The world’s leading phone manufacturers took to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain to showcase their newest wares and innovations. Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s show, including all the best MWC phones from the likes of Samsung, Sony, LG, Moto and more.
Mobile World Congress – otherwise known as MWC – is an annual trade show run by the GSMA, where manufacturers come together to showcase their latest phones, smartwatches, tablets, and more. It’s easily the biggest mobile phone show on the planet, and started with a bang when Samsung launched the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+.
As well as phones, Mobile World Congress is also home to a number of more specialist innovations, including flexible displays, state-of-the-art mobile chipsets, next-generation artificial intelligence solutions and 5G demonstrations. Plus, there are plenty of apps, software, and mobile accessories on display – there really is something for everyone at the Fira Gran Via.
Best MWC 2018 phones and devices
It’s difficult for even the most devoted of tech fans to keep track of everything and spot one of the many diamonds hidden in the rough as a result. But fear not, we’re here to help.
With MWC drawing to a close, we’ve cherrypicked the very coolest things to appear, awarding them Trusted’s hallowed ‘Best of Show’ award.
Highlights include everything from top-notch new handsets, to 5G network innovations and alien-esque health trackers. Here’s our pick of the best things to come out of MWC 2018:
Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+
This one should come as no surprise. Samsung’s been the undisputed king of the smartphone market for close to decade now and it’s latest Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S+ handsets look set to continue this trend. Though the two phones don’t look that different to the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy 8+, which have both now had a nice price cut, under the hood Samsung’s made a number of subtle but important improvements.
These include basic spec upgrades, like the move to Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 CPU, plus more interesting additions, like its new mechanical variable aperture rear camera sensor. The tech reportedly improves performance by letting the camera intelligently switch between f/2.4 and f/1.5 apertures depending on the environment it’s being used in. From what we’ve seen it works a treat and, coupled with the both phone’s uber swish looks, could make the S9 and S9+ contenders for phone of the year, if they deliver on their opening promise.
With pricing for the basic S9 started at over £700, you’ll have to pay a hefty price for the privilege of owning them, however.
It’s no secret, we here at Trusted haven’t been huge fans of Sony’s previous Xperia phones over the last few years. Which is why we were surprised quite how much we like Sony’s spiffy new Xperia XZ2 flagship.
Sony’s finally ditched the squarish omnibalance design that plagued past Xperias for the XZ2. The flat, hard to hold design has been replaced with a beautiful looking mixed material chassis, featuring a lovely 2.5D, slightly curved glass back.
Sony’s also worked hard to improve the phone’s internals, loading it with a Snapdragon 845 CPU, larger battery, upgraded rear camera and “20% louder speakers”. The end result is one of the best Sony phones we’ve seen in years Nokia
All the headlines may have been about Nokia’s banana phone, but it was the Nokia 7+ that stole the show for us. It may not be the sexiest looking handset around, but it on paper has the chops to be one of the best mid-range phones on the market.
Under its unassuming metal hood Nokia’s loaded the 7+ with a number of cutting edge specs you normally wouldn’t expect to see on a €399 phone. Highlights include a 6-inch 18:9 FHD+ resolution display, Snapdragon 660 CPU and generous 64GB of storage.
If this wasn’t enough to entice you it’s also running Android One: a completely clean install of Android that’s blissfully free of bloatware and duplicate applications.
Huawei MateBook X Pro
The Huawei MateBook X Pro may not be the first name you think of when shopping for a super expensive ultrabook, but its latest Matebook X Pro is without a doubt one of the prettiest laptops we’ve seen this year.
Featuring a svelte, super slim design, cutting edge Intel 8th Gen CPU, wealth of memory and storage options, plus a beautiful 13.9-inch, 3000 x 2000 LTPS, 260ppi display the Matebook X Pro has the hardware to take on Apple’s ruling Macbook Pro, on paper.
Add to this a number of nifty design innovations, like the new quad-speaker system and “recessed” webcam, which can be hidden in the Matebook’s keyboard, and the X Pro clearly earns its place as on of the highlights of MWC 2018.
The Lenovo Vital is the latest Moto Mod for Motorola’s Z line of smartphones. Unlike the gimmicky Polaroid Insta-share mobile printer it looks like it could be pretty useful.
When attached to the back of a compatible Moto Z-series smartphone, the peripheral acts as a biometric scanner that can be used to detect key health stats including blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, plus oxygen and temperature.
The idea is that the data can then be logged or shared with an accredited health professional, in theory saving you the need to take a trip to your GP when you’re feeling under the weather, or have a recurring health condition that requires regular check-ups.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 700
This MWC’s been all about phones running Qualcomm’s uber-powerful new Snapdragon 845 CPU, but for us it’s the company’s newly unveiled 700 series that stole the show.
The new CPU is designed to replace Qualcomm’s 6-series, which appears in great value phones like the Nokia 7+ and Asus Zenfone 5 and features a number of key upgrades.
Highlights include Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4+, Bluetooth 5 support plus a number of nifty AI and camera optimisations.
