The biggest mobile industry trade show of the year, Mobile World Congress (MWC), runs from Feb. 27 to March 2 this year. It’ll be full of new phones as usual, but that’s only the beginning: tablets and networks have played big roles in previous years, and we should expect a lot of AR, VR, and voice interfaces in 2017, too.
Motorola won’t be alone with modular phones in 2017, if the latest rumor about Alcatel is to be believed. According to Slashgear, Alcatel will have up to five new midrange phones at MWC this year, with at least one of them having a removable back system like the Moto Z. One of the removable backs will feature a JBL speaker and lights that change color, the rumor says.
That said, Alcatel probably won’t introduce its next-gen flagship Idol phone at MWC, as it’s going to spend its big money on the BlackBerry Mercury launch on Saturday night.
MWC will be where TCL (parent company of Alcatel) introduces the BlackBerry “Mercury,” its new keyboarded Android phone, which looks to have a much brighter potential future than BlackBerry’s 2015 Priv handset. Hopefully, BlackBerry’s John Chen will give one of his annual updates on his business as well during its Feb. 25 press event.
Google typically has a big, whimsical presence at MWC, with a Willy Wonka-like booth full of snacks and games. The new version of Google’s smartwatch OS, Android Wear, is rumored to be coming out on Feb. 9, with new watches from LG, and we may see more Android Wear 2.0 watches at this show, perhaps from Huawei.
A recent report from The Information says Google will make a big push for its Android One program soon, which helps it create low-cost phones that have the latest version of Android and frequent updates. We may even see Android One phones for the US. MWC would be a good place to do briefings or an event on that leap forward.
HTC just announced its U Ultra phone, but rumors continue to swirl about whether it will have a real successor to the One M10. At least we know it won’t have a smartwatch. My bet is that the company will have a big display of U phones and Vive headsets, but that it’ll keep any future flagship announcement for a little later in the year.
Huawei has a press event on Feb. 26, but the timing isn’t right for a major new phone. The Mate 9 was just released, and the P10 probably won’t come out until April. Last year at MWC, Huawei went in a different direction with the Matebook, a convertible Windows laptop. The company’s lineup of Mediapad tablets is also looking a bit long in the tooth, and some rumors say that a Mediapad T3 tablet is coming. Expect something from the less handheld computing direction from Huawei.
With the Samsung Galaxy S8’s official launch rumored for April 18, the biggest phone at the show is likely to be the LG G6, which debuts on Feb. 26.
The Moto division of Lenovo has also announced a press event for Sunday, Feb. 26. The invite (above) is pretty generically Barcelona-themed. The best bet for a big announcement comes from some recent Brazilian leaks, which describe midrange Moto G5 and G5 Plus phones with Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processors, 5- and 5.5-inch screens, and metal unibodies with big camera discs on the back.
Nokia’s back, and it’s going to be absolutely huge at MWC. The company is teasing a press conference for Sunday, Feb. 26. While most Americans think of Nokia as a long-ago irrelevancy, it has a frothing level of fandom in Europe, and that’s where the show is held. HMD, the Finnish company that owns the Nokia name, just launched its first phone in China, and expect more of a lineup at MWC. Phonearena claims a Snapdragon 835-based, 5.3-inch premium phone called the Nokia P1 is coming.
Samsung is absolutely, positively, not revealing the Galaxy S8 at MWC. But Samsung has a huge booth, and needs to fill it with something.
Without the S8, Samsung is going to have to fall back on tablets. It hasn’t updated the Galaxy Tab S series in more than a year, and its pen-enabled Note Android tablets appear to have died of old age. Bringing the pen back on an Android Nougat tablet would keep the Note dream alive even though the Note 7 was recalled. Samsung’s press event is also scheduled for Feb. 26, but the invite doesn’t divulge too many details.
Some huge rumors just came out about what Sony may release at MWC, but it’s hard to tell if they’re reliable, or just gadget fan fiction. PhoneArena says Sony may release five new phones at the show, with the flagship having a 5.5-inch, 4K display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor.
On the face of it, this contradicts other rumors that Samsung has bought up the entire initial supply of Snapdragon 835 chips. But Sony may get around this by making its MWC show a pre-announcement and promising the phones this summer, rather than this spring.
Sony will unveil its new phones (if there are any) on Monday morning, Feb. 27.
ZTE is going to have to offer some sort of update on its Project CSX fiasco at MWC The crowdsourced “Hawkeye” phone stalled out on Kickstarter when ZTE decided to make it a midrange device rather than a flagship, and now exec Jeff Yee is saying that they have to change course somehow. We probably won’t see an update to the company’s Axon 7 phone at the show, but other rumors say that ZTE might bring a smartwatch.