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Mobile World Congress 2012: Top 10 highlights from Barcelona expo

The Mobile World Congress 2012 is showcasing the latest and greatest in mobile phone technology until 1 March.

The massive four-day expo in Barcelona features everything from handsets to tablets, apps to accessories - giving plenty of pointers to the "next big thing".

Huge names such as Sony Mobile, HTC, Nokia, Panasonic and Samsung have all used MWC 2012 to reveal hot new products.

                                                    [Related link: Buy a smartphone]

Below we round up 10 of the best from the showfloor - in no particular order - that you should be watching out for in the coming months.

Samsung Galaxy BeamSamsung Galaxy Beam

Ever been in a room and thought to yourself: 'I wish I could project a photo or video from my phone onto the wall 50 inches wide'? No, us neither.

But that doesn't stop the inclusion of a projector in this handset sounding like an extremely cool idea.

Of course, it could be a fad, but it's got to be handy for business presentations, and surely watching a downloaded movie on the wall or ceiling of your lounge or bedroom without needing a TV could come in useful occasionally.

The Samsung Galaxy Beam runs on the Android Gingerbread 2.3 operating system and has a four inch screen, 1GHz dual-core processor and 8GB of storage, plus a five megapixel camera on the rear for stills and movies and a 1.3 megapixel one on the front for video calls.

It's not the world's best spec'd smartphone but Simon Stanford of Samsung says: "The Samsung Galaxy Beam gives people freedom to share what’s important to them instantly with friends and family."

He might not feel the same if he's forced to sit through a long and boring presentation of a pal's holiday snaps.

Sony Mobile Xperia PSony Mobile Experia P

Apple has its retina display on the iPhone and now Sony Mobile (previously Sony Ericsson) has come up with the Reality Display.

It uses what the company has dubbed "WhiteMagic" technology to create ultra-bright viewing in whatever light conditions you find yourself.

The Xperia P has a four inch display, 1GHz dual-core processor, a decent 16GB of storage and an eight megapixel camera.

Even better it features NFC technology, ready for when mobile payments take off, and it can be connected to a high-definition TV thanks to an HDMI port.

Another key benefit is it's fully upgradable to the new Android 4.0 operating system Ice Cream Sandwich, which is set to arrive in the next few months.

HTC OneHTC One

Announcing not just a single smartphone but a whole range of them, HTC has come up trumps once again.

Just a few years ago it was an unknown company making handsets for others to badge up and call their own. Now it's creating some of the best and most popular mobile products in the business.

The One series is headed by the HTC One X with a super fast quad-core 1.5GHz processor and an extremely powerful graphics chip. That's why it has a massive 4.7 inch screen, made of tough Gorilla Glass, to make the most of those insides.

A smaller One S and One V are also in the range with the One Series featuring a range of technology improvements over HTC phones past.

These include faster image capturing from the camera, improved picture quality in low light conditions, the ability to take stills and video at the same time and integration with the awesome Dropbox online storage service. HTC One owners will get 25GB of free space for two years, automatically saving your stored files, music and content.

With those features and specs, the One X looks to be HTC gearing up for a fight with Apple's new iPhone 5.

Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD

Huawei MediaPadHuawei is a company a bit like HTC was in days gone by.You might not recognise the name but it has made good devices badged by the networks.

It’s claimed his tablet computer is the world's first 10 inch tab to use a quad-core processor and it runs on the newest Google Android 4.0 operating system.

It also supports the forthcoming LTE network technology, the successor to 3G mobile phone data speeds, bringing ultra-fast 4G speeds to Britain once networks such as Orange and T-Mobile begin to roll out the infrastructure at the end of 2012.

Huawei says the MediaPad 10 has the industry's "highest screen resolution" at 1920x1200, it features Dolby surround sound and there's an eight megapixel camera on the rear.

It ‘s likely to be eclipsed by the iPad 3 when that is announced very soon but in the meantime it's an interesting look at where tablet technology is heading.

Huawei also used MWC to reveal the Ascend D smartphone with quad-core processing.

Alcatel One TouchAlcatel OneTouch

When it comes to budget but stylish handsets, Alcatel makes some of the best - and the One Touch series appears to be another step in that direction.

