MWC: New Phone Designs
The Mobile World Congress is the biggest convention for mobile hardware and software manufacturers every year. Dozens of new phones and hundreds of new applications and other software components debut every year, and we've put together a list of the hottest new devices coming out of the conference. Keep in mind that many of these phones are not going to be available in the U.S. immediately, if ever, but we think it is still exciting to see what's on the smartphone horizon. A big theme this year: Lots of Android.
LG Cookie Plus (GS500)
The Cookie Plus is - you guessed it - an updated version of the original LG Cookie (KP500) released in 2009. The Cookie Plus is positioned as an entry-level touchscreen phone, and comes with built-in social networking applications, including Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. The GS500 also comes with a 3-megapixel camera, MP3/MP4 player and a built-in FM tuner. Expect the Cookie Plus next month, launching in Italy and France, followed by launches in more than three dozen other countries.
LG Mini GD880
The Mini GD880 from LG is the company's latest "feature phone", which is defined as a device that offers more than a traditional handset, but not as much as a full-blown smartphone. The GD880's strongest point is design; at 10.6mm thick with a weight of less than 3.5 ounces, this brushed aluminum handset is quite eye-catching. The GD880 is yet another device slated for European release in March.
The GT350 from LG is another feature phone, but this one has a few added bonuses. For starters, the GT350 can do push email with multiple accounts, something usually reserved for smartphones. The screen is a three inch WQVGA touchscreen, and touch functionality is integrated throughout the entire UI. Combined with a four-row physical keyboard and social networking applications, and the GT350 is about a smart as you can get without going with a fully-featured smartphone device. Europe is getting this feature phone come April.
Even though sports brand Nike works closely with Apple on iPhone and iPod apps and accessories, who would have predicted that Puma would dive into the phone game? Working with phone manufacturer Sagem, the Puma Phone has several unique features. For starters, the solar panel on the back of the Puma can provide the user with 15 minutes of talk time (or two hours of music playback) for every two hours the phone sits in the sun. The Puma phone is definitely pointed at a younger audience, with widgets like a pet Puma that wanders onto the screen when the device is idle, or a music player that has a virtual turntable that you can actually scratch with. There is no word on U.S. availability yet, but Europe gets the Puma Phone in April.
Finally, a phone you can buy stateside! The Devour from Motorola represents the middle ground between the high-end Droid and the entry-level Droid Eris. The Devour is currently slated to run on Android 1.6, but it will be the first Motorola device on Verizon to use the Motoblur UI in conjunction with the Google OS. The Devour also comes with a 3.1 capacitive touchscreen, navigation trackpad, Bluetooth, and an 8 GB microSD card. While multitouch is still up in the air, there is always the chance that Android 2.1 will come to the Devour and bring multitouch support with it. Look for the Devour starting next month (pre-orders are already being taken at Best Buy).
Motorola CLIQ XT
The Cliq XT from Motorola is yet another Android device slated for the U.S. (it will be called the Quench in Europe). The Cliq XT, like the Devour, has a 3.1-inch touchscreen, and also integrates some form of multitouch (pinch-and-zoom, for example). This along with Motoblur, Flash Lite support, Bluetooth, a hearty navigation pad and a 5 MP digital camera with autofocus, and you have another solid mid-range Android offering for the U.S. The Cliq XT will be available through T-Mobile starting in March.
Garmin-Asus Nuvifone A50
The original Garmin-Asus Nuvifone from 2009 wasn't a huge hit, but the brand is back with two new devices that look much more promising. The Nuvifone A50 is an Android-based device with a custom touch UI. the A50 comes with a 3.5-inch touchscreen display, an accelerometer, and 4 GB of internal storage with a microSD slot for expansion. Fro navigation, the A50 uses a suite of location techniques to keep track of where you're going, including GPS and mobile network location tech, and the device comes pre-loaded with all the maps you would find on a standalone GPS. The A50 also comes "car-ready" with a windshield mount and car power adapter in the box. No word on carriers and availability quite yet.
Garmin-Asus Nuvifone M10
The Nuvifone M10 from Garmin-Asus is the second Garmin phone being shown off at MWC this month. While the A50 is running Android 1.6, the M10 is using Windows Mobile 6.5.3. This OS isn't met with as much fanfare as Android, but from what we've seen, the M10 takes 6.5.3 to the limit, and the touch capabilities are supposedly improved over other WinMo devices. The M10 also includes a stylus for those who don't like to use fingers on the screen. Two improvements compared to the A50: a 5 MP camera (the A50 has a 3 MP sensor), and the included 3.5mm jack.
