What to expect from smartphone makers now that MWC 2020 is canceled

Although a few more smartphones debuted at CES 2020 than usual, the real smartphone event of the year has traditionally been Mobile World Congress. Unfortunately, after a number of companies pulled out of this year’s event due to fears about the spread of coronavirus, Mobile World Congress 2020 has been canceled.

Of course, that leaves a number of new products and innovations unannounced — and companies that would have unveiled their latest devices at MWC are now left to plan their own events or release products a little more quietly. Following are some details about the cancellation, what we had expected to see at this year’s event, and where manufacturers will now show off their latest devices.

Why was MWC 2020 canceled?

Usually, Mobile World Congress is held in late February. It takes place in the huge Fira Gran Via event space in Barcelona, Spain, and last year attracted more than 109,000 attendees. Now that it’s been canceled, we’ll have to wait for next year’s show.

The road to canceling the event was a slow process, starting with a few companies, including LG and ZTE, pulling out of the event. As the impact of the coronavirus, known officially as Covid-19, on China and the rest of the world grew, more companies canceled their appearances. Early on, the GSMA, which is the industry body that runs MWC, issued several statements suggesting that the event would go on, but with increased cleaning of the venue and even a “no handshake” policy. Eventually, it seems enough companies canceled their plans to attend amid the threat of the virus’s spread that the GSMA decided to cancel the event altogether.

What we originally expected to see at MWC 2020

Before being canceled, this year’s show promised to be packed full of new smartphones, as well as a wide collection of other mobile devices. Here’s a rundown of the devices that we originally anticipated.

  • Samsung Galaxy A Series: The company’s midrange brand
  • Sony Xperia 2: A flagship follow-up
  • Sony Xperia 5 Plus: A mid- to upper-tier device
  • Huawei Mate Xs : The second foldable phone from Huawei
  • Honor View30 Pro: A high-value offering from Huawei’s budget sub-brand
  • Honor 9X Pro: Another high-value offering from Huawei’s budget sub-brand
  • Xiaomi Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro: A pair of flagships
  • Nokia 8.2 5G, Nokia 4.3, and Nokia 5.2: A set of upper midrange to near-flagship devices
  • Motorola Edge Plus: Moto’s first flagship in years
  • Oppo Find X2: The company’s flagship offering
  • Vivo Apex 2020: A flagship from the company well-known for experimenting

So, now where will we see these devices?

For these companies, with our without MWC, the show must go on. As a result, many individual launches and events will be held. Below, we help you to keep track of all the events.

Samsung

Over the years, Samsung has slowly reduced its presence at MWC, and in recent years it has held separate events for its flagship phones. This year, the company unveiled the Samsung Galaxy S20 line of devices and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip at the Galaxy Unpacked event on February 11.

Still, at least a few Samsung phones were likely destined to be released at MWC. Last year, the company showed off a few new A-Series devices, along with the Galaxy Tab S5e tablet. Sequels to these devices, or other new models, would have potentially arrived at MWC 2020. Samsung has yet to comment on when it might launch its unannounced devices, but it could simply take the quiet route.

Google

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Google usually takes over one of the expansive outdoor areas at MWC, where it shows its products and software off in real-world scenarios, but it doesn’t usually announce any actual new products. As such, we don’t really expect Google to have to compensate with any separate events or launches.

Sony

Sony has confirmed that it will launch its new products, likely to include the Sony Xperia 2, in a YouTube video at 2:30 a.m. ET on February 24 — the time its MWC press conference was supposed to be held. A new version of the Xperia 5 has been spotted in a few leaks, and may alos be destined for a release.

LG

LG, one of the first companies to pull out of MWC 2020, has yet to reveal its plans. The company usually releases a few devices during Mobile World Congress, so with the event canceled, it likely has at least a few phones to launch. While LG has confirmed that it will release its new products at separate events, it has yet to announce when or where those events will take place.

What did we expect? Rumors claimed LG would launch the LG V60 ThinQ at MWC 2020. Like the G8X ThinQ, the V60 may come with a second screen case accessory, although the hinge will apparently be redesigned. While the G8X ThinQ is typically quirky and the second screen has its uses, the space between the two displays is detrimental to the viewing experience. Hopefully, it’s this aspect that LG has redesigned for the new version.

If you’re waiting for news of an LG G9, don’t hold your breath. It’s possible the series has ended and LG will focus on using the V-Series name instead. For example, leaks claiming to show the LG G9 may actually depict the LG V60.

Huawei

At MWC 2019, Huawei wowed us with the Mate X folding smartphone, a stunning device that went in a different design direction from the Samsung Galaxy Fold. While the Mate X has since launched in China, it has not been put on sale elsewhere. It also launched a pair of MateBook Windows laptops.

Now that MWC 2020 is canceled, it’s unclear what the company has in store. There are other factors at play here — like Huawei’s ongoing problems with the U.S. government. Still, it could launch devices in other markets — though we have yet to hear about when or where that will happen.

As far as what we expected from the company at MWC 2020, the already half-confirmed enhanced version of the Mate X featuring the new Kirin 990 processor may have been slated. It’s rumored to be called the Huawei Mate Xs.

