With 2017 well under way, the next big smartphone launch platform is Mobile World Congress 2017. We've flittered through CES 2017 - the first big tech event of the year - with very few smartphone announcements.
What is Mobile World Congress?
Mobile World Congress is an annual trade show run by the GSMA. The location moves around Europe, but in recent years it has been held in Barcelona, Spain.
Mobile World Congress is the launch platform for many of the year's big smartphones, but it has also given us a range of tablets, smartwatches and other connected devices in recent years.
Outside of the consumer sphere, it also draws in many of the industry heavyweights to talk about the future of mobile, like 5G, chipsets, VR and other technologies.
When is Mobile World Congress 2017?
Mobile World Congress 2017 will be held on 27 February to 3 March. These are the days that the show itself is open, the press days - where the big announcements are made - usually fall before this.
Sunday 26 February will be the big launch day, the day before the show opens to visitors, with a number of confirmed press events, which we've detailed below.
Hottest phones expected at MWC 2017
In brief, here are the major phones we're expecting to see at MWC 2017
- BlackBerry DTEK70
- LG G6
- Moto G5
- Nokia 8/P1
- Sony Xperia X2
- Huawei P10
BlackBerry at MWC 2017
BlackBerry has stopped making its own phones and has handed the license to TCL. There had long been rumours of a new handset - codenamed Mercury - launching in 2017 and in an unusual move, a prototype of the Mercury has already been shown off, so we've had a play with it.
The touch and type phone brings back a full BlackBerry keyboard in a candybar form, but runs Android. A heady mix, but not fully revealed yet, the BlackBerry Mercury or DTEK70 as it might be known, will be launched at MWC 2017. An invitation has been issued for the BlackBerry unveiling on the evening on Saturday 25 February.
Google at MWC 2017
Google always has a good time at MWC, using it as an opportunity to show off all its Android partners. Google doesn't typically launch at MWC, but we saw the announcement of Android Wear 2.0 on 8 February. We've also seen increasing chatter about the wider availability of Google Assistant.
Google Assistant was a Pixel exclusive, the coming to Google Home, but has already been confirmed for Android Wear 2.0, Android TV and some future Android smartphones. We're expecting this new Google AI to become the centre of a lot of future communications between your Android devices and other services.
Huawei at MWC 2017
Huawei has generally been having a good time of things, growing brand recognition and releasing some accomplished devices like the Huawei P9. Huawei has a mixed history with MWC, often using the conference to launch new devices, but not always the new flagship, which often gets its own, large, launch event a month later.
The company sent out press invitations for an event taking place in Barcelona on 26 February, saying a "flagship device" is being unveiled. It has since followed that up with a video on YouTube confirming that flagship device will be the P10 and started an aggressive social media campaign.
Google also recently revealed the Huawei VR headset and we have a suspicion that the Huawei Mate 9 Pro may be announced for the UK and US at MWC too, perhaps along with wider Alexa availability. There are also rumours of the Huawei Watch 2, a second-gen Android Wear 2.0 watch, said to be more sporty this time around and offer a cellular connection.
HTC at MWC 2017
HTC has already shown off its glass giant, the U Ultra, but that's not its flagship device for this year.
HTC's rumoured flagship device is going under the name of HTC Ocean, and the suggestion is that it will offer a very different method of interaction, with no buttons on the device at all. The picture of this phone is a little murky at the moment with rumours of three devices due in early 2017, the first two of which have already been announced.
HTC hasn't, however, scheduled a press conference for MWC, so a launch is looking unlikely.
LG at MWC 2017
LG used MWC 2016 to launch the G5, with its wide variety of accessories, or Friends, as LG calls them. The LG G6 will be launched at MWC 2017.
LG has already started teasing elements of its next flagship, first talking about display technology, what people want from a phone and then batteries, slowly building a picture. We expect this trickle tease to continue - with LG happily saying that it's LG G6 day on 26 February.
Motorola at MWC 2017
Motorola - whether at Google or Lenovo - hasn't always used MWC in recent years to launch devices. However, an invite from Lenovo to an event scheduled for 26 February in Barcelona, confirms that Moto has some plans for the event.
There's been rumours of a new Moto handset, thought to be a new G5 handset, accompanied with plenty of leaks, suggesting that this device may be launched at MWC. Added leaks have fully fleshed this out, so we're looking at a Sunday afternoon reveal.
Nokia at MWC 2017
Nokia recently teased that it will be making some kind of announcement on 26 February, and has sent out a save the date for an MWC press conference.
Nokia announced its first Android phone, the Nokia 6, as a China exclusive. This is a premium build, but mid-range core spec and there's no word on whether it will be coming to other regions.
There's long been rumour of a second phone, the Nokia P1, which was always pitched as a flagship device. More recently, a leak suggested this phone will be called the Nokia 8 and feature some impressive specifications. Then there's been talk of budget Nokia phones - the Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and finally a phone that pays homage to the Nokia 3310. We suspect the latter is a marketing ploy, we're not expecting the 3310 to actually make an appearance again.
Oppo at MWC 2017
While some Chinese companies, like Xiaomi, aren't attending MWC, Oppo has declared that it is. There's talk about a new technology that is revolving around 5x - possibly that it's going to be offering 5x zoom on smartphone cameras. This might be a dual camera setup like the iPhone 7 Plus, but at the moment, we only have the odd vague tease from Oppo.
We'll know more on Monday afternoon, 27 February.
Qualcomm at MWC 2017
Qualcomm underpins a lot of the technology in modern mobile devices and the company is looking to reinforce the position of Snapdragon 835 as the chipset of choice in mobile devices. We've heard that Qualcomm will be showing off VR-related demos powered by this new hardware, including integration of Leap Motion. There's also wider talk of smart devices powered by Qualcomm hardware.
Samsung at MWC 2017
Samsung was expected to announce the Samsung Galaxy S8 at Mobile World Congress 2017. The company typically dominates the Sunday, in this case 26 February, and Samsung has booked in a press conference for that date.
The invitation shows the outline of what looks like a tablet, suggesting that we'll be seeing the Samsung Tab S3 launched. As for the Samsung Galaxy S8 launch, a collection of dates have been suggested after MWC, with large events in New York and other locations.
Samsung won't miss the opportunity to dominate headlines, however, so we're expecting Samsung to strongly tease the Galaxy S8 at its MWC press conference - as it has done at previous events.
Sony at MWC 2017
Sony likes to launch devices, often using IFA and MWC as the chance to do so. Having moved on from the Xperia Z family into the Xperia X, there's already rumours that Sony will be using MWC 2017 to update the Xperia X. In fact, there is talk that the company could announce five new devices. The rumours have so far mentioned the Xperia XZs and Xperia XZ Premium.
Sony has scheduled a press conference for Monday 27 February, so we will know more then.
Withings at MWC 2017
Health tracking company Withings was bought by Nokia in 2016, but since then we haven't seen any Nokia-branded wearables come to market. Withings has since tweeted to say it will be on stage with Nokia at MWC to make an "exciting keynote announcement". There's no word on just what to expect from the two companies, but it will no doubt be smart, fitness tracking wearable.
ZTE at MWC 2017
ZTE has been looking to raise its profile outside China and appearing at MWC is one way to do that. The company has previously confirmed that it is looking to launch a new smartwatch, so that might be on the agenda for an MWC release. This is now looking a lot more likely, with a press event scheduled for 26 February and the recent leak of the ZTE Quartz, a new smartwatch.