What is Mobile World Congress?
Mobile World Congress is an annual trade show run by the GSMA. The location moves around Europe, but in recent years it has been held in Barcelona, Spain.
It is the launch platform for many of the year’s big smartphones, but it has also given us a range of tablets, smartwatches and other connected devices in recent years.
Outside of the consumer sphere, it also draws in many of the industry heavyweights to talk about the future of mobile, like 5G, chipsets, VR and other technologies.
When is Mobile World Congress 2017?
Mobile World Congress 2017 is running from 27 February to 3 March. These are the days that the show itself is open, the press days – where the big announcements are made – fell before this.
Sunday 26 February was the big launch day therefore and we saw many of the devices detailed below during that day.
Hottest phones at MWC 2017
In brief, here are the major phones launched so far at MWC 2017.
Moto G5 Plus
New Nokia 3310
Sony Xperia XA1
Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra
Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Sony Xperia XZs
Huawei P10 Plus
BlackBerry at MWC 2017
BlackBerry has stopped making its own phones and has handed the license to TCL. The company held an early launch on 25 February to unveil a new handset, the BlackBerry KeyOne.
Previously known as Mercury, the BlackBerry KeyOne offers a touch and type arrangement, giving you a full Android experience through the display, paired with a traditional BlackBerry-style keyboard beneath it. It’s like the Priv, but without the slide action. It’s a new BlackBerry, in a new format, but it’s one that might just work.
Google at MWC 2017
Google always has a good time at MWC, using it as an opportunity to show off all its Android partners. Google doesn’t typically launch at MWC, but we saw the announcement of Android Wear 2.0 on 8 February. We’ve also seen increasing chatter about the wider availability of Google Assistant.
Google Assistant was a Pixel exclusive, the coming to Google Home, but has already been confirmed for Android Wear 2.0, Android TV and some future Android smartphones. We’re expecting this new Google AI to become the centre of a lot of future communications between your Android devices and other services.
Huawei at MWC 2017
Huawei has a mixed history with MWC, often using the conference to launch new devices, but not always the new flagship, which often gets its own, large, launch event a month later.
However, this year it decided to use the event to unveil the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus smartphones, weighing in at 5.1 and 5.5-inches respectively. They both run on the latest Kirin 960 octa-core processor, and come with stacks of graphical power for palm-sized devices.
They also each come with Huawei’s Dual Camera tech.
Huawei also announced the Huawei Watch 2, which runs on Android Wear 2.0 and comes in Classic and Sports formats. They also add GPS functionality, so you can go on a run without the need of a smartphone in your pocket. A Porsche Design Huawei Watch is also on its way.
LG at MWC 2017
LG used its MWC press conference to exclusively unveil the LG G6 – much as we expected. It is a 5.7-inch 18:9 device with a 2880 x 1440 pixel resolution. It is also the first phone with Dolby Vision HDR support to offer better contrast and a wider colour gamut for video playback.
The processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, which is supported by 4GB of RAM so every indication is that it will move like the clappers. The rear camera is made up of two lenses with a 13-megapixel sensor. One of them is wide-angle.
Price and release date are yet to be revealed, but several networks have confirmed they will be carrying it.
Motorola at MWC 2017
Motorola was rumoured to be unveiling the Moto G5 handset during owner Lenovo’s press conference and it didn’t disappoint.
The Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus were both launched in the budget phone space, but with premium tech that belies their price point.
The G5 has a metal body, 1.4GHz Snapdragon 430 processor and 3GB of RAM. There’s a 2,800mAh battery inside, plus a 5-inch Full HD display and 13-megapixel front camera. Its larger sibling has a 5.2-inch Full HD display instead, with a faster 2.0GHz octa-core processor and bigger 3,000mAh battery.
Nokia at MWC 2017
Nokia’s pre-show hype focused mainly on the return of an old favourite, the Nokia 3310, and the brand didn’t disappoint.
