What to Expect at MWC 2016 – PC Magazine

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Mobile World Congress has traditionally been associated with cell phones (it’s right in the name after all), but over the years we’ve seen everything from the standard smartphones, tablets, and chips, to fitness trackersaction cameras, VR, and home automation hubsThis year we’re expecting a good mix of all these categories and a few surprises in between.

MWC Bug ArtThe PCMag team will be bringing you the latest from Barcelona right here, as well as on Twitter, Instagram, VineFacebook, and more, so stay tuned for the biggest news from the show. If you’re also traveling to MWC 2016, check out our travel guide to the show.

But what will we see? Without further ado, here’s what we expect from MWC 2016:

Mobile Phones, Tablets, and Wearables

Acer could have one of the most surprising reveals at MWC this year. According to PocketNow, the company may jump into the VR market with its own headset, putting it in competition with Facebook’s Oculus, HTC’s Vive, and the Samsung Gear VR.

Alcatel’s plans have been pretty thoroughly leaked by Evan Blass (more popularly known as @evleaks) on VentureBeat. The company is planning to launch the Idol 4 and 4S as part of its flagship lineup. The Pop 4 and 4s are expected for the midrange line, and the Pixi 4 and 4S (at least the naming scheme is simple) for the budget line. There will also be a slew of Pop 4 and Pixi-branded Android and Windows tablets, with sizes ranging from six to 10 inches.

Blackberry Vienna

Blackberry is still in some trouble, despite hopes of a revival with the Android-powered Blackberry Priv slider. However, the company hasn’t given up; according to ZDNet we may see another Android-powered device with a physical keyboard, currently codenamed “Vienna.” This one won’t be a slider—leaked pictures from Crackberry show your standard QWERTY keyboard on the bottom.

Caterpillar has jumped the gun a bit and officially announced the Cat S60, an ultra-rugged phone with a Flir thermal imagining camera built-in. We’ll be sure to check it out on the showroom floor.

Fairphone isn’t bringing us anything new, but it will have the modular Fairphone 2. The device is unique because users can disassemble the phone and easily swap out components, similar to Project Ara. Currently, the device is only being sold and shipped to Europe.  

Gionee isn’t well known in the U.S., but it is one of China’s largest mobile phone manufacturers.  The company is confirmed to launch the Gionee Elife S8, a phone with a focus on photography and a pressure-sensitive display (think force touch on the iPhone 6s).

HTC has a lot riding on its new products. With sagging sales and market share, the company hopes to revive its fortunes with the rumored HTC One M10, also codenamed the “Perfume.” Surprisingly, current indications are that HTC will not be announcing the M10 at MWC, instead launching in April around the same time the HTC Vive is expected to ship. That makes what HTC will do at MWC a bit of an open question. Greater focus on the HTC Vive and related VR products are a possibility, especially given its new partnership with Valve. Under Armor’s fitness tracker may also feature.

Huawei Matebook

Huawei’s star is rising ever since the launch of the Nexus 6P and the Honor 5X. At MWC, Huawei has scheduled a press event where it’s likely to launch Matebook, a Microsoft Surface-style device with a detachable keyboard and stylus. Apparently this will be a dual-boot Android and Windows device.

HP isn’t a company known for its smartphones, but that could change this year. According to Trusted Reviews, HP could be launching a Windows 10 phablet phone called the “HP Falcon.” It’s supposed to have hardware that will put it on par with all the Android flagships entering the market (Snapdragon 820, 3GB Ram, quad-HD display).

Jolla will be at MWC 2016, but with the scrapping of the Sailfish tablet, the focus will now be on the Intex Aqua Fish, a Sailfish OS phone.

LG is going to be one of the biggest launches at MWC with the LG G5, the flagship successor to the LG G4. The device has been all but revealed—by LG itself. Look for a metal build that retains a removable battery, an always-on display, and the “Magic Slot” for accessories. According to VentureBeat, this slot will include a VR camera, a robot, a photography add-on, and a speaker add-on. Aside from the G5 and its accessories, the company has confirmed new devices for the midrange LG X lineup.

Lenovo/Motorola has already teased the Lenovo Lemon 3, a metal-clad smartphone already available in China at a remarkably affordable price ($100). It’s likely we’ll see a wider global launch for MWC.

Microsoft will have a presence at MWC, as it usually does, but we aren’t expecting to see anything new—continued rumors of the mythical Surface Phone notwithstanding. There may be an opportunity to demo HoloLens and a chance of a wearable product and some software related announcement.

Oppo has confirmed a “Wow the World,” press event, which is likely to focus on camera and battery life, according to Android Authority.  There aren’t many details about it, but speculation suggests that it may be related to VOOC Flash Charge and optical zoom accessories.

Samsung is always one of the top manufacturers at MWC, and this year is no exception. We are expecting to see the flagship Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, which will be the successors to the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. The latest leaks indicate that we are going to see a metal-and-glass build, the latest Qualcomm or Exynos processor, an always-on display, and waterproofing. There are some mixed rumors about the presence of USB Type-C, but we expect to see a bigger battery on both devices. Aside from that, Samsung been emphasized VR in its teaser, so something related to Gear VR is a good bet.

Sony is holding a press conference at MWC, which may feature the Sony Xperia Z6 and a Z5 Tablet. According to AndroidPit, Sony traditionally releases a flagship every six months, so the timing is right for an MWC reveal.

Xiaomi is going to launch the Xiaomi Mi 5 with a Snapdragon 820 processor, a fact that was confirmed by Hugo Barra, Xiaomi Global VP. There has been no shortage of leaks and sneak peeks at the upcoming flagship, showing camera samples and screenshots.

ZTE is holding an event at MWC for 5G-ready products, including phones, tablets, and smart devices. We expect to see new devices in the Axon line.

Chips, OS, and Carriers

Cyanogen may be planning to announce Cyanogen OS to compete with iOS and Android. The company has never been shy about taking on the big boys and we might see what it has to offer now.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 will dominate MWC 2016. The processor is expected to power the LG G5, Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, Mi 5, Xperia Z6, HTC One M10, and HP Falcon. Even if all those devices don’t launch at MWC, it seems clear that Qualcomm is rebounding from the Snapdragon 810 overheating fiasco, which saw Samsung ditch the chipset in favor of its in-house Exynos processor. Aside from that, look for a range of demos for 5G and Wi-Fi.

Other Predictions

Virtual Reality will have a big presence at MWC 2016. With Facebook’s Oculus, the HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, Sony PlayStation VR, Microsoft HoloLens, and rumored LG and Acer VR offerings, the market is getting crowded. That’s a good thing, and this may be the year we really see a leap forward in consumer-ready VR.

What to Expect at MWC 2016 – PC Magazine