Mobile World Congress (or MWC as it’s known) is the biggest and most important mobile event of the year, where many of the latest smartphones are launched to great fanfare. Just about everyone in the mobile industry will be heading to Barcelona in February.
The event is held by the GSMA, and 2016 is expected to follow the tradition of previous years with some of the biggest launches of new devices – many of which have been rumoured for months. There will of course be no shortage of surprises too.
MWC this year occurs between the 22nd and 25th of February, with lots of major announcements during and even before the event. The Sunday before the official kick-off is always a huge press day with lots of exciting new products revealed, so keep your eyes peeled for some of the key news on the 21st.
MWC 2016 Movers and Shakers
Here’s a quick rundown of what we can expect from some of the major players in the mobile industry during MWC…
The Canadian firm didn’t reveal much about its mobile plans at CES last month, apart from saying that new Android devices would be launched in 2016 rather than a BlackBerry 10.
The rumour mill suggest that a ‘candy bar’ style phone called the BlackBerry Vienna might be revealed, offering a touch interface and a physical keyboard. We might even see the Passport updated to use Android. Regardless of what the company unveils later this month, 2016 will be a key year…
Android typically has a very large presence at MWC both on the Google stand and just about every smartphone company’s. There’s a lot of scope for new Android products and devices this year, with new partners such as New Balance, as well as wider uptake of Google’s Cast screen-casting technology.
As usual for Google, there probably won’t be anything major announced as that’s normally kept back for the firm’s main developer conference, Google I/O, taking place in May. There will however be lots of Android-related news from third parties and of course a plethora of new phones based on the mobile OS.
Last year, HTC announced the One M9 at MWC, although it wasn’t a huge hit in the end. This year, we expect the the HTC One M10 to see the light of day – there have been lots of rumours about the highly-anticipated device, with a codename of “HTC Perfume”. The phone is likely to be powered by the latest Snapdragon 820, but aside from the almost-guaranteed performance and powerful hardware, the company needs a hit on its hands with the new phone’s design.
Recent reports suggest that the new model has been delayed until March, so there’s a possibility that only devices such as the Vive see the light of day this month.
Huawei has made quite an impression in the mobile industry of late, with strong sales and some great devices last year including the Nexus 6P, the Mate S, and the more recent launch of the Mate 8.
However, Huawei doesn’t have a great flagship device at the moment. The Huawei P9 will fill that gap, but there are already quite a few excellent devices at the high-end to compete with.
If the P9 isn’t unveiled this month, the firm might concentrate instead on a new dual-boot notebook that can run Android and Windows.
Chinese company Lenovo is said to be dropping the Motorola brand, instead going with the Moto moniker instead. Lenovo is a huge force in smartphones in general and so will no doubt have a major presence at the show, likely focusing on its “Vibe” brand of smartphones.
One of the more popular Moto handsets in recent years has been the Moto E, which may receive a more than welcome update. In past years though, Lenovo has tended to launch new models outside of MWC.
Microsoft has made big changes to its lineup and strategy recently, besides moving to Windows 10 and trying to unify all its devices onto a single platform. As far as smartphone go however, Microsoft hasn’t really made a measurable impact on consumers, apart from a small minority of the faithful.
Microsoft is still due to update older Windows Phone 8 devices to Windows 10, amid a worse reception to Windows 10 phone than the company hoped for. It’s likely that the software giant will promote a couple of new devices, such as the Lumia 650 – an entry-level phone.
There have also been suggestions that a Lumia 750 (or an 850) might be revealed, due to leaks from Chinese communications regulators.
Is it too much to hope for an all-new Surface Phone?
Last year at MWC, Samsung launched its two premium phones, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. This year, a similar “Unpacked” event is expected at which the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge should be announced. After such critical acclaim for the current generation hardware and design, the outward appearance of these devices might largely stay the same, although three sizes are a strong possibility.
Samsung didn’t launch any new mobiles at CES this year, so the Galaxy S7 is almost guaranteed to be revealed in a couple of weeks. Besides phones however, Samsung has been toying with the wearables space, and is said to be gearing up to launch a new sport-focuses wearable based on the Gear S2 smartwatch.
Qualcomm chips power a huge percentage of smartphones, and the company is expected to be touting the latest Snapdragon 820 at the show. With power and efficiency requirements becoming ever more important these days, you can expect a lot of focus on the raw power and energy-saving capabilities of the new chips.
Qualcomm is also getting into the wearable space in a big way, although companies like Intel have been enjoying some high profile attention of late (though partnerships with Tag Heuer, for instance). Qualcomm will no doubt be conveying the message that its chips are used by lots of the Android Wear devices out there.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s MWC? Let us know in the comments below…