MWC 2019 preview: the smartphones we're most excited to see

UPDATED: Get ready for the first 5G OnePlus phone

Mobile World Congress in February is usually when the year's smartphone flood begins, and that's likely to be true again when MWC 2019 hits Barcelona from 25-28 February.

In fact, many of the biggest announcements will come the day before – and Samsung has already plotted its Galaxy S10 reveal separately, on 20 February, plus we might see its foldable phone then as well. Even so, we expect to see several big new flagships at MWC, and probably some compelling mid-range and budget handsets as well.

We're still a few weeks out, but so far, these are the rumoured/leaked smartphones that we're most excited to see in Barcelona. And check back, as we'll be updating this with new info in the run-up to MWC 2019.

Huawei P30 + P30 Pro, Foldable 5G Phone

Huawei has owned the top spot on our list of the world's best smartphones for a solid year now, first with the P20 Pro and now the Mate 20 Pro, so we're pretty thrilled to hear leaks suggesting that the P30 Pro and standard P30 will launch at MWC.

Leaks point to a slight evolution of the Mate 20 Pro design, with both handsets featuring a tiny teardrop notch for the front-facing camera. The biggest change is expected to come with camera setup, with a rumoured four rear cameras on the P30 Pro and three on the P30.

However, a recent report suggests that Huawei might hold back on the P30 announcements until a Paris event in March, so we'll have to wait and see whether any further news emerges on the subject.

Can Huawei hold onto its smartphone camera throne? We should find out soon – and that won't be all from Huawei at MWC, apparently. The company hasn't confirmed its P30 plans, but it has announced plans to debut a foldable 5G phone, supposedly the world's first to tick both of those boxes.

(P30 concept render via OnLeaks/91Mobiles)

Nokia 9 PureView

The Nokia 9 PureView has reportedly been on the horizon for months and months now, but it looks like we will finally see it at MWC. Nokia is teasing big things for the event, much as it did last year, and a purportedly official invite shows a glimpse of the much-leaked handset.

If true, that means we should be in for a real treat: Nokia's first big splashy flagship phone since coming back under HMD Global a couple years back. Leaks point to a top-end handset with the kind of quality specs you expect, including a Quad HD display and Snapdragon 845 chip (which could be outdated by the time the phone ships, however) – but the big draw here is the staggering five-camera setup on the back.

A leaked video suggests that the penta-camera array can take five simultaneous shots to capture 10x more light than a typical smartphone sensor, along with impeccable detail. Could it dethrone the Huawei Mate 20 Pro as the camera champ?

We'll see. The bezel-heavy design feels a bit 2017, though, and a rumoured US$999 prize could hold it back. Still, we're very excited to see Nokia making bold moves again. Hopefully it finally debuts at MWC after a long string of leaks.

(Leaked image via Evan Blass)

Sony Xperia XZ4 + XA3

Sony has been all about the rapid turnaround of late, launching the excellent Xperia XZ3 just six months after the strong Xperia XZ2. And now leaks point to an Xperia XZ4 at MWC 2019… again, just six months following the last revision.

This looks like a big one, too. Leaks show a phone with an extra-extra-tall aspect ratio of 21:9 and a bit of bezel on the top and bottom. If it has another brilliant Quad HD OLED panel like the XZ3, then it ought to be a total stunner.

Elsewhere, leaks point to a triple-camera setup on the back, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip inside, possibly a sizable 4,400mAh battery pack, and a fingerprint sensor on the side power button… but no 5G support. One leak suggests a price around £715, but we wouldn't be surprised to see it a bit higher if the leaked specs are legit. Expect to see it at MWC!

(Leaked render via IceUniverse)

Leaks suggest that Sony will also bring the Xperia XA3 and XA3 Ultra to MWC, and that the mid-rangers will use the same kind of super-tall 21:9 CinemaWide display. The leaked renders from WinFuture show the design, with an enormous screen on the front and a bit of bezel up top.

WinFuture suggests that the XA3's screen should be around 5.9in, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chip onboard, 23MP/8MP cameras on the back, and a 3,500mAh battery within. It's unclear whether those specs and dimensions are for the standard or purported Ultra model, though, but maybe we'll hear more before MWC rolls around.

