Hottest Mobile Trends

A total of 1.75 billion mobile phones were sold in 2012, according to Gartner and smartphone sales rose to a record 207.7 million smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2012, 38 percent more than in the same period in 2011.

In the midst of this surging growth, the biggest mobile trade show in the calendar kicks off on February 25 in Barcelona, Spain.

There will be plenty to watch for in terms of new technology, software and content as well as several new smartphone launches.

So what are some of the hottest mobile trends in the fast growing mobile market right now? Click ahead to find out.

By Matt Clinch

Posted February 25 2013

Wearable Gadgets

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We use smartphones to do all kinds of jobs, but are they really optimized for any of them? Smart glasses, interactive t-shirts or a headband that plays music could solve these problems.

Google has been touting internet-connected glasses, which are expected to be released to the market later this year. The company recently released a video on YouTube showcasing the device and Google founder Sergey Brin was spotted on New York's subway testing the device.

Other eargerly-anticipated wearable gadgets include the rumored Apple "iWatch". Industry watchers think Apple can catalyze wearable accessories with the 'iWatch' like it previously catalyzed smartphones and tablets with iPhone and iPad, Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics told CNBC.com

5-Inch Hi-Definition Screens

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Is it a phone or is it a tablet? No it's a "phablet" and David Garrity at GVA Research told CNBC that 2013 will see the rise of the phablet and expects a plethora of companies to launch products in the sector.

"Consumers, however, will be faced with the challenge of how one actually carries a phablet around as the form factor does not lend itself to fitting a trouser or jacket pocket," he said.

"Expect fashion designers to be thrown into a frenzy of activity managing the intersection of humans and hardware."

Quad-Core Processors

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An ultra-fast chip with four independent units may already be inside many current phones but it's set to be de rigueur for 2013.

4G

Scott Hortop | E+ | Scott Hortop

The fourth generation of mobile phone communications standards can bring ultra-broadband Internet access on the move. Coverage might be sketchy at the moment, but it's coming, and soon.

Waterproofing

Sony

Texting in the bath? Why not. Sony says the new Xperia Z can be kept under 1 meter of fresh water for up to 30 minutes, and the feature could be coming to more phones on the market.

Affordability

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This may be an industry event to show off flashy new gadgets but we are still in an economic downturn. Freelance tech consultant David Pringle told CNBC that the hottest part of the market will be low-end smartphones/high-end feature phones.

"Whereas the affluent already have a smartphone, there are hundreds of millions people who aspire to one, but can't spend more than $75 on a handset," he said.

"In keeping with the straightened economic times, affordability will be the big watchword among smartphone makers at the congress."


Battle of the Operating Systems

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Handset operations are set to be the talk of the show with Ubuntu, Jolla Sailfish, Mozilla, Tizen and Blackberry all trying to take Android's crown

Software will be a major theme at MWC 2013. The smartphone OS wars are in full swing and some operators are keen to find an alternative to the over-powerful Android and iOS platforms," Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics told CNBC.com

Get Your Groove On

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Music streaming services continue to make inroads allowing consumers to take the world's music library wherever they go. And platforms like Spotify and Deezer have big plans with expansions in the Middle East, Africa, Brazil and Asia.

Wireless Charging

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Once a technology meant for early adopters, wireless charging is rapidly becoming more mainstream, according to CNET

Nokia's Lumia smartphone, LG's Nexus 4 and HTC's Droid DNA all have wireless charging built-in. But differing standards on the technology could complicate adoption, according to CNET.

Mobile Commerce

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Near Field Communication - establishing a connection between two devices by touching them - can be used for payments, turning your mobile phone into a wallet. Carolina Milanesi, Research VP at Gartner told CNBC that will likely be a big trend for 2013.

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