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MWC 2020: Here's what to expect from the show (Update: MWC cancelled)
Update, February 13, 2020 (03:49 AM ET): The GSMA body responsible for organizing Mobile World Congress (MWC) has announced the cancellation of this year’s event.
“With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has canceled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” the association said in a statement.
MWC organizers initially detailed a variety of measures to allay concerns about the outbreak, including banning people from the Hubei province where the virus originated. But numerous companies pulled out of the expo nonetheless due to health and safety concerns.
What is MWC? Mobile World Congress is one of the largest and most exciting yearly events for the mobile industry. It’s a hotbed for new smartphone launches and also a glimpse into mobile technologies of the future. This year, we expect to see new devices from big players like Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, OnePlus, and others. 5G network technology will also take center stage, with OEMs doubling down on 5G-enabled smartphones. Besides phones, we also expect to see new wearables, tablets, smart home gadgets, and other tech products.
When is MWC? MWC 2020 kicks off on Monday, February 24 and ends on Thursday, February 27. Traditionally, many new smartphones and other tech products are unveiled in the days leading up to the event.
Where is MWC? MWC takes place in Barcelona, Spain, at two venues — Fira Gran Via and Fira Montjuïc.
Most companies are keeping details under wraps for now, but we can make some educated guesses as to what might be announced in Barcelona. Our speculation is based on the latest leaks and rumors, as well as years of experience covering the show. Here’s a roundup of what we expect to see at MWC 2020 from companies like Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, Sony, LG, and more.
Samsung at MWC 2020
Just like last year, Samsung won’t be launching its new Galaxy S series smartphones at MWC. Instead, it’ll unveil what’s now being called the Galaxy S20 series on February 11 at its Unpacked event in San Francisco.
Samsung is also expected to announce its second foldable phone rumored to be called the Galaxy Z Flip ahead of MWC. This way, Samsung would get a pretty solid head start over other smartphone makers ahead of MWC 2020.
Apart from the Galaxy S20 trio and its clamshell foldable, Samsung is also expected to unveil the Galaxy Buds Plus true wireless earbuds at Unpacked 2020.
With Samsung making all these major announcements days ahead of the event, we wonder if the company will launch anything new at all at MWC 2020. It seems more likely that it will instead just showcase all the launched devices on the show floor.
Last year, Samsung announced a new Galaxy Watch Active and two fitness trackers just ahead of MWC, so there’s still a chance we see something new from the South Korean giant.
Huawei at MWC 2020
Huawei is still reeling over the US trade ban but that’s not stopping it from launching new smartphones. At MWC 2020, Huawei will be showing off its successor to the foldable Mate X smartphone — the Mate XS.
This particular model differs from the Mate X by offering the Kirin 990 chipset instead of the older Kirin 980. It is also expected to feature 65W fast charging, up from 55W fast charging on the Mate X. It is also said to come with a better display and smaller form factor. Of course, it also won’t have Google apps.
Huawei could also announce new laptops at the event. Last year, it unveiled the MateBook 14 and upgraded MateBook X Pro at MWC.
Meanwhile, Huawei’s sub-brand Honor is confirmed to launch six new devices at MWC 2020. Honor is hosting a press event on February 24 where it will unveil the global variant of the Honor V30 Pro, now dubbed the Honor View 30 Pro. The smartphone was first launched in China back in November and comes with the Kirin 990 5G chipset.
Alongside the phone, Honor has also announced plans to reveal the Honor 9X Pro, MagicBook 14 and MagicBook 15 laptops, a pair of true wireless ‘buds, and a special edition Honor Magic Watch 2.
OnePlus at MWC 2020
OnePlus didn’t launch any new smartphones at MWC last year. Instead, it gave us a sneak peek at its first 5G device, now known as the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G. This year though, things could be different.
Traditionally, we would expect OnePlus to launch its new smartphone series in late April-May. However, serial tipster OnLeaks predicts that OnePlus could move up its launch timeline to announce the OnePlus 8 series in February-March.
The OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro flagships will be powered by the Snapdragon 865 chipset. The company is also expected to announce a mid-range OnePlus 8 Lite smartphone this year, it’s first since the OnePlus X back in 2015.
OnePlus could release at least one of these devices at MWC 2020 just to show its presence at the event. However, there’s no concrete launch date information available out there.
LG at MWC 2020
LG will not be exhibiting and participating at MWC 2020 due to the recent coronavirus outbreak. The company has said that it does not want to expose its employees to the risk of international travel given the public health emergency.
According to recent leaks, LG was expected to launch a dual-screen smartphone at MWC 2020.
