BARCELONA, Spain--Mobile World Congress is one of the biggest technology trade shows on the planet. Focusing solely on mobile phones, it's also a smartphone-lover's dream. So far the first day of the MWC definitely delivered.
The two overarching themes of the day: the ramp-up to phones with more powerful quad-core processors, and the continued march toward Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). In other words: Android phones are getting better hardware and newer software. Of the three major phone makers to unveil products, only one didn't jump on the quad-core bandwagon.
The first official announcement of the day was from Huawei Chairman Richard Yu, who unveiled the Ascend D series of smartphones. Headlining the new line is the Ascend D Quad, which boasts a quad-core chip built not by Nvidia but by Huawei itself. Other devices in the lineup are the Ascend Quad XL and Ascend D1; both are mere dual-core phones, but they will run the Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" operating system.
LG is also talking up a new quad-core phone, the LG Optimus 4X HD, which uses a veritable Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and massive 4.7-inch HD display. The company confirmed plans for another device, the Optimus Vu, that is designed to go head-to-head against the Samsung Galaxy Note--complete with a stylus as well.
Not to be outdone, Samsung showcased its new Samsung Galaxy Beam, which actually rocks an internal projector. The company also indicated that its new Galaxy Tab 2 line of Android 4.0 tablets will be available in a 10-inch version as well as the previously announced 7-incher. (Expect more Samsung product news later this week.)
HTC dropped plans for a quad-core phone of its own, the HTC One X, plus the less robust One S and One V. Look for the One S to arrive on T-Mobile's U.S. network, while the One X will hit AT&T--unfortunately for American Android fans, it will be a less powerful dual-core version, however. Thankfully, all three are expected to run Android 4.0 as well.
Sony is relaunching its cell phone brand, having finally completed its divorce from Ericsson. But the first Sony-only products felt a bit underwhelming: the Xperia P and Xperia U phones are powered by dual-core (not quad-core) chips and run outdated Android 2.3 Gingerbread software. (Sony is promising upgrades to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in the second quarter of 2012.) That said, the Xperia P and Xperia U are crafted with the same deliciously stylish industrial design first flaunted by the Sony Xperia S.
Be sure to check back as the smartphone and tablet news from Mobile World Congress continues to roll out this week.