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The best bits of Mobile World Congress…

When it comes to mobile phones, the manufacturers are always ringing the changes in design and features.

And the next 12 months look like they will be no different if this week’s Mobile World Congress exhibition is anything to go by.

The event in Barcelona, Spain, sees all the big names in mobile line up to show off the handsets they will be releasing in the coming year.

And boy has there been some exciting developments to look forward to.

All eyes on 3D

Top of those has the be the LG Optimus 3D, a handset that displays 3D images on the screen without the need for any glasses.

The technology behind it is similar to that found on the forthcoming Nintendo 3DS gaming handheld but the Optimus 3D also works with YouTube to allow owners to upload their 3D movies for others to watch.

The Android-powered phone has two cameras to create both 3D stills and video, and it can be plugged straight in to a 3D telly using HDMI to play back the content.

LG President Dr Jong-seok Park said: “We’re excited about the prospects of the LG Optimus 3D taking the smartphone experience to a much higher level.

“We’ve incorporated every feature for the power user and we think they’ll be pleased with what they see.”

Due out later this spring, it should be available on all the major networks.

Facebook Goes Mobile

Another surefire hit looks to be the HTC Chacha and Salsa phones.

Both have a one-touch button that connects straight to social network Facebook and are the first to feature such an innovation.

The dedicated button works alongside the phone’s operating system, to send images to the site for others to see, update your status, share website links and check out what everyone else is up to.

HTC boss Peter Chou said: “With more than 500 million active users worldwide, Facebook has become synonymous with the social web and we wanted to create the ultimate socially connected phones with mass market appeal.”

Both devices work on the latest version of Android, codenamed Gingerbread and feature five megapixel cameras.

New Windows Open on Phone

Microsoft also used MWC to reveal changes to its Windows Phone 7 operating system.

The system – which includes Xbox LIVE, Office, Bing, Hotmail and Windows Live on handsets – now has 8,000 apps, with 100 new titles added every day.

In his keynote speech, Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer revealed the first software update for WP7 would be available in the first two weeks of March bringing new features such as copy & paste as well as faster performance.

Later this year, Twitter will also be included in the People Hub while online document storage for Office via Windows Live SkyDrive will also be added.

And in the second half of 2011, Internet Explorer 9 will come to the mobile OS, along with additional multi-tasking to runs things like music in the background.

Microsoft also announced earlier in the week how it was teaming up with Nokia to produce Windows Phone 7 handsets made by the Finnish tech giant.

Other exciting innovations at the show included the Samsung Wave 578, a mobile featuring Near Field Communication (NFC).

While this won’t be on sale in Britain just yet, it paves the way for paying for goods and services simply by swiping your mobile rather than a credit card.

Take the tablets

Motorola also used MWC to announce its Xoom tablet computer was coming to Britain and Europe after it debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month.

Running on Google Android 3.0, otherwise known as Honeycomb, it won the CNET Best of Show award at CES and features 3G and Wi-Fi to connect on the move.

A real competitor to Apple’s iPad, it features a 10 inch screen, powerful 1GHz dual-core processor, widescreen high-definition display and two cameras – a 5 megapixel one for snapping images and video and a two megapixel front-facing lens for video chats.

Unlike the iPad, it also works with rich internet content through Adobe Flash Player.

Not to be outdone, LG also unveiled the Optimus Pad, the world’s first tablet with a 3D camera and screen to compliment the Optimus 3D mobile.

The nine inch tab, has full 1080p HD, the ability to upload 3D films to YouTube and console-quality games.

Due out in March, LG’s Dr Jong-seok Park said: “With a flood of tablets hitting the market, we felt strongly that the LG Optimus Pad needed to set a new standard for what a tablet should be.”

But with Apple on the verge of launching its new iPad model in the next few weeks, and the iPhone 5 to follow this summer, even the newest technology announced at Mobile World Congress in the past few days could soon be eclipsed by Apple’s revelations.

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