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MWC 2017: what to expect from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

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So many new phones

Mobile World Congress - Day 1 Photo by David Ramos / Getty Images

It’s time for the annual trip to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2017. MWC is essentially the CES of phones, and this year we’re looking forward to a lot of new gadgets that’ll be on the show floor. LG, Sony, Huawei, and other companies will use the big event as a showcase for their latest Android smartphones. We’re also expecting to hear 5G tossed around everywhere, and Android Wear 2.0 could pick up some fresh momentum as new smartwatches offer more choice beyond the iffy launch hardware. And get this: we’re likely to see new phones from BlackBerry and Nokia. In the year 2017.

This is my first time making the flight out to Spain with my MWC-tested colleagues, so my excitement is already ratcheted up to 11. Even so, 2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for phones with big screens and tiny bezels. Join us everywhere — the website and also on Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. — starting this weekend to follow along with all the news as it comes in. Here’s a shortlist of the major announcements we’re expecting in Barcelona.

LG seizes the spotlight

LG’s looking to erase the bad taste left by last year’s G5 flagship, which disappointed on build quality and premium feel all for a modular system that never went anywhere. In 2017, the company is looking for a hit with the more traditional G6. LG’s own teasers have confirmed a 2K display (with rounded corners and a fairly unique 18:9 aspect ratio), metal finish, water/dust resistance, and a dual-lens camera. It’s also been reported that the G6 will feature a Snapdragon 821 — not Qualcomm’s latest mobile chip, which is hard to come by.

LG G6

With Samsung not planning to unveil the Galaxy S8 for a few more weeks, LG’s latest flagship will likely be the standout phone of MWC. LG’s undoubtedly hoping it can prove to be a standout with consumers, as well.

Huawei will have both a new phone and a new watch

Huawei will unveil its P10 smartphone at MWC, though we’ve already got a very clear idea of what the device looks like thanks to Evan Blass. It’s got the Leica-branded dual-lens system that we’ve seen from Huawei’s last few major releases — but my, are those icons absolutely hideous.

Huawei’s also planning to announce the successor to one of 2016’s best Android Wear smartwatches. The Huawei Watch 2 is rumored to feature a much “sportier” look than the original. Here again, Evan Blass spoil’s Huawei’s surprise and reveals the dramatic departure that this watch takes from the classy, stylish appearance of last year’s model. Maybe it looks better in person...

A BlackBerry with a keyboard

MWC is where we’ll finally hear the full details on the next BlackBerry to feature a hardware keyboard, and the first of them to be manufactured by TCL. We’ve already seen plenty of the thing — codenamed Mercury — but know very little about its specific hardware specs and other new features BlackBerry might be hiding. TCL president Steve Cistulli is certainly excited for the trip to Spain.

More Moto

After weeks of leaked specs and images, Lenovo is likely to unveil the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus at MWC. The Moto Z lineup has been getting most of the attention lately, but remember that the G series is Moto’s best seller.

Ktronix (via Droid-Life)

They’re starting to look less and less like the phones of Moto’s past, but the G5 and G5 Plus should excite anyone hunting for a new smartphone at a mid-range price point. An online retailer has already confirmed that both have aluminum designs, 1080p displays, and expandable storage.

A new Sony flagship

LG isn’t the only one seeking a fresh start with its mobile division in 2017. Sony’s Xperia lineup of 2016 was rather underwhelming and failed to right the company’s ever-shrinking sales forecasts. Rumors have been all over the place for what Sony’s got planned, and none have seemed particularly reliable. Multiple phones could be on the way, with one featuring a 4K display and the latest Snapdragon chipset.

The return of a Nokia icon

Nokia is rumored to be resurrecting its classic 3310 mobile phone at MWC, but also reportedly plans to unveil some mid-tier Android smartphones for consumers who want something more than an invincible feature phone that can play Snake II. This is all part of Nokia’s comeback under HMD Global — but the company must find other ways to stand out beyond just hardware.

A Samsung Tab... and potential Galaxy S8 teaser

Samsung is likely to use Barcelona as the venue for its tablet ambitions while holding off a much grander reveal for later in March. We expect the company to announce the Galaxy Tab S3 at MWC. The tablet’s rumored specs include a 9.6-inch AMOLED display, Snapdragon 820, and support for Samsung’s S Pen stylus.

But the Galaxy S8 will not be unveiled at Mobile World Congress. Instead, Samsung is reportedly planning an announcement for late March in New York City. Hopefully we’ll get confirmation of that during Samsung’s MWC presentation as the company attempts to make a triumphant return from the Note 7 ordeal.