MWC 2020 is cancelled: everything you need to know about what happens next

MWC 2020
(Image credit: TechRadar)

MWC 2020 – that's Mobile World Congress 2020, to give it its full name – was set to run from February 24-27, but it has now been cancelled after health concerns in the wake of the coronavirus. 

The GSM Association (GSMA), the company that organizes the show, has decided to cancel the whole event after a variety of companies including Sony, LG and HMD Global, pulled out of the show.

A statement from the GSMA said the organizers came to the conclusion that the show was "impossible" to hold after recent events.

GSMA CEO, John Hoffman, said, “With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event."

Hoffman continued, "The Host City Parties respect and understand this decision. The GSMA and the Host City Parties will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions. Our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world.”

The coronavirus is a virus that has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). On February 12, 2020, there were 45,171 confirmed cases of the virus around the world, according to a WHO report.

MWC was cancelled on February 12, 2020, less than two weeks ahead of when the event was set to take place. We were originally expecting devices from manufacturers like Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo, and many more.

What does this mean for new phones?

The show is no longer going ahead, but many manufacturers may still launch their products in alternative ways rather than attending Barcelona.

For example, Sony has confirmed it will go ahead with its launch of a new phone - which we expect to be the flagship Xperia 2 - through a YouTube video at the time the company's press conference was meant to go ahead.

Sony Xperia 1

The Sony Xperia 1 that was launched at MWC 2019 (Image credit: Future)

Many manufacturers have yet to announce firm plans as the cancellation has only just happened at the time of writing, but we know that LG and HMD Global - the company behind Nokia smartphones - intend to make their planned announcements at some point in the future, and we'd assume that would be the case for all brands with new devices to announce and show.

We'll update this piece with more information on firm plans for launches once we know them, from companies such as Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, and many more.

Will MWC 2020 be rescheduled?

The GSMA has yet to comment on future events, but it looks unlikely that it will be rescheduling the show at a later date considering the organizer's main statement.

Ben Wood, a mobile analyst from CCS Insight consultancy, said, "The GSMA has been a victim of circumstances out of its control and it’s a huge disappointment the show will not go ahead this year.”

“The impact on small companies who have invested a disproportionate amount of their budgets and time on this event should not be under-estimated. MWC is an anchor event for many and now they face the challenge of having to figure out the best way to salvage something from this difficult situation.”

Does the cancellation cause problems for MWC 2021? Again, this is uncertain.

Wood said, “The GSMA now needs to be careful that there is not a knock-on effect from this year’s cancellation. Major companies and many attendees will be reviewing the importance of MWC to their business and the GSMA must work hard to have a clear path forward. 

"This is particularly true for smaller business that have had to swallow many of the costs from this year’s show.”

Companies that had previously cancelled MWC 2020 attendance

The following companies are among those that had withdrawn from MWC 2020 before the announcement of the show being cancelled.

  • Amazon
  • Amdocs
  • AT&T
  • BT
  • Cisco
  • Deutsche Telekom
  • Ericsson
  • Facebook
  • HMD Global
  • Intel
  • LG
  • McAfee
  • MediaTek
  • Nokia
  • NTT Docomo
  • Nvidia
  • Orange
  • Rakuten
  • Royole
  • Sony
  • Sprint
  • Vivo
  • Vodafone
  • Western Digital

TCL and ZTE had previously cancelled their MWC 2020 press conferences, but still planned on making an appearance at the show.

James Peckham

James is the Editor-in-Chief at Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.