There will be plenty of hidden gems among the big name phones at MWC 2018
Looking forward to upgrading your phone? You’ll want to keep an eye on Mobile World Congress (MWC), a massive industry trade show in Barcelona. Every year, many of the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturers show off their upcoming devices here, and this year’s conference is going to be bigger than the last because Samsung is back to debut the Galaxy S9.
MWC 2018 runs from February 26 to March 1, but many major press conferences kick off the show on Sunday, February 25. Here’s what to expect.
The big names
Samsung skipped Mobile World Congress in 2017 to show off the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus at its own event in March in New York City, but it’s heading back to Barcelona to debut the Galaxy S9.
The Galaxy S9 has already made its way through FCC certification, and based on leaked images, it doesn’t look too different from its predecessor. That means it still has a bezel-less design with curved edges, but the good news is Samsung may have improved the location of the fingerprint sensor.
Under the hood, the Galaxy S9 is expected to make use of Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 processor (in the U.S.), but the highlight will be the camera. Samsung’s press conference invites for media say, “The Camera. Reimagined,” which means the company will likely be utilizing recently-announced camera improvements. Reports suggest the smaller Galaxy S9 may only have a single-lens camera, but the Galaxy S9 Plus may boast a dual-lens camera like the Galaxy Note 8. While we can expect a flashy announcement at MWC, devices will likely start shipping mid-March.
The press conference will take place on February 25 at 6 p.m. CET (Central European Time), or 12 p.m. ET.
Huawei and Honor
There are conflicting rumors about what we’ll see from Huawei at MWC 2018, and it’s likely all tied to the Chinese company’s disappointing CES. Huawei was set to launch the excellent Mate 10 Pro on AT&T, making it first time the company has sold a phone on a U.S. carrier. AT&T pulled out of the deal at the last minute, however, and the latest rumors suggest Verizon has dropped plans to carry a Huawei smartphone.
Early rumors suggested we could see the Huawei P20 — a followup to the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus — at MWC, but we now expect the company to instead launch the new phone at a scheduled press event in Paris on March 27. We may, however, see a new smartwatch from Huawei at the show. The company unveiled the Huawei Watch 2 at MWC 2017, so we’re hoping that despite a complete lack of any rumors, we’ll see a new iteration of the Huawei Watch.
Honor, a subsidiary of Huawei, will likely have a presence in Barcelona as well, but the company may not have a new phone to show off. In December 2017, it unveiled the budget Honor 7X and the mid-range Honor View 10. If anything, we may see some official pricing and availability dates for the View 10 in the U.S.
LG always launches its G-series flagship phone at MWC. In 2016, it was the LG G5, and last year it launched the LG G6. Sadly, the smartphone market hasn’t been to kind to the South Korean company. While there were many rumors suggesting the LG G7 will launch at MWC, more recent reports claim a later launch date. Rumors suggest the company is contemplating a name change for the G-series, and even a complete redesign of the product to help make it stand out against the crowded competition.
We will, however, see at least one new LG phone at MWC. Cy Kim, managing director of LG Electronics South Africa, told a group of journalists the company will announce an updated version of the LG V30.
Motorola’s 2018 smartphone lineup recently leaked online, including alleged renders and specs of successors to phones like the Moto Z2 Force, the Moto X4, and the Moto G5. The company usually launches its flagship Z-series devices in the summer, and the Moto X4 arrived in the fall of 2017. At MWC 2017, Motorola announced the latest in the G-series — so we’re expecting the company to show off the Moto G6 at MWC 2018. The Moto G6 is rumored to look a little more like the Moto X4, and this budget phone is said to have a dual-lens camera, an 18:9 aspect ratio, and a Full HD+ screen resolution.
Sony will likely unveil a flagship phone at Mobile World Congress this year. The company usually has a whole lineup to show off, but so far we’ve only heard rumblings of the Xperia XZ Pro. The smartphone is rumored to have a 5.7-inch display with a 4K resolution, and it’s expected to be powered by the Snapdragon 845 with 6GB of RAM. It may have dual cameras on the rear — a first for Sony — with one 18-megapixel sensor and one 12-megapixel sensor. The battery will reportedly have a 3,420mAh capacity, and the phone may have an IP68 water-resistance rating.
Sony’s press conference starts at 8:30 a.m. CET on February 26 (2:30 a.m. ET).
BlackBerry and Alcatel
BlackBerry had a spectacular 2017, thanks to the surprising success of the KeyOne — an Android smartphone with a physical keyboard. If you’re unaware, BlackBerry phones are now manufactured by TCL, which also makes phones under the Alcatel brand. At CES 2018, BlackBerry told Digital Trends it would launch two smartphones with physical keyboards this year, and it’s likely we’ll see at least one at Mobile World Congress. Expect further improvements with the keyboard, including new features.
Alcatel will debut three tiers of phones, with yet another new naming scheme. There’s the Alcatel 5 series, the Alcatel 3 series, and the Alcatel 1 series. All three are budget phones with an 18:9 aspect ratio.
By Christian de Looper and Andy Boxall