Mobile World Congress is the biggest mobile-focused show of the year, and it takes place every February in Barcelona around about now. MWC 2019 kicks off this weekend, which means we're just hours away from seeing what the likes of LG, Huawei and Sony have ready for the year ahead.
Our team’s landed in Barcelona is is on the way to the hotel to unpack. In the meantime, here’s everything we know (and think we know) about what’s going down at MWC 2019, as well as short previews of all the major players we’re keeping an eye on.
Chipmaker Qualcomm decided to announce the new Snapdragon X55 5G modem ahead of MWC.
This component, part of a complete package comprising new antennas and components better able to track devices in real time while reducing the drain placed on a phone’s battery, is promising top download speeds of 7Gbps and 3Gbps.
While we’re not expecting the first 5G services to go online for a while yet, the X55 also promises, in the meantime, support for top 4G download speeds of 2.5Gbps. As for which phones will be the first to feature Snapdragon X55 modems, we’re expecting to hear more from some of the phone manufacturers listed below over the next few days.
There were lots of Nokia-branded phones at MWC 2019 (HMD licenses the Nokia brand name and uses it on phones) including a modern interpretation of the ‘Banana’ phone originally made famous by its appearance in The Matrix film. We wouldn’t be at all surprised if HMD repeated this again and unleashed a new version of a classic Nokia design.
The Nokia 9 PureView is also highly rumoured and this could sit above the Nokia 8.1 as the true flagship. We fully expect the Nokia 9 Pureview to pack a five-camera array on the back along with a Snapdragon 845 chipset and 8GB RAM. There might be a 5G version too.
Trying to guess Huawei’s MWC plans is always tricky, as it doesn’t always announce its new phones at the show. We saw the P20 and P20 Pro arrive at a dedicated event in Paris last year, however the P10 (released in 2017) was shown at MWC two years ago. So what will see at the brand’s Feb 24 event?
The company has now confirmed that the Huawei P30 and P30 Pro are being saved for a separate event in March. Judging by early rumours it looks like Huawei will introduce a ‘dewdrop’ notch style display, likely with the same Kirin 980 chipset you’ll find in the Mate 20 Pro.
Huawei unveiled new high-end laptops and tablets at the last MWC, so if phones weren’t to be its headline feature this year then we see updates to those product lines.
Finally, Huawei has teased a 5G foldable phone, which may also make an appearance at MWC. Considering the invite to Huawei’s MWC event – which you can see below – details what looks like a foldable phone this could very well be the headline act. And given their rival Samsung’s just announced their Galaxy Fold, well… let’s not take any more bets.
We were expecting Samsung to headline Mobile World Congress in 2019. All signs pointed to the South Korean brand unveiling its much-rumoured (and seriously exciting) Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphone during the show, just like it did last year with the Galaxy S9.
However, Samsung decided it was best to get its latest and greatest wares, including the Galaxy Fold and Galaxy S10e, out ahead of its biggest Android rivals this year, which you’ll already know about.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t see anything from Samsung at MWC, it’s certainly possible.
Motorola’s flagship phones tend to come later in the year, usually during the summer months, so don’t expect to see an update to the Z series here.
So, what does that leave for MWC? Well, the rumours are swirling that we might see a rebirth of the iconic Motorola Razr. This flip phone was stunning in its day, and there’s talk it could be revived with Android, a foldable touchscreen and hefty price-tag.
Nokia has previously used MWC to release modern versions of its older phones, so it could work well for Motorola.
Sony has a quick turnaround with flagship phones and even though we only saw the Xperia XZ3 towards the end of 2018, we wouldn’t put it past the Japanese company to unveil the Sony Xperia 1 (previously known as the XZ4) at MWC.
Little is known about what Sony will include on its next flagship, as there has only been a smattering of leaks so far. We’d hazard a guess it’ll be one of first flagships announced that will be powered by the Snapdragon 855, though Sony has hinted that there won’t be a 5G version just yet.
Other leaks have pointed to triple-lens rear camera and a possible 6.5-inch screen with a 21:9 aspect ratio. It’s also possible Sony might reveal a smaller, ‘Compact’ version, however we didn’t see this with the Xperia XZ3.
Xiaomi is finally selling its excellent phones in the UK, after years of us having to import the Chinese version. It’s known for churning out high-spec phones at affordable prices so it’s great to see it officially come to Blighty.
It launched the Mi 9 in China just days before MWC, and we expect that to be the star of Xiaomi’s February 24 press conference. However, there have been rumours that a 5G version of the Mi Mix 3 may also be unveiled in Barcelona.
LG has confirmed it’ll hold an event at MWC 2019, where it’ll likely release the successor to the LG G7. Little has so far leaked about the rumoured LG G8 (or LG G8 ThinQ) but it’ll likely use the latest Snapdragon 855 chipset. LG could also take a page from its own V40 phone and add three cameras onto the back of the phone.
LG’s announcement of the event teased the slogan ‘Goodbye Touch’, which could mean there’s going to be a new way of interacting with the UI.
Honor has already released the first real flagship phone of 2019 with the Honor View 20. It has also recently unveiled a new smartwatch (Honor Watch Magic) plus wireless earbuds and the Honor Band 4. So what’s left?
Honor could update some if its more budget-orientated lines and bring the launch of the its next mid-range flagship (a replacement to the Honor 10) forward from its usual summer release. Or it might just skip MWC altogether.
HTC released arguably the worst flagship phone of 2018 with the HTC U12 Plus, so it’s got a lot of work to do this time around. We’ve heard very little about what might be included in the rumoured HTC U13 and HTC doesn’t normally announce high-end phones at MWC.
So we might have to wait until later in the year to what it has in store.
What are you most looking forward to at MWC 2019? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.