The dust has settled over Barcelona as Mobile World Congress draws towards a close for another year. The big manufacturers have displayed their devices, hoping to capture customer enthusiasm and be the next big handset. We’re looking at each of the individual company’s offerings and considering what they’ve put on the table.
Samsung kicked off Mobile World Congress early, flashing the details of their Samsung Galaxy S II ahead of the game. The Korean company had announced all it’s middle of the range handsets just prior to MWC, we can only assume so that they didn’t detract from the main message: we’ve briefly included those handsets here too.
Samsung Galaxy S II
The Samsung Galaxy S was one of our favourite phones from 2010, but it immediately set a marker for all to follow and pointed out a number of trends. It had a 4-inch screen that was so incredibly vibrant with astonishingly deep blacks that everything else paled by comparison. The landscape has drastically changed and the Samsung Galaxy S II is here to set out Samsung’s stall in the high-end Android market once again.
The astonishing thing about the Galaxy S II is just how much is crammed into it’s svelte figure. It’s one of the first handsets to appear with NFC. We’re yet to see if NFC is going to take off of as technology, but Samsung have it covered (in more than one handset too). At only 8.49mm thick, it ticks just about every spec check box you can imagine. You name it, it seems to have it.
It certainly looks to right some of the quirks of the original Galaxy S which was a hugely popular phone in its own right, so Samsung may well walk away with the lion’s share this year (remember they've sold over 10m Galaxy S so far). Some might prefer something a little more substantial in the hand, however, and look to the LG Optimus 2X.
Samsung Wave 578
Officially announced at Mobile World Congress, the Samsung Wave 578 has a much lower profile than the chart topping Galaxy S II. In fact, it was almost impossible to find. Samsung had ranks and ranks of premium handsets to play with, but the Wave 578 was tucked away on the NFC demo and in the Orange cabin (the network are carrying the new phone).
Perhaps that’s because this new handset is based on Samsung’s own Bada platform and is entry-level? It’s still a significant device, because it offers NFC at an affordable price point. If NFC gets adoption then it provides a means for those to access the new technology without forking out a load of cash. However, given that we can currently see nil infrastructure for NFC, we doubt that NFC will be a concern at this level for the duration of this phone’s life.
In the hand it is reminiscent of any number of Samsung devices in the past and doesn’t throw up many surprises. The specs are basic, but we’re sure it will also be cheap. The question is, why would you go Bada, when the company has a whole range of Android phones that are affordable too? We’re not sure NFC alone will be big enough to sell it.
Samsung Galaxy Ace
The Samsung Galaxy Ace fires the first salvo in Android mid-range dominance. Looking like a mini Galaxy S, the Galaxy Ace offers up a screen that at 3.5-inches might sound small in Android terms, but is the same size as the iPhone 4. What it features in size it lacks in resolution however, which really sets the Ace apart from premium devices.
But the specs don’t break down too badly and the Galaxy Ace does have the power to cut through many of the tasks you'll set it. We’re quite taken with the design too, which picks up many of the markers laid down by Samsung’s high-end devices.
The biggest complaint, we’re sure, will be the low resolution of the screen especially with budget devices like the Orange San Francisco pushing high-res displays.
Samsung Galaxy Fit, Galaxy Gio, Galaxy Mini
The dividing lines get a little blurred towards the bottom of Samsung’s Android range. Launching phones in a number of screen sizes, but with a fractionally different design; at first glance it’s clear that these phones were born of Samsung’s affordable handsets of yesteryear.
The Galaxy Gio offers a little more power than it’s rivals, but the Fit has a marginally larger screen. The Mini lucks out in both departments, but it still has a 3.14-inch screen, which until recently was considered a decent size. We might be more taken with 4-inch displays, but even the tiny 2.2-inches of the Sony Ericsson X10 mini wasn’t totally unusable, so long as the response is good enough.
We’re yet to see exactly who will be stocking these handsets, if indeed all do get adoption in all territories. We suspect they’ll be spread across the networks, so you probably won’t have to choose between all of them. Samsung adds some value to their handsets without altering the interface too drastically and we've been happy with most of their alterations in the past. Competition is fierce in the world of Android, and you certainly won't be short of choice.
Our pick of the bunch
This is an easy call as Samsung have thrown all their efforts into their flagship device. We’re sure it will be a storming success, not only because of the impressive design, but also the packed spec sheet.
We’re yet to see how Samsung’s dual core processor compares to the Tegra 2 from Nvidia, and there are suggestions (reading into the small print) that the phone will actually come with the Tegra 2 in some regions, but we can’t imagine there’ll be such a difference that you’ll decide against it.