LG G8 ThinQ + V50 ThinQ 5G

What you see above is purportedly the first official leaked render (via XDA Developers) of the LG G8 ThinQ, which matches previous concept renders from OnLeaks and 91Mobiles that were based on leaked CAD data. And yes, it does look nearly identical to the LG G7 ThinQ.

What we're not seeing in this shot is the missing piece that might set the LG G8 ThinQ apart as a flagship phone: an attachable second screen. It reportedly attaches like a case, says CNET, letting you flip open a second screen for a much larger overall view. That could position the G8 as an alternative to the coming wave of foldable smartphones, but it'll be a completely optional addition.

Elsewhere, it sounds like LG might just spec-bump last year's handset, and maybe trim down one key component: the renders show just two back cameras, whereas the LG G7 ThinQ had three.

We'll find out the truth at MWC: LG has confirmed that the LG G8 ThinQ will be there, and that it'll pack a 3D time-of-flight selfie camera up front. That's all we know for sure, but LG's earlier MWC teaser suggested some type of new gesture control system for an upcoming device. While not confirmed to be the LG G8 ThinQ, that seems a pretty likely guess.

Additionally, ETNews suggests that LG will also showcase a V50 ThinQ 5G with a 6in screen, Snapdragon 855 with vapour-chamber cooling, and a 4,000mAh battery back - and yes, 5G support.

OnePlus: A 5G Phone

OnePlus will also have some kind of presence at MWC. Initial invites suggested "a taste of the future," which could've been a tease for a new device... or just a promise of snacks, really. Hungry, worn-down journalists would surely appreciate either option.

Now we know that OnePlus will be showing off a 5G prototype handset, which attendees can try out for gaming and communication purposes. It's unlikely that we'll see an actual OnePlus 7 (concept render shown via Ben Geskin), given that the OnePlus 6T has only been on the market for a couple months now. Either it'll be a modified OnePlus 6T or something that's not quite polished to production-level quality, but functional enough to get the point across. We're curious, whatever the case.

Microsoft HoloLens 2

No, this isn't a smartphone; Microsoft certainly doesn't make those anymore! But it's still a potentially huge announcement coming at MWC 2019, as Microsoft seems to be teasing a new HoloLens mixed reality headset.

Project lead Alex Kipman will host a press event alongside Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and CVP Julia White, and this video teaser from Kipman (via Engadget) doesn't show anything… but it's cool and that's obviously his wheelhouse. Rumours have swirled around a 2019 debut for the new headset, so maybe the time is right for Microsoft to show its hand.

There was a lot of buzz around HoloLens, but in its original incarnation, the device ended up being more for enterprise use. We'll see whether Microsoft can produce a smaller, cheaper, and more commercially viable HoloLens in its second iteration.

Google Pixel 3 Lite

Google shipped the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL last autumn, but its next handset sreportedly won't be Pixel 4 models. Instead, leaks suggest, they will be smaller Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 Lite XL editions. Beyond photos like the one above (via Rozetked), there's also an extensive hands-on video that seems to show the real thing. Remember, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL were widely and authoritatively leaked long before the official reveal.

Both Lite phones look like a plastic version of the no-notch standard Pixel 3, with the Pixel 3 Lite at 5.5in and the Lite XL at 6in with 1080p LCD panels on both. They'll have mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon chips and 3.5mm headphone ports, plus they seem to keep the same strong 12-megapixel back camera. If it's priced reasonably, this mid-ranger could pull some folks away from a flagship for their next handset.

We haven't heard any strong rumours about when Google will officially reveal the handset, but MWC 2019 is certainly a safe guess for now.

Energizer: 26 phones

Energizer, you say? The battery company? Yes, indeed: they've already got a few mobile models, but they're looking to make a much bigger splash at MWC 2019 by debut 26 (!) new phones across four lines.

That's wild, but what's even wilder is the promise of a smartphone with a 18,000mAh battery pack. Given that smartphone battery capacity usually tops out around 5,000mAh these days, that's a pretty incredible promise. Granted, we have to imagine that phone will be huge, but some people will undoubtedly appreciate the days of uptime that come as a result. We're certainly curious to see what they've got.

GSM Arena has a first look at one line, the Ultimate series, with the Ultimate G620S Pop seen above featuring a pop-up camera, 1080p screen, and MediaTek Helio P70 chip onboard.