CES is the tech world's long-established curtain raiser for the year ahead. But when it comes to smartphones, Mobile World Congress (MWC) is where the action is. Here are the phones we think are really going to make waves at 2012's event.
1 Samsung Galaxy S3
Assuming the successor to the ten million-selling S2 arrives, it’s poised to dominate MWC column inches.
It’s testament to how eagerly anticipated this phone is that its spec sheet is a matter of iPhone-style febrile rumour-mongering. Some of which seems every bit as fanciful as the chatter that surrounds a new Apple handset in the months leading up to release.
Current rumours doing the rounds include a flexible screen and a miracle coating for the phone’s innards that makes it impervious to water damage. More likely is that it’ll feature glasses-free 3D and a beefy quad-core processor to keep everything running lickety split.
The only dead cert at this juncture is that, like the Galaxy Nexus, it’ll feature Android Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box.
2 HTC Edge
After something of an annus horribilis, HTC needs a big MWC. And one way to do that and make people forget about the Android update debacles of the last 12 months would be to beat rivals to the punch with some heavyweight kit.
The HTC Edge could be just that and is rumoured to be a quad-core powerhouse. In the event that Samsung opts to stick with a dual core chipset for its S3 or that the S3 doesn’t show at all, HTC could arguably claim to have the most powerful phone in the world.
That’s a huge PR win and would do wonders for re-establishing HTC as the go-to brand for the Fandroid hardcore.
Other specs mooted to be on board include an eight megapixel-snapper, a 4.3-inch HD screen and Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
3 Asus Padfone
Asus has confirmed that the Padfone is going from concept kit to reality and will debut at the Barcelona show.
Best described as a tablet-smartphone hybrid in the mode of the Samsung Galaxy Note or the unlamented Dell Streak, the twist this time is that it’s in two parts. A standard smartphone and a tablet dock that you stick the handset into when you want to use it as a slate.
Other than that rather natty USP, we don’t know very much about specs. But Asus has pledged that they’re significantly upgraded from when the Padfone first surfaced as a concept device. So all being well, it’ll have the brawn to match the brilliance of its central idea.
4 HTC Ville
With a typical high-end phone spec sheet (think: 1.5GHz dual-core CPU, 4.3-inch qHD screen and 1GB of RAM), the HTC Ville sounds for the most part like any other best-of-breed Android kit.
But coming in at under 8mm-thick, this promises to be the slimmest HTC phone so far. And, given that small dimensions haven’t been part of HTC’s gameplan so far, could herald a fresh approach.
5 Sony phone
Along with Sammy, Sony Ericsson has been one of the perennial MWC big-hitters. Now Sony is going it alone, it’s got even more incentive to use the expo to make a big splash with a phone that breaks with the past and ushers in a new era.
Judging by the Xperia S, the first-ever Sony-only branded phone that took a bow at CES, there are a few things we can count on for any handsets that it unveils at MWC.
One thing you can be sure of is that they’ll be PlayStation-certified, as Sony looks to leverage its huge library of PSOne and PSP games in a way that it seemed loath to do when shacked up with long-term partner Ericsson.
Other than that, we feel sure it’ll feature the same thin strip of clear plastic, which Sony intimated will be a hallmark of future Xperia phones.