Update: There’s growing news of the phones we might see at MWC, including the Samsung Galaxy S9, Sony Xperia XZ2, Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2 and Nokia 9, but it’s looking less likely that we’ll see the LG G7 and Huawei P20.
MWC (or Mobile World Congress to give it its full name) is one of the biggest events on the mobile calendar, with 2017’s Barcelona show bringing us the LG G6, Sony Xperia XZ Premium and Huawei P10 among dozens of other devices.
With the next show running from February 26 to March 1 we’re only weeks away, and rumors about the phones we’ll likely see are pouring in. You’ll find all the latest news below, along with a wish list of what we want to see.
So have a read, see if you agree, and let us know in the comments if there’s anything else you’re really hoping for at MWC 2018.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The biggest phone show of 2018
- When is it? It all kicks off on February 26, 2018
Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus
The Samsung Galaxy S9 is likely to be one of the highlights of MWC 2018. This upcoming flagship has been confirmed for the show, or rather for February 25, one day before MWC officially starts, and it’s sure to land alongside the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus.
The Galaxy S9 and its larger sibling are rumored to have a similar design and screen to the Galaxy S8 range, meaning a metal frame, a glass back and an almost bezel-free curved display, but with the fingerprint scanner likely moved from beside the camera to below it.
Speaking of the camera, that’s rumored to be heavily upgraded, with two lensesin the case of the S9 Plus and a variable aperture in the case of the S9.
The camera, whatever form it takes, is likely to be one of the highlights of the pair, as upgrades to it have been teased by Samsung.
The S9 and S9 Plus are also rumored to have new chipsets and an improved iris scanner, which might be better able to recognize your eyes and may scan your face at the same time.
Other aspects of the pair may not be so upgraded though – their batteries are rumored to be the same size as that of their predecessors (3,000mAh and 3,500mAh for the S9 and S9 Plus respectively), and the standard S9 may have just 4GB of RAM – though there are rumors of 6GB in the S9 Plus.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2
With the Sony Xperia XZ Premium announced at MWC 2017 there’s a good chance we’ll see the Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2 at MWC 2018.
This could be a real powerhouse, with rumors of a flagship Snapdragon 845 chipset, 6GB of RAM, a dual-lens rear camera and front-facing stereo speakers.
We’ve also heard that the Xperia XZ Premium 2 might have a 5.7-inch 4K display, a 3,420mAh battery and – perhaps most excitingly of all – a whole new design, with smaller bezels and there’s some talk that the fingerprint scanner might even be built into the screen.
Sony Xperia XZ2
As the Sony Xperia XZ1 only arrived in September you might not be expecting the Sony Xperia XZ2 for a while, but a recent rumor suggests it’s actually coming soon, so an MWC launch is possible.
As with the Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2 we’re expecting a whole new design from the Xperia XZ2, which likely means less bezel than past Xperia handsets.
The specs will probably be slightly lower end than on the Premium 2 though, with current rumors pointing to a Snapdragon 845 chipset, 4GB of RAM, dual 12MP rear cameras, a 3,130mAh battery and a 5.5-inch 4K screen – though we’d think 1080p or QHD is more likely given that Sony has so far reserved 4K resolutions for its Premium range.
MWC 2018 might be where we see the first real Nokia flagship since HMD Global took over the brand. Because as good as the Nokia 8 was, it struggled to stand out from the competition.
For the Nokia 9, there are rumors of a 5.5-inch QHD OLED screen, a water-resistant metal body, tiny bezels and dual-lens cameras on both the front and back of the phone.
Of course, it will be powerful too, with a Snapdragon 845 chipset and anywhere from 4GB to 8GB of RAM rumored, and it could have a big 3,800mAh battery and an iris scanner.
We don’t know for sure that the Nokia 9 is headed to MWC 2018, but HMD Global has claimed to be “super busy” planning for the event, so something’s sure to be announced.
Huawei Watch 3
This is a long shot, as we haven’t heard much about it yet, but as the Huawei Watch 2 was announced at MWC 2017 there’s a chance we’ll see the Huawei Watch 3 at MWC 2018.
So far there’s not much to go on other than a couple of patents, but the features they point to are definitely exciting.
One details a system whereby sensors would detect gestures you make on the back of your hand, so you could for example sketch a letter with your finger and have it appear on the watch screen, or make double tap and long press gestures, allowing you to interact with the watch without touching it.
Another patent talks about a watch with touch-sensitive bezels divided into eight sections.
So you could tap any one of them to perform an action, but you could also touch multiple sections at once to do something different, and these interactions could extend beyond app shortcuts to things like scrolling through menus or zooming in and out.
Other possible announcements
We’ve covered the major likely announcements above, but there are sure to be loads of other phones unveiled at MWC 2018, as well probably as wearables and tablets.
Many may be a complete surprise, but some likely announcements include the Nokia 7 Plus, which we’ve recently started hearing rumblings about.
