MWC 2016: what to expect
MWC, the biggest event for smartphones, is back. Last year gave us everything from the flagship HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphones to the stylish Huawei Watch and the innovative Galaxy S6 Edge – and those were just some of the highlights. This year, we’re expecting big things once again.
And it’s not just about phones – you can also expect to see a volley of new tablets and wearables.
If the current rumors are to be believed, we’re in for another bumper crop of smartphone action in Barcelona this year, with Samsung and LG both tipped to be rolling out the big guns and a whole bunch of smaller announcements likely from other companies.
We’ll be reporting live from Barcelona to bring you all the latest from MWC 2016, so keep this page bookmarked and keep checking back for updates. Samsung’s press conference is next up, and will take place at 6pm GMT (1pm EST/10am PST).
In the mean time, watch our video round-up of what we expect at Mobile World Congress 2016 for all the latest rumors and leaks we’ve seen so far.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpexXCa709I&start=2&autoplay=1
- Samsung Galaxy S7: everything we know
- Or how about the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge?
- Is the LG G5 going to be the best of 2016?
- HTC One M10 – all we know about the big reboot
Dying to be at the show? Now you can be! Well, sort of. We made a 360-degree video for you to immerse yourself in. Check it out below.
YouTube : www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_wEUarQJKo
Samsung has managed to somewhat steal the MWC show for the past two years, launching the Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy S6 at the 2014 and 2015 events respectively. This year has been no different, with the smartphone giant launching both the S7 and S7 Edge (with part of the press conference done in virtual reality), and surprising us with an appearance from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
You can see the entire thing as it happened in our live blog. Or, go straight to checking out our hands-on reviews of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. While both phones turned out exactly as leaks and rumours had led us to believe, they weren’t the only thing Samsung was at MWC to talk about.
The company also announced the Gear 360, its 360-degree camera that can be used to capture footage to be played back in virtual reality.
But probably the biggest moment was when Mark Zuckerberg dropped by to big up virtual reality. Not only did Zuck explain why VR is the next social platform, he also announced that Facebook would be bringing many more apps to Gear VR. He also confirmed the launch of Minecraft on the platform.
LG has revealed all. As we expected, the new 5.3-inch G5 has an always-on display that never sleeps, letting you see the time, date, and notifications at a glance.
Perhaps more interesting, however, is the phone’s “magic slot”, which allows for additional accessories to be added onto the phone. LG has essentially made its first modular phone. Read our hands-on first impressions of the phone here.
As well as the phone, LG is entering the virtual reality race with its first VR headset, which is powered by the G5. It’s also much smaller than its rival Samsung Galaxy Gear VR – and pretty much every other VR headset out there right now.
But the more interesting announcements from Sony, perhaps, weren’t phones at all. It revealed the Xperia Ear, a tiny personal assistant that sits in your – yup – ear. It looks very much like the one from the movie Her, although probably doesn’t come loaded with Scarlett Johansson’s voice.
We also got to play with Sony’s Xperia Projector, which will turn any surface into an interactive display. James Peckham already sees a lot of potential in the device…
Oh, and speaking of personal assistants, Sony showed us the one it’s been working on. It’s a bit like Amazon’s Echo and uses touch and voice gestures. You can read more about it here.
All the biggest news from Day Two of the show
- Sony’s Xperia Projector could be the best home gadget you never knew you wanted
- Xperia Ear is Sony’s in-ear personal assistant of the future
- Sony launches new Xperia X phones for those who don’t want an Xperia Z5
- Sony is working on an Amazon Echo competitor
- World’s smallest fuel cell charger will power your phone with salt water
- Every phone from MWC 2016
- Samsung spins the Galaxy S7 performance roulette wheel
All the biggest news from Day One of the show
- The Samsung Galaxy S7 launch as it happened
- Why Samsung Pay is taking so long to get to the UK
- Samsung’s Gear 360 camera is the next step in virtual reality
- Mark Zuckerberg: VR is the next social platform – Oh, and Minecraft is coming to VR!
