MWC 2013: Techworld's top 10 BYOD gadgets

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As always, this year's Mobile World Congress was awash with shiny new gadgets aimed at people who want to bridge the divide between their home and work lives. This means a device that is secure, powerful and robust, while still being aesthetically pleasing and providing the graphics capabilities needed for HD video and gaming.

As the show draws to a close, Techworld is taking a look back at some of the devices that we think adequately serve the needs of the mobile worker, while still awakening the appropriate levels of lust. While the list of device vendors is broad, there is remarkably little variation on the operating system side – nine out of ten are Android. 

This is partly because Apple does not deign to attend MWC, and Nokia is still the only smartphone manufacturer that has really committed to Windows Phone OS. BlackBerry also scaled down its presence at this year's show, following the launch of its new operating system and flagship Z10 smartphone last month.

But compiling this list has really brought home how few options mobile device manufacturers currently have when it comes to choosing a software platform. With any luck, the arrival of Mozilla's Firefox OS and Canonical's Ubuntu for mobile will change all that before next year's MWC, but those platforms have a seriously long way to go before they can stand a chance of competing with the big boys.

So for now we must content ourselves with what we have – and while the software is pretty same-y, there is a lot to love about the specs of some of these devices. The GSMA predicts that mobile will drive the next billion internet connections, so it's probably a good moment to choose your weapon.

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Mobile World Congress 2013

Mobile World Congress 2013 attracted 72,000 visitors from over 200 countries, including more than 1,700 exhibiting companies showcasing products and services. Attendees of the four-day conference and exhibition included the world’s largest and most influential mobile operators, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies and companies from industry sectors such as automotive, finance and healthcare, as well as government delegations from across the globe.

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HTC One

HTC's new flagship smartphone has an all-aluminium body and sports a 4.7-inch HD screen. It features the latest Android Jelly Bean operating system and is the first HTC handset to use the company's new BlinkFeed user interface, which transforms the home screen into a live stream of personal information such as social updates, entertainment and lifestyle updates, news and photos. While HTC is clearly positioning this as an entertainment device, it carries a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core 1.7GHz processor, making it a perfectly feasible BYOD proposition. However, Frost & Sullivan analyst Saverio Romeo said that HTC needs to look beyond entertainment and create a device that "touches our daily lives more radically". The HTC One will be offered by all UK operators from March.

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Sony Xperia Tablet Z

Sony's Xperia Tablet Z is the slimmest 10-inch Android tablet available at just 6.9mm, compared to Apple's latest iPad at 9.4mm and Samsung's Nexus 10, which is 8.9mm thick. At 495g, the Tablet Z is also lighter than the other two tablets, which weigh from 652g and 603g respectively. It is powered by a quad-core 1.5GHz processor, has a 10.1-inch screen with a 1920x1200 pixel resolution and an 8-megapixel camera. It also includes Sony’s NFC One-Touch functions that let users transfer content from HD tablet to TV, tablet to speaker or phone to tablet just by touching them together. Sony announced at Mobile World Congress, that the Xperia Tablet Z will launch globally in Q2 2013.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 is a new addition to the mid-size tablet category, putting it in competition with Apple's iPad Mini as well as other 7 and 8-inch tablets like the Nexus 7. It has a 1.6GHz A9 quad-core processor, runs Android 4.1.2 (Jellybean) and, like previous Galaxy Note models, it comes with a stylus known as the S Pen. Samsung describes it as an “on-the-go work and play companion,” allowing users to store and manage their personal and professional data efficiently. Together with Samsung's new KNOX security technology, available later this year, the Galaxy Note 8 should make an attractive BYOD unit for businesses.

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Acer Liquid Z2

Designed for people on the go, the Liquid C1 sports a single-core Intel Atom Z2420 1.2GHz processor for responsive touch control and quick-loading webpages. A 400 MHz graphics engine means that image-intensive applications and video display well on the 4.3-inch HD screen. Globetrotters can take advantage of quad-band roaming and a 2,000mAh battery that should last for a full day. Business users can also access Acer's file sharing and media management solution AcerCloud to automatically sync, download and edit documents from their PC. The Liquid C1 is intended primarily for the Asian market and will begin shipping in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines sometime in March.