Rumored specs include a 6.0-inch 18:9 screen, a mid-range Snapdragon 660 chipset, 4GB of RAM, a dual-lens 12MP and 13MP rear camera, a 16MP front-facing camera, and an aluminum build.
Could we also see the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4? The news is quiet on that front but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 landed around a year ago, so it’s possible that another flagship slate is on the way.
What we probably won’t see
There are a number of flagships approaching a year old that probably won’t get refreshed at MWC 2018.
For example there’s the LG G7, which probably won’t show as the company has confirmed to Tech Advisor that it’s not holding a press conference at MWC this year.
Separately we’ve heard that the company might have recently ditched its work on the LG G7 and started from scratch, which could be the reason for its likely absence at MWC, and means we probably won’t see it for another couple of months at least.
There’s also the HTC U12, as an “inside source” has apparently said to expect the phone at a separate event in March or April. This wouldn’t be a surprise, since HTC didn’t unveil a flagship at MWC 2017 and since the HTC U11 Plus only landed fairly recently.
And we probably won’t see the Huawei P20 at MWC 2018 either, as we’ve received an invitation from Huawei for an event on March 27, and we’ve also heard a rumor that the P20 won’t land until after the show.
Though with Huawei’s VP of Handsets Product Line, Bruce Lee, previously telling Android Central that the company will “probably launch devices at Mobile World Congress” in future we can’t completely rule out an MWC launch.
What we want to see
With little yet confirmed for MWC 2018 we’re free to dream of all the things we might see, or at least hope to see. The following are among our most wanted.
1. Samsung Galaxy S9
Samsung didn’t entirely skip MWC 2017, in fact it even held a press conference, but instead of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus (which arrived later) we got the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3.
It’s understandable that Samsung would want a separate event away from the madness of MWC to launch its biggest phone, but then the S8 is big enough that it would easily be the most popular launch of the show, so a separate announcement isn’t really needed.
All of that changes now that it’s 2018. Samsung is ready to take the big stage at MWC 2018 and unveil the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus, according to the leaks and Samsung’s own Unpacked 2018 invite.
2. A folding phone
It’s felt like folding phones have been just over the horizon for years now, but there’s growing evidence that 2018 could be when we’ll finally see one, and MWC 2018 would be the ideal place for it to launch.
Hopefully when it does launch it will be more than just a gimmick, and won’t cost so much we need to sell our kidneys to buy it.
3. A smartwatch renaissance
We were hoping that the first major Android Wear update would be accompanied by a shower of new smartwatches, but it wasn’t to be.
More began to land over the course of 2017, but only from a few manufacturers, so hopefully MWC 2018 will be used as an opportunity for companies to get back into the Android Wear game in big numbers.
But we don’t just want new watches, they also need to do genuinely new things and improve on the existing models to make them more desirable.
Better battery life tops our list of wants from them, since a watch we need to charge every day is not the future we envisioned.
4. More from Nokia
The big success story from MWC 2017 wasn’t a flagship smartphone that costs hundreds – it was the reboot of the iconic Nokia 3310.
Launched to whip up interest in the Nokia brand again, the new 3310 was used to draw attention to the return of the famous name to the mobile market. It arrived alongside a trio of Android phones, but we’re hungry for more.
We’d love to see HMD Global (the firm that’s licencing the Nokia name) produce a Samsung and Apple-rivaling handset at MWC 2018. We’ve since had the Nokia 8 and that didn’t quite cut it, but perhaps the Nokia 9 will land at MWC?
5. A real iPad rival
There hasn’t been much of interest in the world of Android tablets lately, other than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, which itself was announced at MWC 2017.
At 2018’s show we’d like to see a larger number of slates, and for at least some of them to genuinely match up to the iPad Pro 2 duo.
MWC 2017 saw the launch of numerous bigger and better phones across the low, mid and high-end, but the improvements were usually the expected ones – sharper screens, faster chipsets and so on.
Innovation wasn’t absent, but it was in short supply, so while we certainly wouldn’t say no to all the usual improvements next year, we hope they’re accompanied by more truly new, different and interesting things.
7. Big phones from small companies
While smaller companies weren’t absent from MWC 2017, they generally failed to grab much attention, and that’s not just because they’re not household names, but also because – in many cases at least – their announcements were genuinely less interesting.
We’d like to see lesser known brands grab headlines with exciting announcements at MWC 2018.
That might be tough for small companies, but there’s potential for huge – but little known in the west – companies like Xiaomi to do it.
8. The next generation of fitness trackers
As well as an absence of smartwatches there wasn’t much for fitness fans to see at MWC 2017 either, so we’d like to see an influx of sporty wearables at MWC 2018.
And as with smartwatches, these need to be significant improvements on what’s gone before – perhaps somehow automatically tracking a wider range of workouts than most of the current selection, like weights and yoga.