The MWC will shortly be closing its doors for another year and though we’ll be sad to see it go, with all the excitement over, it’s maybe not such a bad thing. This year’s edition has left us with plenty to talk and think about so at the close of this international event, held once again in Barcelona (the host city for next year too), let’s take a look at what the future has in store for the cell phone world. I’ll also share with you what I view to be the best releases for Android this year.
At least until next year breaks the record, the 2011 congress has undoubtedly been the most multitudinous edition so far, both in terms of visitors and media attention, with huge crowds (90% dressed in suits) and hundreds of events taking place throughout the city of Barcelona.
Overall, I have to say that the MWC has left me with a bitter sweet aftertaste. At first you’re over-excited, eager to see it all (an almost impossible task), rushing from stand to stand, talking to every single company- manufacturer, operator or developer… Everything looks perfect, colorful, eye-catching, full of realities and promises … But if there’s one thing that really stood out at this year’s MWC, it’s the number of cell phones that were presented with one characteristic in common: a clear lack of innovation. Just like they said to us at Samsung when we asked about the resemblance between the SGS II and the iPhone 4, there’s not a lot you can do to differentiate a model in a 3 to 5 inch format where the screen occupies 95% of the design. But we’re not just talking about similar designs here; we’re talking about a clear failure by some brands to innovate.
The case of HTC is unforgiveable: practically the same cell phones without even new or adapted names. The hardware is almost identical (except for just a few small details) and they’re way behind when it comes to the generational change in the tablet world (can this really be justified? Are they looking for a different niche market?).
And Samsung isn’t far behind as we mentioned, but at least in their case they introduced a superior cell phone that represents a real step forward for their product. Designs and names aside, of course. And coming up the rear is Sony Ericsson. While there are positive changes here in some cases, with the exception of the Arc and the Play the design of the rest is just more of the same, and although aimed at different potential clients, they’ve left Neo totally unprotected.
Motorola don’t generally innovate in terms of design (basically because it’s something they’re not so concerned about- they usually opt more for uniformity across their products) but they do when it comes to functions and accessories, especially in the integration of these two concepts for an improved technological and multimedia experience.
Then we have the tablets. This is where it gets complicated; they all have Honeycomb and they’re all the same, apart from some small details in each model. They’re all major brands too, so how can we differentiate one from the other? The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has no SD slot but it weighs 100 grams less than the Xoom. The Optimus Pad has a 3D camera but measures the same. Spot the difference? The price, of course! Or at least that’s what we hope
Here’s where the real handset price war starts, something we hope to take full advantage of. The silence surrounding launch dates (“before summer” was the most repeated indication) makes us think that they’re waiting to see who makes the first move in order to compete with prices and give added value to their products. We hope to see signs of this war from May onwards, which is when most of the releases are expected. Here’s hoping they’re ruthless in combat!
The top discoveries
For me there are clear winners and losers at this year’s MWC. Among the winners, I’d highlight the following, in this order:
1. LG Optimus 3D: In my opinion, this is already the cell phone of the year. With its dual core, dual channel and dual memory, it’s sure to become the most powerful cell phone on the Android scene. It certainly left me lost for words (for benchmark fans: 2954 on Quadrant…). And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s the 3D element, but then that’s not everyone’s thing.
2. Motorola Atrix with LapDock: It may be just an accessory that’s the real key to this little discovery, but I think it’s a great idea. It travels well and can be seamlessly connected to a light lap-top dock that doesn’t overheat. I was really impressed but I’d have to try it out for a few days to see exactly how it could improve my day-to-day multimedia experience.
3. Samsung Galaxy S II: This is clearly the forerunner of the next generation of Android phones. It doesn’t quite give the same results as the Optimus 3D but we have to remember that Samsung is backed by its bestseller the SGS, so it’s more easily recognizable to new users.
4. OnLive for HTC: This is a clever move by the Taiwanese, but we’ll have to wait and see how it works; some country networks are probably too weak to support this game-streaming service.
5. Blackberry Playbook: It certainly doesn’t beat Honeycomb or even the HP Pad with WebOS, but the jump in quality compared to what we’re used to with RIM software is immense. It was great to see it in action and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. There’s already some talk about it becoming compatible with Android Market (hmmm, we’ll see…).
To sum up, Android took centre-stage at this year’s MWC (it was everywhere) but unfortunately, so did the army of disappointing cell phones (even though there were a few jaw-droppers here and there). Despite the general let-down, I confess I’m already looking forward to next year!
Happy applications discovery![Via elAndroidelibre]