Intel 5G Notebook partnership
People have been banging on about 5G for years now, but this MWC Intel finally put its money where it’s mouth is and announced a wave of new technologies to bring the connectivity to notebook laptops.
Specifically Intel revealed it’s inked deals with key players, including Dell, HP, Lenovo and Microsoft to bring launch laptops using its 5G enabled Intel XMM 8000 in the second half of 2019.
Given that 5G’s not meant to launch in the UK until 2022 at the earliest this isn’t a huge deal for general consumers at the moment, but it’s still nice to see Intel taking the tech seriously and we can’t wait to get our hands on one of the hyper connected laptops.
Land Rover Explorer phone
The Land Rover phone is the latest rugged handset from CAT, the company behind the predator vision CAT S60. It may not have a thermal imaging sensor, like its predecessor, but it still looks pretty awesome and could be a solid choice for any outdoorsy person in need of an indestructible phone.
Developed by Bullitt Group, the phone features an ultra-rugged case protecting the handset from extreme temperatures, salt water and thermal shock. For rugged folks who regularly find themselves scaling mountains it also has a number of useful software installed. Highlights include topographic mapping options from ViewRanger, an Augmented Reality Skyline feature and instant access to a dashboard that includes weather information, sensor data and an SOS light toggle.
Asus Zenfone 5
The Zenfone 5 is the latest smartphone from PC heavyweight Asus. The handset targets the same market as the OnePlus 5T, but comes with a number of design innovations that make it look more like a £600-plus phone than a mid-ranger.
Highlights include beautiful, near edge-to-edge 18:9 display Asus claims covers the full DCI-P3 colour gamut, plus a reworked dual-lens rear camera with AI capabilities. Asus claims the camera can detect and intelligently optimise itself to shoot in 16 different conditions.
If Asus claims ring true, then the Zenfone 5 could be a perfect choice for people on the market for an affordable camera-phone when it launches later this year.
Lenovo Yoga 730
The Yoga 730 is the latest foldable laptop from Lenovo. At first glance it doesn’t look that different to the company’s stellar 2017 laptop, the Yoga 720. It features the same hinged design, that lets you turn it into a tablet by folding the screen onto the keyboard’s back, a fairly similar set of screen size and resolution options, that top out at UHD. Specs-wise the only big difference is the move to Intel’s 8th Gen CPU family.
But delve a little close and you’ll find it has one unique and totally awesome feature: Amazon Alexa support. Under-the-hood Lenovo’s loaded the 730 with omni-directional mics that make it quick and easy to take advantage of Amazon’s smart assistant.
This may not sound like much to people yet to make the smart home jump, but for those with other smart devices it could be a unique selling point for the laptop when it launches later this year.
MWC 2018: Live news and latest updates
As expected, Samsung has unveiled two new flagships, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. These are two of the most eagerly anticipated phones of the year, coming with improved camera technology, better internals and Android Oreo.
That was the first – and arguably most important – MWC 2018 phone reveal, but there are legitimate Galaxy S9 rivals in Sony’s Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact, the former of which packs the new Snapdragon 845 SoC. Our early impressions suggest they’re decent phones, too, so the battle for the ‘Best Phone of MWC 2018’ hasn’t been a whitewash.
Stealing the thunder in a retro stylee for the second year running, Nokia took a leaf out of its dog-eared playbook to launch the Nokia 8110 4G, a modern (sort of) take on the legendary Matrix banana phone. More retro chic came in the form of the Psion Gemini PDA, on which we rolled back the years by playing Street Fighter II.
Related: Best Samsung Galaxy S9 deals
MWC 2018 Phones: The best MWC phones announced so far and what to expect
Before we go into finer details, here’s an at-a-glance look at the phones, tablets, laptops and other devices that have been announced so far, and what else we’re expecting to see unveiled at MWC 2018.
- Alcatel: New flagship
- Doro: Doro 7060 and 8035
- Huawei: MateBook X Pro, MediaPad M5 tablets
- Land Rover: Land Rover Explorer
- Lenovo: Yoga 730, Yoga 530
- LG: LG V30S ThinQ
- Moto: Lenovo Vital Moto Mod
- Nokia: Nokia 7+, Nokia 8 Sirocco, Nokia 8110 4G
- Samsung: Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+
- Sony: Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact
- STK: STK X2
MWC 2018 Dates: When is Mobile World Congress 2018?
Mobile World Congress runs from February 26 through March 1, with most of the big announcements – including Samsung’s expected unveiling of the Galaxy S9 – having taken place at invite-only events on February 25.
Related: Galaxy S9 vs iPhone X
MWC 2018 News and Rumours: Everything revealed at MWC 2018
Let’s take a closer look at what the key mobile players have unveiled in this year’s MWC, or what we’re still expecting, in alphabetical order. So read on or scroll down for what we’ve seen from the likes of Samsung, Sony and others, plus what may still be revealed.
Related: Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Galaxy S8
BlackBerry at MWC 2018
TCL has confirmed that it will launch at least two new BlackBerry phones in 2018. That’s the good news. Now here’s the bad news: the expected follow-up to last year’s surprisingly decent BlackBerry KEYOne still hasn’t broken cover. No new BlackBerry at MWC, sadly.
