Mobile World Congress 2020: What to expect from the world’s largest mobile show, or not
Mobile World Congress (MWC) is the biggest mobile event of the year. The show sees the launch of many of the year’s top smartphones, smartwatches and tablets, as well as seeing the emergence of the hottest new trends in mobile, such as 5G.
Generally speaking, all the big brands attend MWC in one way or another. The exception is Apple, although the trends outlined at MWC very much include the iPhone.
The discussion around MWC in 2020 is starting to be wrapped in the coronavirus outbreak, which is likely to have an impact on some company’s plans at the show – and we’ve added a list of these who have confirmed that they are pulling out of the show.
What and when is Mobile World Congress?
MWC is an annual trade show run by the GSMA. The location theoretically moves around Europe, but for many years it has been held in Barcelona, Spain.
For 2020 the show runs from 24-27 February – those being the dates when the show is active, the keynotes are running and the exhibition halls are open. However, many of the big announcements will happen at the press conferences on Sunday 23 February.
Outside of the consumer sphere, it also draws in many of the industry heavyweights to talk about the future of mobile, like 5G, mobile hardware, VR and other associated technologies.
Who has dropped out of Mobile World Congress 2020 due to coronavirus?
The coronavirus spread has been headline news through the early weeks of 2020 and as we approach the dates that Mobile World Congress was due to be held, a number of companies have decided not to participate.
That decision is based around reducing the potential spread of coronavirus; Mobile World Congress attracts over 100,000 global visitors and the mobile industry is heavily linked to China, which has been the epicentre of the outbreak.
Although the GSMA is currently still planning to host the show and is taking measures to ensure the health and safety of participants, Spanish media is reporting that the show might be cancelled. We’ve heard nothing official about that so far. We have contacted the GSMA but have not received a reply.
The following companies have confirmed that they are no longer taking part in MWC 2020:
- LG Electronics
- HMD Global
- Sony Mobile
- Western Digital
Samsung also has said that it’s reducing its presence at the show.
What will launch (or was scheduled to launch) at Mobile World Congress 2020?
Sony Mobile at MWC 2020
- ONLINE ONLY: 24 February, 08:30 CET
Sony Mobile always launches new handsets at MWC and we’re expecting a flagship update for 2020, most likely building on the Xperia 1. Sony has officially withdrawn from MWC, but it will be hosting a online press conference to launch its new products. That might be an Xperia 2 (or the Xperia 1 second-gen) and we’ve also seen the name Xperia 5 Plus floating around. It’s likely to be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865. There’s also rumour of a mid-range Snapdragon 765 device, but very little to go on in that regard, perhaps an Xperia 10 update. Some commentators are saying that we’ll see three new phones.
Xiaomi at MWC 2020
- 23 February, 11:30 CET
We’d previously heard that the Xiaomi Mi 10 will be launching with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 and subsequently we’ve learnt that there are likely to be a number of versions of this phone – the Mi 10, Mi 10 Pro and possible a Mi 10 Explorer Edition. It will be unveiled in China via an online event on 13 February, but the company will also host its global event in Barcelona on 23 February to launch those devices into Europe.
Nokia (HMD Global) at MWC 2020
HMD Global who makes Nokia phones has withdrawn from MWC and won’t be launching its devices, or attending the show. The company has said it will update us on when it will announce its new products in the near future. We’ve heard that Nokia will be launching an affordable 5G handset in 2020, on the Snapdragon 765 platform. It’s reported to be called the Nokia 8.2, but few details are currently known. We’re expecting updates across its range of affordable Android One phones, perhaps with a Nokia 5.2 launching – and we’re also expecting a Nokia Originals, a new version of a classic Nokia phone.
Oppo at MWC 2020
- 22 February, 14:00 CET
Oppo has confirmed it will launch the Oppo Find X2 at Mobile World Congress in 2020 and we’re likely to see the global launch of the Oppo Reno 3 Pro. The Find X2 is rumoured to sit on the Snapdragon 865 platform. It’s also rumoured to have a camera under the display for a notch-free finish.
LG at MWC 2020
LG has confirmed that it’s withdrawing from Mobile World Congress because of the coronavirus and won’t launch the anticipated new devices at the event – rumoured to be the LG G9 ThinQ and LG V60. LG has confirmed it will be holding launch events at another time.
Huawei at MWC 2020
- 23 February, 14:00 CET
Huawei has had a strange year and with no end to the stand-off with the US in sight, it’s hard to predict what might happen at MWC. Rumours suggest that the Huawei P40 and P40 Pro will be announced in March 2020, so anything that Huawei does at MWC is likely to be around other devices – perhaps a MateBook laptop or maybe the updated folding phone, the Huawei Mate Xs.
Honor at MWC 2020
- 24 February, 17:30 CET
Honor was the first company to confirm an event at Mobile World Congress, with a showcase on 24 February where it will be showing off devices it is launching in Europe, including the View 30 Pro and the 9X Pro.
Motorola at MWC 2020
- 23 February, 18:30 CET
Motorola is holding a press event and rumours are suggesting that it’s going to be launching a flagship device called the Motorola Edge. This might be joined by the Moto Edge+, although it might actually be called the Moto One 2020. At any rate, we’re expecting a Motorola flagship phone. There’s also the Moto G8 that is expected. It could be a big show for Moto!
Qualcomm at MWC 2020
- 24 February, 10:00 CET
Qualcomm will be powering many of the flagship devices that get launched around the time of MWC 2020 and will likely have a big presence at the show. While it’s already announced its core smartphone hardware for 2020, the company has already teased that it will be showing off a reference design for its next-gen expanded reality headset, powered by the new Snapdragon XR2.
TCL at MWC 2020
TCL has cancelled its press conference at Mobile World Congress, but will still be attending the show. We have no idea what the company will be launching, and there are few clues – but it certainly won’t be a BlackBerry.