Wrap-up: Engadget editors sound off on MWC 2013

We blew out last month's CES with our biggest group of editors to date, and now we've done it again here in Barcelona. There may have been fewer high-end smartphones than expected at the show, but we still managed to spend time with dozens of handsets and tablets, and even a surprise hybrid or two. Fira Gran Via, Mobile World Congress' new home for 2013, was a fitting venue, and there's even room to grow, should that be in the cards for next year. Still, we leave Spain with mixed emotions, and mixed impressions of the show. So, what exactly did we take away from our week of smartphones, sangria, tablets and tapas in Europe? Read on past the break for our take.

Darren Murph, Managing Editor
A man can only take so much groundbreaking news, and honestly, I'm at peace with the quantity at this year's Mobile World Congress. Outside of the HP Slate 7, the Galaxy Note 8.0 and Nokia's latest batch of Lumia phones, North American readers aren't apt to find too much here to swoon over. That said, the show was absolutely buzzing on the ground, which speaks well of the overall economy surrounding the mobile business. Firefox OS does little to nothing for me, but I'm hopeful it'll make some positive waves in emerging markets. But, most of all, please join me in praying for a helping of LTE to blanket Barcelona in the near future. Thank you.

Zach Honig, Senior Associate Editor
Sure, it was weak on the high-end device front, but that's not all MWC's about. We often overlook the fact that most mobile users can't afford to drop hundreds on a phone -- often not in their lifetime, let alone once every two years. A certain mobile pioneer has the answer. The €15 (about $20) Nokia 105, which offers a color screen, FM radio and whopping 35-day standby, will help bring connectivity within reach of many millions. And, when they step up to the big leagues, those users will remember that they got their start with Nokia. My best of show is a phone I'll never own: the Nokia 105.

Richard Lai, Senior Associate Editor
MWC newbie here. Sure, there were no real breakthroughs in form factors apart from NEC's Medias W, but the show's been a great opportunity to closely compare the differentiation between the candy bars. My favorites? PadFone Infinity and HTC One. Most other companies focused on low- to mid-range devices, but at the risk of reducing the trade show's significance for the media. That said, MWC also featured some awesome component-level technologies -- you just need to dig a little deeper to find them.

Terrence O'Brien, Senior Associate Editor
It's pretty clear that MWC is moving away from being a consumer event and embracing its fate as an industry one. Like CES, this convention delivered little more than disappointment to those hoping for a major product launch or an avalanche of news. Instead we got a few underwhelming devices and had to hear the word "open" come out of Gary Kovacs' mouth an estimated 37,000 times.

Michael Gorman, Senior Associate Editor
MWC 2013 has confirmed we live in a world where major players keep major announcements to themselves. Samsung could've shown off the Galaxy S IV and been the talk of Barcelona, but it handed out invitations to a Samsung-only launch event instead. That said, Sammy did give us the Galaxy Note 8.0, which hits my tablet-size sweet spot, and the HP Slate 7's an awfully attractive option priced at $170. The noteworthy phones of MWC were far more disappointing: low-end handsets running Firefox OS and Tizen? Snooze.

Joseph Volpe, Senior Associate Editor
Forget the Galaxy Note 8.0 and LG's Optimus G Pro. This year's most awe-inducing announcement was ZTE's Grand Memo, the "first" smartphone with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 Snapdragon 600 Snapdragon S4 Pro Snapdragon something, 1GB 2GB of RAM and a 5.7-inch 1080p 720p display (as you can tell from the strikethrough, company reps really didn't seem to have a clue). We're pretty sure it can also make voice calls or not make voice calls, browse or not browse the web and turn on (maybe?). Samsung, I hope you're paying attention. This is one competitor to watch.

Sharif Sakr, Senior European Editor
This show felt like a conspiracy. The big boys' stalls were little more than retail displays. The real action was among those desperate to grab a slice of the low-end. Nokia, ZTE, Alcatel, Firefox OS, Tizen, huge carriers you've never heard of, all swarming, scheming and striking deals signed in blood. Will the consumer be a party to this cost-cutting cabal, or a victim of it? I still don't know.

