Every year, tens of thousands of reporters, analysts, and suited-up businesspeople descend upon Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress trade show. Mobile World Congress, or MWC if you're in the know, is the largest trade show for mobile technology: phones, networks, hotspots, infrastructure, and more phones.
In recent years, MWC has been fairly sleepy, shifting from a consumer-centric show with big product launches to a more business-focused one that catered to infrastructure announcements. But this year it appears the show will swing back in the other direction: there are lots of companies that will be at MWC this year, and some major product announcements are expected to drop.
The fun starts on Sunday, and we'll be there covering it on the ground with hands-on reports, live blogs, video, and more. All of our coverage will be neatly organized in our special MWC 2015 hub (bookmark it!). But to whet your appetite for now, here are nine things plus one wildcard we expect to see at this year's MWC.
Expect phones. Lots and lots of phones.
Samsung will have two new phones
Like last year, Samsung is hosting a big press event on Sunday. Also like last year, Samsung’s announcements have largely leaked: it appears that the company will possibly announce two phones, one being the Galaxy S6 and the other being an Edge version with curved sides. There’s still a chance that Samsung has a surprise or two in store, so we’ll be there at Samsung’s Unpacked event to report it all.
HTC will have one new phone
HTC is also hosting a press event on Sunday, where it’s expected to announce the One M9, the successor to last year’s M8. In fact, the M9 is all but guaranteed to be announced, and it seems that virtually everything about the phone has already leaked, so we’ll have to see if the company has anything else up its sleeve for its press event. Perhaps it will pull out something related to its recent partnership with fitness clothing company Under Armour?
Mozilla will advance Firefox OS, a little
Mozilla often uses MWC to showcase new advancements in its Firefox OS platform, and sure enough, the company is hosting an event on Sunday to do just that. It’s not yet clear exactly what we’ll see there, but since Firefox is firmly positioned for entry-level markets, we don’t expect fireworks.
LG will show off a watch
LG doesn’t have nearly the presence of HTC or Samsung this year, and it just launched the G Flex 2 at CES in January. We’re not expecting much in the way of flagship devices, but LG has already announced updates to its mid-range phones. Oh, and maybe we’ll get a better look at LG’s Urbane LTE webOS (or is it?) smartwatch.
Microsoft may give us a closer look at Windows 10 on phones
Microsoft is hosting a press event on Monday morning where it will surely announce some new products. This is the first Mobile World Congress since Microsoft closed its acquisition of Nokia’s phone business, but we’re not expecting anything huge in terms of new hardware. Sources tell us that Microsoft will announce two mid-range Windows Phone handsets, a 5-inch Lumia 640, and a larger Lumia 1330. Chances are the only new Windows Phone devices we’ll see at MWC will be from Microsoft itself. But Microsoft is likely saving its higher-end phones for later this year when Windows 10 drops.
Google will give a keynote speech
Google doesn’t often make big announcements at trade shows, and it’s not done much of anything at MWC in year’s past. But this year, head of product Sundar Pichai is giving a 45-minute talk on Monday, and he could very well use that to announce some new products or initiatives.
Sony will show off a tablet
Sony usually uses CES for its big phone unveils, but it looks like the company will trot out a new Z4 tablet at this year's MWC. An early leak of the device shows a typical Sony design with an ultra-thin profile. Sony is also likely to announce new mid-range and low-end smartphones, but we’re not expecting a Z4 flagship phone at this show.
Motorola will show its low-end chops
Motorola just this week announced its second-generation Moto E, a welcome update to one of the best entry-level phones you can buy. Given that, we don’t expect the company to do much at MWC, and a press event is not planned.
BlackBerry will talk about future devices
In the past few months, BlackBerry finally started refreshing its device lineup, with the launch of the Passport and Classic before the end of 2014. CEO John Chen said at CES that it would be providing guidance on its future device plans at MWC, and the company has scheduled a press event for Tuesday where he’ll likely do just that. Rumors have said that despite committing itself back to hardware keyboards, BlackBerry is working on a new all-touchscreen device that it may show off next week.
Valve may surprise us with VR
Valve is a bit of a dark horse here. As a gaming company, it’s not usually associated with Mobile World Congress. But Valve will be at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, which runs concurrent to MWC, to show off new head-mounted virtual reality gear. That begs the question, what phone companies might Valve partner with for this head-mounted VR platform? It’s a long shot, but perhaps we’ll find out at MWC.