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Asus Padfone Infinity

A new category of mobile convertible, the Asus PadFone Infinity allows the user to slot their smartphone into the back of a tablet docking station, removing the need to synchronise data between the two devices. The phone itself has a 5-inch HD display, runs Android 4.2 and sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor. It supports both LTE and DC-HSPA+. The tablet docking station has a 10.1-inch screen and enough battery capacity to fully recharge the docked PadFone Infinity up to three times. A single data plan can be shared between both devices. The Asus PadFone Infinity will be available in Taiwan from April and selected other countries from early Q2 2013.

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Huawei Ascend P2

Huawei claims that its Ascend P2 is the fastest Android-based LTE smartphone in the world. The device features a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor and LTE Cat 4 (as opposed to CAT 3, which is what the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3 have), providing download speeds of up to 150 Mbps. It is 8.4mm thick with a 4.7-inch HD display and runs Android 4.1 overlaid with Huawei’s own Emotion UI 1.5. It also has an NFC module for e-payments and electronic ticketing. The Ascend P2 comes pre-installed with Huawei’s new AirSharing software, which integrates content, functionality and control across smartphones, tablets and home appliances. The device will be available globally around the second quarter of 2013.

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Motorola Razr HD

The Motorola Razr HD is essentially a high-end version of the Motorola Razr i, which launched last year. It features a larger 4.7-inch Super AMOLED HD touchscreen, Google's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean mobile operating system and a larger battery that promises 20 hours of use on a single charge. The device is 8.4mm thick and weighs 146g. It uses Qualcomm’s MSM8960 chip clocked at 1.5GHz with 1GB of RAM and an Adreno 225 graphics processing unit. Interestingly, it includes a Micro HDMI port on its side, which is quite rare in new phones these days, but could prove useful for enterprise users. The Razr HD is already available in the UK from a number of online retailers, including Amazon UK and and Expansys.

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Nokia Lumia 720

The only device in our line-up not running Android, Nokia's range of Lumia handsets come as something of a refreshment. The Lumia 720 and 520 were both unveiled on the first day of Mobile World Congress and aim to deliver high-end innovation at more affordable price points, slotting in around the Lumia 620, 820 and 920 for Windows Phone 8. As with most of the Lumia range, the 4.3-inch 720 has a unibody casing and it is available in five different colours. While many enterprise users may choose to go for one of the higher-end models, this is a good options for businesses on a budget or employees that want something a bit more lightweight.

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LG Optimus G Pro

LG's Optimus G Pro falls into the much-ridiculed “phablet” category, being somewhere between a smartphone and a tablet. The G Pro has a 5.5-inch 1920x1080 display and runs Android Jelly Bean on a 1.7GHz Qualcomm quad-core processor, combined with 2GB of RAM. It has a removable 3,140mAh, and includes NFC and wireless charging capabilities. It also includes LG's QSlide multitasking feature, which allows users to view two screens simultaneously in one display, as well as other LG tools such as QuickMemo and Live Zooming. The device will be released in the UK in the second quarter of 2013.

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ZTE Grand Memo

Another strong contender in the “phablet” market is ZTE's Grand Memo, which features a 5.7-inch HD 720 x 1280 display, and a powerful Qualcomm 800 processor with quad-core CPUs and 2GB of RAM. The Grand Memo is aimed at people who are always on-the-go, with voice-response technology and a GPS car-mode navigation system. It also comes with ZTE’s Z Cloud service, allowing users to securely access their personal and business files from anywhere. The Grand Memo runs Android Jelly Bean and supports LTE. IHS iSuppli predicts that shipments of phablets will reach 60.4 million units in 2013, up 136 percent from 25.6 million last year.

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