From 2nd March, the Spanish city of Barcelona will, for a few days, be known for more than having a fierce spirit of independence, a fantastic (if currently underperforming) football team, lots of beautiful Gaudi architecture, and a major petty crime problem. It will be known as the place where lots of new mobile phones, tablets and wearables are being announced.
Yes, folks: it’s almost time for Mobile World Congress 2015 (or MWC 2015, as we’ll refer to it from here on because we want to save bandwidth costs), the biggest smartphone-centric technology expo around. Most of the big players will be there to launch new products, and we’ll be in attendance to cover them, not only in a journalistic sense but with our greasy little fingerprints as we get hands-on time with as much new gear as possible.
Here’s what we’re expecting to see.
With Apple customarily swerving MWC, Samsung will likely prove the biggest tech company there – and it's set to have some big announcements. Its Unpacked event will kick off mere hours after HTC's big reveal on Sunday 1 March (more on that later), and it's expected to finally show off the Galaxy S6 in all its glory.
Samsung's latest superphone is expected to pack in a 5.1in 2K screen, a super-charged camera, and its own powerful Exynos processor, which recently smashed AnTutu's benchmark records. Oh, and it'll finally arrive in a metal body, if the rumours prove to be true.
Not only that, but a second version of the Galaxy S6 is also expected to make an appearance. The Galaxy S6 Edge, as it's expected to be called, will feature the same specs as the vanilla S6, with the addition of a Galaxy Note Edge-style curved screen, over one or both sides of the device.
But that’s not all! Samsung may also debut a new smartwatch. Apparently codenamed “Orbis”, it’s rumoured to come with a circular face, a rotating bezel, wireless charging and Samsung’s own Tizen operating system. Samsung will reportedly also provide an open SDK, making it easier for app developers to build software for Tizen-based watches.
READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy S6 preview
HTC’s next flagship, the One (M9), is expected to launch at an event in Barcelona on Sunday 1st March. The invitation asks us to come along to “see what’s next”, so that's just what we're going to do.
The M9 is one of the most-leaked devices we've seen in recent memory, to the point at which high quality renders of it have been produced, giving us a very good idea of what we an expect to see come launch day.
Leaks suggest that the device will sport a similar look to the M8, with an all-metal premium body. The speakers will however be recessed, Nexus 9-style, and the front-facing camera is now in the centre, and is expected to have an Ultrapixel sensor for super-charged selfies.
The rear depth-sensing camera is reportedly gone, leaving behind a single, new 20.7MP camera, which should let users crop into photos without losing as much detail.
READ MORE: HTC One (M9) Hima preview
The other Korean tech giant may have a quieter MWC 2015 in mind. LG’s next flagship, the G4, seems destined to arrive later in the year (May is the month that keeps cropping up in reports).
The online rumour mill is fairly silent on what LG has planned for MWC, but putting our speculation cap on for a second, we could see “lesser” mid-range phones trotted out, or possibly a new smartwatch successor to the LG G Watch.
Sony now launches a flagship phone series (generally a large phone, a medium phone, a small phone, and a tablet) every six months, and for months we’ve believed the company would drop its Xperia Z4 family during or around the time of MWC 2015.
However, the paucity of leaks about these phones has led some to speculate that they won’t be coming along quite so soon, and that a Q2 2015 release seems more likely. It could just be that the lack of leaks are, you know, down to Sony not allowing much to leak out – but given that every phone seems to get snapped by someone along the supply chain weeks or even months prior to release, it could also be that the Z4 family isn’t coming to MWC 2015.
Some say that the recent launch of a purple Xperia Z3 suggests that Sony plans to keep that line current for a little while longer, or that the reason for the delay is a shortage of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 processor.
There have been leaks concerning the Z4 family’s specs, which you can check out here.
READ MORE: Sony Xperia Z4 preview
The Taiwanese company will, according to a report from DigiTimes, launch a range of Windows Phone-based smartphones at MWC 2015. The phones will be entry-level rather than high-end, and it’s not clear yet which version of Windows Phone they’ll be running.
Huawei is holding a pre-MWC press conference on 1st March, and seems set to rip the wrappers of a wide range of new mobile gear.
As reported by Pocket-lint, a recent Huawei media event showed that the Chinese company will launch both tablets and wearables during MWC. While the slide didn't go into too many specifics, it did depict a round, black-finished Android Wear smartwatch and mentioned a "flagship smartband".
It also seems likely that Huawei will launch a smaller, more affordable edition of its Ascend Mate 7 phablet.
Update 30/01/15: One thing we won't be seeing at MWC is the Huawei Ascend P8, the company's next flagship smartphone. Huawei marketing boss Jerry Huang told Pocket-lint that the phone would be unveiled at an event in London on 15th April. The location is interesting: Huawei is huge in the Far East but lesser-known by European and American consumers, and by choosing to launch its top-of-the-range phone in the UK, Huawei may be trying to send a message that it's a company with global ambitions.