Most helpful competition among phone vendors: Smartphone battery life isn't what it should be - the MWC hallways featured recharging lockers in which you could stash your phone for a quick replenishment. I was happy to see vendors placing new emphasis on increased battery capacity, as measured in milliamp hours (mAh for short) and noted with prominent mentions of that figure on spec sheets.
I was also gratified to see manufacturers compete in cameras over something besides resolution alone. Bigger image sensors and wider apertures, among other picture-taking upgrades, might do a lot more for picture quality than the usual megapixel inflation (13 MP looks like the new normal there).
Tech advance most uncertain of materializing: This is a tie - NFC payments and cordless charging each looked incapable at MWC of moving past their own hangups. The former suffers from a pre-existing condition (credit cards usually work just fine) and a self-inflicted wound (Google's Wallet software had a head start, but then competing carriers backed Visa's Isis system). Summed up PayPal president David Marcus in a chat Tuesday: "Too little, too late."