Updated: MWC 2016: what to expect

MWC 2016: what to expect

MWC 2015 is a distance memory, and we’re now just a mere few weeks away from the next installment of the biggest show in the smartphone calendar, Mobile World Congress, aka MWC 2016. It’s not just phones though, you can also expect to see a volley of new tablets and wearables.

Last year gave us hits such as the flagship HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphones, to the stylish Huawei Watch and the innovative Galaxy S6 Edge – and those are just some of the highlights.

If the current rumors are to be believed, we’re in for another bumper crop of smartphone action in Barcelona this year with Samsung, LG and HTC all tipped to be rolling out the big guns.

We’ll be reporting live from Barcelona to bring you all the latest from MWC 2016, and we can’t wait!

What is MWC 2016?

MWC, or Mobile World Congress to give it its full title, is one of the biggest events in the smartphone calendar. It’s right up there with Apple’s iPhone launches and Samsung’s Unpacked events.

It takes place in Barcelona towards the end of February/beginning of March and it sees the world’s manufacturers (minus Apple) descend on the Fira Gran Via for four days of mobile madness. MWC 2016 runs from February 22 to February 25.

Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S7

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.

Eyes are on the South Korean giant again this year, as the rumor mill goes into overdrive with Samsung Galaxy S7 leaks, claims and reports pointing towards an iterative update on the S6 arriving in Barcelona.

Battery life is a key concern again and it would be good if Samsung could return some of the features it cut from the S6, like a microSD card slot and a water resistant build.

Early rumors suggest it might do just that, or at least the microSD card bit. There’s also talk of either a Snapdragon 820 or Exynos M1 processor, a strong magnesium alloy build, a durable Turtle Glass display, pressure-sensitive 3D Touch-like technology and an even better camera.

We were given a treat last year though, as Samsung rolled out its S6 Edge variant too, and numerous leaks are pointing towards another duo this time around.

That means we could see the Galaxy S7 Edge turn up alongside the flagship S7, plus there’s murmurings that Samsung will also unveil its super sized Galaxy S7 Edge+ at the same time as well.

LG

Samsung Galaxy S7

While the talk of a new Samsung flagship is still hearsay at this point, its South Korean rival has been rather more direct with its ambitions for MWC 2016.

LG’s already sent out invites for its Barcelona press conference on February 21, confirming in the process that it will be taking the covers off its next flagship smartphone.

That can mean only one thing people, the LG G5 will launch at MWC 2016. Unless of course, LG decides to change its naming regime – but we think that’s pretty unlikely.

HTC

HTC One M9

Not one to be left out, there’s also chatter that HTC will give its next flagship phone an airing at MWC 2016 too.

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.

The HTC One M10, as we’re calling it for now, will hopefully 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 and BoomSound departments.

Microsoft

Microsoft Lumia 950

Microsoft’s 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 joining the flagship duo, so we fully expect to see some mid-range offerings turn up sooner or later.

The latest rumors suggesting we’ll see the launch of the Microsoft Lumia 750 or Lumia 850, or both in Barcelona.

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

Corning Willow Glass

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

Lumia 930

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

Nokia Lumia 1020

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

OnePlus 2

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

battery

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.

Battery innovation

battery icon

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

processor

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 N1

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

LG Watch Urbane

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.

Modular mayhem

Project Ara

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 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

MWC

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.

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