Mobile World Congress 2012 was a massively exciting show and true to form brought us so much new kit to be excited about in early 2012. From Intel's Medfield launch, a 41-megapixel smartphone, a new generation of personal hotspots and even engineered metals using micro arc oxidation, there was never a dull moment. Highlighting what was best, most innovative, or interesting is a tough nut but we've done our best to point out the highlights using our impressions -- and the occasional arm-wrestling match -- to chose the finalists amongst the products and our Editor's more notable achievements. Fly through to the next page and have a look at our takeaways from this, the most intense mobile tech show of the year.
Best Smartphone: HTC One X
HTC's One line of handsets were impressive from the One V to the micro arc oxidized One S and while they impressed the One X stole the show. While it almost took fisticuffs to pick the winner, the One X came out on top because of its stellar camera, beautiful 4.7-inch 720p Super LCD 2 non-PenTile display, quad-core Tegra 3 processor and the unibody polycarbonate housing. The One X is running Sense 4.0 with ICS and despite that it absolutely flies. Surprisingly the usual sluggishness of Sense is all but gone, though we know HTC has lightened and fine-tuned its overlay, the Tegra 3 CPU no doubt does loads to help give it that silky smooth UI feel. The Beats Audio profiles, rendered via both hardware and software were a lot of fun and do add a great twist to one of a handset's most popular functions. The camera is also very impressive both in image quality and features, though a dedicated camera button certainly would make it even better.
Best Tablet: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
We knew that Samsung planned to launch the Galaxy Note 10.1 at Mobile World Congress, but we didn't know just how huge its presence and push would be at the booth. It is safe to say that between sketch artists, and Adobe's Touch apps the super Note was Samsung's flagship launch at MWC 2012 easily taking up 40% of the booth and a lion's share of the attention. While not drastically different then the Note we reviewed, the increased screen real estate, perfect scrolling and build quality makes this our choice. Samsung also pushed out two new Galaxy Tab 2 devices -- in both 7.0 and 10.1 sizes --, but this second S-Pen toting iteration of the Touch line still won out.
Best Device Design: Panasonic Eluga
Thin? Check. Lightweight? Check. Completely waterproof? Check. A thing of beauty to gaze upon? Absolutely. Panasonic's oddly named Eluga set was a stand out for the simple reason that we all agreed it was without question simply the nicest looking set of the show. Its 4.3-inch AMOLED qHD 960 x 540 display is crisp and bright, svelte 7.8mm thinness, and curved edges made it really comfortable to hold. Heck, even if it should slip from your grasp and fall in the fish tank it is waterproof and therefore as happy submerged as not. Sure, it didn't pack ICS or the biggest display but Panasonic's Eluga somehow finds a perfect balance of style and features.
Best Connectivity Device: Option XYFI
Option reappeared at MWC 2012 with the XYFI, the 'world's smallest' personal hotspot and first device we've seen from them in some time. What makes it so diminutive is that it can live with or without its massive 4000mAh battery, plug into your car or home via clever - and frankly very beautiful - adapters to deliver all your 3G or WiFi connectivity. The version we had a chance to play with only featured HSPA+ speeds up to 14Mbps, but LTE and quicker versions are in the works. Other notables? Clicking the button on the top of the device pops the USB port open in pure West Side Story switchblade-style, what more could you want?
Best Innovation: Nokia PureView 808
The NokiaPureView 808 actually packs a couple feature worth mentioning: its monster 41 megapixel camera and the Rich Recording audio feature. The camera steals the show with touch-free continuous autofocus at 1080p, 4x zoom with the swipe of a finger, and the magical interpolation it does to render 4 or 5 pixels into one to reduce file sizes. Snapping a picture of a piece of fabric at full resolution yields zoomed images where you can quite literally count the individual fibers. Videos recorded in extremely low light are clean with little to no noise. Nokia's Rich Recording finally fixes the other half of video quality we've never really poked fun at: clipping and distortion. The system can record levels up to 145dB - a jet and hearing damage is in the 140dB level at 100 feet - with no loss of quality. To say it is an astounding effect is a wild understatement. A sample from a Rammstein concert we saw on one of the 808s we saw is almost surreal, it is literally as clear as if you were there. We're really excited to get our hands on this Belle OS device for an in depth look.
Best of the rest: Intel's Medfield and Asus Padphone
It's always nice to see a new entrant in the chipset world which ultimately yields us new devices, and in this case we saw two showing off Intel's Medfield-based Android offerings: Orange's Santa Clara and the Xolo X900. The demo focused on device speed, how well it rendered HTML, scrolling speed and the like and both sets delivered. The Xolo X900 - perhaps best name in show - is bound for India and the Santa Clara will debut in France and the UK on Orange. Asus' PadPhone was unique at the show in that it morphs from a 4.3-inch slab into a 10-inch tablet, quite like the Atrix did. Earth shattering? No, but the PadPhone is more that the sum of the parts: including its display, metallic accents, and range of accessories definitely helped it stand out.
Best Japanese Interview: Mat Smith
Matt wowed NTT DoCoMo with his Japanese when we peeked at the Sharp AQUOS SH-06D. Enough said.
Most Locked Out of his Apartment at 2 A.M: Brad Molen
Brad managed to mangle a door lock in the wee hours of the morning last week. Kudos for him for not looking like a thief and convincing the neighbors to open up and let him in.
Best Surprisingly High-Pitched laugh: Dana Wollman
Dana made at least one editor jump -- and the fondue forks vibrate -- when she laughed while we feasted on every type of fondue imaginable. Honorable mention: Runner-up in the annual innuendo contest.
Best use of a Google slide on Video: Myriam Joire
Our intrepid leader Myriam attacked all things Android at the Google booth, sipped smoothies and even talked to the designer of a robot that was making housings for handsets. Honorable mention: Best use of 'weeeeee' while traveling down the Google slide.
Best impersonation of every accent imaginable: Joseph Volpe
Joseph had everybody from Engadget in attendance at MWC in stitches with his madcap antics and perfect accent imitations. Honorable mention: Best effort at restoring moods through comedy at the show. Of note, his Arriana Huffington and insane Spanish traveler are worth hearing.
Best and most frequent demonstrated love for the Galaxy Note: Zach Honig
A fanboy among fanboys, Zach's tireless pimping of his true tech love, the Galaxy Note never failed to raise a smile and a wee dram of derision.
Best and most graceful fall down some stairs: Zach Lutz
After an extremely long eve of dinner and planning meetings, Zach somehow managed to fall down the stairs but recovered well and was thankfully mostly unscathed.
Best example of how not to do video segments: Sean Cooper
Yeah, struggled a bit but we won out with amazing help from our fine vid fellows. Many thanks to the tireless work of Guy, Rob, and Glenn. Also, thanks for not giving up and going home.