MWC 2017: what to expect from Barcelona's massive phone show

LG G6, Huawei P10, Nokia 3310 and more

Update: MWC 2017 is just days away and there are a whole heap of phones, tablets and wearables we're expecting to see at the show.

MWC expected launches

- LG G6
- Huawei P10
- Huawei P10 Plus
- Huawei Watch 2
- Moto G5
- Nokia 3310
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
- Samsung Galaxy TabPro 2
- Sony Xperia X2

MWC 2017, or Mobile World Congress 2017 to give it its full name, is the world’s biggest phone show, and this year it’s happening from February 27 to March 2, so there's really not long to wait.

Many of 2017’s most high-profile handsets are likely to be announced over the course of the show, including the Sony Xperia X2, Huawei P10 and LG G6; but it’s not just phones that we’ll see, with tablets, smartwatches and more likely to be on show too.

We’ve collected all the news, rumors and speculation on what we’re expecting to see at MWC 2017, so read on below for our constantly updated guide to what to expect – and what we want to see.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The biggest phone show of 2017
  • When is it? February 27 – March 2 in Barcelona

LG G6

One of many leaked LG G6 images (credit: Evan Blass)

The LG G6 will launch at MWC 2017, with LG holding a press conference on February 26 to reveal the phone.

Thing is, there may not be a whole lot to announce as LG has already confirmed a host of G6 details ahead of the launch event.

We already know the LG G6 will have a 5.7-inch QHD+ FullVision display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, a metal frame, dust- and water-resistant body, dual 13MP rear cameras and the new LG UX 6.0 interface.

The LG G6 is also rumored to pack a Snapdragon 821 chipset and fast wireless charging, but one thing it won't have is the G5’s modular capabilities.

And if you're after something smaller, it looks like LG could have an LG G6 Compact and other handsets on the way too.

Sony Xperia X2, XZ 2 and more

The latest leaks suggest Sony will be unleashing a whopping five smartphones at MWC, two of which are said to be high-end handsets. 

That means we could get the Sony Xperia XZ 2 and Sony Xperia X2 in Barcelona this year.

The Xperia XZ only launched fairly recently, but Sony often brings out multiple high-end phones in a single year, and we did get the Xperia X and Xperia XA at MWC 2016.

Rumors suggest the highest-end of Sony's upcoming phones will have a 5.5-inch 4K screen, a Snapdragon 835 chipset and 4GB or 6GB of RAM, though a separate leak suggests that while this phone is in the works, it won't arrive at MWC.

In which case the highest end Sony phone on show could be the next one down, which will apparently have a 5.5-inch QHD screen, 4GB of RAM and either a Snapdragon 835 or a Snapdragon 653 chipset.

Further down the list there's a phone apparently launching with a 5.2-inch 1080p screen, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a 23MP main camera and a 16MP front-facing one, and a handset listed as having a 5.0-inch 720p display, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 16MP rear camera and an 8MP front-facing one.

It's possible that one of these is the Xperia XA 2, which is also rumored to be coming to MWC 2017. The below render shows off the apparent design, and it looks much like the original Xperia XA.

It looks like it will launch in red, gold, silver and blue while using USB-C technology for charging and data transfer.

Samsung

A new Samsung Galaxy flagship is often the highlight of MWC, but this year it seems we'll have to go without, as the company has confirmed that the Samsung Galaxy S8 won't be present, which also means you can count the Galaxy S8 Edge out.

That's a shame, as we're expecting big things from the Galaxy S8, with rumors of a dual-lens camera, a 4200mAh battery, a powerful Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 chipset, 6GB of RAM, an iris scanner, an AI assistant and a curved QHD or 4K screen. 

But hopefully we won't be waiting too much longer, as most rumors now point to an April launch. And at the very least we might see a teaser video of the S8 at MWC.

And it's possible Samsung will use MWC to show off something else - there's talk of two foldable phones coming from Samsung this year for a start, though they probably won't arrive until late 2017 if at all.

More likely, we'll see the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, which is set to be a high-end iPad Pro rival.

Huawei P10

Both the Huawei P10 and Huawei P10 Plus are now confirmed to be announced at MWC 2017.

Spec rumors include a 5.5-inch curved QHD screen, a metal body, a fingerprint scanner and a dual-lens camera, plus potentially 6GB of RAM, 256GB of storage and an octa-core Kirin 960 chipset.

HTC 11

While the HTC 11 was rumored for MWC 2017, it now looks unlikely that we'll see it there, as HTC has suggested as much, and as the company already has a new high-end handset in the form of the HTC U Ultra.

