MWC 2019: Top phones and announcements from the show

MWC 2019 is coming to a close, but oh boy has it been a doozy of a show.

We’d go so far as to say it has been the busiest MWC we’ve experienced in nearly half-a-decade.

Since Sunday we’ve seen all manner of amazing announcements, product unveils and oddities pop up at the Barcelona showroom.

5G has been a key highlight. Since Samsung unveiled its descriptively name Galaxy S10 5G every phone maker under the sun has been racing to follow suit. This resulted in a fresh wave of 5G ready-phones making their debut at the show.

Network carriers have also been rushing to show off how the tech works. This let us get a test run with a demo 5G network at MWC. The demo showcased the kind of speeds and services we can expect when it arrives in select UK cities later this year.

Outside of this it’s mainly been about folding phones. Once again following Samsung’s lead with the Galaxy Fold we saw a wave of news announcements and comments on foldables hit the headlines at MWC 2019 – and not all of them have been positive.

While this has been great for tech fans, it has made it a little hard to keep track of all the news at MWC 2019. Here to help we’ve created a definitive list detailing what all the big names in tech brought to the table at MWC 2019.

Read more: Best of MWC 2019

Qualcomm

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 top uploads of 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.

At the show, Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon announced that all 5G phones using its Snapdragon 855 processor and X50 and X55 modems will give you a day’s worth of battery power, despite those multi-gigabit download speeds. Amon also revealed that it has been working with the industry to bring 5G laptops to market by this time next year, adding that Lenovo will launch the first always-on 5G laptop with Qualcomm.

nokia 9 pureview

Nokia

There were lots of Nokia-branded phones at MWC (HMD Global licenses the Nokia brand name and uses it on the phones it makes) and this year the star of the show is undoubtedly the Nokia 9 PureView.

Boasting a no fewer than five 12-megapixel camera sensors on the rear, the Nokia 9 PureView takes what Huawei did with the P20 Pro’s triple lens set up last year and runs with it. Two sensors are dedicated to capturing RGB light while the other three are tuned to pull in black and white data. This, in theory, lets you pull in 2.9x the amount of light compared to your typical phone camera setup, hopefully allowing for more detailed and life-like images.

As well as this, HMD unveiled four other phones, the mid-range Nokia 3.2 and Nokia 4.2, the entry-level Nokia 1 Plus (not to be confused with OnePlus), and the super budget Nokia 210 candybar.

No retro surprises this time around. For the last two years, HMD unveiled revamps of classic Nokia phones like the Nokia 3310 and the Nokia 8110 4G, aka ‘the Matrix phone’, presumably aimed at people who just wanna go back to 1999.

huawei mate x

Huawei

Huawei stole almost all of the Samsung Galaxy Fold’s thunder  by unleashing the Huawei Mate X foldable phone. It looks better, folds flat (the Samsung Galaxy Fold doesn’t quite do that), the screen is bigger, and it has a higher resolution too.

Last year, Huawei unveiled the MateBook Pro X laptop and this year we got to meet its follow-up, the Huawei MateBook Pro X 2. This is a slim, lightweight ultrabook that features the latest Intel laptop processors. In other words, it very much looks to be gunning for the MacBook Air.

Microsoft HoloLens 2

Microsoft

Microsoft literally turned heads with the launch of the HoloLens 2, the successor to the original HoloLens − which was announced back in 2016.

The new and improved HoloLens offers a greatly increased field of vision, improved physical comfort and improved hand recognition, allowing for greater manipulation of holograms. Bad news for anyone hoping to buy one to play games on though – this is not a toy. Microsoft says it’s primarily for industrial applications, but, when we caught up with Greg Sullivan, director of communications for Microsoft, there was a strong hint that we will see a consumer grade, and possibly a game-centric HoloLens in the future:

HoloLens 2 is a commercial device, but we think that some future installment – and we’re measuring this in terms of years not months – we do think that there is, over the long term, scope for mixed reality in the consumer space.”

HoloLens 2 will come out later this year, and will be priced at $3500 (~ £2680).

samsung galaxy s10 Plus

Samsung

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. Samsung is essentially at MWC to try to divert as much attention from its rivals as it can.

