The 2018 Mobile World Congress ended just last week, and over the course of the week-ish of announcements, there was a lot of news to cover. Just in case you happened to miss any, we've put together a quick little list of all the things we wrote about from MWC this year, plus a few things we saw that didn't merit their own post, all mixed in with a big gallery of photos.
Consider this your yearly dose of MWC-substitute. I promise it tastes as good as the real thing.
For easy digestion, we've sorted things a bit, with most of the phones at the beginning, miscellaneous news in the middle, and Google-specific stuff at the end, all laid out in a per-company basis with an eye to a linear chronology whenever possible.
Announcements kicked off a tiny bit early with Alcatel jumping the gun, revealing a handful of phones in Barcelona the weekend before the event itself. Most of them were typical lower-end Alcatel fare, but there was one noticeable outlier: the Alcatel 1X. It was the first Android Go phone, which is sort of a big deal.
LG announced its new V30S ThinQ at MWC—which is to say, it re-announced last year's V30 with more RAM, storage, and slightly improved software. The focus on the new V30S ThinQ seems to be an AI camera meant to identify objects, for more info you can check out our hands-on, but keep in mind that the unit we played with was pre-production so it could be subject to change.
According to some leaks, LG was also privately showing off its notchful, potentially canceled next G-series phone at MWC.
Huawei announced three new MediaPad M5 tablets at its event just before MWC. They're the successors to the company's popular M3 line, and on paper, they sound like reasonably capable devices. They run from 8.4" to 10.8", and one model even has an active stylus. Add in the high resolution 2560x1600 display and aluminum unibody, and they are liable to be customer favorites.
In addition to the suite of MediaPad M5 tablets, Huawei also showed off one of the cooler things we saw at MWC. The company's new MateBook X Pro isn't running Android—so we didn't cover it—but it's definitely cool, with a pop-out webcam in the middle of the keyboard between the F6 and F7 keys.
In more Android-related news, Huawei also confirmed that we'd be hearing more about the triple-lens equipped P20 later this March in Paris.
Not every phone can be a flagship, and some companies like ZTE understand that better than others. Even so, with its new Blade V9, ZTE is pushing the envelope on affordable industrial design. You might not get a flagship-grade SoC, but the 18:9 1080p LCD and aluminum and glass design feel more premium than you'd expect. So much so, in fact, that we had to give it an award. That's just how we are.
ZTE didn't just reveal a decent budget phone, though, it also showed off what is likely to be the first Android Go phone for the US. The new ZTE Tempo Go might only have a Qualcomm 210 and a 5" 480x854 display, but it's also an incredible $80. Or, at least, it will be once you can actually buy one.
HMD Global has been on a roll with its Nokia phones, and it had a couple big announcements to make at MWC.
First off, it has launched four new smartphones, the Nokia 1, Nokia 6 (2018), Nokia 7 Plus, and Nokia 8 Sirocco. So far only the Nokia 6 is coming to the states, though. In addition to the new handsets, all new Nokia phones going forward will be Android One devices. (There is one exception, though, and that is the aforementioned Nokia 1, which is an Android Go device.)
As the elephant in the room, we expected Samsung to dominate the news in Barcelona. And the Galaxy S9 and S9+ were probably the biggest reveals to come from the event (even if Samsung accidentally revealed things just a bit early). The company's latest flagships aren't game-changers, but the new adjustable aperture cameras in both produce some incredible low-light shots.
There's more to it all, of course, and you can read back on our coverage of the announcement, carrier availability, camera details explanation, and face/iris unlock, as well as our hands-on, David's op-ed on the iterative nature of Samsung's latest, and Santhosh's comparison of the S8 and S9.
The new Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 compact sound good on paper, and aesthetically the two devices represent a much-overdue visual refresh to Sony's line of phones. In addition to recently minimized bezels, they're also leveraging some of Sony's incredible camera technology with both 4K HDR video and 1080p 960fps slow-motion video capture. For our preliminary impressions, you can check out our hands-on. (Spoiler, I really dug the dinky one.)
The new Xperia Ear Duo headphones aren't quite as exciting, but they are unique. They're open-ear earbuds, giving you pass-through sound with the rest of the world, and Sony's given it head-shaking gesture features, touch controls, adaptive volume control, and a "Daily Assist" feature for contextual information.
Cat and Land Rover (Bullitt Group)
A lot of companies have tried to push the concept of super-durable phones over the years, but Cat ranks in as one of our favorites for succeeding, party by implementing genuinely compelling and useful features that complement the use cases implied. The new Cat S61 seems to improve on the S60 we reviewed last year, and in our hands-on time with it, we were impressed by the new FLIR infared camera.
