringer for the Nexus 7, and splits the difference between the 5- and 10-inch screens that make up the Padfone.Read Article >
Asus is launching a 7-inch Fonepad today at Mobile World Congress. Running Android 4.1, the 7-inch Fonepad uses Intel's Atom Z2420 processor with 3G voice and mobile data support. Asus has equipped its Fonepad with a 1.2-megapixel front facing camera and a 3-megapixel on the rear. The display runs at 1280 x 800, and Asus has 1GB of RAM in its latest tablet.Read Article >
Battery life is estimated at around 9 hours, and Asus will release 8GB and 16GB versions in titanium gray or champagne gold colors with a microSD slot to extend the storage. Asus says the Fonepad will be made available In March starting at just $249.
Feb 25, 2013
Asus has just announced its latest PadFone, the PadFone Infinity, confirming an image that leaked earlier today. Like previous models, the PadFone is an Android smartphone that docks into a large display to become a tablet. The Infinity has a 5-inch 1080p display, LTE connectivity, 64GB of storage, and a 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor. Those specs put Asus' new phone on par with the best around; the "Pad" side of the product, which Asus calls the "Infinity Station," features a 10.1-inch 1080p display as well as another battery.Read Article >
Have you ever wanted to "capture up to 100 sequential images at 8 frames-per-second while simultaneously recording 1080p Full HD video?" Well the PadFone Infinity is perfect smartphone and tablet combo for you. Asus is making a big deal over the Infinty's imaging capabilities: its got a 13-megapixel sensor paired with an f/2.0 5-element lens, and also has a dedicated imaging processor that allows for the aforementioned extreme amount of sequential image capture.
Nokia's just unveiled its latest low-end Windows Phone 8 device, and I've spent some time with the budget handset ahead of its release by the end of March. The Lumia 520 borrows the same design language from its high-end siblings, but you're not going to get similar specifications. This is very much a low-end device, with a 4-inch WVGA display, 8GB of storage, and a 5-megapixel rear camera. Nokia has nixed NFC support, and there's no front facing camera for Skype and other video calling apps.Read Article >
Nokia just announced its latest mid-range Lumia 720 at Mobile World Congress today, and I've had a chance to take a look at it ahead of its release later this quarter. At first glance this particular Lumia embodies the same design as the latest colorful Lumia range that Nokia kicked off with the release of Windows Phone 8. There's one big difference here, though: Nokia's Lumia 720 has a thin and light body that puts it on par with HTC's 8X. This body is everything the Lumia 920 should have been, but the 720's specifications let it down somewhat.Read Article >
The 4.3-inch WVGA display is disappointing after you've become accustomed to large screen 720p displays with Windows Phone 8. Nokia has got the size of the display right here, allowing you to thumb around the interface easily, but the resolution doesn't take advantage of all Windows Phone 8 has to offer. The Lumia 720 weighs 128g vs. the 185g of the Lumia 920, and it's 9mm thin vs. the 10.7mm thickness of the Lumia 920. It's noticeable when you use the device with one hand and the unibody design looks great for this mid-range device.
Feb 25, 2013
We're already familiar with the Xperia Tablet Z after Sony unveiled it in Japan last month, but now we know it's coming to the US. The company is using the occasion of Mobile World Congress 2013 to show off its latest slate to a wider audience, and nothing's changed: same 10.1-inch 1920 x 1200 display, same 1.5GHz quad-core processor (now outed as a Snapdragon S4 Pro), and same airy design at 495g and a world-beating 6.9mm thick. Other features include an eight-megapixel camera, water- and dust-proofing, NFC, and a universal IR blaster. The Tablet Z runs Android 4.1, with an update to 4.2 coming post-launch.Read Article >
Asus has been not-so-subtly teasing a new version of the Padfone, its wild phone / tablet hybrid device, to be launched at this year's MWC. The company's press conference (and presumably official announcement) isn't until this afternoon, but we've spotted a sign in Asus's booth displaying some key specs of the "Padfone Infinity." The device will feature a 5-inch, 1080p LTE phone that will dock inside a 10.1-inch, 1080p tablet. The sign advertises a "sleek aluminum alloy" body "with brushed metal finish," and says the Infinity is running a 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, the same we've seen in a handful of recent high-profile smartphones. We'll have to wait for more details, but it looks like Asus is taking the Padfone's game up a notch this year.Read Article >
We also spotted a sign advertising a "Fonepad," which offered far less detail. The sign promises "phone functions," an "HD display," and a "metallic finish," and that's about it. Judging from the impressively unoriginal name, we're thinking Asus may be readying a phablet of its own — in case you don't want a phone and a tablet, maybe the Fonepad will let you split the difference. Either way, we'll be live at Asus's press conference this afternoon to find out more.
