The Vegas sun has set on CES, but get ready for a blast of Barcelona, Spain. We’re attending Mobile World Congress again this year, the world’s largest mobile show, with more smartphones, tablets, wearables, and gadgets than you can see in a week. And this year, it will be home to some of the year’s biggest announcements from Samsung, LG, Sony, and more. Here’s what may debut at MWC 2014, which starts Feb. 24.
Updated on 02-22-2014 by Andy: We’ve added gossip about Samsung bringing two new smartwatches to MWC, more about the Android-powered Nokia X, plus a Sony teaser video. ZTE has confirmed which devices it’ll be revealing, and Huawei could have a smartwatch to go along with its new phones and tablets.
Samsung Galaxy S5, the Gear 2, and more
Samsung kept its mobile profile low at CES this year, with just two tablets: the Galaxy TabPro and the Galaxy NotePro. MWC promises to be different. Ever since the Galaxy S4 was unveiled last March there has been speculation that the Galaxy S5 will be revealed early 2014, which is about now. There will be a big Samsung event for this, entitled Unpacked ‘5’ on February 24, which is day one of MWC.
We also hear that Samsung will show Tizen devices at MWC. Tizen is an alternative operating system to Android that’s partly open source, partly owned by Samsung. It’s backed by Intel and some other manufacturers were onboard when it first surfaced, but we assume the Tizen event at MWC will feature Samsung devices. Could the Z9000 Zeq be among them?
On the subject of Tizen, it’s also rumored the OS will replace Android on Samsung’s new-and-improved Galaxy Gear smartwatch. The company has already made it clear the watch didn’t quite meet expectations, and there’s now stronger evidence a sequel may be announced at MWC. Supposedly cheaper and better looking than the Galaxy Gear, new rumors suggest Samsung has two watches for us, both of which will abandon the Galaxy brand name, and be presented as the Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo. Twitter leakster @evleaks posted an official-looking image showing two subtly different watches on February 22, just two days before Samsung’s Unpacked 5 event.
Beyond that, we know that Samsung has big plans for 2014. The kind of plans that include a 2560 x 1440 pixel display, a 64-bit processor, flexible hardware, and more wearable technology, though probably not in the same device.
Less exciting is Samsung’s continuing mission to release every possible size and price combination of smartphone with the Galaxy Note 3 Lite and a Galaxy Grand Lite. We’ve also heard tell of a hexa-core Galaxy Note 3 Neo. Expect a few more mid-range phones to pop up at some point soon. There might even be a new Samsung Windows Phone.
Multiple BlackBerry devices a possibility
The chairman of BlackBerry’s new production partner, Foxconn, has indicated we’ll be seeing “multiple” new BlackBerry smartphones launch at Mobile World Congress this year. Previous reports, originating from BlackBerry’s CEO John Chen, suggest these devices will be aimed at developing markets, with an early launch expected in Indonesia. One of these phones, the BlackBerry Z3 or Jakarta, has been leaked as a 5-inch touchscreen phone with a dual-core processor and a 5-megapixel camera.
Acer teases new Liquid smartphone with rear-mounted sensor
Acer has a new smartphone to show at Mobile World Congress. It hasn’t provided any firm details, but a close-up picture posted on its official Facebook page indicates it’ll have some type of sensor on the rear. The photo shows the rear panel of a phone, with a central camera lens, and a mysterious shiny sensor underneath.
What it’s for isn’t immediately obvious, but it could be a fingerprint reader, or an Oppo N1-style touch sensitive panel for navigating the screen.
On Twitter, Acer UK tweeted it would reveal a “must have product” in four days time, which is just before the show begins in Barcelona. It has the hashtag #AcerLiquid, the brand name it uses for its smartphones.
LG, the G Pro 2, and a watch
There was certainly no shortage of devices on show from LG at CES 2014, including fitness wearables in the shape of the Lifeband Touch and Heart Rate Earphones, but we didn’t see any other mobile tech. LG has held back for Mobile World Congress. While some rumors suggested we’d see the LG G3 at the show, this probably won’t be the case, and we’ll see the next flagship phone later in the year.
LG’s other flagship phone for 2014, the G Pro 2, has already been revealed in Korea, and it’ll be on display in Barcelona. Hopefully, LG will provide an international release date for the 6-inch, quad-core device at the time. The big-screen G Pro 2 will be joined by the G2 Mini, which has been unsubtly hinted at already by the company. The slightly less exciting, but still brand new, L Series 3 range will also be shown off. Consisting of the L90, L70, and L40, these are all Android 4.4 KitKat phones with 3G connectivity.
HTC’s One Two punch (Not likely)
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from HTC, but if you believe the ads, its possible device announcements include a Hot Tea Catapult, a Hipster Troll Carwash, or a Hairy Taekwondo Coach. In reality, HTC is due for a new flagship Android phone. If it can make it as beautiful as last year’s One, with a slightly bigger screen and beefed up specs, then it deserves to do well, but we really aren’t fond of the name HTC One 2 (read rumors here). It’s a safe bet that it will run Android 4.4 and sport a new Sense UI (version 6).
Update by Andy: This rumor may not pan out. New leaks point to HTC waiting until March to reveal its 2014 flagship, but instead we could see the announcement of mid-range hardware, which has been revealed as another key aspect of HTC’s revival.
Google Nexus tablets coming?
