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MWC 2013: A good showing for HTC, Sony, Ubuntu Touch

The 2013 Mobile World Congress wrapped today in Barcelona. Here's a brief look at the best-in-show. 

By Matthew Shaer / March 1, 2013

The HTC One was one of the most-buzzed-about smartphones at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.

Reuters

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Every year, the major smart-phone manufacturers and a whole lot of professional prognosticators and press descend on the Spanish city of Barcelona for the GSMA-sponsored Mobile World Congress. The event, which wrapped today, serves mostly as a way for companies to show off the smart phones and tablets that will be hitting shelves in the months to come. So what'd we learn from MWC 2013? 

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Well, first and foremost, we learned that HTC is not just going to roll over and play dead. The Taiwan company invested big in the HTC One X, a smart phone that was received warmly by critics but not given much love by consumers. HTC has since seen its market share drop in the US and abroad. But at MWC, HTC shared a whole lot of details on its latest device, the sleek, powerful HTC One, and by all indications, it's a heck of a phone. 

In fact, although it was actually launched the week before MWC, the One picked up one of the the top prizes at the conference: Best New Mobile Handset, Device or Tablet. 

"[T]here are a host of exciting features" on the HTC One, Pocket-Lint has noted. "This isn't just an update on the spec sheet, it's a different feeling in the user interface and there are new things to play with. It really does feel like a new HTC."

There were also a handful of notable tablet launches at MWC 2013, perhaps chief among them the Sony Xperia Tablet Z, which Engadget has called the best tablet of the show. Measuring up to the Apple iPad or Nexus 7 won't be easy, but Joseph Volpe of Engadget says the sleek, very light (just over a pound) Xperia Android tablet certainly has the goods. Here's Volpe: 

Sony claims the Xperia Tablet Z is the world's thinnest and lightest tablet; a boast that carries weight when you first grip the tab. At 495 grams (17.5 ounces), the 6.9mm-thick tablet barely registers in your hands, at least when compared to heavier efforts that have come before it. And that lightness is especially necessary for this Z given the not quite ergonomic feel of its borrowed form factor. There's a slight sharpness to its water-proof frame (which also houses the 6,000mAh battery and NFC chip) that could've proven irksome had this tab been more substantial, cutting into your palms and making prolonged usage a nuisance. But, thankfully, that doesn't appear to be the case.

As for operating systems, there was a star turn from Firefox OS, the new mobile software from Mozilla. But CNET has argued that the biggest winner was actually Canonical's Ubuntu Touch, a Linux-based OS.

"It's elegant, thoughtful, and versatile, while remaining beautifully straightforward," writes Rick Trenholm of CNET. "Compared to the messy Android copycats Firefox OS and Tizen, it's by far the strongest potential rival to Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. In fact, I prefer it to iOS, which long ago lost its shine, and heck, maybe even to Android, too." 

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