MWC wrapped up last week with plenty of news on new phones. However, not all of the new and shiny models will make it to Australian shores, at least not officially, and for the moment, few vendors are offering guidelines.
If history is any guide, the direct importing crowd will source those phones that are compatible with Australian telco frequencies slightly before their official debut, if only because the official testing takes quite a serious amount of time. By manufacturer, here’s the lowdown on what we know:
Samsung’s Mobile World Congress strategy was, it has to be said, largely about things it was doing outside of MWC. The Galaxy Note 8.0 was announced just prior to MWC kicking off, and Samsung’s likely hero phone for 2013, the Galaxy S IV wasn’t officially announced there either. Instead, invites went out to selected media for a New York launch on March 14th for an unpacked event with the tagline “Ready 4 The Show”. It doesn’t take the Scooby Gang to work out that particular mystery. There’s no word yet on when we’ll see the S IV/4 on Australian shores, although if it follows the pattern of the previous Galaxy phones, it may not be that far away.
Samsung also showed off a number of Galaxy-branded low and mid-range phones, a strategy it has used in previous years. Take for example, the Galaxy Grand, a dual-SIM smartphone with mid-range specifications. It used to be the case that we virtually never got dual-SIM phones in Australia, but that’s a pattern that has changed in recent years. Again, no specifics on Galaxy Grand availability locally, but Samsung has done a lot of work getting its mid and low tier Galaxy phones ranged by carriers in the past.
Sony’s hero product for MWC 2013 wasn’t a phone, but instead the thin, light and waterproof Xperia Z tablet. Locally, it announced the Xperia Z phone just prior to MWC, and it’s the sole phone where we do have some pricing information courtesy of Vodafone.
Nokia is solidly tied into the Windows Phone ecosystem, but there was no hero phone to replace the Lumia 920; instead the mid-range Lumia 720 and entry level (the phrase Nokia uses is “affordable”) Lumia 520 were the stars of Nokia’s MWC show. Once again, no official word on local availability, but Nokia’s local PR did distribute releases regarding the new phones, which makes it likely they’ll be ranged by one telco or another in 2013.
Like Samsung, LG made its plans known just before MWC with the reveal of the Optimus L Series II phones, the L3, L4 and L7. The L7 version released in Russia rocks a dual SIM card slot, but there’s no official word on L Series II availability in Australia, although once again, LG did bother with an official press release in Australia, which means it’s most likely at least trying to get the phones released here.
ZTE had a couple of interesting handsets to show off at MWC. The ZTE Open is ZTE’s Firefox OS phone, and we know that Telstra is at least testing the Firefox OS phone concept out, although it’s not yet clear if that will result in a product on store shelves. Given that the vast majority of Telstra’s own brand phones are rebadged ZTE phones, the Open could well become… the Telstra Fox?
ZTE’s other big phone was indeed big; the 5.7 inch Grand Memo, which will be one of the first phones running on a Snapdragon 800 processor. Again, no word on the Grand Memo’s Australian debut, but don’t be surprised if it ends up with Telstra branding.
Asus showed off the Padfone Infinity at MWC; like the rest of the Padfone line it’s a combination tablet/phone hybrid, which is appealing in concept, although the very first generation model had a few implementation issues that made it less than compelling. Given we’ve yet to see the Padfone 2 here in Australia in an official capacity, the odds of seeing the Infinity here officially any time soon appears slim unless Asus opts to simply skip a generation.
Asus also showed off the Fonepad, a 7-inch tablet running on Intel CPU that also includes calling capability — and again, there’s no clear indication of local availability, so if you’re keen, an importer might be your best bet.
Huawei’s big attention grab was via the Category 4 LTE-capable Ascend P2, and it followed up with an Australian press release that stated… wait for it… “Australian release details will be announced at a later date”. Which at least suggests that we’re likely to see it emerge in Australia at some point, especially as Telstra has recently announced it is trialling CAT4 devices.