The 2014 Mobile World Congress trade show, the biggest of the year for mobile news, kicks off next Monday, Feb. 24 in Barcelona, Spain. The show is always full of surprises: it's where we hear about new device announcements, new technology coming into the mobile space, fresh apps and more. Nearly everyone in the mobile industry flocks to Barcelona this time of year for that reason and, in addition to boatloads of of jamón, there's more news in just one week than in most of the year combined.
It's where we expect to see all kinds of devices, from flagships to prototypes, that eventually filter their way down to carriers around the globe, and it's often our first time to go hands-on with tech that may not hit your pocket for many months. It's exciting to say the least, and thankfully we have an idea of what to expect going into the show.
Let's examine a few of the major phone makers to see what's in store. To help you picture some of the leaks we're discussing, we've included a gallery of the devices in question above each section.
Samsung – The Long Awaited Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Gear 2 Expected
Last year Samsung held a separate event to unveil the Galaxy S4, but this year the company has dropped enough hints that we're pretty certain we're going to see its Galaxy S5 during the show. Unpacked 5 kicks off on Feb. 24, where Samsung will likely discuss its new flagship and hopefully a few other products. We've already told you what to expect from the Galaxy S5, though we're still curious what kind of display it will offer and if it will launch in plastic and metal variants. We may also hear about several new Galaxy Gear smartwatches, including one that runs Tizen instead of Android. Additionally, Samsung make take some time to show off some new tablets – though we doubt they'll be the main focus point.
Sony – Xperia Z2 and Xperia Tablet Z2 Possible
Sony is also holding a press conference on Monday, Feb. 24, the same day that Samsung's Unpacked 5 event will take place. The firm already introduced a new phone during CES 2014, the Xperia Z1 Compact, but there's also hope that we'll see the Xperia Z2 "Sirius" flagship make an appearance. We've seen a few leaks suggesting it will have a slightly larger 5.2-inch screen and will run a new version of Sony's custom software in addition to Android 4.4 KitKat. Also, a few images of the alleged Xperia Tablet Z2 tablet have surfaced in the past several days, suggesting that, too, will be a topic of conversation. Sony may also take its time on stage to introduce some new mid-range or lower-end handsets, though we're only speculating on that.
LG – G2 Mini, G Pro 2, L Series Devices
LG has already been rather vocal about its plans for Mobile World Congress. It recently unveiled the G Pro 2, the third generation of L-Series smartphones and the G2 mini. We'll have time to check out all of these devices in person and bring back impressions, but right now we aren't expecting any other major surprises from Samsung's biggest Android competitor. It's possible the G3 will make an appearance, though we think it might be too soon for that phone, and LG may want to unveil that at a standalone even in the coming months. Software enhancements will play a big role for LG during the show, and we're excited to check out its new Knock Code password feature and other enhancements to Android 4.4 KitKat.
Nokia – Android and the Nokia X
These days Nokia is best known for its Windows Phone handsets, but, oddly enough, it appears like the company is about to unveil its first Android smartphone during the show. The company has hinted support for rumors that the phone will be called the Nokia X, and we expect to hear a lot about the strategy behind why it chose Android instead of Windows Phone – and what Microsoft's reactions to the move are. Right now the best explanation seems to be that Android will be the better choice for emerging smartphone markets such as India where it's already in testing. We don't expect access to Google Play Services, and instead a custom forked version of Android with Nokia's own app store and a flood of Microsoft apps.
HTC – Sitting on the Sidelines Ahead of All New One Launch
HTC just announced that it's holding a press event on March 25, where we are almost certain the company will announce the successor to the HTC One, rumored to carry the name: The All New One. That said, the company still has a press event during MWC where we should hear news on its strategy moving forward and, perhaps, more discussion on its decision to move more aggressively into the mid-range market, where we may soon see the Desire 8. We think all of the discussion around the HTC M8 and the M8 Mini will be saved for March 25, including any talk of Sense 6 and what HTC is doing on the software front. Who knows, though? There's always room for surprises.
Motorola – Discussion About Transition to Lenovo Expected
Motorola has a press conference on Tuesday night, and we honestly don't know what's in store. The company is in the midst of a transition from ownership under Google to its new home under Lenovo's roof, so we don't really expect any new smartphones just yet. The Moto X and Moto G are still widely available – perhaps we'll see a new addition, but we doubt it. Our best bet is that we're going to hear about the company's strategy moving forward with Lenovo, and what's going on with future development and the new markets Motorola will enter, like China, where Lenovo said it will begin selling Moto devices.
This is my third MWC show for TechnoBuffalo (there I am above, on the banner), and my fourth altogether. If there's one thing I know, it's that Mobile World Congress will surely be home to plenty of surprises. Wearables were hot during CES 2014, and it's possible we'll see even more next week. We also can't forget about underlying technologies, new software, new uses for NFC, accessories and more that will be discussed. We also hope to hear news on Tizen and its 15 new partners, Ubuntu Touch and other operating systems that are still minuscule compared to the bigger players. We'll be bringing you as much coverage as humanly possible, so be sure to check back often for news all throughout next week.