With Mobile World Congress (or just MWC as it’s now officially known) just around the corner, we’re waiting to see some big names launching 5G handsets, foldable phones and more.
What is MWC?
The MWC trade show technically begins on Monday 25 February this year, and it runs for just four days. However, most people associate MWC with phone launches, and those mostly happen on Sunday before MWC. In 2019, though, those launches could start as much as a week earlier, with many manufacturers launching early to get ahead of the news cycle.
MWC is an event which brings together just about everyone in the mobile technology space, from carriers, phone makers, software developers, analytics and pundits (and of course some journalists). GSMA (the organiser of the show) is predicting an attendance of around 110,000 for the show itself, and that figure usually means about 150,000 extra people around Barcelona for a week or so.
It’s a big show.
What can we expect this year?
Like every year, MWC sees most household names in mobile launching something; whether it’s a new phone, or some other mobile tech (like a laptop, tablet or wearable), if there’s a brand name in mobile, something’s happening at MWC.
Unless of course you’re Apple, which doesn’t even attend.
So, without further ado, here are the brands we’re expecting:
Mentioning Samsung in this article is an interesting one, because not only will they hold the Samsung Galaxy S10 launch event (called Unpacked) ahead of MWC in San Francisco, but we understand they won’t have an official press event at this year’s show.
So, while we don’t expect a show, we do expect to see Samsung’s brand new Galaxy S10 range on display, so we’re hoping for some hands-on time. With a triple camera array, in-screen fingerprint sensors, and a design that looks a lot closer to the Note line than previous Galaxy S handsets, the Galaxy S10 range promises a lot. Whether it launches at MWC or before it really isn’t the point; it’s going to be all over the show regardless, and we can’t wait to see it.
Will we see anything else launched? Rumours are swirling of a 5G handset announcement, and we might see some other accessories, a wearable and more.
LG seems to be present virtually every year at MWC, but it’s been a couple of years since the company has had a resounding hit. With some reasonable phones released in recent times, the trouble has been in actually selling them. In Australia, at least, LG has not fared especially well in recent years.
Regardless, we understand LG will announce the LG G8 ThinQ, featuring a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 855 processor and Infineon REAL3 image sensor. Utilising a Time of FLight (ToF) sensor, it measures light from subjects to provide the most accurate facial recognition around.
The other thing that LG knows well is foldable OLED technology, so it’s conceivable we could see a foldable concept at MWC from LG. I’d say that’s unlikely at this stage, though.
We know LG wants to be among the first to launch with 5G, though, so I’d say that’s slightly more likely (but not much).
The Chinese brand that governments love to hate has spent a lot of time in the news for reasons it would rather it hadn’t. Being banned from 5G has hurt Huawei’s public image in Australia a little bit, but the company still makes excellent consumer hardware, and the sales figures show they’re having no issues selling those in Australia and elsewhere.
Precisely what Huawei will announce at MWC remains to be seen, with the company’s next flagship phone (the Huawei P30) already mooted for a launch next month in Paris.
— Huawei Mobile (@HuaweiMobile) February 1, 2019
This leaves a focus on 5G and foldables, which the company has spoken much of in recent times. That, paired with the invite for the show giving some obvious cues, suggests we’re in for a foldable 5G extravaganza.
I for one can’t wait to see that.
The last couple of years have seen nothing short of a resurgence from the once king of the mobile brands. Nokia (now used as a brand name by HMD Global) has released a slew of handsets, and it seems poised to make a 3rd year running with big announcements.
The biggest is likely to be the insane-looking Nokia 9 PureView, with a massive five rear-facing camera setup. As much as this looks like an awkward concept not quite ready to retail, there’s a lot of interest in this phone from brand-fanatics and consumers alike.
While we don’t know as much about other phones in Nokia’s stable, it wouldn’t be a Nokia showing at MWC without a retro phone announcement. With the Nokia 3310 and then Nokia 8810, will we see a 5110 5G this year?
I have my doubts, but damn that would be cool.
Motorola (or Moto) typically makes a bit of its presence at MWC, with a bright, flashy stand and lots of wares on display. With the announcement already this week of the Moto g7 line, though, one wonders what is left to announce.
Rumours may give us the answer. Like Nokia with its retro brands, Moto may be hoping to steal the show by bringing back the RAZR brand. Exactly what form this might take we don’t really know, but the RAZR line was a super popular flip phone 15-20 years ago, and I for one would love to see a modern take on that style.
The only downside is that Moto’s position in Australia virtually guarantees any top-flight phones won’t be launched locally. The good news is, if a RAZR is announced, we can always import it.
Oppo and MWC have an interesting relationship, not the least because the company is an official partner of Barcelona FC. In the last couple of years, the company has made announcements which haven’t exactly materialised as actual products, but if the company is anywhere near showing off some of the tech it’s working on at present, we’re in for a treat.
We understand Oppo will use MWC to show off a 10X optical zoom mobile camera, as well as some interesting 5G technology that’s still in the concept stage.
Whatever it is, I want to see it.
Not exactly a phone maker, Qualcomm makes the technology that’s inside just about every smartphone worth mentioning. Some manufacturers roll their own – Huawei and Samsung, notably – but everyone else relies on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipsets to power their Android devices.
Qualcomm announced new technology not that long ago – in the form of the Snapdragon 855 integrated processor and X50 5G modem – but at MWC we’re firmly expecting the brand to talk about its 5G credenntials. It’s too soon to be talking about anything much else.
We understand most local carriers will be represented at MWC, either in their own right, or through partnerships with global brands. Telstra is one to watch, with bold claims about its 5G partnerships and the likelihood of some exclusive 5G devices.
Telstra usually partners with Ericsson to make announcements, but we understand this year it may hold a smaller separate event, most likely after the mobile device announcements have been made.
After all, you can’t announce 5G exclusive handsets before they’ve actually been announced by the manufacturers. That wouldn’t be the done thing.
Last but not least – Sony
Sony. Sony has been the little brand that could at the last couple of MWC events, announcing huge lineups of phones, accessories and a fair whack of concepts that never see a retail shelf.
Unfortunately, the recent years’ sales figures haven’t been kind to Sony Mobile in Australia. So much so, we understand, that the company has all but given up on Australia entirely.
Regardless of local impact, we understand Sony will still be announcing new gear at MWC, including a rumoured Xperia XZ4 featuring top-of-range Snapdragon 855 processor and a 21:9 display ratio. Better yet, we understand Sony might use its in-house dual-lens technology here, and one thing’s for sure – Sony makes great glass.
Other rumours include the Xperia XA3 (the overdue sequel to the XA2 announced last year), with some concrete leaks in recent days.
Will we see the Xperia XZ4, a compact variant, or some other smartphones? Truthfully, we just don’t know … but we will come Monday morning at MWC.
A note from Ausdroid
2019 marks the 5th year that Ausdroid will be in attendance at MWC, and each year, we’ve been able to bring you coverage live from the show in Barcelona with thanks to generous sponsorship arrangements and support from our readers.
This year is no different, in that we’ve secured a small number of sponsors to help us make the show happen. However, it will be different, because we’re taking five staff to cover it.
We think MWC is that important to the tech consumer in Australia that we’re making sure we’ve got the resources on the ground to do the news justice.
In two weeks, Scott, Jason, Duncan and Phil will join me in Barcelona, and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of Alcatel / TCL (and the team at Closer who represent them), Huawei Mobile Australia and Oppo Australia.
Oh, and you might ask why we haven’t included Alcatel / TCL devices in this wrap. Unlike major companies which like to leak like sieves, Alcatel / TCL generally don’t. We do like surprises!