Detailed analysis of all the new smartphone launches at MWC 2012 shows 39 Android models, two Windows Phone 7 releases and one solitary Symbian device. Guy Daniels reports.
Research firm Strategy Analytics has produced a new report detailing the 42 new smartphone launches at this year’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona. It forms part of its monthly SpecTRAX market insight series.
ZTE produced 13 of the models, followed by Samsung and LG each with 5 new smartphones. The other manufacturers were HTC, Huawei, Sony, Acer, Nokia, Panasonic, ViewSonic and Lava. Doro also released their first smartphone, the EasyPhone 740, a low specification Android device.
According to Strategy Analytics, the major smartphone trends of the show were an increasing focus on Android, multi-core processors, average screen sizes now above 4 inches, and early signs of 4G LTE support.
Android dominated the operating system market with 39 new smartphones, helped by the introduction of the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade (pre-installed on 23 of them). Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS 7 and 7.5 were to be found on only two handsets (disappointedly, the only manufacturer other than Nokia to announce a Windows Phone smartphone at the show was ZTE, and that was on the older OS7 Tango), and Symbian Belle was found on Nokia’s 808 Pureview (yes, the oddball with the 41MP camera).
In total, there were 5 quad-core smartphones announced at MWC this year, plus 16 dual-core smartphones. In other words, half the new devices featured multi-core processors. Seven new smartphones had so-called retina displays (i.e. resolutions greater than 300ppi), with the majority being 4.5 inches or more – as much as 5 inches in the case of LG, Panasonic and ViewSonic.
Moving on to LTE support, five new smartphones featured 4G – one each from HTC, LG, Huawei and two from ZTE.
Those were the upward trends. As for downward trends, the ZTE Kis was the only 2G smartphone announced at the event (even that was a surprise) and not a single new smartphone model featured a physical Qwerty keyboard. However, one of the stand-out manufacturers for Strategy Analytics was Huawei:
“As an OEM Huawei bucked the trend with increased processor speed running hand-in-hand with quad core penetrance, display size and pixel density. Their sub- branded Ascend range, combines speed with dual and quad core processors. The result is calculated clock speeds of up to 4.5GHz in the Ascend D Quad XL, which surpasses even some newly announced tablets.”
The research firm concludes that smartphones continue to get thinner, more powerful and more highly specified. As a result, component vendors are being challenged to create better displays, batteries and processors and fit them into ever-smaller spaces.
In related news, Berg Insight reports this week that shipments of NFC-enabled handsets reached 30 million units in 2011, representing a ten-fold increase on the previous year. There are now more than 40 NFC-enabled handset models available. The firm believes growth will continue at around 87 per cent annually to reach total NFC-enabled handset shipments of 700 million by 2016.
André Malm, senior analyst at Berg Insight, says that NFC is not just about mobile money transactions – it can be used for applications such as paring devices to establish Bluetooth or WLAN connections, information exchange and electronic ticketing:
“Even though it will take some time before the stakeholders agree on business models for payment networks, other use cases such as reading tags and easy pairing of devices may well be compelling enough for handset vendors to integrate NFC in mid- and high-end devices already today.”
Malm adds that the global rise in smartphone adoption is also driving higher take-up of other wireless connectivity technologies in handsets, including GPS, Bluetooth and WLAN – especially on low-end models and in featurephones, as these two segments start to merge.
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