Mobile World Congress 2019: Expect More Foldable phones, 5G

The first 5G-enabled smartphones and foldable devices are set to make an appearance at the Mobile World Congress 2019 also known as MWC Barcelona on February 25-28, 2019 at Barcelona, Spain.

Mobile World Congress is the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, showcasing the latest innovations and leading-edge technologies from more than 2,400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including software companies, handset and device makers, internet companies, and equipment providers, as well as organizations in adjacent industry sectors. The Mobile World Congress also incorporates a thought-leadership conference program assembling industry leaders discussing the hottest topics in the tech industry.

What do we expect from leading mobile companies?

Samsung

Samsung is announcing its devices before the MWC, but the company may have more in store for the event. The Samsung Galaxy S10 is reportedly set to have three variants: the S10, S10 Plus, and a cheaper S10E. Samsung is expected to improve on its cameras this year to catch up in the competition, as it has lagged behind Apple, Google, and Huawei in the past few years.

Three cameras on the rear for configurations like wide, ultrawide, and telephoto lenses, packing the biggest batteries yet, and a new ‘One UI’ for the new devices, are among the features Samsung is anticipated to showcase during the event. The company is also rumored to release a foldable phone, which has been expected for a long time, along with a new set of true wireless earbuds.

Huawei

After last year’s reveal on the P20 after the Mobile World Congress, Huawei is highly likely to reveal the P30 and P30 Pro only after MWC Barcelona. Reports state that the release of the P30 is strategically set to take down the Samsung Galaxy S10. In terms of cameras, the P30 Pro takes the competition one step further with its quad camera. This only highlights how Samsung is far behind the company.


The P30 Pro is also expected to have an in-display fingerprint reader, which is the trend for 2019.

Nokia

Nokia is looking for a comeback with its Nokia 9 which one-ups everyone with its five rear cameras. The Nokia 9 first leaked in September, with the rear camera setup featuring seven holes, 5 for the cameras, one for the LED flash, and another one for a sensor cluster. The company promises that the phone can take five simultaneous shots which results in 10x more light captured compared to regular camera sensors. The company also promises that the phone will have an in-screen fingerprint reader, Qi wireless charging, and Android 9 Pie with two years of updates.

Nokia is reportedly calling this their flagship device, the highest-end phone from the brand. While Nokia is looking to capture the high-end market with this phone, experts doubt that its design can compete with the other flagship phones in the market.

LG

LG confirms that its flagship phone, G8, is set to be unveiled at MWC. It features a time-of-flight sensor, which reportedly offers fast and precise facial recognition. The time-of-flight camera uses infrared light to build a 3D model of the object and confirm its identity. The company also promises that the phone needs less processing power and uses less energy compared to other devices.


LG is also expected to forego traditional speakers for a vibrating screen, something that LG has been known to include in its other devices. Rumors also suggest that LG is preparing to announce the V50, only a few months after the release of its V40. The latest V-series phone is reported to be LG’s 5G phone, a more premium alternative to the G8.

OnePlus

Although OnePlus is not known for its MWC appearances, the company is looking to expand its portfolio and is expected to reveal two devices in the event. The company has discussed that it would release a 5G phone and a OnePlus TV.

The phone is reportedly a new line, not the rumored OnePlus 7, and is expected to cost more than the usual OnePlus phones. The OnePlus TV was teased back in September, promising to enable its users to stream content from their phones and use it as a smart display. It apparently includes a video camera, though OnePlus says it prepared a privacy solution.

Oppo

China-based Oppo has sent out media invites for its launch event at MWC 2019. The ‘Get Closer’ innovation event is scheduled on February 23 at 17:00 Dubai Time. The company confirmed that it is set to announce its first foldable smartphone, but it did not share further information. Oppo reportedly may have been allowed by Samsung to use its Infinity Flex Display.

Oppo’s 10x lossless zoom technology has also surfaced a few weeks ago in a patent, and the technology uses three cameras instead of two. In addition to the main camera and telephoto lens dual camera setup, an ultra-wide camera enhances the phone’s function by providing a zoom range of 15.9mm to 159mm.

Microsoft

Microsoft has also sent major invites for the event, despite its usual light presence. The company is expected to announce its HoloLens 2, its latest augmented reality headset and an upgrade to the original HoloLens which was announced way back in 2015.

The HoloLens 2 is reported to be a third version of the device after Microsoft decided to hold the second version for more substantial improvements. With the device, the company is looking to go more mainstream with the average users, other than being useful just in research and enterprises.

Xiaomi

Xiaomi scheduled for an event on February 24 and it is confirmed that it is set to unveil the Xiaomi Mi 9  at MWC. The phone features a 48MP camera at the back and is likely to be powered by the Snapdragon 855 platform, one of the first phones to use the latest mobile platform.

A nuanced view of industry experts

Talks and demonstrations on 5G-enabled smartphones and foldable devices are likely to dominate over MWC 2019 according to Thomas Husson, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester, a global market research firm.

"There is no denying that 5G is the infrastructure of the connected world, and precisely the reason why it is at the center of the economic and political war between the US and China," Husson told IANS. "However, the reality is that it will take another five to seven years before it reaches critical mass among consumers in most countries.

"While we will hear a lot about the first 5G smartphones, the challenge is to simultaneously roll-out the infrastructure and it will take time, especially in Europe where spectrum allocation remains a mess at a country level," he added.

"It is likely top smartphone brands will claim to have reinvented smartphone design. However, it will take longer for these foldable screens to reinvent the smartphone category and deliver differentiated experiences," said Husson.

According to a survey, operators expect a rollout at scale to take until 2022. They also see a marginally positive business case and they do not think the increase in the capital-expense-to-sales ratio is as big as the skeptics claim. These reflect similar conditions during the rollout of 3G in the early 2000s. The adoption of the technology was initially slow, with limited access and handsets expensive and scarce. At that time, the full network capability of 3G was only used when companies like BlackBerry and iPhone came several years after its launch.

Although the 5G technology is ready, it is expected not to be as revolutionary as its 4G predecessor. Until real ‘new’ use cases and business models integrating its development emerge, the 5G technology may only offer marginal benefits. However, the industry continues to wait for innovators to leverage this breakthrough to create new functional applications for both businesses and consumers.

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