Mat Smith, Associate European Editor
Sorry, everyone. After a CES that left me cold, I thought we'd be wowed at this year's MWC. Instead, there was a smattering of middleweight products and no flagship phones from the major players. The fact that this got my pulse racing illustrates that nothing grabbed me. Last year, I saw Nokia's PureView tech, HTC's One series and more, but this time, companies either skipped the queue or are holding out for their very own event.

Myriam Joire, Senior Mobile Editor
MWC moved to a new location this year, and while the new venue is a success, I don't feel the same way about the show. HTC's pre-emptive One launch and Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S IV event lowered the excitement level. Thankfully, Nokia cheered things up with the Lumia 520 and Lumia 720, LG impressed with the Optimus G Pro and Sony refined the tablet with the Xperia Tablet Z. As for Firefox OS, it's an interesting idea, but it's marred by subpar devices and only pays lip service to the carriers.

Sean Cooper, Associate Mobile Editor
Mobile World Congress shifted to a new spot this year and I was hoping that with the new venue we'd see the show reborn. Instead, the show reminded me of the last CeBIT I visited, back in 2007. But unlike then, the mobile focus isn't headed south to Barcelona -- it seems it's flown the coop entirely. BlackBerry, Samsung, HTC -- all held their own events recently (or have ones upcoming) in what seems like a new trend for big unveils. See you in 2014?

Brad Molen, Associate Mobile Editor
Since most of the key phones and tablets were announced long before the first roller bag ever hit the floor, the show was over before it even began. When Firefox OS grabs the most headlines, you know it's been a slow event. Oddly, the buzzword on the lips of every OEM exec was "innovation," yet I didn't feel as though I saw anything truly innovative at all. The one thing that I'll take from this show? Amazing European chocolate.

Dana Wollman, Senior Reviews Editor
This is the part where I eat crow. Remember when I said companies were putting off their CES product announcements in favor of MWC? I take it back. All the standout news will come at Computex, or IFA, or better yet, at a standalone event like the GS IV launch. This was a low-key conference, marked mostly by mid-range devices like the HP Slate 7, ASUS FonePad and Nokia Lumia 720. I mean, at what kind of show is Firefox OS important enough to steal the limelight? At a boring one, that's where.

Sarah Silbert, Reviews Editor
More and more companies are launching their marquee phones and tablets outside of the trade show circuit, and that leaves little room for Mobile World Congress to dazzle. Mid-range phones are important, yes, but after last year's announcement-packed MWC, this show was a letdown. My pick for best in show: the Ericsson booth, which made up for lackluster demos with a veritable culinary world tour. (Samosas in Barcelona? I'll take it.)

Alberto Ballestin, Editor-in-chief, Spanish
The advent of the post-PC era has also signaled the end of the Mobile World Congress as a device-centric event. With the biggest launches of the year scheduled far away from Barcelona, the show has turned into a multi-colored B2B cathedral, its light stolen by mid-range devices and cloud oddities such as Firefox OS. I don't want to sound overly negative, though -- the organization did a sterling job; the new venue is both fantastic and well-deserved.

Alexandra Guerrero ("Drita"), Managing Editor, Spanish
The middle range has been the highlight of the show. Recently, mobile device manufacturers have begun hosting their own events, and that often means that star products have already been announced by the time we arrive at a show. That is exactly what happened at MWC this year. So, is this the beginning of the end for the big shows? Perhaps -- or, if nothing else, we may begin to see them evolve in order to remain relevant. Let's wait and see.

Elena Henriquez, Senior Editor, Spanish
I absolutely adore the Sony Xperia Tablet Z's design, but I'm a little concerned about its durability. Given that it's a device meant for the living room, free falls from the couch are guaranteed (and I'm sure Murphy's law will do its best with those sharp angles). Moreover, its celebrated flexibility gives me the creeps: it does not only bend, but also creaks. I had such high hopes for this edition... but no product has stolen my heart. Let's cross our fingers for next month's CeBIT!