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MWC 2019: 5G, foldable phones and more

MWC 2019: 5G, foldable phones and more

Greetings from the Mobile World Congress 2019! As every year, the entire mobile industry and various other companies will meet in Barcelona to present their innovations. Almost all of the big conferences are now behind us, but there's still plenty to see. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about MWC 2019.

Jump right to it:

When and where will MWC 2019 take place?

The Mobile World Congress 2019 officially begins on Monday, February 25th. The event will last four days and will close on Thursday, February 28th. However, the first events will take place two days before the actual start of the show. This is why we will be in Barcelona from the morning of February 23rd.

For a long time the old exhibition center, the Fira Barcelona Montjuic in the Plaza de España, at the foot of the Olympic Hill, was the heart of the fair. Yet, over the years it has burst at the seams. MWC has therefore moved to the modern premises of the Fira Gran Via. This is a bigger, more beautiful and much better space to work with, even if it lacks the flair of the old venue. Events are also still taking place in the Plaza de España, such as this year's Huawei and LG press conferences.

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The old exhibition center in Barcelona is still in use, but MWC has expanded beyond it. / © AndroidPIT

What kind of tech can be found at MWC?

It's not a coincidence that the Mobile World Congress contains the word "mobile" in its name. In Barcelona, the who's who of the smartphone industry will be present. The MWC is the epicenter of the smartphone industry. Even if the major manufacturers increasingly draw attention to dates just before or after the fair with their own events, the MWC remains a must for all those involved with smartphones, tablets, wearables and the like.

However, MWC has long since covered other topics as well. Above all artificial intelligence, the new 5G standard, the expansive topic of mobility and AR/VR will all play an important role at this year's Mobile World Congress.

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One of the major themes of MWC 2019 will be 5G. / © AndroidPIT

There will be a multitude of great events, but if you are mostly interested in a particular manufacturer you will also find a breakdown of what to expect from each brand right below:

Huawei

The Chinese telecommunications giant has a lot to live up to with its new global prominence. Of course, it won't let Samsung's Galaxy Fold go unchallenged. We fully expected to see Huawei's own foldable and we weren't disappointed. The slim and beautiful Mate X with its Falcon Wing hinge took our breath away, even if we couldn't put our hands on this luxury object at the event.

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The Mate X is quite different from the Galaxy Fold visually. / © AndroidPIT

It's clear that Huawei is staying at the cutting edge with this device, and we look forward to trying it out - especially putting it to the test against the Galaxy Fold. One key feature about the Huawei Mate X is that it also incorporates another big trend of MWC 2019: 5G connectivity. 

But it's not all flex screens and 5G from Huawei. The manufacturer has been developing its laptop range, and at MWC it introduced the Matebook 14 and Matebook X Pro, two intriguing new ultrabooks targeting the high-end market.

With regards to more mainstream smartphones, Huawei will not be presenting its P30 and P30 Pro flagships on the Barcelona stage. They will be unveiled later at a separate event in Paris on March 26. Nevertheless, they are expected to sport amazing specs, which will surpass those of the Mate 20 Pro.

Xiaomi

Xiaomi didn't have a ton of secrets by the time MWC came around, thanks to many leaks. The Mi 9 was already officially released in China on 20 February, but it's only at MWC that we managed to get our hands on it and try it out. So far, we're quite impressed!

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The shiny new Xioami Mi 9 goes global. / © AndroidPIT

Xiaomi didn't have a foldable, but it didn't miss out on 5G. The Mi MIX 3 5G was officially presented and, aside from compatibility with the next-gen network standard, it also comes with an upgraded chipset and battery to power the ultrafast multimedia consumption that 5G is meant to bring.

LG

If there's one manufacturer that thinks it's too early for folding phones, that's LG. Despite multiple rumors of an LG foldable over the years, we didn't see one on the Barcelona MWC stage. What the Korean manufacturer did present, however, were both the new LG V50 ThinQ and the LG G8. The former is the company's first 5G-ready device, which sports a massive 4000 mAh battery, the newest Snapdragon 855 chipset and a triple rear camera. The V50 ThinQ also compensates for not being foldable by introducing a dedicated cover with a second screen.

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The extra screen might not have the foldable wow factor, but it's still practical. / © AndroidPIT

Surprisingly, one new feature did not land on the V50 flagship, but made its way onto the LG G8. We are talking about the time-of-flight sensors. The Infineon REAL3™ sensor allows the G8 to be unlocked via facial recognition and Hand ID without any physical contact. And that's not all - with AIR Motion you can use gestures to perform various tasks without touching the phone. These including answering calls, managing music playback and more.

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The LG G8's innovative AIR Motion feature. / © AndroidPIT

Finally, as it was previously rumored, LG has implemented its Crystal Sound technology on the G8, in effect creating in-display speakers. Overall, a powerful display of innovation that we hadn't seen from the Korean manufacturer in a while.

Sony

'Cinema wide' displays were the defining feature for Sony at MWC 2019. As, expected the Japanese manufacturer unveiled its Xperia 1 flagship and two mid-range phones - the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus. All of them feature the new 21:9 cinematic display format. The Xperia 1, however, managed to surprise us with its slim design, as well as its ambitious and innovative camera features.

