MWC 2020: everything to expect from the world's biggest mobile phone show

Expect phones at Mobile World Congress 2020... lots of phones

MWC 2020 Mobile World Congress

We're almost ready for another gadget extravaganza at MWC (Mobile World Congress) – that's the most important phone show of the year, hosted in Barcelona and attended by the biggest names in the industry. Expect product launches, news, and lots more at MWC 2020.

MWC 2020 doesn't officially get underway until Monday 24 February, and there will be a press day or two before that as well. While we count down the days until everything gets started, here's what we've heard so far about what to expect at the show this year...

MWC 2020: when does it start and end?

MWC starts on Monday 24 February and finishes on Thursday 27 February, though as we've said, you can expect some press events to fall outside those days. It's not open to the general public though – you need to be in the industry or a journalist to get MWC access.

As in previous years, MWC 2020 is happening at the Fira Gran Via exhibition venue a little way outside the centre of Barcelona. It's a chance for phone makers to show off their wares, for analysts and experts to talk about mobile trends, and much more besides.

MWC 2020: news and rumours

Some manufacturers and other mobile companies make it very clear what to expect at Mobile World Congress, in an attempt to build up some hype around their products; others keep quiet about what's in the pipeline, which is really also an attempt to build up hype.

All of that means we usually have a pretty good idea about what to expect from the show before it starts, and that's true for MWC 2020 too. As we get closer to the event, we'll fill you in on all the official MWC 2020 news and unofficial MWC 2020 rumours as they come in.

MWC 2020: Huawei

Huawei P30 Pro MWC 2020

Huawei P30 Pro.

(Image credit: Future)

Huawei has had a tricky time of it of late, with the US government blocking its access to Google's software and app store. It continues to release top-notch handsets though, its most recent flagship being the Mate 30 series launched towards the end of last year.

So where does that leave Huawei when it comes to MWC 2020? We think the Chinese tech giant is going to launch the Huawei P40 a little later in the year, so it might use Mobile World Congress to talk about its 5G kit or its Harmony OS Android replacement instead.

MWC 2020: Xiaomi

Xiaomi continues to put out well-made, well-priced smartphones, and its expansion outside of Asia isn't likely to slow down in 2020. There are rumours of numerous different Xiaomi handsets in the pipeline – including, perhaps, one with a folding clamshell design.

According to various leaks, the flagship Xiaomi Mi 10 is on the way, and that phone might make its debut at MWC 2020. Alternatively Xiaomi might decide to announce it ahead of the big event, then use Mobile World Congress to show the phone off to the world.

MWC 2020: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S10 MWC 2020

Samsung Galaxy S10.

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung already has its Unpacked 2020 event scheduled on the calendar for 11 February, which means we'll already know all about the Galaxy S20 phones. Expect these and other handsets to be on show in Barcelona, even if they aren't actually launched at MWC 2020.

It's possible that we might see some mid-range Galaxy A phones from Samsung in Barcelona, and maybe a few other goodies too. We wouldn't rule out news of another foldable phone too, though the Motorola Razr rival is likely to appear on 11 February.

MWC 2020: Sony

Sony usually has a new phone or two to show off in the Mobile World Congress halls, and for MWC 2020 we think that it might unveil the Xperia 2 flagship. We might also get an updated version of the Xperia 5, so adjust your expectations for MWC 2020 accordingly.

At MWC 2019 we saw three new phones from Sony, and the company always has a strong presence in Barcelona, so we'd expect it to be one of the major players in terms of actual news. It has a very early press event scheduled for 7.30am UK time on 24 February.

MWC 2020: OnePlus

OnePlus 7T Pro MWC 2020

OnePlus 7T Pro.

(Image credit: OnePlus)

OnePlus hasn't traditionally used Mobile World Congress to show off new hardware, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it won't have new handsets at MWC 2020 – we know that the OnePlus 8 range is on the way, thanks to an ongoing series of product leaks.

We have seen OnePlus show off prototype or experimental technology at trade shows in the past, so that might be something to look for in Barcelona. At the moment, the company hasn't organised a press event, so it might be a low-key show for OnePlus.

MWC 2020: LG

Mobile World Congress is very often the backdrop to an LG phone launch or two, but the latest from the LG camp is that the company won't be at MWC as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus.

Instead, LG says it will launch its 2020 phones at a separate event. Keep an eye out for the LG G9 ThinQ and the LG V60 ThinQ, which will likely set the tone for LG's smartphone range for the rest of 2020.

You can expect all the usual year-on-year performance and design upgrades from those two new phones, and the word on the LG street is that the LG V60 phone is going to come with a dual-screen display (something LG has been getting more fond of lately).

MWC 2020: Honor

Honor 20 Pro MWC 2020

Honor 20 Pro.

(Image credit: Future)

Huawei sub-brand Honor is definitely going to be one of the busier companies at MWC 2020, and it's got a press event booked in for 4.30pm UK time on Monday 24 February. We think Honor may well use that opportunity to show off a couple of its current phones

Specifically, the Honor View 30 Pro (which is already available in China) and the Honor 9X Pro should get some stage time we reckon. As for completely new phones, that's looking less likely, but Honor could always decide to spring a surprise at the event in Barcelona.

MWC 2020: Motorola

Motorola could potentially be making the most headlines at MWC 2020: the Lenovo-owned brand is rumoured to be readying a flagship phone, perhaps with a stylus, that will be a departure from the budget and mid-range handsets that it's been concentrating on lately.

There's also the Motorola Razr, which should be shipping by the time that MWC 2020 gets underway. Even though that phone has already been announced and put on sale, Motorola is still going to be seek to show off the foldable on the show floor in Barcelona.

MWC 2020: Nokia

Nokia 7.2 MWC 2020

Nokia 7.2.

(Image credit: Future)

Nokia is one of the phone makers that might have a brand new handset to wow the crowds with at MWC 2020 – we've been hearing a lot about a potential flagship phone, perhaps called the Nokia 9.2 PureView, and a 5G handset (or two) could be on the cards as well.

Apart from a few minor updates to its budget and mid-range phones, Nokia has been relatively quiet of late, and it's not the sort of company that likes to hold its own dedicated events very often – so expect it to make the most of the opportunities at MWC 2020.

MWC 2020: Apple and Google

You're not going to see much from either Apple or Google at MWC 2020, at least not in terms of new handsets. Apple prefers to hold its own conferences and events, and keep the rest of the industry at arm's length, so don't expect any Apple news out of the show.

Google will have a presence at MWC 2020, but only in terms of software, in partnership with the various Android phone makers who will be in attendance. The Pixel 4a won't be making an appearance, in other words (Google IO in May is a much better bet for that).

MWC 2020: Other brands

Surface Duo

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Plenty of other phone brands are going to be attending MWC 2020 with new products in tow: Chinese outfit Realme has hinted that it's going to have a phone or two, and TCL, Oppo, HTC, and others are all going to be at the MWC 2020 show in some capacity.

Microsoft is turning up to MWC 2020 as well – although it's not known for its phones, it may have some more to share about the Surface Neo and the Surface Duo (the latter of which runs a modified version of Android). Whatever happens, we'll be there to tell you about it.

David Nield
David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.