MWC 2019 news and reviews: 5G, folding phones and more

The latest from Samsung, Huawei, Sony and others at MWC 2019

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MWC 2019 is where the phone industry descends on Barcelona to talk shop, which means lots of smartphone launches and exciting developments with high-speed 5G devices and 5G networks.

In MWC years gone by we've seen flagship handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S9 and LG G6 make their debut, and MWC 2019 will be our best chance yet to see what today's biggest phone makers have to offer for the next 12 months . Here's our bumper preview of this year's Mobile World Congress.

When is MWC 2019?

This year Mobile World Congress is happening from Monday 25 February to Thursday 28 February. Some of the major players usually schedule press events beforehand, so news is going to start appearing on Saturday 23 February and Sunday 24 February.

Everything happens in Barcelona, primarily at the Fira Gran Via event hall. The show isn't open to the public, by the way – you have to be in the industry or a member of the press to get a ticket, but we'll be there and we'll keep you right up to date with everything that's happening.

Samsung at MWC 2018

Samsung Galaxy S10 invite MWC 2019

The Samsung Galaxy S10 range is being unveiled at an event just before MWC 2019

Samsung traditionally puts on a big show at Mobile World Congress, but MWC 2019 will be slightly different: the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus and S10E are going to be launched just before the event.

Samsung has confirmed that its Unpacked Galaxy S10 event will take place on February 20, 2019, which is the week before MWC 2019 takes place, and that the handset will be on sale from March 9, 2019. This almost certainly means that the S10 range will be unveiled at Unpacked, shown off throughout MWC 2019, and then put on sale shortly after. Samsung has confirmed that the pre-order period for the new S10 handsets starts on February 21 with orders arriving from March 8. Here are the best Samsung S10 deals.

In terms of models, we know thanks to a mega leak from XDA Developers contributor Max Weinbach that there will be four models of Samsung Galaxy S10 and their specs are as follows:

  • Galaxy S10 Lite: 4GB of RAM + 128GB storage
  • Galaxy S10: 6GB of RAM + 128GB, or 256GB storage
  • Galaxy S10 Plus: 6GB, or 8GB of RAM + 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of storage
  • Galaxy S10 Plus (5G Model): 8GB, or 12GB of RAM + 256GB, 512GB or 1TB storage

Yes, that's right. There is to be a 5G Samsung Galaxy S10, which has been reported by news sites in South Korea to be named the Samsung Galaxy S10 X. However, the 5G variant of the S10 may not be launched at the Unpacked event on February 20 and may not be on show at MWC. The latest rumours say that production for the 5G model has not yet started, and so it may not be unveiled until later in the year, perhaps alongside the Note 10.

As well as this massive specs bump, a better camera and tweaks to the display, we're also hearing that the S10 phones are going to have in-screen fingerprint sensors and notch-free displays. Want to know what the new handsets look like from pretty much every angle? A whole load of photos were recently leaked.

Mobile World Congress 2019 MWC

Leaked photos of the new S10 handsets (Credit: All About Samsung)

We do know these phones are going to feature the newly unveiled Exynos 9820 chip, with improved support for AI processing and faster performance overall. That could be replaced by the as-yet-unconfirmed Snapdragon 855 chip in some countries, which would make sense considering Qualcomm's leading position in the 5G arena.

We'll hear much more on February 20 and throughout MWC 2019, so keep checking back for T3's coverage of both events.

Foldable phones from Samsung, Huawei and LG?

Samsung foldable phone MWC 2019

Samsung's heavily disguised foldable phone

We're getting closer and closer to the big reveal of Samsung's foldable phone technology – we think the first handset might be called the Samsung Galaxy Fold. We've already seen a prototype demoed at the developer conference Samsung held in November.

If we don't see it on February 20, we may well see it at MWC 2019. Apart from the fact that it's going to have a foldable screen, we don't know too much about the handset. It's going to cost you a lot of money, but you'll certainly have the fanciest phone in your neighbourhood.

Samsung might not have everything all its own way in terms of foldable phone technology at MWC 2019. Huawei has a foldable phone in the works that could make its debut at MWC and throw in 5G as well.

