MWC is all about slabs with screens.
No, not smart mirrors – but rather smartphones and tablets. Lots and lots of smartphones and tablets, from nearly all of the big manufacturers including Samsung, Sony and LG.
And, while that might sound a bit predictable, it rarely fails to serve up some titillating tech to get us talking.
So, with little more than a month to go until the tech circus descends once again on the Catalonian capital, here’s the prospective kit that’s got us most excited.
SAMSUNG’S FIRST SMARTPHONE SINCE THE NOTE 7
But the show has arguably never been as key for the Korean mobile maker as it is this time round. See, since the whole exploding Note 7 incident, the tech world’s been wondering what Samsung will do to reassure customers. And, come MWC, we just might found out.
Unless it breaks with existing form, there’s every chance we’ll see its new flagship, the Galaxy S8. Or, then again, maybe we won’t. If we do then this one should be a doozy: rumours reckon there’ll be just a single, curved model, with barely-there bezels and, maybe, a 4K screen. So no Edge variant this time round, but we can live with that if the standard S8 gets that lovely curved design instead.
Once we’ve all calmed down about the S8, there’ll probably be plenty of Gear, um, gear to play with, too – including cameras, trackers and VR devices.
SONY’S PROPERLY POWERFUL XPERIA X UPDATE
Sony, too, is a regular at MWC and it’s not unusual to see a raft of Xperia devices unwrapped in Barcelona. A quick listen to the great tech grapevine suggests that this time round Sony could be unveiling an update to the Xperia X, its 5in, Snapdragon 650-equipped replacement for the Z series.
It’s unlikely that any upgraded model would see much in the way of a design revolution, but there’s every chance of a hardware refresh – which could mean upwards of 4GB RAM, not to mention an even better snapper than the 23MP lens on the Xperia X. Basically, a seriously powerful Xperia.
As was the case last year, we might also expect to see some smart home kit from Sony. From an in-ear Bluetooth smart assistant to a wearable camcorder to a smartphone projector, 2016 offered up no shortage of nifty ideas – and we’re hoping 2017 will continue that trend.
LG’S NO-LONGER-MODULAR MOBILE
Not content to let Samsung steal all the glory, LG last year took the wraps off its majestically modular G5 smartphone – and we were seriously interested. Aside from a nice 5.3in panel and a decent camera, what really got us was the removable bumper and its accessories, which collectively pointed towards a useful future of expandable phones.
Alas, there’s uncertainty about whether its successor, the G6, will keep that modular goodness – but we are pretty sure that we’ll see it at MWC. With chatter from the company about displays, batteries and focusing on consumer needs, the form of the G6 could go one of many ways.
Elsewhere, LG’s likely to bring some smart home gear to the convention table. Last year we saw everything from the 360 CAM to the Smart Controller for drones – not to mention its rolling robot – and it’d be a surprise if the manufacturer backed off from quirky kit for 2017.
HTC’S, ERR, HTC 11
HTC is heading to MWC 2017, but the Taiwanese manufacturer is doing its best to keep things under wraps – which is quite the change from previous years, where leaks aplenty have preceded announcements.
Having hit it big with the HTC 10 last year, it followed up at CES with the pretty and powerful U Ultra. What does that leave for MWC? Well, there’s every likelihood that it’ll be a new flagship – and the HTC 11 is rumoured to pack 8GB RAM, a Snapdragon 835 chip and a Quad HD display.
OK, so it probably won’t be called the HTC 11, but we’re intrigued all the same. How it’ll fare will obviously be a matter for a hands-on test but, given how solid the U Ultra seemed, we have high hopes.
We might also see some new Vive hardware. It’s been displayed at MWC before and, while information is scarce regarding any update to the VR system, we’re hoping to see at least something new – whether that’s software or otherwise.
THE FIRST FLAGSHIP FROM THE NEW NOKIA
What’s that something? We reckon it’ll be the company’s new Android flagship effort. Now run under licence by HMD Global, the small team behind Nokia is looking to reboot the brand, and this could well be the start.
We’ve already seen the first Android Nokia phone, the China-only Nokia 6, at CES. It was different, promising but, ultimately, a mid-range device.
What’s next, and what we’ll hopefully see in Barcelona, is the company’s first proper flagship. We know it’ll run Nougat and is likely to pack some clever tech on board – including a OnePlus 3T-like fingerprint scanner – but the rest is a mystery. Watch this space.
BLACKBERRIES, CLEVER KIT AND MORE
We know that we’ll see a new Blackberry device – created under licence by TCL – in Android form, with both a keyboard and touchscreen. The brand’s cachet might hold less affection than Nokia, but we’re still hoping for something that brings back the best of the business-focused brand.
New kit from the likes of Huawei, Acer, ZTE and more, meanwhile, is likely – and there’s nothing like a raft of mid-range phones to make a tech fan’s day.
What of smartwatches? Well, where once we saw many a wearable on display, MWC 2016 showed a marked decline in the number of manufacturers bringing wearables to the floor – and that’s likely to be the case in 2017, too.
Instead, you can expect plenty of phones, a raft of VR headsets, a helping of surreal smart home gear – oh, and a good spread of surprises.