Five announcements that won't be made at MWC

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Mobile World Congress is just round 2009, which means that the dead spell between CES and MWC is nearly over. Next week the trickle of new handsets and mobile announcements will become a veritable flood, so before that begins, let’s talk about five announcements that simply won’t happen at MWC this year.

One: All handsets will henceforth come with a 3.5mm headphone jack
The headphones you get with a new phone ALWAYS suck – they’re flimsy, cheap, tinny, and generally last all of twenty minutes when used in the wild. That’s why it’s possible, indeed desirable, to buy alternative earbuds from the likes of Klipsch, Sennheiser or Jays Headphones.

But the vast majority of handsets won’t let you use them. Some come with an adapter the bulkily attaches to the bottom of your phone, but many simply don’t offer the option. The idea being, of course, that you’ll shell out for the ‘premium’ earbud accessories that don’t sound much better, even if they do stay in your ear for more than ten seconds.

At MWC 2009, expect this trend to continue. Manufacturers, with the exception of a few music-based handsets like the Nokia 5800, have absolutely no interest in helping out consumers with this one.

Two: Battery life will be doubled, not halved
Each year, as handsets get more and more powerful, it seems like my phone’s battery lasts fewer and fewer hours before giving up the ghost. I charge my N95 once a day, and even then it’s usually struggling by the evening. In the old days, my phone could last weeks without a charge.

So it seems that battery technology simply isn’t advancing as fast as phone feature technology. Next year, expect to charge your phone twice a day. The year after it’ll be every hour. The year after that, we’ll all be charging our phones through the movement of our clothes.

But this year, at MWC 2009, don’t expect to hear announcements of dramatically improved battery lift. Marketers know that GPS, more megapixels on the cameras, and more memory are all sexier than a few extra hours’ juice.

Three: A decent handset running Android
The G1 is great, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind its ‘chin’, the irritating need to switch from portrait to landscape whenever you want to enter text, and the rubbish camera. But it’s not the uber-phone that it needs to be to be the true iPhone killer that everyone wants it to be.

And neither are any of the other handsets announced for 2009. Android has so much potential as a platform, but its devices are really letting it down. For our shopping list of what the perfect handset would comprise of, see Dan’s top 10 things to look for in a phone.

So unless someone’s keeping something exceptionally well-hidden from the world, which is rare in the mobile phone space, then we’re not going to see the mother of all handsets for Android announced at MWC this year. Pity.

Four: LTE or WiMax arriving for consumers
Perhaps I’m being unfair here, but it feels like LTE and WiMax have been ‘competing’ for ages as to which will be the next generation of mobile broadband. Well, I’ve had enough competition – can’t we just crown a winner already? All this delay is doing is keeping my mobile internet slow.

I don’t mind which it is, but let’s get whichever into every handset as fast as we can please, without any of the crawling slowness that’s characterised the switch from GPRS to 3G. Even today handsets are coming out without 3G. That’s ridiculous.

At MWC this year, there won’t be an announcement that next-generation mobile broadband will be available to more than a handful of consumers. That’s a pity, especially as the iPhone has shown how much people want mobile internet.

Five: Some decent mobile games
For far too long, ‘mobile game’ has directly translated into ‘tired gaming concept combined with bad movie franchise, shoehorned into an awkward control system on a tiny screen’. There are very very few mobile games that are worth the money they cost, although I’m sure Stuart Dredge over at Pocket Gamer would disagree.

The iPhone has helped matters by upping the quality standards, but it’s also meant that there are few games where accelerometer control hasn’t joined the shopping list above. What’s really needed is for proper developers to make serious – hardcore – games. Games with great narrative, excellent humour and thrilling moments.

It’s possible, even with the limitations of the device. But good games won’t be announced at CES this year – no, it’ll be yet another version of Worms, Deal or No Deal and awful racing games. Sigh. I hope that eventually developers will realise that mobile doesn’t have to mean “rubbish”.

Duncan Geere

One thought on “Five announcements that won't be made at MWC

  • 1/ I’m of the understanding that all modern Nokia’s ship with a 3.5mm jack. My N82 did. Although I opt for wireless via A2DP anyway for my audio needs regardless of this ports availability on a modern handset.

    5/ N-Gage: ‘Reset Generation’, ‘Metal Gear Solid Mobile’ and ‘Resident Evil Degeneration’ are all encouraging titles worthy of merit. Online gaming via a mobile phone is also entirely satisfying and something I hope to see explored furthur as the N-Gage platforms new direction matures.

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