As many viewers may be aware, every year the big names in the smartphone and tablet industries make their annual pilgrimage to Spain, home of the Sagrada Familia, world-class soccer, and most importantly, the Mobile World Congress.
There’s a lot that’s already happened this week, and it’s got quite a few of us (especially those of us who can’t wait for our Verizon contract to end in June) quite excited about the phones that will hit the market this year. So without further ado, let’s jump into the fray!
Hewlett-Packard is first up in today’s news, as they’re set to release a tablet to be competitive in the mobile space. The HP Slate 7 won’t be released until April, but at $169.99, it’s priced to shake up the mobile landscape. The seven-inch tablet will run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and it will be powered by the dual-core 1.6Hz ARM Cortex-A9 chip. Unfortunately, it will only be equipped With 1GB of RAM and an 8GB hard drive, so this clearly isn’t going to contend with the upper end of the market, but with a price tag around $170, they may very well draw some attention to the casual user looking to get their hands on a tablet.
Nokia is venturing into the Windows Phone 8 market with 2 new phones – the Lumia 520 and the Lumia 720. The 520 is tailored as an entry-level phone with a 4 inch display and is powered by a 1Ghz Snapdragon processor. The 8 GB of onboard memory and expandable micro SD makes this smartphone a good alternative for anyone looking for a compact yet capable phone. The 720, however has a slightly larger display at 4.3 inches and a better camera at 6.7 megapixels, making it much more attractive to for the power user looking for something small but capable.
In an interesting announcement, Facebook is continuing their effort to blur the lines between social networking and straightforward communication. By partnering with 18 carriers in 14 countries, Facebook is enabling their customers to receive free or heavily discounted data when using the Facebook Messenger App. There’s no question that this is a move by Facebook to leveraging its product to make individual carriers less relevant. This is great news for the consumer, but how the carriers will benefit in the long-term remains to be seen.
MasterCard is demonstrating its will to live with what it calls MasterPass, which is an extension of its PayPass program. The Masterpass places an emphasis on partnerships with merchants and retailers and will provide for unique payment options once it becomes much more prevalent. MasterCard senior vice president, Ed Ole-bee, envisions a future where a consumer might notice a shirt on a rack, and with a few swipes on a mobile device equipped with the MasterPass app, complete the purchase, and have the item automatically shipped to a designated address. If MasterCard can reduce the costs that retailers are paying, they have a good chance at remaining relevant in the face of competing electronic payment methods like Paypal.
Sony unveiled their Xperia Tablet Z in Japan last month but we finally have confirmation that the 10.1 inch Android tablet is coming stateside. It will run Android 4.1 on a 1.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and feature water and dust proofing to keep the device safe for more extreme use. The Xperia Tablet Z will come in a 16 GB variant which will cost $499 and $599 for the 32 GB. Sony, however, has not announced a release date as of yet.
Since Android and iOS take up 91% of the smartphone market, the remaining 9% is shaping up to be a competitive space, with BlackBerry and Windows Phone fighting for customers, and now it appears Mozilla is releasing their own mobile os, called Firefox OS. Partnering with 18 operators, the Open Web Devices should be attractive to those who are web apps centric. Generally speaking, web apps created with HTML5 just aren’t very popular, but with Firefox OS on the horizon, perhaps web apps will see a resurgence in popularity.
Lenovo is making a splash in the mid-range tablet market with the release of 3 new Android devices. Lenovo’s new 10-inch model, the s6000, and the 7-inch a3000 and a1000 models all clock in at roughly 1.2 GHz, making them ideal for casual tablet users and media enthusiasts, though the specs aren’t very beefy for more advanced users. However, the new line of Lenovo tablets do serve as a reasonable alternative for those who are looking for an inexpensive tablet with decent specs.
Needless to say, we here at SiliconANGLE are quite excited about all of the new devices coming out, and for those of you who want to keep up with what’s coming out next, don’t forget to watch us and all of our coverage of the Mobile World Congress on the Morning NewsDesk Show with Kristin Feledy.