Earlier this week, Nvidia announced a major milestone in its mobile development history: its first chip to combine both the applications processor and LTE modem on the same silicon. The Tegra 4i, as it is called, is the green team's counter to Qualcomm's dominance in the mobile space — by having the power efficiency of integrated LTE, Nvidia now stands a chance to figure in the flagship 4G devices gracing advanced markets like the US. But the company's ambitions, as is usually the case, go much further than that. Nvidia wants to build "mainstream superphones," devices with today's highest specs, priced at tomorrow's mid-range prices.Read Article >
Nvidia's next-generation mobile processor, the Tegra 4, may have been announced at CES last month, but it's only today that the company has truly let us get an idea of its pixel-pushing potential. Running a trio of the most popular Android benchmarks on an Android 4.2 development platform, we got to see just how much performance can be squeezed out of a quad-core Cortex-A15 processor with a 72-core GPU.Read Article >
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On the complete other end of the market lies the Alcatel One Touch Fire, an ultra-low-end phone running Mozilla's new Firefox OS. This device is small – its 3.5-inch screen feels positively miniature now – but it's thick, clearly underpowered, and only capable of executing the most basic tasks. But it's a completely different device, with a completely different intended customer: Alcatel says it will be sold almost exclusively in developing markets when the Fire goes on sale this summer.
Feb 24, 2013Read Article >
Since it's running (mostly) stock Android 4.1, really the most important differentiators between this and the Nexus 7 are that aforementioned microSD card slot and the Beats Audio-powered stereo speakers (positioned at bottom). HP would also like you to know it supports ePrint — which along with Beats is the only real departure from stock Android. That's not much of a difference, though the price may appeal to HP's corporate customers. Build quality is classic HP, which is to say it doesn't fall down in any particular way but it's not especially inspiring either. The plastic on the rear of the frame has a matte finish that provides grip but doesn't feel very premium, though the steel frame running around the rim at least gives it a sense of solidity. There is, however, a model with a bold, red backing that gives the tablet a lot more flair than the standard gray.
Mozilla's preparing to make some big announcements at Mobile World Congress, but it's let one cat out of the bag ahead of its press conference. The ZTE Open is the first phone we've seen running Firefox OS other than a few developer units, and just as we figured it's an extremely low-end device. It's very small, and feels pretty good to hold, but we immediately noticed its washed-out screen. Details are scarce for the moment, but we've heard rumblings that the Open is running a Cortex A5 processor, has a 3.5-inch HVGA touchscreen display, and is reminiscent of Android phones from several years ago.Read Article >
Update: Now that the event's over, we've spent considerably more time with the Open side-by-side with its stablemate from Alcatel, the One Touch Fire.
Feb 24, 2013
Android might have face unlock, which has been defeated previously with photos, but EyeVerify is aiming to take things a step further. At Mobile World Congress this week, the company is demonstrating its Eyeprint technology that's designed to scan a users eye veins and grant them access to a phone or application.Read Article >
We got to try the software today, and it's clear it's in the very early stages of being ready for your average smartphone. A prototype app running on an iPod showed how Eyeprint works by using the front or rear facing cameras of a device. On the rear camera the technology takes advantage of the LED flash to secure a solid image of the eye, before assessing the quality of the image and then segmenting it into sections for a verification process. To use a front facing camera, EyeVerify says you'll need a 2-megapixel shooter or higher, and you simply hold it up to your face. The verification process requires a user to look to the very right and left with their eyeballs to ensure it can pick up the eye veins.
Huawei's kicking off the events here at MWC in Barcelona, but it revealed what may be its biggest announcement before we ever made it past the courtyard of its event hall. The Ascend P2 is the company's latest weapon in its ongoing attempt to infiltrate the global phone market, and from what we've seen so far it's smooth, thin, remarkably light, and definitely feels like a flagship. The 8.4mm-thin handset has a 4.7-inch, 1280 x 720 "infinity edge" display (we're a bit surprised to see a flagship device without a 1080p screen, given the onslaught of the displays we've seen from other handsets), and is running heavily skinned version of Android 4.1.2 called "Emotion UI."Read Article >
Feb 24, 2013
Gaudí. El Bulli. FC Barcelona. La Sagrada Família. The heart of Catalonia is known for many things, but for one week each year, it's known for another: smartphones.Read Article >
That's right — this week is Mobile World Congress, and The Verge is live from Barcelona covering all the action. Read our preview to get up to speed on what we're expecting.
Feb 24, 2013
Last year at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Samsung took the wraps off of the Galaxy Note 10.1, its first proper tablet with S Pen support. We weren't terribly fond of the Note 10.1 when we eventually reviewed it, but Samsung is back this year with the Galaxy Note 8.0. Already leaked numerous times before its official reveal, the Note 8.0 is Samsung's mid-size, S Pen enabled tablet that slots in between the 5.5-inch Note II smartphone and the larger 10.1-inch Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet.Read Article >