Sony also didn't not opt for the trendy in-display fingerprint sensor, instead moving it to the side of the frame on the Xperia 1. But unfortunately, as many feared, the compact versions of the flagship have been discontinued. Nevertheless, if you are looking for something affordable, Sony could still have you covered. The company also unveiled the Xperia L3 - a cheap beginner smartphone that costs only 199 euro.

HMD Global/Nokia

Can't get enough cameras? Think that the Samsung Galaxy A9 didn't go far enough with its four rear lenses? Then HMD Global has you covered. The penta-lens Nokia 9 PureView was the star of the brand's MWC event. This impressively armed cameraphone boasts up to 240 MP per image (one shot can combine up to four photos with five 12 MP images each) and incredibly efficient image noise recognition. The new camera app also supports RAW recording. Our own photo team can't wait to try it out in the office!

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Smartphone backs are growing eyes all over! / © AndroidPIT

Yet, that's not all. The Finnish manufacturer also unveiled the Nokia 4.2, Nokia 3.2 and Nokia 1 Plus at the Catalan fair. They are affordable mid-range smartphones which might not wow like the Pureview, but certainly fit comfortably into many people's budgets. There was even a new feature phone, the the Nokia 210, with limited app selection and a physical keypad, costing just $35.

OPPO

Just two years ago, OPPO debuted its prototype 5X optical zoom camera at the Mobile World Congress. This year, the Chinse firm upped the numbers with 10X lossless zoom. The footage released by the company is quite impressive and we can't wait to test it out in depth for ourselves.

Although OPPO didn't present a foldable phone on stage, it seems the company didn't want to miss out on the hype surrounding these devices. Just two days after the manufacturer's MWC appearance, OPPO VP Brian Shen posted photos of a foldable prototype on social media.

Samsung

In the past, MWC used to be the Samsung show. That's no longer the case. It seems that the Barcelona stage is not big enough for the Korean brand, which presented both its new Galaxy S10 line and the long-awaited Galaxy Fold at its own Unpacked event days before MWC. Yet, although it didn't have a big press conference at the Barcelona fair, the company didn't miss the chance to unveil new smartphones - the Galaxy A50 and A30.

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The Galaxy A50 has an in-display fingerprint sensor despite being a mid-range device. / © AndroidPIT

Samsung is completely revamping its A series and bringing more and more flagship features to its mid-range phones. The new Galaxy A50, for example, features an in-display fingerprint reader, a triple camera and a 4,000 mAh battery. The A30 is more modest, with only a dual camera and a fingerprint sensor on the back, but has the same monstrous battery.

Both seem quite exciting for now, but we'll have to wait and see what their prices are, since Samsung hasn't shied away from releasing expensive mid-range smartphones in the past.

Not just smartphones

Of course, even though there's Mobile right there in the name of the Mobile World Congress, that doesn't mean other tech won't be making an appearance. In fact, AR and VR are expected to make their presence known with the help of Microsoft and HTC, while ZTE brand Nubia might have surprises in the wearables department.

Microsoft

As we expected, thanks to teasers from Alex Kipman on Twitter, Microsoft unveiled the HoloLens 2 at MWC 2019. The new mixed reality headset has massively improved on its predecessor, both in terms of hardware and software. The new HoloLens offers eye-tracking, double the field of view (while maintaining 47 pixels per degree of sight) and, according to Microsoft, triple the comfort.

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HoloLens 2: slimmer and lighter than its predecessor. / © Microsoft

The HoloLens 2 has also changed the way users interact with holograms with intuitive options such as resizing, rotating or even using voice commands. You can read more about the HoloLens 2 here.

HTC

If you are an HTC fan who has been hoping against hope to see a new flagship from the Taiwanese brand at MWC, you might be a bit disappointed. However, despite the lack of new phones, the manufacturer presented its Vive FocusPLUS at the Catalan fair. The enterprise-focused VR headset offers 6 degrees of freedom not only on the device itself, but also on its controllers. The company promises this will deliver an even more immersive experience and realistic training and simulations.

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The All-in-one-VR headset from HTC. / © HTC

However, this wasn't the only surprise from the Taiwanese manufacturer. It also unveiled its new HTC 5G hub, which will allow you to get a taste of the next generation connectivity in your home.

Nubia

Hybrid devices seems to be the new 'in thing'. Google did it with their Pixel Slate, which doubles as a laptop and a tablet, and foldable phones are trying to be tablets and smartphones in one. However, Nubia is the first to unveil a smartwatch and smartphone hybrid. The foldable wearable has a flexible 4-inch OLED display, a 5 MP camera and innovative gesture controls.

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The Nubia Alpha is an innovative hybrid with a lot of potential. / © AndroidPIT

It also offers all the smartwatch favorites - step tracking, heart rate monitor and more. However, our colleague Pierre who tested the Nubia Alpha, didn't find the design very aesthetically pleasing - the device was quite bulky. Nevertheless, the wearable is innovative and as the first of its kind, it's quite impressive.

These are our highlights from MWC 2019 so far. What impressed you the most? Let us know in the comments.

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