A participant at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona tries out Nokia's PureView smartphone, February 27, 2012.
DYLAN REYNOLDS/CNN
A participant at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona tries out Nokia's PureView smartphone, February 27, 2012.

Story highlights

Mobile World Congress (MWC) is the year's biggest trade show for the mobile industry

Most companies use it as the platform to set out their agenda for the year

There is a brutal war going on for new smartphone and tablet customers

Jenkins: Major hardware players must have a good MWC or risk irrelevance

Jason Jenkins is editor of CNET UK, the number one online brand in consumer tech, according to comScore. Follow him on Twitter: @jenkojenkins, or visit his Facebook page.

Starting February 25, more than 65,000 people are expected to descend on Barcelona, Spain for Mobile World Congress (MWC): a trade show for the mobile industry to show off its latest phones, tablets, apps and services.

It’s the biggest show for mobile technology, and as mobile is so hot right now, it’s arguably the most important show in tech overall. Most companies use it as the platform to set out their agenda for the year and give us a taste of the innovations we can expect to see, but there’s a more practical reason why this show matters so much to the companies exhibiting there.

Jason Jenkins
CNET UK
Jason Jenkins

There is a brutal war going on right now for new smartphone and tablet customers, with Samsung and Apple winning. According to research firm IDC, Apple and Samsung now have more than half the worldwide smartphone market between them. That makes it vital for all the other major hardware players to have a good MWC, or risk irrelevance.

Here’s what I’m expecting to see:

Better camera phones

Photography will be a big theme of Nokia and HTC’s launches. Nokia generated the biggest buzz at last year’s MWC with its PureView camera phone, a model with an unbelievably high 42-megapixel camera sensor. CNET reviewed it after the show was finished, and we loved the camera, but found the Symbian operating system it ran lacking.

READ: Mega-powerful camera phone, super-fast gadgets dazzle at mobile show

This year, Nokia watchers are hoping it will put the same camera technology on a Windows phone, which should make it a much more compelling product. The Windows phone platform could certainly do with that sort of boost – so far, sales haven’t exactly set the world alight.

HTC also really needs a hit right now, and it’s taking no chances by holding its MWC press conference a week before the show actually starts to make sure someone else’s shiny gadget doesn’t blast it off the news agenda. To tease its announcement on Tuesday 19, the company has released an infographic called “a brief history of photography”. It doesn’t give much away, but the inference is that phone manufacturers have been focusing on increasing the number of megapixels in camera phones, rather than picture quality. We’ll know more very shortly.