Rumors about the phone are starting to build though, with talk of a 5.5-inch QHD edge-to-edge screen, a metal body, a Snapdragon 835 chipset, a 12MP camera and a big 3700mAh battery.

Those specs would make for a true top-end phone, but we're also hearing more out there rumors that could make the HTC 11 extra special if they're accurate. These include talk of a massive 8GB of RAM, a curved screen and 256GB of storage.

Even more ambitiously, the HTC 11 might sport ‘Sense Touch’ – a feature shown off in a leaked video, which allows you to interact with the handset by swiping or tapping the metal frame along the edge of the phone.

Possible interactions include tapping to take a picture, or swiping to adjust the volume or change the brightness.

Hello Moto (again)

Now under the watchful eye of Lenovo, the Motorola brand has enjoyed the past few years, tearing up the budget end of the market and more recently making a convincing play at the high-end as well with its Moto Z fleet of devices.

There could be even more phones (and perhaps wearables as well) on the cards too with Motorola sending out a save the date invite for an event on Sunday, February 26 in Barcelona.

The latest rumors suggest it will be time to see the budget line of Motorola devices. Expect to hear word of the Moto G5 and maybe even Moto G5 Plus and Moto G5 Play.

New Nokias

Yes, you read that right - Nokia. The phone division of the famous brand is now owned by HMD, and it has sent out 'save the date' invites for an event on Sunday, February 26 in Barcelona.

The invite says we'll see the 'next exciting chapter' from Nokia - and while it doesn't go into detail about what exactly that means, we're hoping for a few new smartphones with Android on board.

It's already launched the Nokia 6 in China, and rumors of a flagship Nokia 8 handset are doing the rounds online - so we're keeping our fingers crossed for at least two new smartphones bearing the legendary name.

Loads of other phones

Along with a selection of high-profile flagships we’re sure to see several low-end to mid-range phones, as well as high-end ones from less well known brands.

HTC and LG both unveiled several handsets at MWC 2016, while Alcatel, Microsoft, Xiaomi, Meizu and HP also had phones on show. We won’t necessarily see the same selection of brands in 2017, but we’d expect a wide range of handsets will be present.

One company we're not expecting to see is Xiaomi, as it's apparently skipping the show.

Smartwatches, tablets and more

While MWC tends to mostly be about the phones, that’s not all that gets announced, with tablets, VR headsets, smartwatches and other devices also often revealed.

This could include the aforementioned Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, the long-awaited Sony Xperia Z6 Tablet (likely with a new name), the Huawei Watch 2, and a handful of new LG smartwatches.

What we want to see

We've covered what we expect to see, but there's plenty more that we want to see and the following five things top our list.

A foldable phone

It feels like we say this every year, but we’re going to keep saying it until it happens, and it actually might happen this year, as Samsung is rumored to be launching two foldable handsets in 2017, though not necessarily at MWC.

There have been foldable concept and prototype phones popping up for years and with curved displays now a mainstream thing this is the obvious next step. If a commercially available folding phone launches at MWC it could easily be one of the highlights of the show.

Long-lasting batteries

This is the other thing we’re always wishing for, and while the occasional handset will come along that can stretch to two days of life, such phones are few and far between.

Hopefully at MWC 2017 we’ll see high-profile handsets that put a long-lasting battery ahead of ever slimmer designs. Wireless and fast charging have become more common features in recent years, but they’re no substitute for a battery that simply doesn’t need charging as often.

4K displays

4K screens on smartphone sized displays are unnecessary for general use, but with Samsung pushing its Gear VR platform, Google launching Daydream and many smartphone makers having VR headsets of their own, it’s clear that virtual reality is going to become an increasingly big part of the smartphone experience, and when you’ve got a phone strapped to your face every pixel helps.

All the flagships

MWC 2017 will only be as memorable as the phones that make an appearance, so it would be great to see a wide range of flagships. This would also give prospective buyers a clear view of their options, rather than making them wait for other flagships to be announced later in the year, or risk missing out.

An exciting Android tablet

It’s been a long time since the last truly exciting Android tablet, and it would be great if a real iPad Pro rival showed up at MWC 2017.

If one does it’s likely to be made by Sony or Samsung, as other than the Pixel C and the dormant Nexus range they’re the biggest players in Android tablets. We’re not particularly expecting one, but it would be a nice surprise.

  • One thing we won't see at MWC is the iPhone 8

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps.