What to expect from MWC 2016
A round-up of all the information you need to know about MWC 2016, from show dates and attendees to the likely big announcements
With Mobile World Congress 2016 almost upon us, anticipation is at an all-time high. The biggest mobile phone exhibition of the year takes place in Barcelona from 22 February through to 25 February, and we’ve got all the pre-event information you need.
Many of the world’s leading smartphone manufacturers will be announcing new flagship hardware. Highlights will include the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG’s new G5 handset, as well as a host of other updates from companies such as Sony and HTC.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what we can expect from MWC 2016. We’ve rounded up all the news, rumours, and reports to give you an idea of what the biggest mobile show of the year has in store.
Who’d have thought that BlackBerry would still be relevant to anyone but business types in early 2016? That it is – albeit only just – has to be attributed to the relative success of the BlackBerry Priv.
BlackBerry’s bold jump to Android was first teased at MWC 2015, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see something interesting from the Canadian company at this year’s show.
It plans to launch another Android-based phone in 2016, and with the expectations of a Priv price-cut around the time of MWC 2016, we wouldn’t be shocked to see something there.
Whether that new Android device will be an Android-powered Passport, or a mid-range Priv alternative – as CEO John Chen hinted at late last year – we’ll have to wait and see.
Yes, that’s right. HP could well be returning to the smartphone market that it abandoned in 2011. Which is good news for a couple of reasons.
For one thing, it’s good to have an established manufacturer back in the game. For another, we’re not expecting anything major from Microsoft at MWC 2016, and HP’s new phone is rumoured to be a Windows 10 device.
Right at the end of 2015, a German website claimed to have learned that the HP Falcon would be a 5.8-inch Windows 10 phablet with a QHD display and a Snapdragon 820 CPU.
At the time, the Falcon was said to be still in testing at HP, and no decision had been made as to whether the handset would be released. However, an MWC 2016 was apparently being considered.
HTC MWC 2016 Press Conference – What to expect
2015 was not a good year for HTC. While critical goodwill for the HTC One M7 and HTC One M8 in previous years had offered glimpses of a recovery amidst a general decline, the HTC One M9 (pictured) was seen as a bad miscalculation.
Launched at MWC 2015, many felt the M9 to be a lazy, phoned-in effort and an attempt to effectively re-sell the – admittedly splendid – One M8 to us. It also had a CPU that had a nasty habit of overheating and underperforming.
Now with a new CEO (co-founder Cher Wang), the company is once again attempting to return to profitability with high-quality products – and a nod or two in Apple’s direction.
We haven’t heard too much about the follow-up to the One M9, but it seems that, according to a recent report, the company is intending to skip MWC 2016 for the launch of the upcoming handset. Instead, we could see the device unveiled at a special event in London on April 11.
The evolution of HTC handsets: One M7, One M8, One M9, One A9
There have also been claims that HTC is done with the “One M” nomenclature. Suggested names for the would-be HTC One M10 are the “‘HTC Performance” and the “HTC O2”.
In terms of what we’re likely to actually see at MWC, the HTC Vive is almost certain to be on show. The VR headset made an appearance last year and new information regarding pricing, specs, and release date are expected this year.
HTC could also unveil a new smartwatch, rumoured to be called the HTC One. The oft-tipped device is yet to be confirmed by HTC, but MWC could well be the place to officially announce the device.
Huawei MWC 2016 Press Conference – What to expect
Huawei’s 2015 was almost the polar opposite of HTC’s. Not only did the Chinese manufacturer become the third biggest smartphone maker in the world, but it was also picked to launch Google’s flagship Android phone in the Nexus 6P.
The 6P turned out to be arguably the best Android phone on the market, but Huawei also released a couple of fine own-branded phones in the shape of the Huawei Mate S and the Huawei Mate 8.
Huawei’s P8 smartphone was a solid entry into the flagship market
Until recently, it was thought that the follow up to the Huawei P8 flagship handset, the P9, would make an appearance at the show, with a roadmap leak pointing to a March release for the phone.
However, a report from mid-January claimed that Huawei was planning to release four versions of the P9, none of which would be unveiled at MWC this year. Considering the Huawei press conference is schefuled to clash with LG’s, this could be a tactical move by Huawei to avoid news of their latest flagship’s announcement being drowned out.
