Smartphone obsessives only have days to wait until Mobile World Congress (MWC) kicks off once again.
A hotbed for all things mobile, the annual event kicks off in Barcelona on Monday, February 27 and continues through to Thursday, March 2.
Industry giants including Samsung, Huawei and OnePlus will be showcasing devices to attendees across eight exhibition halls at the Fira de Barcelona Gran Via.
While the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in January has a wider range of tech, MWC has a bigger focus on smartphones.
Here’s all you need to know about MWC this year as the event finally returns to full capacity following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mobile World Congress, an annual trade show dedicated primarily to mobiles, is held in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain at the Fira de Barcelona Gran Via
WHAT IS MWC?
MWC 2023: Attendees
…and many more
MWC is an industry trade show held every year in Barcelona at the Fira de Barcelona Gran Via, Spain.
The event’s origin traces back to a business conference in Brussels in 1987 on cellular radio before evolving to focus on smartphones and the mobile industry.
This year, fans can expect the launch of new phones, tablets, laptops and hybrids, as well as associated technologies such as 5G and virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR).
‘MWC Barcelona has long been the place for the mobile industry to convene,’ said Mats Granryd, director General of event organiser GSM Association (GSMA).
‘This year, we are going beyond “mobile” providing an unmissable space to unleash tomorrow’s technology, today.’
MWC usually attracts more than 100,000 visitors – although this took a hit during Covid.
Last year, it had around 60,000 attendees, but this was only around half of its pre-pandemic capacity.
MWC 2021 was pushed back to the end of June and only had around 30,000 attendees while the 2020 edition was cancelled entirely, but in 2023 it aims to be close to full capacity once again.
Samsung’s Galaxy S23 is advertised at the MWC site in Barcelona prior to the start of the event
‘Unleash the power of magic’: Chinese brand Honor is expected to show off two new smartphones at MWC
WHO WILL BE ATTENDING?
MWC 2023 will host ‘the biggest names in global mobile tech to the latest startups’, according to the event website.
Top exhibitors include Samsung, Huawei, Microsoft, IBM, Dell, Honor, HTC Vive, Xiaomi, Nokia, Lenovo, Sony, Qualcomm, ZTE and Innovate UK, the government’s innovation agency.
Social media platforms including Meta, TikTok and Snapchat owner Snap Inc will also be in attendance, likely to make announcements in partnership with the phone makers.
British device maker company Nothing is listed as attending, but the firm told MailOnline that it won’t be launching any products at the event.
Apple, meanwhile, does not attend MWC and instead prefers to take the whole limelight by running its own events for any announcements.
Keynote speakers include EU industry chief Thierry Breton and Sébastien Borget, co-founder of The Sandbox, a virtual world that uses cryptocurrency to enable transactions.
Also speaking will be England and Barcelona football player Lucy Bronze, who will be talking about the future of sport and entertainment.
Magic VS (pictured) has a design similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold, with a 7.9-inch internal display to use when unfolded and a 6.45-inch display for when it is folded shut.
WHAT WILL BE ANNOUNCED?
Some of the big companies have been tight-lipped on what they might reveal at MWC 2023, while others have gifted fans cheeky teasers.
Chinese brand OnePlus is tipped to unveil its ‘OnePlus 11 Concept’ phone, having released teaser photos of the device, which has a squiggle of LED lights on the back including a ring around the camera module.
It’s possible OnePlus has taken inspiration from Nothing’s smartphone released last year, which has a ‘glyph interface’ on the back that lights up when it gets calls.
OnePlus says: ‘The icy blue pipelines which run through the entire back of the phone, almost like OnePlus 11 Concept has its own series of blood vessels.’
The purpose of the light ‘pipelines’ is unclear, although the PC-inspired design may be related to gaming, according to Tech Radar.
OnePlus has teased a shot of a concept device that has has a squiggle of LED lights on the back
‘Behind the masterpiece’: Xiaomi will globally launch its Xiaomi 13 smartphone family at MWC
Xiaomi is allegedly doing its own version of ‘dynamic island’ taking inspiration from the iPhone 14 Pro (pictured)
Fellow Chinese brand Honor will use MWC to launch its new folding smartphone, the Magic VS, in Europe following its release in China late last year.
