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Ringing in the change: latest phone technology showcased at World Mobile Congress

Hollywood has the Oscars, music has the Grammys and the tech industry has the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

For mobile phones, it's the Mobile World Congress (MWC); an event held in Barcelona in February where every player (minus Apple) in the mobile industry turns up to showcase their upcoming best bits.

From the top tier giants such as Samsung, HTC and Nokia right down to the little guys many of us will never have heard of, all turn up to show off their latest and greatest tech and while it may lack the mainstream media coverage of the Oscars or Grammys, it certainly lacks nothing in grandeur.

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The lights, the state-of-the-art technology and the big tech CEOs all show up in sunny Fira Gran Via in a bid to show consumers why they should be buying their mobile tech this year, and no one else's.

In the build up each year, the rumour mill goes into overdrive as tech-fanatics throw "leaked" tidbits around the internet, some true, some far, far from it. MWC sets the records straight about what is on its way, and what is (for now, at least) remaining concept. It also brings with it the benchmark for the upcoming year in mobile technology - that is until Apple hold their own annual event later in the year.

So here is my quick guide to Mobile World Congress 2014. I won't go too much into the little details, they tend to bore the not-so-mobile-enthusiastic, but it's good to know what you can expect over the coming months from a device that's likely never more than ten feet away from you at any given moment.

Samsung

One of the key highlights from this year's event, was Samsung's unveiling of the latest generation of their flagship 'Galaxy S' series: the Galaxy S5. This was where the rumour mill really caught speed in the weeks leading up to the event. Those expecting it to be able to defy gravity will be disappointed, but what Samsung is offering with this latest top-ender is a refreshed design on the 'old' S4, a sharper 16MP camera, a fingerprint scanner, heart monitor, faster processing and all packaged in a (thank you Sony for getting the ball rolling with this) water and dust resistant body.

It's not a game-changer but it's a nice new flagship of one of the most successful mobile series of all time - 200 million sold so far.

Along with the Galaxy S5, Samsung announced a few other bits and pieces. Their latest smartwatches were showcased, sporting a new operating system after their previous Android-toting smartwatches failed to get developers or consumers fully on-board. We'll wait and see how that pans out this time round.

Motorola

I didn't think I'd ever see the day when Motorola were in the list of relevant mobile manufacturers again.

Long gone are their top-flight RAZR days, but slowly, and with a succession of buy-outs from Google and more recently Lenovo (a multi-billion dollar mistake for Google), they're making something of a comeback. A refreshed model of their surprise success of last year, the Moto X, will be making its way to consumers this summer, along with their own attempt at the smartwatch.

Sony

Sony have given us everything they gave us last year, but slightly better. Anything with 'Z1' in the name now has 'Z2' and the features and performance are all slightly improved.

Sony's last year top-tier devices were, to be quite frank, so good that it'd be hard to add too much to the next edition. All the usual updates are there in the Xperia Z2; faster performance, better camera, newer software versions and the ability to shoot 4K video (that's super, super HD to you and me), along with all the other great Sony brands such as Walkman and PlayStation and still in a waterproof body. A friend from Sony I spoke to the other day ensures me the Z2 and Z2 tablet are definitely worthwhile updates.

Nokia

Big news from Nokia this time round; despite being in the middle of being bought over by Microsoft (at least their smartphone division), they've finally decided to embrace the Android operating system, rather than being exclusively Windows Phone only.

That being said, they're not giving us the Android we know and either love or hate that Samsung, Sony, HTC and others give us, they're sticking their own spin on it, stripping out the Google services that make Android what it is, and painting it with Nokia all over.

Time will tell whether the Nokia X, X+ and XL will make waves or if their "almost Android" effort will fall short of the competition.

HTC and LG

Very little announced from these two at the MWC. HTC announced one phone, the Desire 816, a mid-range flagship, but for their bigger news; the update to their current flagship - the HTC One, we'll need to wait until they announce it at their own event in late March.

LG announced a few lower-end devices and mini versions of their current phones but nothing overly exciting from them just yet.

And finally…

It's not all about new hardware at MWC. Software and other aspects of mobile business are much discussed and explained.

Chinese firm Lenovo (remember those Yoga Tablet ads?) discussed their purchase of Motorola from Google, Mark Zuckerberg justified Facebook's $19billion purchase of messaging-app WhatsApp while also introducing the fact we'll soon be able to make calls using it, memory-firm SanDisk announced new 128GB memory cards for our mobiles and much, much more.

To sum up the year ahead from what's been announced so far (though remember, Apple, HTC and others still have more to come), we can expect simply this: last year, but faster, sharper and ever-so-slightly bigger.

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