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The economy may be shaky and consumers wary, but the global mobile-phone business is charging forward, with sales this year expected in the range of 1.25 billion units. What's more, the industry is experiencing a renewed era of competitiveness and innovation, thanks to the entry of new players such as Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG). As mobile phones become more like portable computers—running more powerful software and sporting snazzier, more intuitive interfaces—the battleground is shifting to issues such as services, downloadable apps, and higher-bandwidth connections.
The annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, set to run Feb. 15-19, highlights these trends. Though smartphones account for only about 15% of the industry's total volume, they produce a disproportionate percentage of profits—and an outsized share of buzz. Pundits predict that as many as 50 phones running the Google-backed Android operating system could be on display this year, while Microsoft (MSFT) may announce version 7 of its Windows Mobile software at the show.
Click on for an introduction to some of the newest and most popular handsets on the market from a dozen leading vendors, arranged alphabetically.