BARCELONA, Spain—The Mobile World Congress trade show here is always the scene of a wide range of phone and device introductions, and this year was no exception. Companies ranging from LG to Huawei to Lenovo dropped their new wares on MWC attendees, in spades.
Further, new entrants to the scene like HMD Global and TCL brought back favorites from the past (Nokia and BlackBerry, respectively), adding a bit of nostalgia to this year’s show.
Of course, the industry’s biggest players remained silent, as expected. Apple traditionally announces its new iPhone during its own event in the fall, though this week the Wall Street Journal reported that the next iPhone will feature a curved screen. And Samsung decided to forgo its annual unveiling of its latest Galaxy S Android device and instead used its booth to hype its own event in New York later this month, where it is expected to announce its own Galaxy S8 phone.
Nonetheless, it’s worth taking a look at some of the bigger phone launches during the show to get a sense of what was announced and what these devices mean for each vendor.
The LG G6 is the latest flagship Android device from LG, and a number of U.S. wireless carriers announced they will sell the gadget, including AT&T (though AT&T didn’t say how much the device would cost when it hits store shelves). The G6 sports a 5.7-inch Quad HD+ FullVision screen, with a narrow bezel, alongside Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 processor and 13-megapixel rear cameras and a 3300mAh battery.
China’s TCL recently licensed the BlackBerry brand for its own phones, and at MWC the company took the wraps off its first major device based on the effort. The company’s new BlackBerry KeyOne sports the classic BlackBerry keyboard powered by Google’s Android operating system. The phone will cost roughly $549 and sports Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 processor powering a 4.5-inch, 1620x1080 display.
Lenovo’s Motorola announced the latest phone in its low-cost G series of devices, the G5 Plus. The Android gadget features a 5.2-inch Full HD display and a 3000mAh battery with TurboPower charging technology, and will sell for just over $200. However, during its press event here at MWC, Motorola put much more emphasis on its line of Moto Mod snap-on phone accessories, which currently only work with the company’s Moto Z flagship phone, potentially indicating that Motorola may add Moto Mod functionality to the G line sometime in the future.
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium is one of several phones at MWC that runs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor. (The ZTE Gigabit phone does also.) As research firm CCS Insight pointed out, the chip is intended to support up to 1 Gbps speeds over LTE networks. “We believe the technology is an important stepping stone to 5G as it allows operators to evaluate usage of high-bandwidth applications on their existing 4G networks,” the firm wrote. The Sony Xperia XZ Premium sports a range of high-end specs including 4 GB of RAM and 19-megapixel cameras.
The new Huawei P10 stands as Huawei’s latest effort to cement its position as one of the world’s largest smartphone vendors, a noteworthy position considering no U.S. wireless carrier sells the company’s devices. The new Android-powered P10 features a 5.1-inch display and a 3200mAh battery, alongside 20-megapixel cameras.
HMD Global, the company that recently inked a deal with Nokia to bring Nokia-branded phones back to the market, announced a handful of new Android-powered Nokia phones at MWC. However, the company’s decision to bring back the Nokia 3310, a feature phone that the company boasts is the world’s best-selling phone model ever, stands out amid an industry awash in Android-powered rectangles. “It comes as little surprise that there has been such a huge wave of nostalgia in response to the launch of this new spin on a classic device,” wrote the analysts at CCS Insights. “It's a smart move by HMD Global to resurrect it. Even if the new device sells in only moderate volumes, the publicity it is likely to generate will be hugely valuable as HMD Global tries to reinvigorate the Nokia brand for its portfolio of smartphones. It will be interesting to see if the new device becomes the must-have retro-chic gadget. It might even spark a craze of people using it to embark on a ‘digital detox’ at weekends.”