The Nexus One from Google is one of the hottest devices around right now...and HTC just one-upped it. The Desire smartphone is a near-duplicate of the Nexus One (which HTC manufactures), with a few key improvments. The Desire uses HTC's heralded Sense UI on top of the Andoird OS, so you get the best of Google OS with a sleek interface. Also included is support for Flash 10.1, which means the Desire is a web video and gaming machine. The Desire also comes with a navigation trackpad instead of a trackball. Beyond that, the Desire matches the Nexus One, which means you're getting that blazing 1 GHz Snapdragon processor and a 3.7-inch AMOLED display. The downside? No word on North American availabilty, but those in Europe and Asia can expect it sometime in the next few months.
HTC HD Mini
The HD series from HTC has always been a crowd favorite, so it's no surprise that the HD Mini is receiving a lot of fanfare during the MWC. The HD Mini is essentially a compact version of the popular HD2, coming in with a 3.2-inch HVGA screen (as opposed to the 4.3-inch screen on its bigger brother). Besides the smaller form factor, the HD Mini still shares a lot of traits with the HD2, including Windows Mobile 6.5.3 with the Sense UI overlay. Unfortunately, this is yet another promising device that is slated for a "European and Asian release," with no mention of making it to North American shores.
The Legend from HTC is the second new Android device shown by the manufacturer at MWC 2010. This mid-range smartphone is intended to be the successor the popular Hero, and the Legend has been redone inside and out. The Legend comes wrapped in aluminum, and is equipped with a trackpad in lieu of the trackball. The Legend also throws away the old HVGA screen and replaces it with a 3.2-inch AMOLED display. Like most other HTC offerings, this Android device (2.1, to be specific), is also using the Sense UI overlay, and also comes with HTC's new Friend Stream software that aggregates your friends social networking updates into one, easy to read layout. Again, no word on when it will come to the U.S., but Europe should see it sometime in the second quarter.
Samsung Wave S8500
While Samsung has embraced Android during the past year, the company is also pushing out its own new proprietary mobile operating system, called Bada. The Samsung Wave (S8500) is the first phone to use this new OS and the new TouchWiz 3.0 UI, and so far the device looks promising. The Wave has a 1 GHz processor, Bluetooth 3.0 (the first phone to use the new standard), 802.11n WiFi, and a 3.3-inch "Super AMOLED" display with an 800x480 pixel resolution. This, combined with a healthy amount of codec support, 8 GB of storage, microSD expansion and a 5 MP camera, should shape the Wave up to be a multimedia titan. The Wave will be available worldwide in April, but no word on carriers and pricing just yet.
Samsung Halo i8520
While Samsung is moving ahead with its own new smartphone OS, the phone maker hasn't abandoned Android just yet. The i8520, or Halo, from Samsung is the company's latest flagship Android device, running v2.1 (with the TouchWiz 3.0 UI), and complete with a crazy list of features and specs. The Halo comes with a 3.7-inch Super AMOLED display, 802.11n WiFi, 8 MP camera with autofocus, 720p/30 video recording, a front-facing VGA camera for video chat, DivX and Xvid playback, 16 GB of internal storage with microSD expansion, stereo speakers and a DLP-based pico projector. The Halo will be available come late summer in Europe and Asia, with a North American version at some point after that.
Sony Ericsson X10 Mini, X10 Mini Pro
Both the X10 Mini and X10Mini Pro were launched at MWC by Sony Ericsson earlier this week, and the popular Xperia line is now available in two compact flavors. The Mini and Mini Pro are nearly identical, except the Pro comes with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and the Mini will launch with a bevy of color options (black, white, silver, red, lime, and pink). Both are currently run Android 1.6, and both use the same hardware, including a 2.5-inch QVGA touchscreen display and a 600 MHz processor from Qualcomm. Both also comes with 2 GB MicroSD cards in the box, and will be available worldwide (including the U.S.) come springtime.
Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Series
Microsoft's announcement isn't so much about a physical phone as it is about a new mobile operating system - Windows Phone 7 Series. Windows Mobile 6 has been around for a long time - too long, in fact, as its age has been showing for a while in our opinion. 7 Series is a completely new operating system designed to focus on three features: multitouch, social networking, and the Microsoft ecosystem (Zune Marketplace, Office, Bing). The UI is based on a series of tiles that can be arraigned however the user wants, and the tiles can represent anything available on the phone, from Outlook to the Zune Marketplace to Twitter. In short, Series 7 is highly customizable, and the emphasis on multitouch should make for a more fluid experience.
The hardware requirements are fairly straightforward; the starting point for processors will be the ever-so-popular 1 GHz Snapdragon from Qualcomm, and the physical interface, touchscreen aside, will consist of five buttons: Start, Back, Search, Camera and Power. Other hardware requirements include a high-res WVGA display, accelerometer, WiFi, GPS, an FM tuner, a minimum GPU requirement (unknown), and a high-res camera. The phone and mock-up images being paraded around at MWC are from an (officially) unknown manufacturer, but rumors point to Garmin-Asus as the maker.