MWC 2018 preview: the smartphones we’re most excited to see

It’s a new year, and that means new smartphones—faster, sleeker, and all-around better smartphones. So obviously, we want to see which handsets we might be wielding in the coming months.

We should get our first glance at many of them at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona late next month (Feb). The annual smartphone-centric show usually ushers in the year’s first big device debuts, and along with a confirmed Samsung Galaxy S9 appearance, we’re expecting to see and touch plenty more in a few short weeks.

Here’s a look at everything we expect (and hope) to see at MWC 2018.

Samsung: Hello Galaxy S9!

, MWC 2018 preview: the smartphones we’re most excited to see

It’s no longer a rumor: Samsung’s mobile boss confirmed at CES this month that the Galaxy S9 will make its debut at MWC. And we’ve already heard quite a bit about the sequel to last year’s top Android thanks to a bevy of purported leaks.

The gist of it? Well, the Galaxy S9 will probably be a lot like the Galaxy S8, much like how the Galaxy S7 didn’t go nuts on changes after the dazzling Galaxy S6. But when you’re building off of the absolute best phone on the market, it’s hard to be disappointed with that approach.

We expect the Galaxy S9 to mostly retain the design of the S8 aside from minor nips and tucks, packing in a faster new Exynos chip or Snapdragon 845. The one significant change may be the swap to a dual-camera module on the back, like the Galaxy Note 8, albeit with the rumored addition of adjustable aperture for serious smartphone shooters. That speculative render above isn’t legit, but it should be close based on the leaks.

Huawei: The P20/P11 premieres?

, MWC 2018 preview: the smartphones we’re most excited to see

We liked the Huawei P10 and especially the P10 Plus (shown), but both phones felt overshadowed by the Galaxy S8 last spring. Luckily, Huawei will have another chance to make a stronger impression with the rumored launch of the P20 (or P11?) at MWC.

Concrete details are still thin, but a recent benchmark leak suggests an 18.7:9 aspect ratio for the screen, which would come in at 1080×2244 for the P20. We assume the P20 Plus would bump up to Quad HD specs, but in any case, the aspect ratio suggests an edge-to-edge screen like so many other phones from the last year.

Another rumor suggests that Huawei will try to stomp dual-camera arrays by putting three cameras on the back of the P20—and one of them is suggested to be a 40-megapixel shooter, which sounds downright insane. But hey, Huawei needs to make a big splash, so we’ll see what happens.

Lenovo: Moto, Moto, Moto

, MWC 2018 preview: the smartphones we’re most excited to see

What’s Lenovo got on tap? If recent leaks are any indication, it’ll be a whole lot of Moto phones. Droid-Life received a load of renders and specs for the next-gen Moto line, and even notorious leaker Evan Blass says he’s never seen a leak “as thorough, as early, and as potentially damaging to a company” like this before.

We don’t know yet if all of these phones will debut at MWC, but the new Moto G6 models are likely given that the G5 launched last spring. According to the leaks, there will be a standard Moto G6, a Moto G6 Plus, and a Moto G6 Play. All three will seemingly have 18:9 extra-tall displays (5.7in on the G6 and 5.93in on the G6 Plus), offering up a budget-friendlier alternative to the flagship trend, along with Galaxy S8-like 3D glass on the back instead of metal.

Given when the other phones launched last year, it’s less likely that the Moto Z3 and Moto X5 will debut at MWC. The leaks show a Moto Z3 and Z3 Play with 6in, 18:9 borderless screens at 1080p resolution—a step down, but the leak suggests another Z3 model may release at Quad HD resolution.

And what’s a little mind-blowing is word that Lenovo may release a Moto Mod for the Z3 that adds 5G speed capabilities. How would that work? No idea! But we’re into it.

Meanwhile, the Moto X5 marks a big design shift: it has an iPhone X-like notch with the display wrapped around a pair of front cameras. So that might be happening. We’ll probably find out later this year, though, since the X4 was just released a few months back.

Nokia: The 9 is just fine?

, MWC 2018 preview: the smartphones we’re most excited to see

Nokia’s smartphone comeback story has been good but not great so far—and the Nokia 8, shown, underwhelmed. But we’re hoping the Nokia 9 is the phone to finally make the Finnish legend a true heavyweight again.

From the leaks and rumors, we expect a flagship-level handset with an extra-tall, 18:9 screen and a design that pairs Galaxy S8-esque curves with a more familiar Nokia touch. And with a price pegged to be around that of the OnePlus 5T, it might be able to undercut some of its flagship rivals while offering a comparably strong experience.

That’s the rumor, at least, but we’ll wait and see how it turns out. And Nokia could unleash quite a bit more: an updated Nokia 6 has already launched in China and could go worldwide, and perhaps there will be a full line update to try and put up a stronger front in 2018.

Chief product officer Juho Sarvikas says to expect their MWC showing to “be awesome,” so we’re certainly intrigued.

Sony: Going pro with the Xperia XZ

, MWC 2018 preview: the smartphones we’re most excited to see

Last year’s Xperia XZ Premium (shown) went crazy on the specs, packing in a 4K HDR display along with top-of-the-line everything else, but underwhelmed a bit overall with lacking cameras and too much bulk. But maybe the Xperia XZ Pro can make a bigger impact.

That is Sony’s hope, at least, and some leaked specs suggest it could happen. We’ll reportedly see another 4K OLED screen at 5.7in, although it didn’t seem terribly consequential the last time, but this time it’ll be a taller 18:9 display like nearly every other new flagship on the market.

Further specs suggest a new Snapdragon 845 chip, 6GB RAM, 128GB of storage, and a dual 18MP/12MP back camera setup. We’ll have to see how much Sony is charging for it, however, and whether they can pack in a bit more style than before.

Everything else

BlackBerry will launch two phones in 2018, including a new version of the KeyOne (original version shown), so we may well see one of those handsets launch at MWC.

Xiaomi will attend MWC, and is rumored to debut a super-powered Mi 7 with a Snapdragon 845 chip, 6GB RAM, a 6in AMOLED screen manufactured by Samsung, wireless charging, and facial recognition abilities. If so, it could provide some heated competition for the world’s flagship giants.

Alcatel will also bring its new line of phones to MWC, with the 5 series, 3 series, and 1 series models all offering 18:9 displays and facial unlock features with varying specs and price points.

Oppo and ZTE may also make announcements, but there aren’t any solid leads at this point.

Meanwhile, on the wearables front, we’d expect announcements from the likes of Misfit, Fossil, and Nokia—but again, we don’t have much to go on right now.

Who won’t be there?

Where’s the LG G7 on this list? Well, if a recent report proves true, we may not see it at MWC—or for a few more months. Korean site The Investor claims that LG’s CEO ordered the project rebooted, and that it could be April at the earliest that we see the G7 appear. Sounds a little crazy, but given LG’s gradual slide out of the smartphone spotlight of late, they’ll need some bold moves to regain steam.

As for HTC, given Google’s acquisition of part of their smartphone team, we honestly can’t say whether they’ll have anything at MWC. Google’s Pixel 3, of course, wouldn’t come until late in the year.

We won’t see anything from Apple, that’s for certain—their big phone debuts come in September, like clockwork. And while a newer iPhone SE could perhaps launch sometime in the spring (please, Apple), it would be on Apple’s own time, not amidst loads of other phone reveals at MWC.

And Microsoft? Well, unless the company has decided to reverse course on the dead Windows Phone platform, we won’t be seeing anything from them.

, MWC 2018 preview: the smartphones we’re most excited to see

This story originally appeared on Stuff Singapore, bringing you what’s next in the world of tech and gadgets, with a twist.