- The box for Alcatel’s new smartphone is actually a VR headset
- The HTC Vive price has been revealed
- Samsung Pay hits 5m registered users – how does it compare to Apple?
- LG G5 officially announced with a metal, modular design
- LG enters VR race with a headset that connects to the G5
- LG designer hates Oculus and HTC Vive, outlines plan to ‘fix’ VR
Not one to be left out, there’s also chatter that HTC will give its next flagship phone an airing at MWC 2016.
HTC used MWC 2015 to launch the One M9, so it’s certainly not out of the question that it could repeat the trick this time around. Though with no press conference yet announced and talk of a launch in April or even May it’s looking likely that HTC will skip the show.
That’s unfortunate, but its next flagship should be worth the wait. The HTC One M10, whenever it arrives, will likely incorporate some of the design language of the HTC One A9, while retaining the solid Sense UI and ushering in further improvements in the camera, battery, screen and BoomSound departments. It’s also rumored to finally have a fingerprint scanner.
Microsoft has only recently lifted the lid on the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, so we won’t be seeing a flagship announcement from the Redmond firm. That doesn’t mean it won’t be doing anything at MWC 2016 though.
Its Windows 10 Mobile handset line-up is looking a little thin on the ground, with only the Lumia 550 and Lumia 650 joining the flagship duo, so we fully expect to see some mid-range offerings turn up sooner or later.
The latest rumors suggest we’ll see the launch of the Microsoft Lumia 750 or Lumia 850, or both, in Barcelona. That’s if they haven’t been cancelled, which has also been rumored.
MWC 2016: what we want to see
Every year techradar travels in force to cover MWC live and bring you all the latest news from the show. Mark it in your diary (Feb 22-Feb 25), submit your wish list in the comments and brace yourself for everything mobile. In the meantime, here’s what we want to see.
A truly bendable phone
Samsung and LG have teased us with the likes of the Galaxy S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ and the LG G Flex 2, but we want someone to take these ideas to the next step, with a bendable phone or at the very least a phone which makes good use of its curves. There’s talk that Samsung is readying a foldable phone for launch in early 2016, so it’s possible it could arrive at MWC.
But whether that or something else hopefully there’ll be at least one bendy phone at MWC 2016 and hopefully it will be a flagship, rather than being designed as a niche device.
Every new flagship smartphone
How about the Samsung Galaxy S7, HTC One M10, LG G5, Sony Xperia Z6 and Motorola Moto X (2016) all launching in Barcelona together? It would be the mobile holy grail.
It’s nothing more than a pipe dream, but seeing every major Android manufacturer drop a new flagship in Barcelona would cement MWC’s title as the most important technology conference of the year.
We’d be in dreamland, the crowds would love it and consumers will get to select from a bunch of top notch handsets at the same time, rather than having to wait weeks, or even months, for all the top players to show their hand.
Come on guys, one for all and all for one.
More Windows phones
Windows Phone has had a tough time up against the might of Android and iOS, but Windows 10 Mobile is finally here and it’s accompanied by the impressive Microsoft Lumia 950 and Microsoft Lumia 950 XL.
We probably won’t see any more new Microsoft flagships at the show, but hopefully a new OS will lead to a boost in popularity and with it a slew of new Windows Phone devices from other manufacturers at MWC 2016.
A brilliant Lumia camera phone
Remember the Nokia Lumia 1020? A solid smartphone with an absolutely stonking 41MP camera bolted on the rear. It’s about time the Lumia brand treated us to another super smartphone camera, and MWC 2016 would be the perfect venue.
With Microsoft now at the Lumia helm, there’s enough drive (and money) to push Windows Phone to the fore – and a cracking cameraphone will have everyone talking.
A stronger Chinese presence
Huawei and ZTE always have big stands at MWC, and MWC 2016 won’t be any different – but the devices they’re peddling are usually less eye-catching than the more established names.
