Korea’s Hottest Tablets, Mobiles and Tech – MWC Recap
The first time I went to the Mobile World Congress, the largest mobile industry gathering, was back in the mid-2000s. The buzz was all about feature phones from Sony, Nokia, RIM and Motorola. Samsung and LG both had booths but they weren’t the center of attention. (In fact, the booths were off to the sides of the hall at Fira de Barcelona.)
But how things have changed! Most of the news coming out of MWC this year is about innovative new handsets and tablets from Korean companies. Samsung, LG, SK Telecom and KT all exhibited products and technologies for the global market this year.
While Samsung asked fans to wait a little longer on the Galaxy S III, it did unveil a larger 10.1-inch version of the Galaxy Note, which Engadget named the best tablet of the show. Unlike most tablets, the Galaxy Note 10.1 also has phone capabilities and a highly accurate, pressure sensitive stylus – the same type that graphic designers use. The tablet runs the latest version of Google’s Android operating system and comes pre-installed with five apps that take advantage of its stylus, including Photoshop Touch.
The company has seen quite a bit of success with the Galaxy Note 5.3, especially in Asian markets where character input may be easier with a stylus than a keypad. Now Samsung seems hopeful that the market will also accept a larger version. It also seems that Samsung wasn’t just chasing the highest possible specs with this tablet. Instead, it seems, they’ve tried to balance performance and price to make the device more price competitive with the iPad and Kindle Fire.
Fitting nicely between Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5.3 and Note 10.1 is the new seven-inch version of the Galaxy Tab 2. The company is promoting this as a powerful but portable tablet. Another bright spot for the company is the Galaxy Beam, the world’s slimmest phone with a built-in projector.
If Samsung’s focus at MWC was on tablets, LG’s was distinctly on smartphones. LG announced the Optimus Vu, which has the portability and communication capabilities of a phone but a large enough screen to tempt many tablet buyers. Dominating the Optimus Vu is a huge 4:3 aspect ratio 5-inch screen. (A five-inch 4:3 aspect ratio provides more viewing area than a 5-inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Don’t believe me? Ask Pythagoras.) This phone is also built for new LTE networks, which means downloads are extremely fast.
LG’s other major offering at MWC is a battery-sipping speed demon, the Optimus 4X HD. Just one year after launching its first dual core phone, LG decided that two cores is not enough and added two (actually three) more. That’s right, this is a four-core phone powered by NVIDIA’s 1.5 Ghz Tegra 3 processor, which has a fifth low-power core designed extend battery life for simpler applications. As its name implies, the Optimus 4X HD has a very high quality IPS screen.
LG also announced the Optimus L3, L5 and L7 at MWC, all of which are design-focused smartphones running Android.
SK Telecom and KT
On our Facebook page, we already mentioned SK Telecom’s smart learning technology that allows Android phones to control small robots. The company also demonstrated the world’s first Hybrid Network technology, which delivers next generation LTE phone service and long-range WIFI over the same network. This effectively doubles the speed of a phone’s internet connection, making it about the same as people have come to expect at home.
Korea Telecom showed off a wide array of Connected House technologies along with American and European telecom giants AT&T and Vodafone. These embedded wireless technologies are designed to make everyday living a bit easier. Some of the prototypes on display included a door lock that can be controlled using a smartphone and a blood sugar monitor that automatically sends results to healthcare providers.
This was a great year for Korean companies at the Mobile World Congress and there are surely more great years and great technologies to come.