What's hot at Mobile World Congress 2011

From 3D cell phones to "4G" basestations, you can find it all at the cellular industry's global confab, this week in Barcelona, Spain.

Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Qualcomm and others show off their latest and greatest smartphones, tablet computers and more at the annual wireless industry gathering in Spain. We're tracking the interesting, intriguing, odd, and hot news in this slideshow, which will be updated throughout the week of the show.

The LG Optimus Pad comes with an 8.9-inch WXGA touchscreen and two rear-facing, 5-megapixel, stereoscopic cameras for 3D 1080p video capture, a market first, according to an LG statement, which was skimpy on details. It runs the latest version of Google's Android mobile OS, 3.0 known as Honeycomb, on an Nvidia Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor. Screen resolution is 1280 by 768. Images and video taken with the 3D camera can be viewed on 3D TVs or shared on the Web via YouTube 3D, LG said.

LG didn't' supply an image, so we're showing the nearly identical T-Mobile G-Slate, announced Feb. 2. The Optimus Pad therefore is likely to have the G-Slate's front-facing camera for video chat, 32GB of internal memory, and Adobe Flash Player 10.1.

Related story:

LG details Optimus Pad, smartphone with 3D screen

T-Mobile's G-Slate product page

Photo credit: PC World

Samsung Galaxy

Samsung's new flagship smartphone is the Galaxy S II, running Android 2.3 on a dual-core 1GHz processor. The 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen has a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. It supports HSPA+ with a peak possible throughput of 21Mbps; 802.11n Wi-Fi, which can work as integrated hotspot.

It also includes Near-Field Communications (NFC) technology, a wireless link of just a few inches, touted as a way to pay for products and services with the phone, or to share information with other NFC devices.

The device will start shipping in selected markets in May. Pricing was not disclosed.

Samsung's dual-core Galaxy S II has better, bigger screen

Galaxy Tab 10.1

Samsung's newest tablet is the Galaxy Tab 10.1, because it sports a 10.1-inch LCD screen, with a resolution at 1280 x 800 pixels (the original Tab had a 7-inch display). Under the hood, there is a 1 GHz dual-core processor. The tablet measures 9.68 x 6.69 x 0.39 inches, and weighs 21.39 ounces. That makes it a good bit lighter than the Motorola Xoom. Both run the tablet-optimized Honeycomb OS -- also known as Android 3.0. The back camera has an 8-megapixel resolution and LED flash and the front camera has a 2-megapixel resolution.

The quad-band GSM tablet supports HSPA+ (up to 21Mbps), and has 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1.

It will start to become available in select markets in June 2011. Pricing was not announced.

Samsung adds 10.1-inch Android Honeycomb tablet

Xperia Pro

Sony Ericsson is pushing the new Xperia Pro as a business-oriented touch smartphone, running Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread") on a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with the Adreno 205 GPU. The 3.7-inch touchscreen has a 854 x 480-pixel resolution, and Sony's Bravia graphics engine.

The slideout keyboard has been winning praise from journalists at the show, including Quentyn Kennemer of Phandroid.com . The well-designed QWERTY keyboard gives you context-sensitive options that vary with the application you're using. The Experia Pro will be available starting in June 2011. Pricing wasn't announced.

(Two other new Android phones are the Xperia Arc, with a 4.2-inch screen and the Xperia Neo, with an 8-megapixel camera for HD video recording.

Sony Ericsson press release and images on Experia Pro

Xperia Play

Stretching the smartphone into new shapes, Sony Ericsson unveiled the Xperia Play, an Android phone designed for mobile gaming. It has a slide-out game pad, with two analog touch pads, two shoulder buttons, a digital D pad and an area with the four PlayStation icons, which are buttons with a circle, cross, square and triangle. More than 50 gaming titles will be available when the phone launches in the U.S. in March on Verizon. Games include Guitar Hero, Assassin's Creed, Dungeon Defenders: Second Wave, and Dead Space.

To power the gaming experience, Xperia Play has a Qualcomm 1GHz Snapdragon processor embedded Adreno GPU graphics processor that will play 60 frames per second during gameplay. It has a 4-inch multitouch screen and a 5-megapixel camera

Sony reveals more details of PlayStation Xperia phone

FlashLinq

Qualcomm is demonstrating a technology that will let cellular devices create broadband peer-to-peer connections directly, at distances up to about two-thirds of a mile. The system will let mobile devices automatically discover and identify each other, and then forge direct, optimal connections, avoiding interference.

Dubbed FlashLinq, the innovation runs over licensed spectrum, which means it will need the approval and cooperation of mobile carriers. The company plans to trial FlashLinq in South Korea with carrier SK Telecom to explore possible commercial uses of the technology.

FlashLinq is based on a form of Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing Access (OFDMA), the foundation for 802.11n, WiMAX and LTE networks. But it's a proprietary system that will be built into Qualcomm radios to automatically discover other FlashLinq devices within range, according to Stacey Higginbotham, writing at GigaOm.com .

