As posted on This weekend, Android prepares for the iPhone X
It’s Android’s time to shine.
In less than a week, Mobile World Congress (MWC), an annual event that brings together the phone and telecom industries, will kick off in Barcelona, and as is customary, a lot of new Android smartphones will make their debuts.
This year is a little different, though. After years of iterative upgrades, Apple’s iPhone — which, like it or not, is the smartphone that sets the trends in the industry — is widely rumored to receive a revolutionary upgrade. Its screen will get larger, reports say, covering the phone’s entire face. Buttons, including the iconic home button, may disappear altogether. The aluminum back cover might be replaced by glass.
And while the “iPhone X” (we still don’t know the name; it could also be iPhone 8 or 7S) is still far off — it will likely be announced in the fall — this is when we find out how the Android industrial-complex (which still dominates worldwide market share by a wide margin) is preparing for these changes.
We’ll know for sure when MWC begins on Sunday, Feb. 26, but I so have some bad news right off the bat: There won’t be a new Samsung flagship in Barcelona this year. Likely due to the Galaxy Note7 fiasco, Samsung pushed back the launch date for its new phone, the Galaxy S8, which is rumored to be at least as revolutionary as the new iPhone. The company will have an event on Sunday, but it will probably only launch a tablet, likely the Galaxy Tab S3.
LG G6, the wolf in sheep’s clothing
So who’s left? Quite a few players, in fact. The most interesting reveal will likely be the LG G6, which is rumored to have a large, 18:9 screen and dual 13-megapixel cameras on the back. While it doesn’t appear LG’s new flagship will be revolutionary, it does seem like a very nice phone and a welcome change from last year’s not-very-successful G5.
Additionally, LG is also expected to launch a smaller version of its flagship, dubbed the LG G6 Compact.
Huawei P10, the mysterious one
Huawei has had an amazing year. The Chinese company strengthened its position as the No. 3 smartphone maker, and in a year when its chief Android competitor, Samsung, struggled. Huawei has a problem, though: It sells a lot of phones, but mostly in China. It’s begun to scratch the surface of the U.S. market with its Honor brand, but it appears unable to produce an uber-sexy device that will match the attention Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy phones get.
This year at MWC Huawei is poised to launch the P10, a continuation of its flagship P line of phones. The last couple of those (read my P9 review here) were all high-quality devices with great specs, but none were particularly exciting. Very few rumors have leaked about the P10; let’s hope Huawei has prepared something special this year.
Sony Xperia X2, the return to form
Sony has had the misfortune of launching solid device after solid device but never quite managing to sell them in large numbers. This year, the company is rumored to launch the successor to the Sony Xperia X, and it could be a much more interesting phone: reported features include a 23-megapixel rear camera and a buttonless face.
The company is also expected to launch several (possibly as many as four) other devices, with weaker specs.
Nokia 3310, the legend
Nokia won’t be launching an iPhone killer — the revived Finish brand, now owned by HMD, is expected to launch several midrange Android phones. But one rumor stands out — that of a re-launched Nokia 3310, which will reportedly cost around 63 bucks.
The legendary phone predates the smartphone era, but it was known as an incredibly sturdy and solid device. It’ll be interesting how HMD plans to revive it. Our suggestion: Just change the charge port to USB-C and leave the rest as it is.
Lenovo, BlackBerry, Oppo, Alcatel: the rest
Yes, that’s a lot of phone makers, but none of them are expected to launch anything out of the ordinary, with the possible exception of Oppo, which promised to announce a game-changer in smartphone photography, but shared no other details.
BlackBerry’s Mercury — the last phone designed by the company — has already been widely reported on. Lenovo will likely launch the midrange pair Moto G5 and G5 Plus, and Alcatel is likely to show a new device in its cheap flagship Idol series.
A note on two players that likely won’t launch new phones in Barcelona this year. Xiaomi launched its Mi 5 during MWC 2016, but this year it appears to be skipping the show altogether. And HTC recently launched the U Ultra; it’s possible but unlikely that the company will show off another flagship so soon.
A smartwatch or two
MWC isn’t just about phones. Samsung will probably launch a tablet, and we’ll see tons of car and VR tech, but it’s hard to put a finger on what could steal the show based on press invites alone.
One thing we might see more of this year are smartwatches. ZTE is expected to launch its first Android Wear device, a metal-bodied smartwatch called Quartz. Huawei has officially confirmed it will be launching a new wearable, simply called the Huawei Watch 2. And other companies such as LG and Sony could launch new wearables as well.
There are no rumors of revolutionary features on any of these devices, but with Android Wear 2.0 finally being available as of February, it’ll be very interesting to see what the new generation of Google-powered smartwatches can do.
Where and when?
The show in Barcelona officially kicks in on Feb. 27, but expect the news to begin flowing days earlier. Most of the heavyweights — Samsung, LG and Huawei included — have a conference on Sunday, Feb. 26. And a lot of news from smaller brands will be arriving on Monday and Tuesday as well. Whatever happens, you’ll read about it on Mashable.