MWC 2017 Trends: Waterproof phones are in, wearables are out, and nostalgia is king

Nokia 3310
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Every year, Mobile World Congress sets the stage for the year to come in mobile. We already know that bezel-free phones and artificial intelligence are going to be huge in 2017, but what about other trends? At the show, we’ve come across a number of interesting developments in the world of mobile, which encompasses phones, wearables, and so much more. Here are the five main trends we’ve seen at MWC 2017.

Waterproof phones are now the standard

Water resistance is fast becoming a fixture on the flagship spec sheet — and it’s about time. Ever since Sony launched the Xperia Z line with water resistance as a heavily marketed, prominent feature, we’ve been wanting to see it in every phone. Its place in the public eye was really cemented by Apple’s iPhone 7 and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 last year.

There hasn’t been much talk about it at MWC, and that tells us that it has graduated from feature to expectation. Our show winner at MWC 2017 was the LG G6, and it’s an IP68-rated smartphone, which means that it can survive a dunk in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes without sustaining any damage. Sony’s XZ Premium is also an IP68 phone, and the Huawei P10 has an IPX2 rating, which means it can handle rain and spills. None of this was advertised during the unveiling of these phones.

huawei att partnership p10 our first take ab 0022
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

A full 95 percent of all phones that cost more than $600 now have some form of water protection. Even cheaper devices are getting in on the water-resistance act. The Moto G5 Plus, in keeping with all Moto phones for the last few years, has an IPX2 rating.

Water damage is still the second-biggest cause of smartphone failure. According to IDC, nearly 900,000 smartphones get damaged by liquids every single day at an annual cost of more than $96.7 billion, and most of that cost is borne by regular people. No wonder that water resistance came in third in a recent YouGov poll of most-wanted features in the U.S. market. If this year’s MWC is anything to go by, it looks like manufacturers are listening, and water resistance is a trend that’s going to stick.

– Simon Hill


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