Indeed, Huawei has recently teased the arrival of a folding phone in its teaser for MWC 2019, so it now looks very likely that something along these lines is going to be shown off. It might not be available to buy, it might still be a prototype, but we should see a foldable phone from Huawei at MWC 2019.

There are also rumours of folding phones from LG and Motorola, though LG recently said that it's too early for it to be making a folding phone, so don't expect to see the LG Bendi at the event. It's also possible that Xiaomi's folding phone prototype might make a public appearance.

LG at MWC 2018

LG V50 ThinQ 5G MWC 2019

LG has said it will unveil a 5G handset at Mobile World Congress 2019

When it comes to MWC 2019, the BIG news from LG is that it intends to unveil its first ever 5G phone, which reports right now are calling the LG V50 ThinQ 5G.

Not only will the new device reportedly pack a lighting fast 5G connection, which would make it a direct rival to Samsung's 5G Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10 flagships in 2019, but also a truly remarkable camera system that packs 16 lenses.

What's more, LG has also shared information about how the new 5G phone will be cooled (5G chips make more heat than their 4G LTE counterparts), with a line schematic showing a next-gen "vapor chamber" cooling system (see below pic).

LG V50 5G MWC 2019

The 5G LG phone's next-gen new cooling system on display in a recently shared schematic

What hasn't been announced about the new 5G LG phone, though, is its internal hardware specs. However, the rumour on the mobile grape vine right now is that it will come loaded with Qualcomm's new flagship Snapdragon 855 processor, as well as a beefy 4,000 mAh battery.

Unlike some 5G devices that have already been announced, LG has also confirmed that the phone will be available outside of South Korea, too, with the European and North American markets a big focus.

The LG Q60, the LG K50 and the LG K40

LG has now officially booked in a press event for February 24 in Barcelona, just before MWC 2019 gets underway, and confirmed that the LG G8 ThinQ will be shown off.

While it won't be quite as expensive or as flashy as the 5G handset, it will feature an innovative technology that utilises the phone’s OLED display as an audio amplifier. Crystal Sound OLED (CSO) repurposes the display as a diaphragm, vibrating the entire surface to produce what LG promises is "sound with impressive volume." We're looking forward to trying it with some heavy dubstep at the launch.

Three additional mid-range devices have also been confirmed for an MWC launch by LG: the LG Q60, the LG K50 and the LG K40. The Q60 and K50 feature a 6.26-inch screen while the K40 has a smaller 5.7-inch display. The LG Q60 sports three rear cameras, the K50 has dual rear cameras and the K40 has a single rear camera.

Both the LG Q60 and LG K50 are powered by a 3,500mAh battery while the K40 gets a smaller 3,000mAh unit.

All three handsets feature a dedicated Google Assistant button, fingerprint sensor and DTS:X 3D Surround Sound.

Sony at MWC 2018

Sony Xperia XZ4 MWC 2019

Another Sony Xperia phone is on the way at MWC 2019

The freshest news about Sony's incoming Xperia XZ4 flagship phone is how it is bringing the fight to the Samsung Galaxy S10 at MWC 2019 with a massive battery and class-leading camera system.

The powerful new phone is slated to come with a 4,400 mAh battery, which beats the reported 4,100 mAh battery unit coming in the S10 Plus and absolutely dwarfs the 3,300 mAh unit called to come in the standard S10.

Regarding that class-leading camera setup, a recent leak has suggested that the XZ4 will feature a triple camera setup where the main camera will capture at a very impressive 52-megapixels, the best of any phone.

Based on the rumours we've heard so far, the Sony Xperia XZ4 will come running the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, as well as boasting a 6.2-inch screen in a tall 21:9 aspect ratio designed by its Bravia engineering team. That skinny aspect ratio was pretty much confirmed by Sony in a tweet to confirm its MWC press conference, which read "Embrace a new perspective". The press conference takes place at 08.45 CET on Monday 25 February.

Sony phones have lagged a little behind the competition in terms of design in recent years, but the Xperia XZ4 is being tipped to be a fantastic-looking phone as well as a very powerful one. Considering the company's expertise in screen and camera technology, this should be well worth waiting for.

Considering Sony has been working with a six-month cycle for its flagship phone launches, and that Sony usually has an event at Mobile World Congress, it's highly probable that the Sony Xperia XZ4 will be at least shown off at MWC 2019 – even if it doesn't go on sale to the masses straight away.

