The Korean electronics companies Samsung and LG have already made quite a name for themselves on the world stage, and right behind them are the ambitious Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE. With both Apple and Google absent from the 2013 Mobile World Congress, it's a great opening for Asian companies to make a big impact.
Both Samsung and Huawaei have already announced big products at the MWC, with one looking to take down Apple and the other hoping to gain some worldwide momentum.
Samsung officially revealed its iPad mini competitor, the Galaxy Note 8.0. The tablet features an 8-inch screen with 1280 x 800 HD resolution, but its bigger selling points look to be more efficient multi-tasking features. Users can operate two programs at the same time via a split-screen mode, and the included S-Pen stylus allows for writing capabilities not easily available on the iPad. The tablet will also have built-in phone functionality, but it's not clear whether or not that feature will stay for a U.S. release.
Will it be enough to take on Apple's tablet dominance? A lot comes down to price, which Samsung hasn't announced yet; rumors have pinned it at an even higher level than the iPad mini. Aside from Apple, competitors like Amazon's Kindle and Google's Nexus 7 are also popular in the tablet space, meaning Samsung faces an uphill battle.
"I think there's a diminishing window of opportunity because Amazon and Google are playing by different rules — they are effectively willing to sell their hardware virtually at cost and then make money through content sales, whereas Samsung is a hardware manufacturer selling something for a margin," said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight, to the BBC.
Samsung's advantage, according to Wood, lies in the fact that it's willing to "carpet bomb" consumers with relentless advertising. They may end up passing on the tablet, but at least they're going to know what it is.
Huawei, meanwhile, continued its attempts to become a global force in the smartphone market by announcing the Ascend P2, a device it dubs "the world's fastest smartphone." The phone's Cat 4 chip allows it to reach download speeds of 150 Mbps, but it remains to be seen whether it can increase Huawei's global standing.
The Chinese manufacturer has been investigated in the United States as a national security threat due to its allegedly close ties with the Chinese government, and carriers have been either unwilling or reluctant to stock the company's products. As a result, the company has tried to make noise in other ways, such as making the world's largest smartphone (6-inch Ascend Mate) and calling out Samsung for using cheap material in its products.
"Brand awareness and credibility remain a challenge for Huawei. But this is a company that will never give up," said Wood. "Huawei is determined to make inroads into the mobile phone market, though the competitive intensity of this segment means they will need to spend a lot of money to succeed."