CES may be one of the world’s largest gadget shows, but Mobile World Congress is the venue where Samsung, LG, HTC, Sony, and others make some of the year’s most important mobile announcements. This year’s show was held in Barcelona, Spain, through March 2 at the Fira Gran Via Convention Center, and it’s where some of the world’s big-name tech brands try to out-do each other with flagship smartphone, smartwatch, and gadget launches.
This year, we expect to see a mix of incredible innovations from the big brands and intriguing tech from relatively unknown companies. We’ll be reporting live from the show floor, so follow @DigitalTrends and @DTMobile for the latest news. You can also follow our on-the-ground reporters — Andy Boxall, Malarie Gokey, Julian Chokkattu, Kyle Wiggers, and Simon Hill — on Twitter.
In the meantime, here’s everything we expect to see at the biggest mobile extravaganza of the year.
Samsung has historically unveiled new flagship smartphones at MWC — take last year’s Galaxy S7, for example. But this time around, things will be a little quieter for the Korean electronics giant. DJ Koh, Samsung’s mobile chief executive, told Reuters that the long-rumored Galaxy S8 won’t make an appearance at its February 26 event. Instead, the company’s principal focus is expected to be the Galaxy Tab S3.
The Galaxy Tab S3, which is said to feature a 9.7-inch screen with a 2,048 x 1,536 resolution and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, will reportedly borrow a number of features from Samsung’s Note line of phablets. It’ll come with a clip-on variant of Samsung’s S Pen stylus, which will enable features like the ability to write on the display when it’s off. The stylus will ship alongside accessories like a magnetic-stand keyboard.
Samsung may also take the opportunity to unveil the Galaxy Tab Pro S2, a Window-powered tablet with a 12-inch Quad HD (resolution), Intel Kaby Lake processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, and 5,070mAh battery. But as of now, the launch details are a bit foggy.
There might be a new Gear VR headset. It’s said to feature a new front cover and ship with a dedicated controller for navigating apps and games, much like Google’s Daydream platform.
LG used to wait for Samsung to have its fun at MWC before launching the G series flagship at a separate event. But it turned the tables last year, and it’s doing the same in 2017.
The Korean company’s upcoming G6 smartphone is no mystery. Indeed, LG’s published a steady stream of highlights ahead of its press conference on February 26. The flagship handset has 5.7-inch edge-to-edge “FullVision” AMOLED screen with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,440 and an 18:9 aspect ratio and dual-camera module. Notably, the G6 is expected to do away with the G5’s modular Friends concept that saw third parties produce pricey add-ons. Rather, the G6 will feature a slim, water-resistant design with a non-removable battery.
The G6 sports some nifty software, too. The latest version of LG’s smartphone software, UX 6.0, features a two square windows side-by-side. A new camera app takes advantage of the split screen functionality to serve up a live view alongside preview images, and packs a Food Mode filter optimized for snapping pics of delicious dinners.We expect LG to announce the G6’s release date and availability at MWC, but the company could very well have a few tricks up its sleeve.
In the past, HTC used MWC to announced the latest phone in its One series, but this year could be different. The embattled Taiwanese smartphone maker just launched the U Ultra and U Play, two flagship handsets bound for international shores. HTC CEO Chialin Chang told press that it won’t be unveiling any devices featuring Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835, suggesting a post-MWC unveiling for the follow-up to the One 10.
Here’s hoping HTC makes an appearance. Leaks suggest the HTC 10 will boast a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 1,556 x 2,550 pixels, 6GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel front camera (up from 5-megapixel on the HTC 10), a 3,700mAh battery, and a whopping 256GB of storage.
Virtual reality is likely to be a subject of discussion at HTC’s presser. The company’s gearing up to release a spiritual sequel to the Vive virtual reality headset that “combines mobility with VR,” and heads a $10 billion virtual reality consortium and 100 million VR accelerator program. It’s a safe bet that there will be news on that front.
Huawei’s February 26 press event promises a lot of juicy new devices.
We’re expecting the Huawei Watch 2, which will reportedly feature a circular 1.4-inch screen that measures 42mm in diameter, a Snapdragon 400 chipset paired with 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, and a 300mAh battery. The latest leaks suggest HTC may take the wraps off two alternative models: An LTE-equipped Huawei Watch 2 and a sports-focused wearable with rubber straps.
Huawei is likely to launch a smartphone, too: The P10, the flagship successor to last year’s P9. There might be more than one model, too. According to leaked promotional documents said to originate in China, a high-end P10 Plus will ship alongside a cheaper P10. Both are expected to boast screens in Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) resolution, Huawei’s proprietary Kirin 960 chipset clocked at 2.3GHz, dual 12-megapixel cameras, 4GB or 6GB of RAM, up to 128GB of internal storage, and a 3,100mAh battery.
Mid-range phones are also a real possibility for Huawei, of course, and there’s always the hope that the Chinese company will announce a U.S. launch partner for some of its smartphones. According to Fortune, the Huawei recently hired a former Verizon wireless executive to lead the stateside charge.
Sony’s mobile division has been busy. Very busy. According to the latest rumblings, the Japanese electronics maker will debut between three and five new phones at its press conference on February 27, including the Xperia XA and Xperia X. One — the so-called “Xperia XZ 2” — will stand above the rest with a 5.5-inch 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor paired with 4GB of RAM. That choice of processor would come as a surprise — reports suggest that Samsung has purchased the entire initial supply of Snapdragon 835 chips for the upcoming Galaxy S8. However, Sony might choose to announce the Xperia XZ 2 far in advance of its eventual ship date.