As well as a new full size Xperia, there may also be an accompanying Compact version, if Sony's launch history is anything to go by.

Huawei at MWC 2018

Huawei foldable phone MWC 2019

Huawei's teaser image for MWC 2019

Huawei will not be launching its Huawei P30 and P30 Pro phones at MWC 2019. Those handsets have been confirmed by Huawei for a Paris launch on March 26.

So what does that leave for MWC? We may see a 5G Huawei handset and we may see a folding Huawei phone – the company has confirmed it is working on both. Or we may see a 5G phone that is also a folding phone.

Huawei has a press conference scheduled for February 24 at 14:00 CET and the image on the invite, shown above, looks a lot like a folding device with the glowing screen on the outside, so no doubt all will become clear then.

Nokia at MWC 2018

Nokia 9 at Mobile World Congress 2019

This elaborate camera mechanism could be shown off at MWC 2019

(Image: © GizChina)

Nokia had a strong showing at MWC 2018, so it may well be back for more this year – keep your eyes peeled for the Nokia 9 making its bow, especially because it looks set to pack a truly astonishing amount of cameras.

This is a phone that's been a long time coming, so if it does appear at MWC 2019, there's likely to be a lot of interest around it.

Xiaomi at MWC 2019

Xiaomi's Senior Vice President Xiang Wang tweeted that the Xiaomi Mi 9 would be launched on February 24, which we assume will be at MWC. The tweet was accompanied with an image showing the handset's iridescent blue/green back and its triple camera, which was later confirmed to be a 48MP set-up. The handset will be powered by a Snapdragon 855 processor and will feature an in-screen fingerprint reader and dedicated Google Assistant button. Here's everything we know about the Xiaomi Mi 9 so far.

It has also been said that Xiaomi will "possibly" be launching its Mi Mix 3 5G at MWC this year. 

Honor at MWC 2019

Although we don't exactly know what Honor will be announcing at MWC, the company has sent out media invites for a briefing on Tuesday 26 February. The invite  is titled "See the game changer" which hints at a phone that's optimised for gaming. In other words, a fast one with AI smarts, quite possibly powered by the same Kirin 980 processor that's in the Honor View 20. Or perhaps the View 20 is the phone that the invite refers to. We'll be at the event so we'll let you know. 

OnePlus, HTC, Oppo and... Energizer?

OnePlus 7 at MWC 2019

Will the OnePlus 7 look like this?

(Image: © Ben Geskin)

Of the other big names, we're not sure what (if anything) the likes of OnePlus and HTC are going to bring to MWC 2019. There's a chance we'll see some new hardware from these two manufacturers, but it's still a little early for the HTC U13 or the OnePlus 7.

Oppo should be in attendance as well, increasing its visibility in Europe and the US, though as for specific handsets we haven't heard much from the rumour mill so far.

We might just get a preview of Oppo's new camera technology, which offers up 10x optical zoom, apparently, though the company is also said to have a foldable phone in the works.

Although we don't exactly know what Honor will be announcing at MWC, the company has sent out media invites for a briefing on Tuesday 26 February. The invite is titled "See the game changer" which hints at a phone that's optimised for gaming. In other words, a fast one with AI smarts, quite possibly powered by the same Kirin 980 processor that's in the Honor View 20. Or perhaps the View 20 is the phone that the invite refers to. We'll be at the event so we'll let you know.

Smaller names will be making a splash too: Energizer (the battery company) has said it's going to be unveiling no fewer than 26 handsets at MWC 2019, so expect phones with huge batteries and perhaps a pop-up selfie camera or two as well. It's also promising one of these phones will be foldable, though quite how advanced the tech is going to be, we're not sure.

Will Apple and Google be at MWC 2019?

Both Apple and Google usually save their phone launches for their own events. Apple doesn't like mixing with its rivals so will be a MWC 2019 no-show, but Google will be there supporting its Android partners and promoting its mobile offerings, even though it is almost certain it won't have any new devices to unveil at the event. The Google Pixel 4, Pixel 3 Lite, new Google Home and Pixel Watch will all be coming later this year.

So it looks as though this year's show is going to be quite something. T3 will be there from Saturday 23 February bringing you news and early reviews of all the key phones.