The world’s biggest mobile show is only days away, and reports tell us we’ll see an update to Samsung’s flagship smartphone, new attempts from LG and Sony in their bid for relevance, and smartwatches from a gaggle of manufacturers—because every tech trade show in 2014 needs more wearables.
We’ll be there to cover the press events and traverse the show floor in search of the latest phones, gadgets, apps, and services. But before we endure the eternal flight from San Francisco to Barcelona, let’s take a quick inventory of what’s likely to come from this year’s Mobile World Congress.
’Samsung World Congress’
Samsung has the biggest stranglehold on the mobile industry, and will likely have the most device announcements to share.
On February 24, Samsung is expected to debut its next flagship handset, the Galaxy S5. Rumors point to a 5.25-inch screen with a 2560 x 1440 screen resolution and a 16-megapixel camera. Other rumors suggest that the phone will be fueled by a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 805 processor or a 2GHz Octo-core Exynos 6 SoC, depending on which region the phone is sold in. It’s also said to feature 3GB of RAM, up to 128GB of on-board storage, 4G LTE (naturally), a 3.2MP front-facing camera, and a 3200mAh battery.
Samsung may also take after its competitors, Apple and HTC, by tacking on a fingerprint scanner to its flagship device. The biometric technology may do more than unlock lock screens, too; your fingerprint could be used to sign in to certain websites or launch specific apps. Samsung’s fingerprint sensor would also operate differently than the norm by requiring a slow a steady swipe across a button on the front of the device. In that way, it seems similar to the fingerprint swipe sensors on a lot of corporate laptops. If it’s anything like the fingerprint scanner on the back of the HTC One Max, it sounds like it might be a challenge to use.
Perhaps the most anticipated update is Samsung’s overhaul of the TouchWiz UI. The makeover will transform the smartphone’s interface overlay so that it mimics the flat aesthetics Google implemented in Android 4.4 KitKat.
Samsung is also expected to launch varying versions of its flagship handset, including the Galaxy S5 Mini, a miniature, mid-range version of the Galaxy S5, and the Galaxy S5 Zoom, an update to the Galaxy S4 Zoom point-and-shoot camera.
Lastly, the company may even surprise us with a new processor of its own:
Continuing our market-leading innovation and leadership, we bring you our latest innovations. Please stay tuned. pic.twitter.com/QJcg8cjfs0— SamsungExynos (@SamsungExynos) February 19, 2014
More phones than you know what to do with
Samsung isn’t the only company expected to announce new devices. LG, its main competitor in South Korea, has already teased most of what it will announce ahead of MWC.
LG’s third-generation low-end L series will come preloaded with Android KitKat, which was developed by Google precisely so that low-end phones with low amounts of memory could take full advantage of Google’s latest software. A super-sized version of its flagship handset, the G Pro 2, will also debut at the trade show. The Galaxy Note 3 competitor will come equipped with KitKat, in addition to a 5.9-inch Full HD screen, a quad-core 2.26GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, and 3GB of RAM.
LG also teased the G2 Mini. The “mini” versions of the company’s flagship handset will include either a Snapdragon 400 or Nvidia Tegra 4i chip, a 4-7-inch 540 x 960 display, an 8MP camera, a 2440mAh battery, and 8GB of internal storage, in addition to a microSD expansion slot. It’ll also feature Android 4.4. KitKat.
Sony may also announce a slightly redesigned version of its Xperia Z smartphone on February 24. The handset could come chock full of new features like an updated Android 4.4 KitKat interface, 4K video recording, adjustable white balance, notification panel customization options, and the ability to double tap to wake the screen.
While we don’t expect to hear much from Lenovo, since the company just acquired Motorola’s Mobility from Google, companies like Huawei and Alcatel may have something up their sleeves, though it’s unclear if those devices will even make it to the US market. Samsung’s prodigal son, Tizen, may also make a few device announcements, and Canonical, the forces behind the Ubuntu phone, may come forth with two new device announcements at the show.
Those of you holding out for HTC’s rumored new “M8”—also known as the HTC One 2 in some circles—will have to hold out for a little longer. It doesn’t appear the company will be making any announcements as MWC, as the event for the next flagship handset is set for March 25.
What about tablets?
Phones are only a fraction of the mobile device industry. We’ll see new tablets coming out of Mobile World Congress, too, including the successor to Sony’s last tablet, the Xperia Tablet Z2. The alleged specifications include a 10.1-inch Triluminous display panel with a 1920 x 1200 resolution, a quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor, and 3GB of RAM.
There are also a few rumblings that Google may reveal its next-generation Nexus 10 at MWC, though there aren’t too many details about it.
Nokia will try on Android for size
There have been so many rumors about Nokia’s Android phone that it’s difficult not to ignore the inevitability. What we do know so far is that it will be a device catered to emerging markets and that it will feature a 1GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a 4-inch WVGA display, 512MB of RAM, and 4G of internal storage, a 1500mAh battery pack, and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera. It will also run a forked version of Android and will likely utilize Nokia’s own HERE apps instead of Google’s standard suite.
So many wearables, so little time
Both Samsung and Sony are rumored to debuted followups to their respective smart watches, while Huawei, ZTE, and even Tizen are also expected to introduce their own Bluetooth-connected wrist wear. We don’t know what they will look like or how they will function, but one thing’s for sure: 2014 is shaping up to be the year of the wearable.
Chips to power them all
Of course, you can’t have mobile devices without processors to fuel them. Intel is slated to announce a new processing architecture geared specifically for tablet devices, in addition to a 64-bit variant of its Bay Trail-T. The company will unveil its new chips on February 24.
Be sure to follow us here beginning Sunday for all your Mobile World Congress news. There are sure to be a few great surprises.