The big friendly search giant didn’t bother to turn up last year, but there will be a Google booth at MWC 2014. We don’t think there will be much in the way of announcements, but the Nexus 10 is overdue for an update. The last one was made by Samsung, but perhaps Google will opt for LG this time around. There are also some persistent rumblings about a Nexus 8, which may sport an Intel Bay Trail-T instead of a Snapdragon processor. There’s an outside chance that we could be in for a shock in the shape of a Google smartwatch, but don’t hold your breath.
Chinese manufacturer Huawei showed off the Ascend Mate 2 4G at CES, but it’s not done yet. We are set to see “two new products at MWC that are more innovative” according to Huawei’s Richard Yu. Initially, our thoughts turned to the super-svelte Ascend P6S, but a report in the Wall Street Journal says Huawei won’t be bringing the successor to the P6 to Barcelona.
Instead, the report says we should look out for a new smartphone, two new tablets, and most interestingly, a smartwatch from the manufacturer.
Leading on from this, Huawei has started teasing its new product line-up too. In a video which also makes fun of the company’s rivals, we’re told to expect exactly this line-up at the show, plus an unknown device which could be the smartwatch. Initially, the prospect of another smartwatch to try on was exciting, but a few leaked pictures have made us slightly apprehensive, as it’s not the best looking wrist-wear we’ve seen.
Discarded by Google, Motorola has a new dancing partner from the east in the shape of Lenovo. We didn’t even have a Motorola section in this roundup until it forced us to by announcing a Motorola MWC 2014 event. We don’t expect any hardware, but there could be some juicy details about how the Lenovo deal will work and what it means for the future of the company.
The invites for Nokia’s event are out. There has been some talk about an 8-inch tablet – possibly the Nokia Lumia 2020 making an appearance at MWC, but the really exciting chatter surrounds the possibility of an Android smartphone bearing the Nokia name. Could the Nokia Normandy escape Microsoft’s clutches or is too late?
Interestingly, it seems the Normandy will land in Barcelona, and be named the Nokia X. Nokia’s not being coy about its potential Android roots either, having painted all its social network profiles green to match the OS’s robot mascot.
It also released a bizarre video entitled Nokia #GreenDuck. We’ve no idea what it’s all about (ducks, a sea of phones, leaks, um, what?) but the countdown ends on the day of the company’s MWC press conference, so we’ll find out then. A possible promo image has been leaked, also showing the phone under the Nokia X name, plus some sneaky shots of the device itself give us a look at what could be a Windows Phone-esque skin over the top of Android.
We’ll almost certainly see the first new hardware set to have Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1 pre-installed, and it could come in phone and tablet form. The new flagship Lumia 1820 and a couple of Lumia 1520 spin-offs have been leaked.
The inevitable Z1 Compact and Sony’s fitness tracking Core were on display at CES. There was also the good news that Sony’s flagship would finally land stateside in the shape of the Xperia Z1S, but before you get too excited, it may almost be out of date. According to @evleaks, there will be a new flagship phone – the 5.2-inch Sirius or Xperia Z2 – at MWC, and possibly a Sony Castor tablet to update the Xperia Tablet Z, as well.
Subsequently, the Castor tablet has been leaked under the name Xperia Tablet Z2. If the leaked spec sheet is accurate, the alterations may well primarily be internal. A Snapdragon 800, 3GB of RAM, and Android 4.4 KitKat may be installed. The screen should stay at 10.1-inches with a 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution, and be fitted to a waterproof body measuring just 6.4mm thick.
With a few days to go before the show begins, Sony has increased its promotional activity, sending the video you see below out onto its official Xperia YouTube channel. It gives little away, but confirms we’re about to see at least one new Xperia device unveiled.
Keeping itself busy at CES in Vegas this year, ZTE showed off a bunch of smartphones (most notably the Grand S2), a couple of Nubia phones, and the Sonata 4G. But that wasn’t all. It also had a BlueWatch smartwatch and the interesting Projector Hotspot. It’s not done yet though, and has already confirmed it’ll have a new big-screen device at MWC called the Grand Memo 2 LTE, equipped with a 6-inch display. Joining it will be a new version of the MiFavor user interface, and ZTE’s second Firefox OS phone, the Open C. The BlueWatch has also apparently been renamed the Grand Smart Watch, so we’ll see if the hardware has been altered too.
Does it have anything else coming? We should get another look at everything, but there could also be some smart glasses and more than one new Windows Phone device on show in Barcelona. We’ve also seen some evidence that a Tizen smartphone called the ZTE Geek will be demonstrated at the show.
That’s all we’ve got for now, but we’ll update this piece with fresh rumors as they emerge, and we will, of course, be covering all the excitement from MWC 2014, February 24 – 27, in our usual inimitable style.
Updated on 02-17-2014 by Andy: LG has been busy pre-announcing the G Pro 2 and the L Series 3 smartphones, and hinting at the G2 Mini. We’ve also added more information on Huawei’s line-up for the show, and leaked details on the Sony Xperia Tablet Z2. Finally, a new BlackBerry phone called the Z3 may also arrive, along with an intriguing new phone from Acer.
Updated on 02-10-2014 by Andy: Added in rumors of a Huawei smartwatch and a pair of tablets, plus news HTC probably won’t bring its M8 (new HTC One) flagship phone to Barcelona.
Article originally published on 02-07-2014