MWC 2018: Here’s what to expect

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Let’s not beat around the bush – last month’s CES 2018 in Las Vegas has been a bit of a snoozefest for fans of mobile devices in general and smartphone power users in particular. A couple of swallows respectable mid-range Xperias, yet another BlackBerry KEYone edition, a few unremarkable US expansions and an exciting Razer experiment clearly couldn’t make a spring.

But winter is almost over, and we all know what that means. MWC 2018 is right around the corner, with a flood of attention-grabbing and ultimately bank account-emptying phones firmly set for glamorous announcements in Barcelona towards the end of the month.

As always, the mystery has been largely shattered well ahead of time, and we know almost everything that the mobile industry’s big fishes have up their sleeves.

Samsung

They say the February 25 Galaxy Unpacked event, scheduled to start at 6PM CET, may have driven both Huawei and LG away from the capital city of Barcelona. We have no idea if that’s true, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to anticipate the Galaxy S9 duo will capture most of the attention at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

Even as they look similar to their “Infinity Display”-pioneering predecessors, the S9 and S9+ should have plenty of new tricks helping them shine. We’re talking 6GB RAM and a dual rear-facing camera on the larger model, super-slow-mo video recording and variable aperture across the board, a swanky new color, stereo speakers and “3D Emoji” features, among many others.

LG

After trying a couple of different things with the G5 and G6 at the previous two MWC expos… and mainly failing, the other mobile-involved chaebol is reportedly hitting the pause button on the G7’s development.

While seeking true innovation and a clear differentiator for this next-gen flagship, LG isn’t giving up its MWC booth altogether, planning to showcase a V30s with “Vision AI” technology and 256GB internal storage. Boring stuff? Perhaps, but the original V30 is still one of our favorite phones available today.

Sony

Never one to put all its eggs in one basket, the many-headed Japanese tech giant is currently waiting for the industry’s “next paradigm shift”, which isn’t going to stop it from unveiling one, two or maybe even three high-end Xperias on February 26.

The question on everyone’s lips is will the Xperia XZ2 and/or XZ Pro finally join the bezel-killing movement? We’re inclined to answer yes, based on the latest H8266 benchmark, even though evidence pointed to traditional 16:9 screen aspect ratios not long ago.

Huawei

Just because the P20 family has booked itself a trip to Paris instead of Barcelona next month instead of February, that doesn’t mean the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor is looking to skip the MWC 2018 festivities.

Something will go down on February 25 (aside from the Galaxy S9 debut, that is), and the list of suspects features everything from a new mid-range Android tablet to a third-generation Android Wear watch to a number of upgraded Windows 10 Matebooks to a highly unlikely MateX refresh of the still-fresh Mate 10. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees.

Asus

We’re not sure if this is something to brag about, but Asus could well take the wraps off the first (high-profile) Android-powered iPhone X clone on February 27. Then again, if Google is indeed planning to natively support “notched” designs in the next big Android update, why should Asus be ashamed of embracing the controversial screen cutout ahead of time?

That could almost make the Taiwanese OEM a pioneer… of copycats, although the ZenFone 5 family is likely to include various uncontroversial models as well, with 18:9 aspect ratios and thin four-sided bezels.

ZTE

Yes, the Axon 7 is getting a proper sequel sometime this year (the experimental Axon M clearly doesn’t count), but Axon 9 rumors have been few and far between, not to mention sketchy at best, which means the waiting game will go on.

For what it’s worth, a modest but no doubt crazy affordable ZTE Blade V9 is probably coming later this month, combining glass, metal, dual rear cameras and a 2:1 screen measuring around 5.7 inches in diagonal to take on the likes of the Honor 7X.

Nokia

The only reason we’re listing this spectacularly revived brand so low on our MWC 2018 expectation catalog is that we’re not entirely sure what to expect from the always surprising folks over at HMD Global.

If history is any indication, the China-first Nokia 6 (2018) and 3310 4G could go international in Barcelona. But beyond that, it’s hard to know if the Nokia 8 Sirocco, 9, 7 Plus, 4 or 1 are the real deal. We’re guessing only one or two of those are in the pipeline right now, but we simply can’t say which names ring true.

Xiaomi

This is another company that often likes to keep things fresh and exciting, so anything from a Mi 7 flagship handset to a Mi MIX 2S with a notch and Snapdragon 845 SoC to a new Mi Box or Mi TV is on the table as a candidate for an MWC 2018 appearance.

Alcatel

The worst kept secrets of the 2018 Mobile World Congress (yes, even worse than the Galaxy S9) have been previewed at CES, fully detailed by various tipsters and clumsy retailers over the past few weeks, and thus unlikely to make much of a splash at the actual European trade fair. But parent company TCL may still have some special tricks up its sleeve, even though it’s all been quiet on the BlackBerry speculation front recently.

That’s about all we can think of right now, but the beauty of these large-scale shows is you can never know exactly what to expect. Good thing we’ll have our best reporters on the scene keeping track of everything that moves and is capable of making phone calls.

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About The Author
Adrian Diaconescu
Adrian has had an insatiable passion for writing since he was in school and found himself writing philosophical essays about the meaning of life and the differences between light and dark beer. Later, he realized this was pretty much his only marketable skill, so he first created a personal blog (in Romanian) and then discovered his true calling, which is writing about all things tech (in English).