We didn't get to cover the launch or a full hands-on for the Land Rover Explore, but it's another durability-minded handset by Bullitt Group in the vein of the S61. In this case, you don't get a fun infrared camera, though, just a modular "Pack" system that provides things like additional battery capacity or an improved GPS antenna for specialized circumstances.
If the S61 is for work, the Land Rover Explore is for play—extreme play.
One of the most talked-about announcements from MWC 2018 has to be ASUS' new phones. In addition to the quad-cam midrange 5Q, the ZenFone 5 and 5Z landed sporting what looks to be the stereotype of 2018-era design: a big 'ol notch. It was a polarizing decision, and—based on ASUS' constant comparisons to the "Fruit Phone X" during its presentation—it's drawn some Apple copycat criticism.
Independent of aesthetics, the phone specifications sound impressive, with true flagship-level hardware and a Sony's latest camera sensor. I went a bit overboard with the details in my hands-on, so if either of the high-end ZenFone 5 phones seem like your kind of thing, you can check out more information on them there.
To be honest, I'm not sure that words can really do justice to just how cool Vivo's Apex concept phone was. It's too bad that the phone will never be sold, because the crazy-slim bezels, pop-out camera, and in-screen fingerprint reader are easily the most futuristic things we saw in action at MWC.
It's a poor substitute, but you can check out our hands-on if you'd like a bit more to ogle, as we took plenty of photos.
Big Blue was happy to talk up some of the details for its embryonic 5G plans, which are mostly focusing on TDD millimeter wave for the near future. In available markets, AT&T subscribers will be able to get a Wi-Fi hotspot that makes use of the network, with supported phones and tablets to follow in mid-2019.
Team Magenta was quick to point out how its 5G future was obviously better than AT&T's (though it really remains to be seen until anyone actually has 5G).
T-Mobile's plans are mostly long-term, and rather than just devoting its current attention to millimeter wave, it's also hoping that its new 600MHz spectrum can be upgraded/rolled out as 5G. Like AT&T, it expects phones to arrive in 2019, though it confusingly announced millimeter wave availability this year, leaving us wondering what hardware will be using it. It did declare that it would support the most markets by the end of the year, though, with 30 planned.
Sprint's plans for 5G are a bit smaller (and probably more realistic), with three markets expected to have 5G support by the end of the April, and a further three by the end of the year.
It's calling its 5G Massive MIMO, and it claims that subscribers should see speeds up to ten times that of LTE. The company also promises to upgrade its towers and add new cell sites to increase coverage and network density.
It might not be the most significant news for us here in the States, but MediaTek took the wraps off its Helio P60 SoC at MWC. Like every company with a hand in hardware these days, it was apt to talk up the machine learning/AI chops for its latest silicon, as well as power efficiency improvements.
The monolithic chipmaker announced its new 700 series of SoCs at MWC this year. Based on the constant comparison to the Snapdragon 660, it seems like this newly announced line is set to replace it, bridging the gap between the lower-end 600s and the flagship-level 800 chips. You get Qualcomm's Kryo cores, Adreno graphics, and the Hexagon DSP and Spectra ISP (read: improved camera performance), all without having to pay Snapdragon 800-level prices.
We'll just have to see what sort of chips end up in the new series. Right now, all we know is that it exists.
The provider of Android didn't make much in the way of news itself at this year's MWC (outside of an early announcement about RCS for businesses), but it was happy to play the supporting role for Android Go phone announcements. In fact, Google was even showing off a ton of Android Go devices at its booth, including few devices that hadn't technically been revealed, like the GM 8 Go, Micromax Bharat Go, and Lava Z50. We also got a chance to play around with the Nokia 1, and the experience has left us hopeful for Android Go overall.
Yes, that is a wall of Nokia 1 phones.
Google's presence at MWC this year was large, with a whole outdoor area dedicated to the company, as well as multiple indoor booths. From pin collecting to ice cream, it was more fun than functional; outside the Go phones that were revealed, there wasn't much in the way of news that stemmed from any of the displays or booths specifically. Nonetheless, we've included a gallery just below, so you can see what sort of adventures your Android Police editors got up to in Barcelona.
Of course, it wouldn't be MWC without the hunt for Google's pins, and most of your editors were up to the challenge. Obviously our worth as human beings is derived entirely from the number of enameled pins we collected.
The final pin tally/scoreboard:
- 1st Place: Ryne with 19.
- 2nd Place: Scott with 17.
- 3rd Place: Ryan with 16.
- 4th Place: David with 0.
Lastly, of course, we had our Best of MWC Awards, in which we extolled the virtue of our favorite devices shown off at Mobile World Congress this year. Ten total phones earned our superlative attentions as a result of their MWC excellence, hopefully your favorite made the list.
Barring any time-traveling announcements, this wraps up our coverage for Mobile World Congress 2018. See you next year in Barcelona.