Samsung’s new Galaxy S23 smartphone family offers ‘nothing new’ to the market, says expert
Samsung’s new Galaxy S23 smartphone series was unveiled at the start of February, with better cameras and faster processors than its predecessor.
The top-line S23 Ultra has Samsung’s first 200-megapixel camera sensor, offering clearer photos after enlargement, and the series has adopted Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile processor, which is faster than chips used in the S22.
But one expert said the S23 family doesn’t add anything new to a crowded smartphone market.
Leo Gebbie, analyst for connected devices at CCS Insight, said: ‘The latest devices from Samsung are undoubtedly impressive but the emphasis on improvements to camera capabilities and battery life is nothing new.
‘They underscore the difficulty that Samsung and other phone-makers have in finding genuinely new ways to promote and sell their products.
Magic VS has a design similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold, with a 7.9-inch internal display to use when unfolded and a 6.45-inch display for when it is folded shut.
Less is known about Honor’s new Magic 5 smartphone series, which has been teased in a promo image.
The image seems to show three camera lenses in a circular notch, so it’s likely to include some impressive camera specs.
Xiaomi will also globally launch its Xiaomi 13 smartphone family, including a ‘Lite’ version with a ‘dynamic island’ copied from Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro.
Dynamic island is a notch at the top of the screen that hides the front-facing camera, but also changes size to show alerts, notifications, and more – blurring the boundary between hardware and software.
Xiaomi’s promo has the tagline ‘behind the masterpiece’ with an announcement time of 5pm local time on Sunday night, the evening before it all officially starts.
Meanwhile, Nubia, a subsidiary of ZTE, is set to lift the lid on its mysterious AR smart glasses, called Nubia Neovision Glass.
The glasses are ‘a perfect combination of fashion and technology’ and will offer the ‘ultimate audio-visual experience’ with ‘high quality views’ and ‘excellent sound’, a teaser tweet reveals – but not much else is known.
Samsung used to hold its ‘Galaxy Unpacked’ unveiling event at MWC, but the Korean tech giant now opts to hold it a few weeks earlier.
Samsung unveiled its new phone, the Galaxy S23, on February 1, but it will be prominently displayed at its stand in Barcelona.
Galaxy S23, which starts at £849 and goes up to £1,599 depending on model and storage, has better cameras and faster processors than its predecessor.
Nubia, a subsidiary of ZTE, is set to lift the lid on its mysterious AR smart glasses, called Nubia Neovision Glass
Nokia is also expected to reveal several smartphones that follow on the theme of sustainability and repairability from those released last year.
They will likely be available under Nokia’s Circular subscription plan, which lets people pay a set price per month to effectively rent a device.
WHAT IS THE THEME FOR MWC THIS YEAR?
The theme for this year will be ‘Smart Connectivity’, suggesting phone networks will be as much a focus as the hardware.
Attendees will be able to explore and learn about AI, connectivity, ‘digital wellbeing’, ‘immersive content’ and the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).
It’s expected that 6G – the sixth generation of cellular technology and successor to 5G – will also feature prominently.
6G is the best part of a decade away away from becoming available, with 5G still in the process of being rolled out in the UK.
But once 6G arrives it’ll provide a ‘truly omnipresent wireless intelligence’ for smartphone owners when they’re using their data.
6G expected to become available in early 2030s and offer ‘truly omnipresent wireless intelligence’ experts say
6G – the sixth generation mobile system standard and successor to 5G – will offer ‘truly omnipresent wireless intelligence’, according to telco Ericsson.
It’s being developed to complement the next generation of technologies, from the metaverse to AR glasses.
‘The vision for 6G is built on the desire to create a seamless reality where the digital and physical worlds as we know them today have merged,’ Ericsson explains.
‘This merged reality of the future will provide new ways of meeting and interacting with other people, new possibilities to work from anywhere and new ways to experience faraway places and cultures.
Expected to become available early in the 2030s, the 6G research journey is already underway.
University of Sheffield recently announced it will open the first national 6G research facility in early 2024.
In a statement, the university said the facility will ‘create a vibrant 6G research community in the UK and give researchers ‘specialist equipment needed to innovate and support the delivery of future 6G services’.
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