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MWC 2017: What you can expect from the world’s biggest smartphone show

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If you want to see new smartphones, Mobile World Congress – MWC – is the place to be. Taking place in Barcelona between 27 February and 2 March, the huge event normally sees most of the main smartphone vendors release their latest phones, from flagships to entry-level models.

However, there’s more than just smartphones at MWC 2017. The show also sees a lot of launches of other mobile technology, such as tablets and smartwatches. And there’s an enterprise angle, too, as high-end communications companies look to sell billions of dollars of infrastructure and equipment.

So what can you expect to see at MWC 2017? Here’s our list of the likely – and less likely – candidates.

Samsung: Samsung Galaxy S8

The biggest event at MWC is usually the launch of Samsung’s flagship phone, with this year’s model likely to be called the Samsung Galaxy S8. Leaked images have already appeared purporting to show the device with no home button, as well as an AI assistant and much more.

But there’s one cloud on the horizon with the Galaxy S8, and that’s the awful fate of the Galaxy Note 7. Samsung has yet to release its full conclusions on why Note 7 proved to be such a safety problem, but no matter what the issue was, the company will be keen to ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen with its next flagship. 

And that’s why Samsung’s president of mobile, Koh Dong-jin, has told Reuters that the Samsung Galaxy S8 would not be ready to launch at February’s Mobile World Congress. When the S8 is likely to appear isn’t known, but we wouldn’t expect it to be more than a month or two after the show. 

HTC: HTC 11

It’s been widely expected that HTC would launch a flagship phone dubbed the HTC 11 at MWC. However, the launch of the HTC U Ultra and U Play at CES almost certainly mean that we won’t see another smartphone from the company at MWC.

LG: LG G6

LG has already put out a teaser for its next phone, likely to be called the LG G6. Reports indicate the phone will have a 5.7in 1,440 x 2,880 Quad HD+ panel, with a 18:9 aspect ratio and thin bezel.

What the LG G6 won’t be, though, is modular. The LG G5, which we called the “cleverest smartphone of 2016” had more than a few teething troubles – enough, it seems, to persuade LG that its next phone should have a more conventional design.

Sony: Sony Xperia XZ2

It’s not that long since Sony launched the Xperia XZ, so you might expect that MWC would be too soon for an Xperia XZ2. But this is Sony we’re talking about, a company that isn’t afraid to launch a lot of phones over the course of the year – after all, the XZ was the third smartphone of 2016, after the Xperia X and XA, which it launched at last year’s MWC.

Huawei: Huawei P10

We loved the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus, so we’re hopeful that the recent invites to a Huawei MWC event therald a new flagship phone. Leaks have suggested that the P10 will include a 5.5in QHD display, Android 7 and a 2.3GHz octa-core processor, plus Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant built in. Hopefully, it will also regain the Leica-endorsed camera system too.

Apple?

One thing’s for sure: we won’t be seeing anything from Apple at MWC. The company follows its own calendar and agenda and simply doesn’t exhibit at this kind of show. However, Apple may be “involved” in MWC in two other ways.

First, Apple isn’t averse to targeting its competitors by doing “spoiler” releases around the same time. We won’t see a new iPhone, and we expect the iPhone 8 to arrive at the usual time later this year. But it’s possible that we might see something like a new iPad around the same time, albeit not at the show itself.

The other way MWC and Apple are intertwined is just down to rumours. MWC is the largest concentration of phone system engineers on the planet. If you have anything to do with the supply chains that feed all the mobile-phone makers, you’re probably going to be there.

This means it’s fertile ground for leaks, gossip and rumours, so you can expect a flurry of information originating in the supply chain to come out of Barcelona. Even when Apple isn’t there, the company will still be a topic of conversation.

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