Using the Nokia moniker, manufacturer HMD Global has reintroduced a simple feature phone with the same styling as the 2000 classic handset, but with a full colour screen and slimmer build. It looks the part but don’t expect tech miracles – it’s not even 3G so is basically just for calls, texts and, of course, Snake.
Along with the 3310, HMD Global has three Android phones releasing under the Nokia name. The Nokia 3, 5 and 6 are budget handsets, priced from just €139. They come in 5, 5.2 and 5.5-inch screen sizes respectively.
The Nokia brand is also to be used by, erm, Nokia, it has been announced. It will be releasing a range of new Withings fitness and health products under the name now that it owns the French tech firm.
Samsung at MWC 2017
Samsung wasn’t expected to announce the Samsung Galaxy S8 at Mobile World Congress 2017 – that is looking more likely to make an appearance at a separate event in Match. Instead, it used its press conference on Sunday 26 February to launch the Galaxy Tab S3, a new premium Android tablet with an included S Pen stylus.
The company is also taking on Microsoft and the Surface Book with its own Galaxy Book 2-in-1 tablets/laptops. There will be two sizes available – 10.6 and 12-inches – and both Windows 10 devices come with a detachable keyboard to switch them between notebook and slates. They also come with Intel processors inside and can be used with an optional S Pen.
Finally, Samsung has unveiled a new version of the Gear VR headset which comes with a dedicated touchpad controller.
Sony at MWC 2017
Sony usually launches new smartphones at MWC and this year’s event has been no different. It has announced four new handsets, with models in the premium and mid-range price brackets.
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium is top of the tree. It has a 5.5-inch 4K HDR display, 19-megapixel rear “Motion Eye” camera and a mighty Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. There is also 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, along with water and dust proofing to a high standard.
The Sony Xperia XZs is an upgrade on the existing XZ and also sports the Motion Eye camera and 4GB of RAM. It’s a 5.2-inch Full HD device, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and 2,900mAh battery.
The Sony Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra are mid-range handsets with 5-inch and 6-inch displays respectively. The XA1 has a 720p screen while the XA1 Ultra’s is Full HD. They both have an impressive 23-megapixel rear camera however, and octa-core MediaTek processors.
ZTE at MWC 2017
ZTE has been looking to raise its profile outside China and appearing at MWC is one way to do that. It used this year’s show to launch the ZTE Blade V8 Mini and Blade V8 Lite.
The Mini has a 5-inch screen with a 720p resolution. But the rear camera has two sensors for depth of field effects, with the 13-megapixel and 2-megapixel sensors combining for better “bokeh”.
The Blade V8 Lite has a 5-inch Full HD screen and octa-core processor. But the camera on the rear is 8-megapixels and with a single sensor.
They are both decidedly budget handsets, but the company also used the event to announce the world’s first 5G handset, the ZTE Gigabit Phone.
To be honest, you won’t be able to use it for quite some time as networks and firms like Qualcomm are only just testing the new data standards, but the Gigabit promises 1Gbps download speeds when ready.
Withings at MWC 2017
As explained under “Nokia” above, the Withings brand is being phased out and replaced by Nokia, now that the companies are one and the same.
A range of new health products and fitness trackers will be released under the Nokia brand in summer 2017.
Oppo at MWC 2017
While some Chinese companies, like Xiaomi, aren’t attending MWC, Oppo has declared that it is. There’s talk about a new technology that is revolving around 5x – possibly that it’s going to be offering 5x zoom on smartphone cameras. This might be a dual camera setup like the iPhone 7 Plus, but at the moment, we only have the odd vague tease from Oppo.
Qualcomm at MWC 2017
Qualcomm underpins a lot of the technology in modern mobile devices and the company is looking to reinforce the position of Snapdragon 835 as the chipset of choice in mobile devices.
It made several other announcements during MWC 2017 too. It is working extensively on trials for 5G networks, partnering with different carriers and manufacturers to bring through the next generation for mobile data.
And Qualcomm has highlighted the rise is adoption of Bluetooth aptX HD for high resolution audio support.
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