What to expect from Mobile World Congress: Samsung, Huawei, and more

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Mobile World Congress is typically an event where companies launch a bunch of mobile phones. But at one point, while doing research for this article, I started to wonder: Can we actually expect any new phones from MWC this year?

The organizers are struggling to put together a meaningful physical event after last year’s MWC was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this year’s event was pushed back from February to late June. 

Yes, the conference is going ahead from June 28 to July 1. But so many big names said they wouldn’t be a part of the physical event in Barcelona: Google, Facebook, Samsung, Xiaomi, Sony, Nokia and Ericsson, among others. 

Wear OS smartwatches get a new life

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean they won’t be launching anything. 

The first major company to reveal its plans for MWC 2021 was Samsung, which recently announced a “Samsung Galaxy MWC Virtual Event” on June 28. It kicks off on Samsung’s YouTube page at 1:15pm ET.  

At the event, Samsung will be “sharing its vision for the future of smartwatches,” as well as talking about security and the Galaxy ecosystem of connected devices. It doesn’t sound like we’ll get any new phone announcements from Samsung, but the smartwatch talk should be interesting, given that Samsung recently partnered with Google. They’re merging Wear OS and Tizen to launch a new wearables platform called Wear. 

Wear should infuse new life into smartwatches outside of Apple Watch.

Wear should infuse new life into smartwatches outside of Apple Watch.

This brings us to the topic of Google, which also won’t be on the floor of MWC this year. The company typically doesn’t have major, standalone announcements during the event, but it’s usually present through its vast network of partners. 

The Samsung smartwatch keynote will likely be equally as important for Google. It launched Wear OS in 2014. But the platform wasn’t updated nearly enough, and as a result, Wear OS devices were lackluster at best. And even though it looks like Samsung will mostly be holding the reins of Wear, it’s a chance for a fresh start.

It gets vague from there

At a typical MWC, we’d see companies such as Xiaomi, Sony, Nokia, Huawei and others launch new smartphones, tablets, and wearables. But given this year’s cancellations, and the lack of rumors regarding new launches, it’s a lot harder to tell what’s coming. 

LG has given up on smartphones and isn’t attending, and most of the other major companies have been mum about product launches or events at MWC 2021. So who’s left?

Lenovo is one of the companies that is definitely launching some products this year, and according to an official teaser, we can expect laptops, smart speakers, and more. 

Huawei does have a presence at this year’s event, but has so far been quiet about its schedule. The company has launched major products during MWC in the past — for example, its first foldable phone, the Huawei Mate X, was launched at MWC 2019. Its successor, the Mate X2, is already out, and it’s too early for a third one, but we may see other new products from Huawei. 

China’s TCL and ZTE will also be present on MWC’s floor, but we don’t know whether they’ll be launching anything this year. The two companies often showcase new products and concepts during Mobile World Congress. 

As for the companies that are typically there but aren’t attending physically this year, such as Sony, Nokia, and Xiaomi, virtual events in the near future are possible, but it’s hard to tell whether they’ll be lined up with the MWC schedule. 

We’ll update this post as we learn more about the events at MWC 2021. 



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