LG is expected to announce the LG V60 ThinQ with a secondary display
Last year, the company showed off the LG G8 ThinQ and V50 ThinQ at the event. This year, LG was said to announce the LG V60 ThinQ with a secondary display. It follows the dual-display LG G8X ThinQ and is likely to offer 5G support. LG is reportedly revising the G8X ThinQ’s hinge mechanism for the new phone. It’s unclear if the V60 ThinQ is the G9, but LG was originally expected to launch the G9.
Looks like LG will be postponing the launch of its new flagships or planning to unveil them once the coronavirus threat becomes less severe.
Xiaomi at MWC 2020
Xiaomi has already confirmed that its Mi 10 series will launch with the Snapdragon 865 processor. It has also confirmed the existence of the two models in the lineup — the Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro.
The two quad-camera phones are launching in China on February 13. This will be followed by an MWC 2020 global launch in Barcelona on February 23. The phones will reportedly deliver on current trends like 90Hz displays, 5G connectivity, high-resolution cameras, and faster charging. You can read all about them here.
Sony at MWC 2020
Sony has a track record of announcing flagship smartphones at MWC. Unfortunately, the company has cancelled its press conference which was set for February 24. Instead, Sony will be hosting its Xperia launch on YouTube as a video-only event.
Last year, Sony unveiled three smartphones with the tall 21:9 aspect ratio.
Sony's naming scheme for its smartphones has been all over the place
It was expected that Sony would launch the Xperia 2 this year. However, we’re yet to hear anything about the phone in the run-up to MWC. What we have seen is renders of a possible follow-up to the Xperia 5.
The Xperia 5 Plus appears to have an elongated 6.6-inch OLED screen, quad rear cameras, a solo front camera, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a side-mounted fingerprint scanner. There’s a good chance that the upcoming Sony flagship will feature the Snapdragon 865 chipset.
Vivo at MWC 2020
Vivo sent out media invites confirming that it’ll showcase the Vivo Apex 2020 concept phone at MWC this year. The first Apex concept phone was showcased at MWC in 2018, and was followed by the Apex 2019 last year. The latter made quite the stir owing to the lack of any ports or physical buttons. The phone had a full-screen design, half of which was equipped with in-display fingerprint sensing tech.
We expect Vivo to build the Apex 2020 along similar lines. However, it could incorporate more modern-day specifications like high-res cameras, faster charging, a second display, or a folding design.
Could Vivo use the same electrochromic glass as the OnePlus Concept One?
Vivo’s MWC invite (see above) does seem to have a focus on cameras. Maybe Vivo has found a new place to hide them on the phone. Perhaps it’s using the same electrochromic glass OnePlus recently showcased on its concept phone? They are both owned by the same parent conglomerate after all.
Oppo at MWC 2020
We got the scoop about the successor to Oppo’s beautiful Find X smartphone — the Find X2 — back in December. Just recently, Oppo confirmed the device will make its debut at MWC 2020 February 22, just a few days before the official event begins.
The Find X2 is confirmed to run on the Snapdragon 865 chipset. It’ll focus on the camera as one of its core highlights thanks to its new Sony-developed camera sensor. This new camera should tout Sony’s latest 2×2 On-Chip Lens solution, enabling high-speed autofocus, high-resolution, high-sensitivity, and high dynamic range. We can’t wait to test out this device for ourselves.
Nokia (HMD Global) at MWC 2020
HMD Global, which owns the Nokia smartphone brand, announced an event that will happen at MWC 2020. HMD doesn’t reveal any information about what it will launch, but we expect multiple Nokia handsets. We’re just not sure which ones.
Nokia could have launched a flagship Snapdragon 865 smartphone at this year’s MWC, but rumor has it that the phone has been delayed until August. It is reportedly called the Nokia 9.2 PureView.
The Nokia 8.2 5G and is rumored to launch at MWC 2020
Still, we could see some new budget and mid-range devices from Nokia. HMD Global confirmed a new 5G-ready smartphone powered by the Snapdragon 765G is on the way during Qualcomm’s Snapdragon summit. Said device is reportedly named the Nokia 8.2 5G and is rumored to launch at MWC 2020.
We’ve also heard rumors related to a Nokia 5.2 and Nokia 1.3. Stay tuned!
TCL at MWC 2020
We expected TCL to host a press event at MWC 2020 after it sent out media invites for a February 22 event. Now, that doesn’t look like it will be the case. The company announced February 10 it would not be hosting the event this year due to growing concerns surrounding the current coronavirus outbreak.
Thankfully, none of TCL’s other MWC activities are impacted by this decision. The company will still hold its scheduled pre-briefings at its private offsite showroom and at the TCL booth in the Fira Gran Via where it will announce and showcase its upcoming mobile handsets February 24-27.