Qualcomm aims at peer-to-peer with FlashLinq

Qualcomm press release on FlashLinq

Bolt mobile browser

Version 2.05 of the free Bolt mobile browser, from Bitstream, was released, adding support for Facebook video to its existing support for Flash and HTML5 video sites. Other changes include: a handset with GPS now can send latitude and longitude data through the browser to location-enabled Web sites; copy and paste, and tweaked address and search dialogs on all pages; an improved download manager maintains download history even after the browser is closed; and numerous refinements to the overall user interface such as improved menu structure and displays of RSS lists.

Finally, the new Bolt incorporates the Webkit 5 rendering engine, with solid support for the emerging HTML5 standards. Bolt is available for Java ME, BREW and BlackBerry devices.

Skate

China-based ZTE unveiled its newest low-cost Android 2.3 phone, the Skate. Shipping worldwide in May, the Skate has a 4.3-inch touchscreen, and an 800MHz processor. That's less powerful, but also less expensive, than the 1GHz dual-core chips being introduced in the high-end Samsung Galaxy S II or LG Optimus 3D. The rest of the Skate's specs are also cost-effectively basic: 5-megapixel camera, Assisted-GPS, and Internet access via HSDPA at 7.2 Mbps.

But what the final price tag will be is a mystery for now: ZTE hasn't announced it yet.

ZTE also announced plans to launch a tablet running Android 3.0 in the third quarter. It will have a 10.1-inch screen with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels.

ZTE launches Android 2.3 smartphone, promises LTE tablets

ViaSat

ViaSat , an equipment vendor, and African network infrastructure provider RascomStar-QAF, are offering African mobile operators a solar-powered GSM/3G basestation, integrated with a highly efficient satellite backhaul. The entire unit packs into one case and can be set up by non-specialists (with some basic training). The unit can handle local calls on its own, using the satellite link to connect to other locations or the Internet.

Ireland-based Altobridge has a similar product, which was a finalist in this year's Mobile World Congress' Global Mobile Awards for "Best Mobile Technology for Emerging Markets."

Blending sun, satellites and cellular to connect remote locales

HTC's Droid Incredible S smartphone

HTC's Droid Incredible S smartphone, announced at Mobile World Congress, offers some welcome additions but is not a major redesign of the popular original Incredible (the handset maker took a similar approach with the new Desire S and Wildfire S phones). The most striking difference is the new, solid unibody aluminum case. Currently, it will ship with Android 2.2, not the more recent 2.3 (Gingerbread) release, powered by a 1-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.  The touch display is 3.7 inches, featuring the HTC Sense user interface. All three phones are aimed at Europe and Asia, with release in Q2 2011.

HTC adds Facebook phones, updates existing models

HTC Incredible S: First Look

HTC Flyer

HTC's first tablet product is the HTC Flyer . In the aluminum unibody case, it weighs 14.8 ounces with battery; dimensions are 7.7" tall x 4.8" wide x 0.52" thick. The 7-inch touch screen has a 1024 x 600 resolution. The 1.5 GHz CPU runs Android 2.4 (Gingerbread) with a promised upgrade to the 3.0 (Honeycomb) version for tablets. It has 32GB internal storage; 1GB RAM; microSD memory card. The user interface is a modified version of HTC's smartphone UI, HTC Sense.

Flyer supports both gestures and an active stylus via a battery-operated pen. A new application, called Notes, lets you use the pen for sketching, handwriting, and annotating of photos and clippings.

Initially it will have a data-only HSPA+ wireless link, with a 802.11bgn Wi-Fi version following "soon." It also includes: Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP for stereo audio, GPS, Flash 10, HTML 5, 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, 1.3-megapixel front camera.

Available worldwide in Q2 2011; pricing not announced.

Qualcomm  AR

Qualcomm demonstrated its Augmented Reality platform at Mobile World Congress 2011, showing off a batch of mobile games exploiting the new technology. The beta version of the SDK was released in October 2010. Qualcomm uses a computer vision system, which relies on image detection to identify what elements in the view can be augmented. At MWC, the chip vendor showed off several games submitted for its 2010 Augmented Reality Developer Challenge, including first-place winner Paparazzi (shown here), where the player becomes a virtual paparazzo.

Another demo was a basketball game played with a printout of a basketball backboard fixed to a wall. The software identifies the backboard in images and draws on a virtual rim and ball: the aim of the game is to score. As the players move their phones around, they can shoot from different angles

Version 1.0 of the AR SDK is expected early in Q2 2011.

Qualcomm has high hopes for augmented reality gaming

Ruckus Wireless Services Gateway

Integrating Wi-Fi into 3G/4G networks is the goal of new gear from Ruckus Wireless. The Ruckus Wireless Services Gateway (WSG) can manage tens of thousands of Ruckus access points, and hundreds of thousands of Wi-Fi clients, while integrating security, authentication, billing and other critical functions with a mobile operator's core network. Among the innovations: seamless roaming across Wi-Fi access points for SIM and non-SIM devices; local caching to offload Wi-Fi events from the core network; automated client provisioning when the subscriber activates service.

Winner of MWC's Global Mobile Awards 20111 for Best Mobile Broadband Technology.