Moto G7 Plus

Moto G7 Plus

Motorola

Motorola’s flagship phones tend to come later in the year, usually during the summer months. And its other big line, the G series, was refreshed a few weeks ago. The Moto G7, Moto G7 Plus, Moto G7 Play and Moto G7 Power all launched at an event in Brazil on February 7.

So, what does that leave for MWC? We hoped we’d see a rebirth of the iconic Motorola Razr  flip phone, but that hasn’t materialised. However, Motorola’s vice president and general manager Anthony Barounas has all but confirmed that it’s in the pipeline. Pending some surprise announcement over the next few days, it’s unlikely that we’ll see it at MWC 2019.

The original Razr was stunning in its day, and if a revamped version with Android and a foldable touchscreen is done right, we can see it being a major hit.

Sony Xperia 1 front handheld

Sony

Sony used MWC as a platform to launch the Xperia 1, a high-end phone that features a 6.5-inch 4K OLED display – a first for a smartphone. It also boasts an unusually long 21:9 aspect ratio, meaning it could be better for watching films than other mobiles.

There’s a Snapdragon 855 powering the phone, 6GB RAM and 128GB storage along with an IP68-rated body. You’ll also find a 3300mAh battery inside, and three 12-megapixel sensors on the back: a 16mm, 26mm and a zoomed 52mm. Unfortunately, it won’t be available to buy for a few months yet. It should retail for £849.

Along with the Xperia 1, Sony has outed the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus − mid-range siblings with the same 21:9 style screen.

Xiaomi Mi 9

Xiaomi

Xiaomi is finally selling its excellent phones in the UK, after years of us having to import the Chinese versions. It’s known for churning out high-spec phones at affordable prices so it’s great to see it officially come to Blighty.

The Xiaomi Mi 9 launched in China just days before MWC, and we got to see it in the flesh, along with a revamped 5G version of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 at the company’s press conference.

Aside from phones, Xiaomi also unveiled its new Mi LED Smart Bulbs, connected light bulbs that offer the same choice of colours as the ubiquitous Philips Hue range, for a much lower price.

OnePlus 5G back

This is as close as they let us get to the demo units

OnePlus

OnePlus brought two prototype 5G devices that aren’t intended for commercial release to Barcelona, but sadly they were encased in plastic framing and locked away behind a panel of glass.

The Chinese firm did, however, treat us to a demo, during which a triple A fighter pilot game was streamed on a big screen Full HD TV – such a process and title would normally be way too much for a smartphone’s hardware.

LG V50 Thinq

LG

LG also unveiled its first 5G phone, the LG V50. It’s got five cameras − three on the back and two on the front − a 6.4-inch OLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 modem and a big 4000mAh battery.

LG has even developed a case for the V50 to attach to which comes with a second 6.3-inch FHD+ OLED display. It very much looks and feels like a DIY answer to the Huawei Mate X and Samsung Galaxy Fold. LG’s other big phone for MWC 2019 is the LG G8, the successor to the LG G7.

In terms of looks, LG hasn’t rewritten the rulebook here, no big cluster of camera sensors, no fold out second screen, but that’s because most of the innovations are software-based. The main thing LG’s talking about is how the LG G8 will scan your palm, meaning you don’t need to actually touch the phone to unlock it.

ZTE Axon 10 Pro 5G

ZTE

The ZTE Axon 10 Pro 5G is another 5G flagship that was announced at MWC. Like the majority of its rivals, it features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and X50 5G modem combo.

The Chinese company hasn’t yet revealed all of the Axon 10 Pro 5G’s specifications, but we know it comes with an in-display fingerprint sensor, and a triple camera setup around the back, offering wide and ultra wide lenses.

There’s no official price or release date for the phone as yet, and a UK launch is yet to be confirmed.

Nubia Alpha

Nubia

The Nubia Alpha wearable smartphone/smartwatch hybrid that was first announced as a concept at IFA last year also made an appearance at MWC, and appears to be a lot closer to reality.

It features a 4-inch 960×192 OLED display, a 500mAh battery for up to two days of battery, and a range of fitness features, including heart rate tracker. There’s also support for voice commands and gestures.

Nubia says it’s planning to release the device at some point in 2019. The basic Bluetooth and Wi-Fi model will be priced at €549 (~ £470), while the 4G enabled version − that comes complete with an 18-karat gold coating − will cost €649 (~ £560).

What’s caught your eye at MWC 2019? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.

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