The company will now have 12 Android models from the entry-level One Touch Smart 918 to the top-of-the-range One Touch Ultra 995 boasting HDMI and DNLA connections for sharing content stored on the handset with TVs and other devices.

Alcatel also announced plans to bring out its own tablet, the One Touch Tab 20, a seven inch model running the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich.

Panasonic ElugaPanasonic Eluga Power


It is fair to say Panasonic have never managed to make waves in the mobile world in the same way it has captured wallets with its TVs, cameras and home entertainment products.

It has announced two new models at MWC, one that could change that view and one that feels much more of a gimmick.

The lightweight waterproof Eluga can be left under a metre of water for up to 30 minutes but other than that, it's specs are pretty standard.

But the Eluga Power – also waterproof – shouts louder with a slender 9.6mm chassis and massive five inch display. It runs a dual-core 1.5Ghz processor and will work with Ice Cream Sandwich when that is launched.

There's NFC built-in for wireless payments and data transfer but only 8GB of internal storage, upgradeable through a memory card by a further 32GB.

As you'd expect from its heritage, there's a seemingly decent eight megapixel camera with high-definition video recording and scene modes plus an 8x digital zoom.

But what catches the eye is the "superfast" charging claim - just 30 minutes to boost it to 50%. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2Samsung Galaxy Tab 2

As Apple gears up to launch the iPad 3, Samsung has announced the second version of its Galaxy Tab will hit stores in March.

There will be both a seven inch and 10 inch offering with 3G and/or Wi-Fi plus Android Ice Cream Sandwich and a 1GHz dual-core processor.

But with just a three megapixel camera on the rear and only a VGA version on the front, it is likely to be overtaken in both speed and features as soon as Apple takes the wraps off its eagerly-awaited tablet.

Windows Phone updates

Microsoft's partnership with Nokia to produce Windows Phone handsets was a key moment in the operating system's life.

It had previously been seen as very business-only and ultimately boring but tying up with the Finnish company, once the darlings of mobile popularity among teens and 20-somethings, looked to be a cunning plan.

The Nokia Lumia Windows Phone series got a lot of press last year, not least for its tie-up with The X Factor and was at least an attempt to make Windows Phone "sexy".

Windows Skype phoneAt MWC 2012, Microsoft announced Skype would now be coming to the platform with a beta version of the app out now.

Nokia also revealed a budget Lumia, the 610, plus a top-range 900 version while another bargain manufacturer ZTE showed off the Orbit.

The next 12 months should be an interesting one for Windows Phone. It will take something even more special than this to gain traction against the continued dominance of Apple's iOS and Android's growth. An Xbox mobile perhaps?

Nokia 808 Pure View


Nokia 808 Pure ViewThis handset is in the same category as the Samsung Galaxy Beam - you've no idea whether you really need it but it sounds amazing.

So, take a deep breath, this is a camera phone with a whopping 41 - yes FORTY-ONE - megapixel sensor.

Nokia's favoured Carl Zeiss lens is still included and apparently what the technology inside does with such a large numbered sensor is turn the pictures it captures into faultless quality five megapixel images.

Nokia says you can also use it to zoom in by up to 300% without any loss of detail, with video too as well as stills.

The company explains: "It's not about the amount of the pixels, it's what you do with them. Nokia PureView imaging technology can distill 7 pixels into 1 for stunningly sharp and clear 5MP photos that are easy to share."

Totally built around imaging, there's also a powerful Xenon flash and an LED video light on the 808 and it'll be interesting to see if it lives up to the hype with pictures as clear and crisp as Nokia suggest they will be.

Opera Mini Next

When you buy a smartphone, most people stick to viewing the web on the browser pre-installed on it. But you don't have to.

When Opera launched its Mini browser for the iPhone back in 2010, more than 2.6 million people downloaded it in the first two weeks.

And so the announcement of its Opera Mini Next software should be greeted with excitement by the millions who’ve not yet made the smartphone jump.

The browsing experience through Opera on a mobile, as well as the web, is fast, uncluttered and extremely enjoyable.

Mini Next is just a preview version right now but is designed to enhance feature phones rather than smartphones. It will integrate Facebook and Twitter into its initial screen ensuring those without the power and ability to use apps don't miss out on the best social media experiences.

As Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera Software, put it: "Just because you’re on a more basic phone, doesn’t mean you can’t be a active social networker."

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