The Xperia X and Xperia XA have decidedly less exciting hardware. The former reportedly packs a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) screen and a MediaTek P20 processor paired with 4GB of RAM, while the later sports an HD panel and modest processor with 2GB to 3GB of RAM.
Sony might show more of its Xperia Projector, a short-throw projector that turns any surface into a 21-inch touchscreen, after demonstrating it privately at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. But one product it won’t be showing off is a follow-up to the Smartwatch 3, Sony’s Android Wear-powered watch. Rumors suggest the company has put its smartwatch effort on hold, for now.
Xperia X series
Lenovo and Motorola
Lenovo-owned smartphone maker Motorola may not have had the most profitable quarters of its decades-long history, but it’s chugging along all the same. At its February MWC press conference, the Chicago-based firm’s expected to launch the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus, the affordable follow-ups to last year’s Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus, and a generous number of leaks have helped to paint pictures.
The Moto G5 reportedly features a water-repellent coating, a 2,800mAh removable battery, a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) screen, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor paired with 2GB of RAM. Predictably, the Moto G5 Plus kicks things up a notch with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 5.2-inch display, a 3,000mAh battery, and an NFC chip compatible with contact-free terminals.
Motorola’s Moto 360 smartwatch may be getting a bit long in the tooth, but don’t expect an equal at MWC. Lenovo has bowed out of the smartwatch game, for now, favoring a “wait-and-see” approach to the increasingly capricious market.
Lenovo Moto G5
BlackBerry (TCL) and Alcatel
Alcatel has quite the portfolio this year, rumor has it. The smartphone maker’s readying as many as five midrange phones for debut at MWC, at least one of which appears to have a modular, removable backplate. Rumblings suggest one of the removable backs features a JBL speaker and lights that change color.
It’s a little-known fact that TCL, Alcatel’s parent company, makes BlackBerry phones — it licenses the famed company’s brand. And it had a flagship to show at MWC. TCL took the wraps off the BlackBerry KeyOne, the keyboard-adorned Android phone it teased at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
The KeyOne’s Backlit capacitive keys can be used to navigate around Android’s setting screens, and the handset boasts super-secure software layers that receive updates directly from BlackBerry’s software division. The specs, meanwhile, aren’t half bad: It sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, 3GB of RAM, and a 3,505mAh battery with a unique quick-charging feature that enables faster-than-average charging times.
Nokia, the Finnish smartphone maker that recently cut ties with software giant Microsoft, recently heralded its return to the mobile market with the launch of its first Android phone, the Nokia 6. At MWC, it’s expected to blow the doors wide open.
A giant 18.4-inch Nokia tablet might be on the way, for one. Leaks show a table featuring a 2,560 x 1,440-pixel display, a 2.2GHz octa-core Qualcomm processor, and 4GB of RAM. It reportedly runs Android.
On the phone side of the equation, Nokia could announce a trio of flagships for the coming year.
The Nokia 8, which leaked courtesy a premature retail listing in February, shows a smartphone with a 5.7-inch Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) AMOLED display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor, a 24-megapixel rear camera, 6GB of RAM, dual front-facing speakers, and MicroSD card support up to 256GB.
The Nokia 5 and Nokia 3 are the Nokia 8’s lower-end counterparts, reportedly. The Nokia 5’s said to have a 5.2-inch screen with a 1,280 x 720-pixel resolution and a Snapdragon 430 processor with 2GB of RAM. The Nokia 3’s rumored to have roughly the same specs but an inferior camera.
That’s not all Nokia has in store. According to rumors, the company’s prepping an anniversary edition of the legendarily rugged Nokia 3310, one of the best-selling smartphones in history.
ZTE recently announced a concept Gigabit Phone, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835-powered smartphone with a model capable of gigabit speeds over existing LTE 4G networks. It’s capable of handling 360-degree VR and 4K video, which should make for an interesting demo at the company’s February press conference.
ZTE’s crowdsourced Hawkeye smartphone has gone back to the drawing board, unfortunately, but the company’s smartwatch hasn’t. Recent rumblings suggest ZTE’s first smartwatch, the Quartz, may make its debut at MWC.
ZTE Gigabit Phone
Oppo and OnePlus
Chinese smartphone maker Oppo was one of smartphone market’s biggest success stories, believe it or not — sales jumped 122 percent year over year. In the spirit of disruption, the company’s teased a “5x Project” camera technology that promises to deliver quality and clarity never before seen in a smartphone.
There’s a slim chance Oppo’s sister company, OnePlus, will give a sneak peak at the OnePlus 4. But the company’s traditional chosen other venues to announce new products, and that seems unlikely to change this year.
Microsoft, Google, Asus, LeEco and more
Several other players may also have surprises at MWC, including Microsoft and its partners, Google, Asus, and LeEco. None of them are expected to have huge announcements at the show, but we could hear a tidbit about new devices or software updates. Google had a presence at last year’s MWC, and with the arrival of Android Wear 2.0, a couple of smartwatches aren’t out of the question. Asus debuted the Tango-equipped ZenFone AR earlier this year and might decide to bring it. And LeEco’s rumored to be working on a high-end phone called the X10.
More: ZenFone AR
Article originally published on 02-25-2017. Updated on 02-26-2017 by Kyle Wiggers: Added news of BlackBerry’s KeyOne announcement.
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