Mobile World Congress 2014 preview

What to expect from Samsung, Sony, LG, Nokia, Google, HTC, ZTE and Huawei

Tech trade shows are like buses. You wait all year for one and then two come along at the same time

The Consumer Electronics Show may have just shut its doors for another year, but in just over a month one of the biggest events in the mobile business opens its doors.

Mobile World Congress will see almost every big name in smartphones descend on Barcelona, Spain. Think of it as the mobile world’s E3 or Geneva Motor Show.

So what can you expect from the big names of the industry? We’ll, we’ve rounded up what we know – and what we think we know – will be on show.

Samsung

After taking the wraps off a new range of tablets, you would be forgiven for thinking Samsung has nothing else to show off – aside from the Samsung Galaxy S5.

However, it does look like the South Korean company will be launching a number of devices at the show in Barcelona.

Among the handsets rumoured to be debuting at the show are shrunken versions of its existing smartphones and tablets, including a Galaxy Note 3 Lite and Galaxy Tab 3 Lite.

We might also see a mid-level variant of the Samsung Galaxy Grand, dubbed the Galaxy Grand Neo.

In addition to the Galaxy Tab 3 Lite, there’s talk that Samsung could still have a couple of tablets up its sleeve ahead of the event. One of those could be a huge 13.3-inch Android/Windows dual boot tablet.

And as if that wasn’t enough, some reports have suggested that Samsung may even show off multiple Tizen devices.

However, one thing you can be sure of is that Samsung won’t be launching the Galaxy S5 at Mobile World Congress.

Comments from a vice president at Samsung pretty much put pay to any suggestion that we’ll see the follow up to Samsung’s flagship smartphone before March.

Nokia

This year’s Mobile World Congress will be the first since Microsoft completed its purchase of Nokia.

It’s also a pretty significant one for Nokia in other ways. The last 12 months have seen it slowly but surely increase its market share in Europe, largely at the expense of BlackBerry.

So what can you expect from Nokia this year? Aside from a multitude of slides reinforcing its growing market share, there is talk it will unveil the Lumia 1820 and Lumia 2020.

The latter is Nokia’s rumoured 8-inch tablet, while the 1820 is said to be a 5.2-inch smartphone with a 2K display, 3GB of RAM and a Lytro-style camera.

Mobile World Congress is also likely to be where we get to see Windows Phone 8.1 Blue pre-loaded on smartphones for the first time.

It comes with a multitude of updates to Windows Phone’s notification system, multitasking options and a voice-based personal assistant.

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HTC

Last year HTC broke with tradition and unveiled the HTC One ahead of the event. Previous years saw it using the event to launch its flagship smartphones – could 2014 be a return to form?

If it is, you can almost be certain it will show off the successor to its award-winning HTC One smartphone – currently known by its development name, the HTC M8.

Rumours have suggested that the HTC M8 will come with a five-inch 1080p display, a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor and Android 4.4 preloaded.

To be honest, we’re kind of disappointed. HTC really rocked the boat last year when it unveiled the HTC One, but the M8 is shaping up to be pretty run of the mill.

Add into the mix that it is likely to come without Beats Audio and there are a number of questions that will have to be answered at the event.

We have our fingers crossed that HTC has something up its sleeve when it does show off the device.

LG

After a couple of years of dud handsets, LG is back in the top league of smartphone makers.

Its LG G2 smartphone has won praise from the media and is currently selling well.

However, it isn’t just the critics heaping praise on LG. Its winning of the contract to produce the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 have shown to the world that Google believes in its ability to produce high quality handsets.

So what can you expect from LG? Well, if last year is anything to go by, there will be a mix of high-end and low-end devices.

One phone we can almost guarantee will be making its debut at Mobile World Congress is the LG G Pro 2. LG has confirmed that it will be showing the phone off at the event. It could even be the company's flagship device.

There is a possibility that we may get our first glimpse of the LG G3. The phone is rumoured to feature a similar fingerprint scanner as the one found in the HTC One Max.

One of the handsets rumoured to be making an appearance is the LG G2 Mini.

But perhaps the biggest debut from LG might not be on its own stand…

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Google

Rumours of a new Google Nexus 10 just haven’t gone away. There are also suggestions that LG has won the contract to produce the 10-inch tablet on behalf of Google.

Other than the Nexus 10, we don’t expect there will be any new phones or devices at Google’s stand. It’s much more likely that the company will focus on attracting even more companies to develop Android smartphones.

Sony

Could Sony do the unthinkable and launch the Xperia Z2 at Mobile World Congress? The Xperia Z1 has only been on sale since September – not very long for a flagship phone.

However, with @evleaks putting its weight behind the rumour, there is a strong possibility that Sony may choose to show off its next flagship smartphone a couple of months before it launches.

As for other devices, there isn’t really anything we’re aware of in the pipeline.

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ZTE

Chinese smartphone maker ZTE is rumoured to be working on its first phablet. If true, Mobile World Congress would be the perfect place for it to launch such a device and get the world’s attention.

The company is also said to be prepping a smartwatch, which may also debut at the event.

Huawei

The other big name in Chinese smartphones Huawei is also rumoured to be prepping to launch a smartphone at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

The Ascend P6S is the follow up to its current flagship the Ascend P6. Little is known about the smartphone, other than it is said to come with a full octa-core processor from MediaTek.

Who you won't see

Two of the big names that won’t be making the trip to Barcelona are Apple and BlackBerry – though not for the same reasons.

Apple is notorious for avoiding events where it may have to share the limelight. For example, Apple has never attended Mobile World Congress since it entered the industry with the original iPhone.

It also has a habit of stealing its rivals thunder. Two years ago, it sent out invites for the iPad 3 launch just hours before the show opened its doors. That move took the edge off the debut of Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

BlackBerry’s absence is for another reason altogether. The company has already confirmed that it will be focusing on a number of smaller events around the world as it looks to rekindle people’s desire for its smartphones.

It also won’t have much to show. Many of its existing phones are already stigmatised as failures, and it has confirmed it will not be launching any new smartphones until April at least.

That wraps up what we're expecting to see - but keep tuned to T3.com as we'll bring you all the latest news from Barcelona once the show gets underway on February 24.