Best Phone / Smartphone: LG Optimus G Pro
LG was among only a handful of companies to show off a new flagship for the public to critique at this year's show. The LG Optimus G Pro ups the game from its predecessor in most every department: a giant 400-ppi 5.5-inch display, 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, 13-megapixel camera, 2.1-megapixel front-facing cam and a massive 3,140mAh hour battery ensure every superphone box gets a tick. A standout feature on the G Pro is a new dual-camera mode where both front and rear cameras record at once, with the front-facing cam's image overlaying the main camera with a picture-in-picture effect. This feature lets you record your reaction to things you see while filming -- or the stunned expression of friends the first time they see this set. An honorable mention goes out to Nokia for its €15 105 that managed to garner almost half the team's votes.
Best Tablet: Sony Xperia Tablet Z
Emulating the Xperia Z handset in more than a few ways -- including the name and premium look and feel -- is the Sony Xperia Tablet Z. That 6.9mm-thin housing features a 10-inch 1,920 x 1,200 display with a quad-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, 8.1MP rear camera and 2MP front-facing cam with a solid 6,000mAh battery keeping it all lit. Our own Joseph Volpe had a chance to give the Tablet Z a pretty thorough tour, and -- aside from some worries about how well it'll handle minor abuse -- Sony's newest tablet looks like a pretty solid effort. HP's Slate 7 gets an honorable mention in this category.
Best Device Design: HTC One
HTC's recently launched One, while still clothed in what has become a universally accepted format for smartphones, finds ways to shine with its subtle design tweaks. Its machined aluminum shell mates with polycarbonate components using zero-gap injection molding for a perfect fit and finish. The 4.7-inch, 468-ppi Gorilla Glass 2 display with its beveled edges looks, and, as importantly, feels like a premium device. We appreciate that manufacturers are finally starting to provide high-end devices that actually deliver a top-of-the-line experience outside the bounds of the technology that's within. Well done, HTC, for solidly beating out the Samsung Unpacked invitation.
Best Connectivity Device: Sony Xperia T
Sony's Xperia T and a few handy NFC apps were hard not to notice at Mobile World Congress 2013. The GSMA and Sony partnered up to spotlight some of NFC's capabilities by passing out handsets pre-loaded with a SIM and bolstered by a show ecosystem that supported apps to enable mobile purchases, maps and even display your event badge. Spaced throughout the show were giant posters with tags built in to get more info about the things around you or booths close by. Kudos for the effort involved in this big NFC kickoff, though we're still not entirely convinced that this is something people will use day to day quite yet.
Best Innovation: Samsung's Paper Press Invite
We'd all have loved to see a Galaxy launch at MWC, but sadly it just wasn't in the cards for this year's show. Samsung eschewed MWC for its next launch in favor of going it alone. Though, rather than the typical email invite, Samsung presented media with a genuine paper invitation and card. Classy stuff -- let's hope the device at said event delivers in kind.
Best of the Rest: The New Venue
Best of the Rest is really everything else here. While we may complain about the event getting smaller and how there are fewer launches now, it is still a wonder. When polled, the editors here commented on the best food yet at one of these shows, that the ASUS presser was amazing and that the new Fira is an incredible venue: it made us more productive, saved us time and saved our feet. The new spot could definitely teach Las Vegas' CES venue a thing or two. Picture a long, elevated hallway flanked by a series of massive halls to the left and right. Once you've reached your hall of interest, it is only a quick dive down an escalator to hit the showroom floor. See you in 2014.