Mobile World Congress is a dignified affair held yearly in Barcelona that companies take very seriously. For example, unlike CES, there are lots and lots of suits -- after all, this is a congress. Here, some of the most unique and desirable handsets meet the eyes of press, analysts and buyers for the very first time. Accordingly, anxieties were high among company leaders as they put their best foot forward and held their breath for the first round of impressions. This year's show has been a wild ride, and we've seen many devices stretch the boundaries of our imagination. There were more than a few stunners, and as the dust settles, companies such as HTC, Nokia and LG can all hold their heads high. Join us after the break as we reminisce the most notable smartphones from Mobile World Congress.
HTC One X
This past year, many smartphones from HTC fell just short of being ideal. The One X is proof that the company has listened to the critiques, and oh, how times have changed. This incredibly slim handset features an understated yet elegant design, yet inside it packs a Tegra 3 SoC with a quad-core 1.5GHz CPU (or a Snapdragon S4 with a dual-core 1.5GHz processor in AT&T's variant), a beautiful 4.7-inch 720p Super LCD display, 16GB of internal storage and an oh-so-desirable f/2.0, 8 megapixel camera that effortlessly captures beautiful imagery at a rapid pace. It features Ice Cream Sandwich with a Sense 4.0 overlay that's much less obtrusive than previous versions, and our interactions with the phone were buttery smooth. Put simply, the HTC One X stole the show at Mobile World Congress. So long as battery life is up to par, it'll set the pace for every smartphone to follow in its wake.
HTC One S
The HTC One S is positioned as the company's mid-range device, but in all seriousness, it could very well be an ideal smartphone for anyone that finds the One X's 4.7-inch display a bit excessive. It shares many of the same design cues as its larger sibling, and HTC's attention to detail is very apparent -- for example, when swiping across the screen, your finger will effortlessly cascade off the glass. It features a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4, a 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED display, a similar 16GB of storage and the same 8MP camera that's found in the One X.
Nokia PureView 808
The PureView 808 from Nokia won the official Bestof Show award here at Mobile World Congress, and while the device has undoubtedly moved the cameraphone to a new echelon, we've no doubt there was a bit of Euro bias in the vote. Put simply, the PureView 808 is a middling (and slightly clumsy) device with an amazing 41-megapixel camera. It features a 1.3GHz CPU, a 4-inch ClearBlack AMOLED display at 640 x 360, and packs quadband GSM and pentaband 3G connectivity -- all in a device that runs Symbian Belle. That said, yeah, we want one.
LG Optimus Vu
The Optimus Vu has literally met the boundaries for how wide a smartphone can be. It's a short and broad device that's undoubtedly LG's answer to the Galaxy Note from Samsung. It features an excellent 5-inch IPS display with a rather unique 4:3 aspect ratio. While it may appear a bit clumsy, we found its width to be quite ideal for text input on the virtual keyboard. Naturally, it also features stylus input, though we still prefer the Galaxy Note in this arena. Internally, there's a 1.5GHz dual-core CPU, an 8 megapixel camera and a 2,080mAh battery. At just 8.5mm, it's an incredibly thin device, through you'll certainly want to test drive this one in your pants pocket before making the commitment.
LG Optimus 4X HD
The sequel to the Optimus 2X is here, and it asks to be called the Optimus 4X HD. As the name implies, it now packs a Tegra 3 SoC with a quad-core 1.5GHz CPU and a large 4.7-inch IPS display with 720p resolution, along with an 8 megapixel primary camera. While there's no doubt plenty of power with this handset, LG's software struck us as rather slow and cumbersome -- which is, sadly, all too reminiscent of the Optimus 2X. Nonetheless, we were rather fond of the device's build quality and its display, but further software optimization will be necessary to get this one off the ground.
Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G
It's no game-changer, but there's still plenty to love about the Galaxy S Blaze 4G. It takes many of the design cues of the original Galaxy S lineup and crams Galaxy S II innards into the handset. It features a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S3, a 4-inch Super AMOLED display, a 5 megapixel camera and will support T-Mobile's 42Mbps HSPA+ network. Once T-Mobile lowers the $150 price to a more palatable level, it promises to be a very strong mid-tier contender.
Nokia Lumia 610
It's difficult to stir our passions with a low-end device, and just to be clear, value-conscious consumers will likely find better options elsewhere, but Nokia has proven that it's ready to take Windows Phone down to a level that's accessible to a larger audience. That on its own makes the Lumia 610 worth a humble mention. It features an 800MHz CPU, 3.7-inch WVGA TFT display, a 5MP camera and quadband GSM / EDGE / WCDMA.