Mobile World Congress (MWC) is one of the largest tech shows of the year. Fresh off the back of CES, the latest and greatest smartphones, tablets and chips of 2018 will be unveiled or go on display at the Barcelona event this month.
Below we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about MWC 2018 and what to expect from Samsung, Sony, Apple, Huawei, Nokia and more.
MWC 2018 dates
MWC 2018 runs from 26 February to 1 March in Barcelona. While it was set up for, and as its name suggests, the release of smartphones, in recent years its remit has extended to wearables as well as enterprise software and hardware and even VR.
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The main show takes place at Fira Gran Via although events are held across Barcelona.
MWC 2018: What to expect and highlights
MWC 2018: Samsung
Although, technically, Samsung doesn’t unveil its latest flagship at MWC, it takes advantage of having the tech community in the city to lay on its own Unpacked event elsewhere in Barcelona. Last year, it broke with tradition likely due to the furore surrounding the “exploding” batteries on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, meaning the Galaxy S8 launch was much more muted.
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This year we know Samsung is using MWC 2018 to take the cover off its much-anticipated Samsung Galaxy S9 and it looks to be doing so with aplomb. Invites have gone out for the S9 event on 25 February, with the press conference kicking off at 6pm CET.
The Samsung Galaxy S9, and accompanying Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, are rumoured to have 5.8in and 6.2in displays respectively. They’re both said to be powered by Exynos 9810 processors and have more advanced cameras.
MWC 2018: Motorola
It may no longer be running with big boys, in the ways it once was, but Lenovo’s Motorola will still likely use MWC 2018 to unveil the mid-range G6 lineup, featuring three different models. Prices are expected to be around the £250 mark and the G6 cameras could feature dual cameras and an 18:9 display.
At the higher end of the scale, the Moto 5X could make an appearance, designed to rival the iPhone X (at least with the notch).
MWC 2018: Apple
Apple reserves its major phone launches for its own event, typically held in September, meaning it doesn’t have a presence at MWC. We’re expecting the tech giant to follow suit for MWC 2018, but the company may want to showcase its new watch or HomePod smart speaker.
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Alternatively, we wouldn’t be surprised to see leaked images or similar of the iPhone 11 appearing around the same time as MWC 2018 which could detract away from some of its competitors’ big reveals.
MWC 2018: Sony
Sony went quite hard on its announcements at CES 2018 and showcased its budget and mid-range Xperia XA2, Xperia XA2 Ultra and Xperia L2 handsets so we’d be surprised to see a vast number of new releases from Sony at MWC 2018.
Instead, the firm will likely use the show to unveil its latest flagship after launching the Xperia XZ Premium flagship at last year’s show.
MWC 2018: Huawei
Following in the footsteps of the Huawei P10, a Huawei P11 launch is all but inevitable at MWC 2018, as is a cheaper P11 Lite and larger P11 Plus.
The firm, traditionally, would save its major launches for its own event later in the year but it has suggested it wants to shift this to MWC 2018 to catch the March/April release date cycle, and run alongside its rivals. Huawei’s vice president of handsets product line Bruce Lee recently told Android Central: “In the future, we will probably launch the devices at Mobile World Congress.”
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During its traditional pre-MWC media briefing ahead of MWC 2018, Huawei said its main focus this year will be on 5G and AI so we’d expect to see a greater focus on AI in any devices it launches. This will build on the Kirin chip announced at IFA 2017 on the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro.
Beyond phones, Huawei may use MWC 2018 to refresh its tablet range.
MWC 2018: Nokia
Since the Nokia brand was bought by HMD Global, it’s gone from strength to strength. In 2017, HMD Global released a number of Nokia phones, including the Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6, the Nokia 8 and the revamp of its iconic Nokia 3310. Figures suggest these handsets have catapulted Nokia back to near the top of the global smartphone sales chart again. In fact, reports suggest Nokia phones outsold handsets from HTC, Sony Google, Alcatel, OnePlus and Asus.
With this in mind, we’re expecting to see a myriad Nokia phones at MWC 2018, from the budget to the (relative) high-end. You can sign up for updates from Nokia at MWC 2018 here.
MWC 2018: LG
LG used last year’s MWC to unveil the LG G6 but it was quickly bettered by Samsung’s Galaxy S8. This year, LG had been expected to be looking to outdo its rival with the LG G7. However, it looks like the V30 will be the flagship phone LG is pinning its hopes on. In a press release ahead of MWC 2018, LG said it will “introduce the first of a suite of AI technologies for its smartphones” at this year’s Mobile World Congress and that the next-level technology will feature on the 2018 version of the LG V30.
Called Vision AI, the image version of the technology will reportedly make the camera of the LG V30 smarter by analysing objects and recommending the best shooting mode. It will also be able to give shopping advice by pointing the camera at an object. The LG V30 will then perform an image search, or give shopping options including where to buy the item for the lowest price.
MWC 2018: HTC
HTC’s smartphone arm was recently bought by Google – after making the Pixel 2 – so we’re unlikely to see any handsets from HTC at MWC 2018. The HTC U11 Plus was the firm’s last release before the company was absorbed so that may have been its last hurrah, too.
Instead, HTC Vive – the VR arm of the Taiwanese firm – could showcase its virtual reality set up at MWC 2018.
MWC 2018: Qualcomm
Being the muscle behind many of the rumoured, next-generation handsets means chip maker Qualcomm typically has a large presence at MWC. Ahead of MWC 2018, Qualcomm announced a number of themes for the year ahead. Namely, its Artificial Intelligent Engine will be available on a variety of chipsets, including the Snapdragon 835, 820 and 660, as well as the Snapdragon 845.
Such AI features (like those seen on the Huawei Mate 10), means phones and applications can be faster, it boosts performance and enhances privacy.
Additionally, Qualcomm has been working with French car manufacturer Groupe PSA to add its 9150 C-V2X chipset to self-driving cars. The chip will help develop autonomous communication between vehicles.
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