Forget CES. Mobile World Congress is where it’s at. MWC, the biggest mobile industry trade show in the world, attracts more than 100,000 people to Barcelona to hear about the latest in phones and networks.
This year, MWC runs from February 26 to March 1. As a major media sponsor of MWC, PCMag will be doing full coverage of the show, with stories from the US and UK PCMag teams, daily video interviews, and product demos. There’s a lot of hot stuff coming in Barcelona, and we’re only starting to hear about all of it now. Based on internet rumors, here’s what we think might be coming, in alphabetical order of manufacturer. As we get more information about more manufacturers, we’ll add more details.
Alcatel gave us a tease of its 2018 lineup at CES, when it showed us mockups of its 1, 3, and 5 series devices that will work with T-Mobile’s new Extended Range LTE network. We were promised more details on specific models at MWC. All three phones have the tall, narrow 18:9 form factor that’s becoming popular. The 5 is a low-cost premium smartphone Alcatel says will cost under $300 unlocked. The 3 has dual main cameras, one front camera, and a glass back. The 1 has a plastic back and a grainy-looking plastic screen; it’s clearly the $99 entry.
HMD, which makes Android phones using the Nokia brand, is a cult hit in Europe but has made no impact in the US, so we’re sending PCMag UK to the company’s press briefing on Sunday, February 25.
Pocket Lint, a major UK site, says there will be up to seven new “Nokia” models, including a “Nokia 9” flagship with a Snapdragon 835 processor, 12-megapixel and 13-megapixel dual main cameras, and dual selfie cameras as well.
We’re pretty sure that HTC is not launching any major phones at MWC, choosing instead to focus on its Vive Pro and standalone Vive Focus headsets. Its CEO, Cher Wang, will be giving a keynote on Monday that will hopefully set the agenda for the company’s year, and give us some hints about the upcoming U12 flagship phone.
Will Huawei have its new P20 flagship at MWC? A totally unreliable Forbes blog says no. That’s the kind of rumor we’re reduced to repeating now, because we don’t have more reliable data.
The P20 and its variants have been wending their way through benchmarking sites, giving up details like a 2,244-by-1,080 screen, Android Oreo, and (insanely) a 40-megapixel rear camera assembly with a 24-megapixel front camera.
Huawei had a bad CES, after its distribution deal with AT&T for the Mate 10 Pro phone (above) fell apart. A strong Mobile World Congress would help the No. 3 phone maker get its groove back, but only, of course, if its flagship phone is ready.
What is up with LG? All phone releases at the Korean phone maker seem to have ground to a halt under the company’s new leadership. It has reportedly scrapped the LG G7 and is starting from scratch. That will probably mean that LG will miss the MWC window.
What could it bring to MWC instead? We haven’t seen the 2018 version of LG’s solid, midrange K and X series phones (the X Charge is shown above), and they may have to carry the show. PocketNow also suggests we’ll see an updated LG V30 with improved AI features and possibly a Snapdragon 845 processor.
Last week, Droid Life leaked what appeared to be Motorola’s entire 2018 smartphone lineup. Those phones include the Moto Z3 and Z3 Play; the X5, G6, and even a 5G Moto Mod. The big question is which of these torpedoes are going to be launched at MWC.
Last year, MWC was the launch platform for the G5 (G5 Plus shown above), so we’re likely to see the G6 at the show. Not to be confused with the LG G6, the Moto G6 line would have 18:9, 1080p displays in 5.7- and 5.93-inch sizes, and Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 and 630 processors. Value for money is the real play here, with the Moto G phones generally delivering great value with nearly stock Android software for around $250.
The biggest phone announcement at the show will almost certainly be the Samsung Galaxy S9. We expect that to come at an evening event on Sunday, February 25. According to leaker Evan Blass, the phone will go on sale March 16.
We have a full rumor story giving lots of details about the Galaxy S9. It will likely be the first phone to hit the US with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and an X20 modem. The 845’s “ultra HDR” capabilities may lead to an upgrade in the S9’s camera and screen, capturing and showing a wider range of colors, and the X20 modem can hit LTE speeds up to 1.2Gbps.
We’ve already been invited to Sony’s press conference, on the morning of Monday, Feb. 26. The question now is, what will it show?
The latest rumors have Sony announcing an Xperia XZ Pro phone, with a 5.7-inch, 4K OLED screen, and a Snapdragon 845 processor. The real trick there is going to be the XZ Pro’s release date. Samsung may have reserved the initial Snapdragon 845 supply for the Galaxy S9, which could push the XZ Pro out to May.