Earlier this year, TCL used CES 2020 to preview a bunch of self-branded smartphones. It showcased the TCL 10 5G, TCL 10 Pro, and TCL 10L. All phones come with punch hole displays and quad rear cameras. The 5G device is confirmed to feature the latest Snapdragon 700 series chipset, which we guess is the Snapdragon 765 or 765G.
TCL also announced some phones under the Alcatel brand name at CES. Most impressive amongst the lot was the Alcatel 3L with a Mediatek Helio P22 chipset. It had triple rear cameras (48MP+5MP+2MP) and a 4,000mAh battery.
TCL could well showcase all of the above at its pre-briefing meetings at MWC 2020, but we will have to wait and see.
Motorola at MWC 2020
Motorola will be holding a launch event on February 23 in Barcelona, a day ahead of the official start of MWC 2020. The company has reportedly confirmed that it will be launching a flagship phone at the event.
Motorola President Sergio Buniac announced in December that the company plans to launch premium flagship phones in early 2020. Motorola has made many budget and mid-range devices over the last few years, including the likes of the Moto G8 Plus and the Moto One Macro. However, it’s been a while since we saw a true blue flagship phone from Moto. At MWC 2020, we expect that to change.
Motorola has promised the fastest 5G phone on Qualcomm’s flagship platform
At Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit, Moto’s Buniac said that mid-range 5G Moto phones running the Snapdragon 765 silicon are in development. He also promised the “fastest 5G phone on Qualcomm’s flagship platform.” Later rumors suggest that mid-range device will launch alongside a flagship counterpart sporting the Snapdragon 865. This is the handset we believe Buniac was promising.
Both of these devices should not only rock 5G support, but they could also feature the same 6.67-inch, 2,340 X 1,080 90Hz curved “waterfall” display. The flagship handset is most likely codenamed Burton, while the mid-range handset is probably codenamed Racer 5G.
The Racer 5G is tipped to offer 6GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, a 48MP primary camera, a 4,660mAh battery, NFC support, and Android 10. Meanwhile, the Burton is expected to come with 8GB/12GB of RAM, a 5,170mAh battery, and Android 10. There are no other spec details available for this phone as of right now.
It’s possible both devices could come with the ‘Motorola One 2020’ moniker, but we don’t know for certain. Both are also said to include several software tweaks and new apps to provide just a little more of a competitive edge to set them apart from other flagship devices.
Microsoft at MWC 2020
Microsoft has a decent-sized booth in Hall 3 of the Fira Gran Via at MWC 2020. This is the location where all major smartphone brands camp out during the event. Perhaps Microsoft will reveal some additional details about the Surface Neo and Surface Duo — the two folding devices which were announced back in October.
The Surface Neo is a folding tablet that runs Windows 10X. The Surface Duo, on the other hand, is a folding device that runs Android and can be used like a phone. We may even get a release date for the two at MWC 2020.
Last year Microsoft held a press conference that focused on its AR technology and HoloLens 2. Perhaps this year we’ll get something a little more consumer-friendly from the company.
ZTE at MWC 2020
ZTE has confirmed that it will not be holding a press event during MWC 2020. The company says that part of it’s decision is based on the fact that some employees are already facing visa and travel delays to Barcelona. The spokesperson added that ZTE tends “to be an overly courteous company, and simply don’t want to make people uncomfortable.”
Since ZTE is a Chinese company, it’s possible its employees are facing visa issues due to the recent coronavirus outbreak.
Nevertheless, the company later confirmed that it will still have a booth and will be showing off devices at the expo.
Realme at MWC 2020
Realme has been really hyping its MWC 2020 launch event. One of the latest teasers posted on Realme Europe’s Twitter account calls this event their “1st global launch.” We already believed Realme was going to release a new TV at MWC. Now, we are certain the company will release a smartphone at the event too.
Hey MWC, it’s Realme! We are ready to be the 5G Populariser.— Realme Europe (@realmeeurope) February 6, 2020
Realme will most likely launch the Realme X50 Pro 5G at its MWC event. The company has officially teased the phone and revealed some of its specs. It will be a Snapdragon 865-powered 5G flagship that the company promised back in December.
MWC 2020 is expected to host many other companies, including Asus, Nubia, and more. We don’t know what — if anything — they’ll announce at the show.
Meanwhile, the organizers of MWC — GSMA — has released an official statement regarding the precautions it’s taking to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus at the event. As per the organizing body’s latest advisory, travellers from China’s Hubei province will not be permitted access to the event.
A number of tech companies have also pulled out of MWC 2020 due to the threat of the virus. You can check out our full list of those companies here.
We’ll be updating this post as soon as new information hits the rumor mill or if companies announce something officially.