If last year’s Mobile World Congress trade show was a Royal Rumble of phones, this year’s conference is more akin to WrestleMania — if.
The 2017 edition of MWC faced a giant hole when Samsung opted to launch its Galaxy S8 at a later, separate event at Carnegie Hall in New York. That vacuum gave comeback kids BlackBerry and Nokia the opportunity to shine.
But Samsung’s back, and no one else really wants to play.
While MWC has been a nexus of discussion about future tech like 5G, virtual reality and really, really wonky network terminology, it’s a must-see for any handset fanatic because that’s where you’re likely to see some of the biggest phones of the year. The event, which brings handset makers, wireless carriers and equipment manufacturers to Barcelona, is like CES, but completely focused on mobile.
This year promises to be different, though, with Samsung grabbing virtually all of the attention. Its crosstown rival, LG, has dropped its long-standing tradition of holding a big press conference to unveil its latest flagship phone, while other companies like Motorola, HTC and Huawei are keeping their own marquee devices away from the show.
Still, it’ll by no means be a ghost town. Here are some of the big phone stories we’re expecting to see at the show, which officially kicks off on Monday.
Samsung, Samsung, Samsung
It’s no secret that Samsung will be releasing its Galaxy S9. (What else is it going to call its next phone?)
The promotional teases have all focused on the camera, which is a smart bet given how much we care about selfies now. The question is whether Samsung will be able to get consumers excited about a phone that doesn’t appear to have many significant physical changes.
But hey, if it works for Apple, why not Samsung?
To monopolize the spotlight, Samsung will hold its unveiling on Sunday, a day before the conference starts.
Can Nokia surprise again?
Nokia was the darling of MWC 2017 thanks in large part to the return of the classic Nokia 3310. Finnish startup HMD, which is stocked with former Nokia executives and has licensed the brand, will have to work hard to repeat the magic from last year.