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Mobile World Congress 2012 Preview: Quad-Core Phones, Intel Medfield Devices, More

During the week of February 27th, the technology industry will gather in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress, phone and tablet makers' annual answer to CES. In the halls of Fira Palace, leading handset makers including Nokia, Sony, Samsung,  HTC, and LG will be showcasing their latest wares, some of which won't appear in North America for several months. At last year's show, we had the opportunity to preview the Samsung Galaxy S II, which didn't appear on our shores until the fall, and the HTC Flyer, which didn't arrive until summer.

Here are some of the trends we expect to see at this year's Mobile World Congress:

  • Quad-Core Tegra 3 Phones: We were disappointed not to see any Tegra 3-powered handsets at CES, but we'd be shocked if nobody unveils one at Mobile World Congress. We've already heard that LG could be unveiling a quad-core phone called the LG X3 at its Feburary 26th press event and that HTC may announce the rumored One X phone that day too.
  • More Tegra 3 Tablets: At the moment, ASUS's Eee Pad Transformer Prime is the only tablet powered by Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 CPU. We expect at least one other tablet-maker to show off a quad-core slate at the show. ASUS is rumored to release a lower-end version of the Transformer called the Transformer Pad TF300T, that has Tegra 3 with a 1280 x 752 resolution screen. 
  • Intel Medfield Comes to the U.S.: Intel made a splash at CES when it showed off both the Lenovo K800, the first phone powered by Intel's Medfield platform, and the Lenovo IdeaTab K2110, an Android tablet with Medfield. Neither of these devices is expected to come to the U.S. and Lenovo doesn't even sell phones here. However, we expect to see some larger handset makers start demoing Medfield devices at the show. Though Motorola told us it has no major announcements at the show, Slashgear recently reported that the company could be unveiling a Medfield-powered Droid in Barcelona.
  • Wireless Display Demos:  At CES, Texas Instruments showed off its OMAP 4 processor's ability to stream videos and games wirelessly to a second display while Intel announced that its Medfield platform would support the same Wireless Display (WiDi) standard we've seen on Core i5 and higher notebooks for a couple of years now. We expect to see actual mobile devices, not just white box units, that stream wirelessly on a number of platforms. Perhaps, we'll even see Nvidia or Qualcomm show off this ability.
  • HTC Sense 4.0: HTC's Sense UI is due for an upgrade and many observers expect Sense Version 4.0 to make an appearance at Mobile World Congress. Slashgear reports that the new Sense will have a homescreen that functions in landscape mode, an improved browser with reader and page saving modes, and built-in Dropbox support.  
  •  Windows 8 Tablets: With the consumer preview of Windows 8 due out on the third day of the show, we expect to see a slew of Windows 8 slates appear on the show floor either right after the event or right before. Most of these slates will probably be running Windows 8 for ARM so we'll get a closer look at that version of the upcoming OS.
  • Augmented Reality Everywhere: Augmented reality apps were a big theme at CES and an even bigger one at this year's Toy Fair. We'll undoubtedly see some interested AR software and appcessories, particularly for Android. Even the Mobile World Congress show itself is getting into the act, providing an augmented reality app overlays icons on top of buildings and exhibits throughout the convention center.
  • Higher-than-HD Screens: With Apple's iPad 3 expected to launch with a 2048 x 1536 screen, the resolution race is on. At CES, we saw a couple of tablets -- the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF700T and an unnamed Acer slate  with 1920 x 1200 displays. Expect to see more 1920 x 1200 or higher Android tablets unveiled at Mobile World Congress, along with a host of handsets sporting 1280 x 720 resolutions.
  • Pen Proliferation: At last year's Mobile World Congress, we saw the first Android tablet with an active stylus in the HTC Flyer. Since then, Samsung has brought pen support to phones with the Galaxy Note. Expect at least one other pen-based device from a major manufacturer to bow at this year's show, perhaps the rumored Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet from Samsung.

Even if we're wrong about even half of these predictions, Mobile World Congress 2012 promises to be one of the most exciting mobile trade shows yet. Stay tuned for our full coverage of the show.