Related: Blackberry Motion review
Doro at MWC 2018
Doro has busted out two new handsets aimed at the elderly, the Doro 7060 and 8035. The 7060 offers an old-school clamshell design but with 4G connectivity, some social-media smarts, and a boost function to make call volume louder.
The Doro 8035, meanwhile, is more a stepping stone to a full smartphone experience, with the option to use either a simplified interface or a near-stock Android OS complete with full Play Store access. There’s also a remote-access app, so younger, more able relatives can see what’s happening on the phone to help fix any problems or explain how to use it. Very neat indeed.
Google at MWC 2018
Big G typically throws lavish events at independent venues when it’s announcing new hardware, so we didn’t expect too much from Google at MWC.
What we did get was a first wave of phones powered by Android Go, a stripped-back version of Google’s latest Android Oreo operating system that’s been made available on seriously affordable handsets. Among these were the Nokia 1 and ZTE Tempo Go.
HTC at MWC 2018
It’s been a subdued outing for HTC at MWC this year, with nothing new announced. The HTC U12 is likely to launch at a standalone event later in the year.
Huawei at MWC 2018
Bruce Lee, Huawei’s VP of Smartphones, revealed last year that Huawei will “probably” launch all future flagships at Mobile World Congress – and recent leaks would’ve led you to believe that it’d be taking the wraps off the Huawei P20 at the gathering.
But that hasn’t been the case, and the firm already sent out invitations to a standalone event it’s holding in Paris on March 27. That’s where it’s expected to announce not only the flagship Huawei P20, but also the Huawei P20 Lite and Huawei P20 Plus.
Related: Huawei P11
LG at MWC 2018
We’d thought that we’d be seeing LG unveil its next flagship, the LG G7, at this year’s Mobile World Congress, but recent reports poured cold water on that idea. Apparently, LG is rebuilding the G7 from scratch and the handset might not see light of day until April.
Instead we got an upgraded LG V30 successor, the LG V30S ThinQ. From what we’ve seen, none of the original’s issues are fixed; the specs are merely upgraded a little. Oh, and it has a name straight from the mid-noughties.
In addition to that, the company already confirmed new mid-range 2018 LG phones prior to the event.
Motorola (Moto) at MWC 2018
We thought Lenovo-owned Motorola might throw the kitchen sink at MWC this year, unveiling new Moto E, Moto G and Moto X handsets – but not even the company’s mid-range Moto G range got the catwalk treatment in Barca.
Recently leaked information pointed towards the unveiling of the Moto G6, G6 Plus and G6 Play, each of which should offer some solid specs at an affordable price. No sign yet, though.
What we did get was easily the most interesting Moto Mod so far, the Lenovo Vital. This bolt-on accessory for the Moto Z series can track loads of aspects of your health, and promises a sharing feature that means you could send readings directly to your doctor.
Nokia at MWC 2018
Nokia has announced a trio of handsets at MWC 2018, including one interesting surprise. First up is the Nokia 8 Sirocco, a flagship designed to compete at the highest level, as well as the mid-range Nokia 7+, which looks very impressive. What might set pulses racing, however, is the Nokia 8110 4G – a reimagining of the iconic Matrix phone. Unlike last year’s gimmicky Nokia 3310, this one actually has some practical value as a second phone.
Qualcomm at MWC 2018
Qualcomm had a particularly busy CES this year, and while you might think that leaves little left for MWC just a month later, the American semiconductor giant had a trick or two up its sleeve for Barcelona.
For starters, the Snapdragon 845 SoC appeared on the Galaxy S9 and Xperia XZ2. Then Qualcomm announced its all-new 700-series SoC range, which promises to bring 800-series features to more affordable devices. Expect Quick Charge 4+ tech and Bluetooth 5 to hit budget phones before long.
Elsewhere, the first generation of Snapdragon laptops featured, with release dates and regional pricing revealed for these ultra-efficient new Windows 10 machines.
Related: Qualcomm in 2018 – what to expect
Samsung at MWC 2018
It came as no surprise. Samsung has unveiled the much-anticipated Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ at MWC 2018, and we’ve already had a play with them. The design may only look evolutionary, but the dual-aperture camera tech could yet prove to be revolutionary.
Related: Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Galaxy S9+
Sony at MWC 2018
Japanese manufacturer Sony has already launched three of its six smartphones set to hit the shelves in 2018, leaving two for MWC 2018: the high-end 5.8-inch Xperia XZ2 with a Snapdragon 845 SoC, and the 4.6-inch Xperia XZ2 Compact. They look very promising, with an all-new design language for Sony. It’s about time, too.
Related: Sony Xperia XZ2 vs XZ2 Compact
STK at MWC 2018
British company STK has taken aim at OnePlus and Moto with a new entrant to the budget market that looks lovely and seems to pack a powerful punch. The STK X2 has a glass and aluminium body that feels more premium than you might expect for £259, and has a software optimisation tool that claims to prevent slowdown over extended use.
What are you most looking forward to at MWC 2018? Let us know over on Facebook or Twitter @TrustedReviews.