It’s entirely possible that Huawei may still even hold an event in Barcelona. As the threat of Coronavirus bloomed, the GSMA required Chinese companies to quarantine attending employees for two weeks before the show. Huawei reportedly already had it’s China-based team in Europe to meet those requirements.

Honor

It seems as though Honor is another company that had its employees stationed in Europe for the event — and the company has now confirmed that it will go ahead with a launch event in Barcelona. According to a LinkedIn post from Honor PR Manager Bhavya Siddappa, the event will be livestreamed on February 24 at 6:30 p.m. CET (or 9:30 a.m. PT), from the Honor YouTube channel.

As far as what we expect from the company, it’s likely we’ll see a wealth of new products. Leading the charge is likely the Honor View 30 Pro, which has already been announced in China. The 5G phone has a 6.57-inch screen, the Kirin 990 processor, and a triple-lens camera on the back. Honor’s other phone announcement would have been the Honor 9X Pro, another phone already seen in China, and a higher spec version of the existing Honor 9X. The recently revealed special editions of the MagicWatch 2 smartwatch, plus a pair of Honor MagicBook laptops, were also set to be unveiled at MWC.

Like Huawei, Honor is feeling the effects of the U.S. government’s trade ban, so we’re unsure what version of Android will come installed on the Honor View 30 Pro, and whether it will have the Google Play Store installed or not.

Nokia

HMD Global takes MWC very seriously and has shown many exciting phones there in the past — from the 8110 4G to the Nokia 9 PureView. Now that the event is canceled, the company may have a number of devices and products to launch. The company has confirmed that it will launch devices in the near future but has yet to announce an event or launch date.

What are we expecting to see eventually? The Nokia 8.2 5G, which may use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765 5G processor and have a pop-up selfie camera, as well as the midrange Nokia 5.2, which may have a 6.2-inch screen and a 16-megapixel camera.

There’s also speculation about a basic Nokia 1.3 phone and the arrival of a new series named Nokia Originals. This may be connected to the reimagining of classic Nokia models, such as the 8110 4G. Finally, the Nokia 9.2 PureView name has been rumored, but there has been little discussion of specifications or announcement date yet.

Motorola

Motorola was set to hold a press conference at MWC 2020. We have yet to hear when or where a rescheduled event will be held.

There has been speculation the company will introduce a flagship phone with high-end specs in 2020, and that it may be named the Motorola Edge or Edge Plus, but there is very little else to go on at the moment. The Motorola G8 may also be revealed, and there are rumors of a Motorola phone with a stylus in the works as well.

Realme

Realme, a smartphone company that impressed us with the X2 Pro last year, was set to hold an event at MWC 2020, but now will instead hold a launch event online on February 24, the date that its original press conference was scheduled for.

Alongside the rescheduling, the company announced that it will launch the Realme X50 Pro 5G during the online event.

Xiaomi

Xiaomi was supposed to launch the new Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro globally at MWC, and now that the event has been canceled, the company says it will be rescheduling a new event, but has yet to provide details.

TCL

TCL 10 Pro Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

TCL was among the first companies to pull out of MWC 2020. TCL is another company that may have had its employees already in Europe — and the company will reportedly still be heading to Barcelona.

We already know some of what TCL was planning to launch at MWC 2020 because it teased the new TCL 10L, TCL 10 Pro, and TCL 10 5G phones at CES, telling us all the details would come at the February show. It also said that other mobile devices — some of which may not fall into the smartphone category — would also arrive at MWC 2020. We’re holding out hope for a TCL folding smartphone, too.

Oppo

Another Chinese smartphone manufacturer making waves in Europe at the moment, Oppo would likely have launched at least one device at MWC. The company has postponed its launch plans, and we have yet to hear specifics about its new plans. In a tweet, the company said that it will make some “big announcements” at the “next available moment.”

The phone being rumored is the Oppo Find X2, which may be the first officially available smartphone with Oppo’s under-screen selfie camera that creates a sleek look. Oppo has previously said it has a phone coming during the first months of 2020 with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor inside, and this may be the Find X2. In its tweet, the company also included the “#OppoReno3Pro” hashtag, so we can expect to see that device in the near future.

Oppo has also been teasing a foldable phone for a while and has recently said a smartwatch may come at some point as well.

Vivo

Vivo would have launched new hardware at MWC 2020, but the company has yet to confirm what its plans are now that MWC has been canceled.

In the past, it has quietly revealed prototype phones and hardware, and it was rumored that for this show, it would have unveiled another concept phone. Known as the Apex 2020 at the moment, exactly what the phone will be like remains a mystery.

Now that MWC is off, Microsoft is unlikely to announce a new event, as it probably wouldn’t have launched new devices or products at the show.

ZTE

ZTE was among the first companies to cancel its planned press conference at MWC 2020, due to the difficulty it had in obtaining visas for its staff and making travel arrangements amid the coronavirus outbreak in China. It’s unclear at this time if it will hold another event.

We will be keeping watch over all the latest MWC 2020-related news and announcements, so please check back often for the latest developments.

Updated on February 19, 2020: Honor will livestream an event from Barcelona instead of MWC.

Editors' Recommendations