We’d like to see a real flagship contender from each firm, which will actually launch in a timely fashion around the world (with prices revealed up front) and minus the weirdness the brands can sometimes suffer from.
We also want a solid presence from the likes of OnePlus, Oppo, Honor, Meizu and Xiaomi. These Chinese firms are producing high quality, low cost handsets which could give Samsung and co. some serious headaches if they manage to crack the Western market. Show us what you’re made of!
Bigger batteries rather than slimmer phones
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is a brilliant phone, but in focusing on design and making it as slim as possible Samsung forgot about one of the key things – good battery life, and many other manufacturers are almost as guilty of this.
We’ll happily take a thicker phone if it means a bigger battery, we’ll even pay a little more, so hopefully the powers that be, or the people that make, are listening, and many of the phones announced at MWC 2016 have great battery life.
As well as thicker batteries how about new batteries? The same type of juice packs have been powering our phones for years and the reality is that they’re just not very good.
New battery technology is being researched all the time and hopefully by MWC 2016 some of that will have gone past the research stage and been implemented into smartphones. Origami batteries anyone? Or how about super-fast charging ones?
We’re also hoping to see more phones at MWC 2016 adopt the new USB-C standard found on the OnePlus 2. It allows you to plug your charging cable in either way round – like Apple’s Lightning connector – for easy top ups at night. Thankfully a number of late 2015 phones have started using this, so we’re hopeful that the flagship crop at MWC will.
More power, without the heat
Each year we see ever more powerful phones, but this year the mobile chip of choice – the Snapdragon 810, has been subject to overheating concerns.
No-one wants a toasty phone, especially not when excessive heat can risk damaging the innards too, so we hope whatever phones are announced at MWC 2016 are even more powerful, but without the heat. This shouldn’t be a problem, in fact Fujitsu already claims to have the answer.
Given the bad press the Snapdragon 810 got we’re sure Qualcomm and the other processor manufacturers are making cooler chips a priority, so we’d say this is one thing that’s very likely.
An amazing Nokia tablet you can actually buy
Nokia (yes Nokia, not the Microsoft owned Lumia) teased us ever so cruelly at MWC 2015 with the gorgeous Nokia N1 tablet. It ran Android, looked like an iPad Mini and it’s fair to say at least one of us fell in love with it.
Now all we’re asking is for Nokia to give it a cheeky spec bump, a sweet software upgrade and actually make it available to buy outside of Asia and we’ll marry it in a heartbeat.
Smartwatches hitting their stride
It’s still early days when it comes to smartwatches. The latest ones like the LG Watch Urbane, the Samsung Gear S2, the Apple Watch and the Moto 360 (2015) are finally starting to look less like tech and more like fashion, but they still have a way to go before they’re likely to convince the masses to ditch their dumb-watches.
There needs to be other improvements too, with battery life key among them. We hope that by MWC 2016 many of the problems faced by smartwatches will have been solved and they’ll be ready for prime time.
We were hoping Google would show off Project Ara at MWC 2015, but sadly that didn’t happen and the company has now confirmed that it won’t be launching the hardware until sometime in 2016.
That could mean we’ll see it at MWC 2016 and given the long wait we hope that Google will hit the ground running with a whole heap of modular phones, or at least a whole heap of modules for phones.
Then we’ll be free to fix whatever the manufacturers inevitably get wrong/not to our tastes. No fingerprint scanner? Add one. Rubbish camera? Switch it for a better one. Battery too small? Put a bigger one in. And never buy a whole new phone again. Maybe.
Surprises are always fun. Well, not always, there was that one time with the trampoline and the custard, but we don’t talk about it.
When it comes to MWC more powerful devices are a given, new phones from HTC and Samsung are likely and everything else we’ve hoped for, well, we already hope for it, so it won’t be much of a surprise.
So surprise us assorted tech makers. Bring us something we can’t predict. Just make sure it’s not something rubbish. And there’s no custard. We never want to see custard again.