News by Andrew Kameka on Thursday February 28, 2013.
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Mobile World Congress is the world's largest event for mobile devices, though onlookers may not feel that way considering that so many important smartphones announcements came before the event took place, and an even bigger one will take place next month in New York City. However, there were some noteworthy smartphones and tablets unveiled in Barcelona, so here's a quick recap:
A 7-inch smartphone? Are you kidding me? No, it's a 7-inch tablet that can make phone calls, so there is a difference. ASUS announced what looks like a more premium Nexus 7 and added the ability to place phone calls in select markets, so the FonePad will further blur the line between smartphone and tablet in the eyes of many. However, as I mentioned earlier this week, this is a tablet first, and the phone call capability is an added bonus that some people will embrace. Read more about the ASUS FonePad.
ASUS Padfone Infinity
Speaking of smartphone-tablet blurring, ASUS also announced the Padfone Infinity, a 5-inch smartphone that converts into a 10.1-inch tablet when docked into an Infinity Station. This is the third Padfone design the company has shown off, and it's the most powerful version yet. Aside from the major upgrades to the screen, processor, and camera, it's in the rare company of being an Android 4.2 device. The Padfone Infinity is expensive - EUR 999 (US $1,327) - and so far promised only for Taiwan and unnamed countries in April, so it will be interesting to see if ASUS finally manages to bring a Padfone to North America. Read more about the ASUS Padfone Infinity.
Nokia Lumia 720
The Nokia Lumia 920 featured plenty of innovations to make the Windows Phone 8 device competitive in the high-end market, but Nokia's midrange devices like the Lumia 820 obviously didn't match up to the bar set by the 920. The Nokia Lumia 720 is interesting because it's a better than expected midrange device. It has respectable specs, a 4.3-inch screen, and a unibody design that one could easily argue is better than the Lumia 920. The Lumia 920 remains better because of its imaging features, but the 720 is no slouch in that department either. The Lumia 720 shows Nokia is very serious about pushing the boundaries of the midrange class. Read more about the Nokia Lumia 720.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0
Samsung already has an S Pen-capable device with a 5.5-inch screen and another with a 10.1-inch screen. Does it really need another? The popularity of 7-inch tablets shows that there's clearly a market for devices in that middle ground, so it makes sense that Samsung would debut another tablet that's larger than the Note II but more portable than the Note 10.1. It also has the option to place phone calls, so this device will fill gaps in more ways than one. Read more about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0.
HP Slate 7
The HP Slate 7 isn't an interesting device from a hardware perspective. However, the fact that HP is getting back into the tablet game after its Touchpad fiasco raises an eyebrow. The fact that it chose Android over its own webOS software, which has since been sold to LG, raises the other brow. Read more about the HP Slate 7.
Firefox OS / ZTE Open
Android, Apple iOs, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone are the smartphone operating systems with the most attention. Is there room for anyone else? Mozilla certainly hopes so. The browser experts hope to become phone experts with their Firefox OS, and the ZTE Open is set to be among the first consumer smartphones to run Firefox OS. The ZTE Open is an entry-level device that won't blow anyone away, but it will be the first chance people have to experience Firefox OS. The web-centric Firefox OS won't launch in the U.S. until 2014, but the ZTE Open will be available this summer. Learn more by reading this hands-on report from Techcrunch.
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.