Mobile World Congress is not far away now. It’s the biggest event in the mobile industry calendar and I’ll be in Barcelona to check out all of the new announcements.
It’s sure to be as busy as ever and already rumours are circulating far and wide.
I’ve compiled a short list of the devices we can expect to see at the event, or shortly before or afterwards.
For some time many manufacturers decide that the best way to secure maximum publicity for their launch is to do it away from the conference halls themselves, so while MWC kicks off on Monday 26th February, there will already have been a bunch of announcements before then.
So what should be looking out for?
Huawei is only having a small one hour event, so it’s very unlikely that it will be announcing a new phone at MWC itself. Rumours are that it will follow at a standalone event the following month or perhaps even later.
However, anyone who attended IFA last September (another big trade show in Germany) will know that they used that event to talk up its latest chipset and tease attendees about its progress on the Mate 10. There was also talk about developments in artificial intelligence, which of course made it in to the final product (and later, the Honor View 10).
— PhoneArena (@phonearena) January 19, 2018
This time, expect a few hints about the next generation of Leica-branded camera technology, with a rumoured triple camera setup on what will replace last year’s flagship P10. Will this be called the P11 or the P20? We’ll have to wait and see, but you can expect a much upgraded camera experience and almost certainly a near bezel-less display.
With Huawei’s infrastructure side, don’t be surprised to also hear about its developments into 5G, a bit more on AI and perhaps some new mobile broadband products to take advantage of Huawei’s latest 4G modems.
Sony has an event for what could be the biggest thing it has done in many years. An all new phone with a brand new design language, which will finally end the minor incremental upgrades to the Xperia flagships for what feels like forever.
It’s still early days to know the finer details, but you can expect the Pro model to retain the 4K resolution display, and the same front-facing speakers that made the XZ Premium a fantastic device for enjoying films (including HDR) content.
— Android Community (@Androids) January 17, 2018
There will also be the latest Snapdragon 845 chipset and perhaps an even faster modem than what adorned the XZ Premium.
Naturally, you can also expect more accessories like speakers and headphones from Sony, and perhaps a few other surprises. All eyes will be on the Sony stand as it holds its conference first thing on opening day.
Samsung has favoured its own events for a while, but now it seems it is returning to Barcelona to unveil the latest flagship Galaxy smartphones. The S9 and S9+ (or will Samsung skip 9 and go straight to X?) has yet to have a lot of specs leaked, but we do know that Samsung now has a stunning new Exynos chip that will find its way into European models at least.
— Android Authority (@AndroidAuth) January 15, 2018
The phone is likely to match, or beat, Apple’s 4K video recording at 60fps with a rumour that it may be good for 120fps video.
What else Samsung can add to already top-spec models remains to be seen, but these days Samsung is much like Apple in terms of customer loyalty. I fully expect that once announced and pre-ordering opens, Samsung will have no problems finding buyers.
Samsung’s fiercest rival, LG, has had a shocking few years. Multiple quarterly losses means that LG has pretty much gone back to the drawing board and no longer wants to play the game of releasing phones annually in a fixed cycle.
That could of course be an excuse for a delay to what would have been the debut of the G7, and instead rumours suggest LG is instead going to tweak the software and bake in more AI functionality, Huawei style. The phone it will use will be a modified version of the V30.
Now considering the V30 is a pretty stunning device, that’s not necessarily something to be disappointed about. If LG delays an all-new device until later in the year, that also gives us hardcore mobile fans something to look forward to when all the fuss over MWC dies down.
This is probably fine if the new phone won't be ready anytime soon, but really, "V30+a" isn't a brand name, it's a cat walking across a keyboard https://t.co/vZG1o9OApF
— Alex Dobie (@alexdobie) January 19, 2018
What LG really needs to do is spend some money on marketing. You can’t make money if most people don’t even know you exist.
(The same goes to HTC, who I’m excluding for now as I’m not sure what plans they have – if any – at this time).
Last year, Nokia (or should I say HMD Global) stole all the limelight at MWC, with the announcement of the ‘new’ Nokia 3310.
It wasn’t a particularly great phone, but nothing could have informed the world more effectively that Nokia was back and making phones than a publicity stunt like this.
But it was 2G only, so pretty useless for just about everyone. Later in the year came a 3G model, and now it seems a 4G model looms large. Now a 4G model, which could perhaps be used as a portable hotspot, might actually have some appeal to the masses – as well as supporting voice over 4G to give it the best possible coverage. 4G is no longer just about data, after all.
— Talk Android (@TalkAndroid) January 21, 2018
But MWC 2018 can’t be all about another basic phone as the gimmick won’t work twice. Instead, Nokia will hopefully show off its new flagship Nokia 9, with the absolute best possible spec and innovative design, as well as more improvements on its imaging.
Also on the cards is a new entry-level phone too. Historically, Nokia has always done well from emerging markets and it would be silly to stop doing so now.
If the massive leak from Lenovo is accurate, the Motorola brand has a lot of new kit on the way. The MotoMods are also still a thing, which is great because they’re a bloody good idea.
Suffice to say, borderless displays are where Motorola is going, from the new Moto X5 with added ‘Smart AI’, the Z3 and Moto Z3 Play and even down to the budget-friendly G6 and E5 models.
I've never seen a leak as thorough, as early, and as potentially damaging to a company as @droid_life's renders-and-all reports covering nearly the entire 2018 Motorola lineup — barely halfway through January.
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) January 16, 2018
There’s every chance the G6 will be a family of devices, like the G5 line-up in 2017.
One new MotoMod is a 5G add-on, which left me somewhat intrigued. It may be little more than a proof-of-concept, but many questions should be answered at Lenovo’s press conference.
Don’t necessarily expect everything listed above to be announced at once though. There has to be something else to come in 2018!
With so many Chinese manufacturers now getting more of a loyal following via the SIM-free sales market and purchasing via the likes of AliExpress or GearBest, we can possibly expect to see more exciting kit in the smaller halls of the show.
There are also some Eastern European companies rebadging Chinese phones for their home markets, but with availability throughout Europe for those who are feeling a bit more adventurous.
It would also be nice to see what Wileyfox has in store, after a long time since its last hardware launch. As yet, I don’t know of any event but I will update you if I hear otherwise.
What else will be at MWC?
There’s always a core theme to any MWC, and clearly in 2018 it will be the ongoing development of 5G with more test networks likely to be announced, with some countries even going all in with live networks for consumers. Intel, Qualcomm, Nokia and many more will be heavily involved.
Part of the 5G discussions will of course be actual applications, so expect to hear more about the kinds of services we may expect to have access to when 5G eventually becomes a thing.
Back to things we can actually buy, I strongly doubt we’ll see much in the way of new tablets, smartwatches and so on, but there will be plenty of halls full to the brim with cases, chargers and clones of premium brand headphones.
Hopefully there’ll be something big that stands out and becomes the talk of the show, but it’s been a while.
So about that 4G Nokia 3310….