Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich buffet at MWC 2012

by Kristen Nicole

It seems we’ve been waiting a lifetime for a solid array of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich devices to hit the market since the OS was updated last November. And Barcelona’s annual Mobile World Congress event has served up an Ice Cream Sandwich buffet. Most major OEMs revealed a new and improved line up of ICS devices, ready to compete in this current iteration of the Android OS. HTC has stolen the show with a unified family of Android devices, including the One X, while Sony, Samsung and even Telefonica find their own ways to differentiate their handsets in a crowded Android scene.

HTC One X

HTC has faltered as an Android OEM in the past twelve months, giving up their market lead to Samsung. That may all change with the introduction of the One X, a feature-packed device that doesn’t skimp on the details. Part of HTC’s new signature line, the quad-core ICS smartphone really stands out with its revamped version of the HTC Sense interface, Sense 4.0. The One X boasts a 1.5GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and a large 4.7-inch Super LCD2 display with 1280x720 pixel HD resolution and Gorilla Glass. With its 0.36-inch profile, the black or white One X follows the trend towards phablets: larger smartphones that combine many functions of the smartphone and tablet. The One X comes with an 8-megapixel camera with five levels of LED flash and auto-focus, as well as 1080p HD video recording and playback. The front-facing camera comes in at 1.3-megapixels, capable of shooting 720p HD video. There’s also Beats Audio included, the popular music hub that aggregates your music apps.

Samsung Galaxy Beam & Note 10.1

Already top dog amongst Android OEMs, Samsung introduced a new lineup of handsets, including the latest version of the Galaxy Note, which comes with its very own stylus dubbed the S Pen. The Galaxy Beam is a smartphone that lets users project photos and video on a blank wall, ceiling or screen. It has a 5-megapixel camera and records at 720p. Measuring in at half-an-inch thick, the Beam also boasts a 1GHz dual-core processor, though it’s launching with Android 2.3 Gingerbread instead of ICS.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 features a 1.4GHz dual-core processor as well as HSPA+ and Wi-Fi connectivity, though it can’t be used with a phone plan (data only). The ICS device comes with TouchWiz and a number of other optimizations for the Wacom-based S Pen, including a shortcut to S Notes for writing reminders, lists and phone numbers. The Galaxy note 10.1 also comes with a pre-loaded version of Adobe Photoshop Touch and Ideas, both optimized for the pressure-sensitive S Pen. As far as hardware goes, the phablet has a 1.4GHz dual-core Exynos processor, and a screen resolution of 1280x800. The rear camera is a mere 3-megapixels, while the front camera is 2-megapixels. The Galaxy note 10.1 also comes with 64GB of storage once you factor in the microSD slot on the side.

Sony Xperia P and U

Riding on the wave of unveilings at CES last month, Sony revealed the next two devices in the Xperia line. The Xperia P and U are part of Sony’s Xperia NXT series, with plans to launch the P and U in stores sometime in Q2 2012. The Xperia P boasts a 4-inch “reality display,” a 1GHz dual-core processor and 16GB of flash storage, as well as support for NFC and an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera. On the other hand, the smaller Xperia U comes with a 3.5-inch display and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, but boasts the same 1GHz dual-core processor. Both devices will ship with Gingerbread with support for an ICS upgrade later on.

Telefonica OWD devices

Hoping to take the iPhone market by storm, Latin America’s Telefonica has teamed up with Mozilla to create an affordable smartphone made for developing countries. The mobile network operator has pinned its hopes on Mozilla’s new browser-based operating system, B2G, to target a broader range of consumers still stuck with feature phones. Priced ten times cheaper than the iPhone, Telefonica’s Open Web Device will come with a 480x320 pixel screen, packing a lower-grade Qualcomm chip that makes room for a leaner software foundation. Not many other details have been revealed, but this is another revolutionary launch that’s made possible with Android’s platform, enabling more companies to launch their own smartphones. In fact, Orange, too, has revealed their new Medfield phone dubbed the Santa Clara. Powered by the Intel Atom Z2460 1.5GHz processor, Orange is another carrier looking for more direct access to consumers through Android’s OS.