Elsewhere, we could see tha launch of the Huawei Watch 2, considering we saw the original model at last year’s show. And there’s also talk of a dual-boot notebook capable of running both Android and Windows operating systems. This is a very tentative rumour however.
LG MWC 2016 Press Conference – What to expect
LG had an interesting 2015, with the fine, but not amazing LG G4 somewhat overshadowed by Samsung’s flashier efforts early in the year. The Korean company saved its own dramatic design overhaul for the end of the year in the LG V10.
LG doesn’t traditionally announce its flagship phones at MWC. Last year’s LG G4 came along at the end of April. However, the company is looking to bring forward the launch to match its great rival, Samsung, and has announced that it will be unveiling the G5 on February 21 at this year’s MWC.
LG has unveiled the official case for the G5
As for the LG G5’s specs, you can probably put money on a Snapdragon 820 CPU and a QHD display of around 5.5-inches in size. Another leak earlier this year seemed to suggest that the new handset will feature a dual rear camera setup, while another pointed to an all-new design which will look nothing like previous models and could involve a new accessory slot allowing for a removable battery.
Another possibility for MWC is the LG G Flex 3 curved-screen smartphone. The LG G Flex 2 was launched at CES 2015, but a follow-up didn’t appear at this year’s show. Could it appear at MWC instead?
LG could also be planning to launch an updated version of its Urbane smartwatch. The LG Watch Urbane 2 was expected to arrive in early 2016 but seems to have been delayed. Still, there’s a chance we may see it at MWC, although it’s equally likely that a follow-up to the G Watch R could make an appearance.
Samsung MWC 2016 Press Conference – What to expect
Samsung always announces its new flagship smartphone at MWC. Given that it remains the biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world, that’s quite a big deal.
Last year saw the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S6 just prior to the show, at a special Unpacked event (pictured above), and we’re expecting similar treatment for the Samsung Galaxy S7.
Judging by leaked photos, the Galaxy S7 will look rather similar to the Samsung Galaxy S6, although, if some reports are true, it could see a return to the water- and dust-proof status of previous devices. Given the bold design-led reinvention Samsung underwent with its last phone, it’s easy to see why the company would want to stick with it for another year. After all, if it works for Apple…
Speaking of which, it’s also claimed that the S7 will come in two sizes from the off. So, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Plus could also make a showing, as well as a possible Galaxy S7 Edge.
We’re expecting all the usual improvements in terms of power, although it seems Samsung is lining up an off-the-shelf Snapdragon 820 rather than its own Exynos solution this time around.
As well as this, the S7 is rumoured to feature an ‘always-on’ display and a much improved battery life. Reports suggest we could see the phone arrive on March 11, following the unveiling on February 21.
Here’s the teaser clip that Samsung released ahead of the S7 unveiling:
There’s also been rumours that the Galaxy Tab S3 could be announced at MWC. German website, Winfuture, discovered two devices labelled the SM-T819 and the SM-T719 in recent GFXBench results. This could just point to an incremental upgrade of the Tab S2, although with the presence of what looks like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor, we could very well be seeing the Tab S3 at MWC.
Elsewhere, the company is expected to launch a new version of its Gear VR headset, the Gear VR 2.0. The current version of the headset appears heavily in the teaser video above so it seems likely we will see a new iteration at MWC.
Sony MWC 2016 Press Conference – What to expect
The pace of Sony’s flagship phone releases has been astonishing in recent years, but that hasn’t translated to the sales turnaround the company was hoping for.
Still, the quality has been good, and Sony has managed to get ahead on some key features – such as the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium’s 4K display.
The Xperia Z5 Premium featured a 4K screen
MWC 2016 could see another innovative new phone, although whether that will be a flagship device remains unclear. The Xperia Z5 only arrived six months ago, but Sony is known for short product release cycles, so there’s certainly a chance that the Z6 could make an appearance at the event.
In terms of specs, the handset is expected to feature a pressure-sensitive display and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 chip. It’s also rumoured to come in more than one version, with Sony possibly planning to launch five different models of the Z6. This is yet to be confirmed however.
Not content with five different versions of its flagship phone, Sony is also expected to launch the Xperia C6, which is reported to be a mid-range 5.5-inch Full HD handset with a striking edge-to-edge display.
Elsewhere, there’s talk of a new Xperia Z6 tablet, which could feature a 4K display, and a new smartwatch in the form of the Sony Smartwatch 4.