From a familiar-sounding Galaxy not so far away to Xiaomi’s Mi 5: fleet of flagship phones to dock at Mobile World Congress

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 February, 2016, 8:14pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 February, 2016, 8:59pm

Smartphones vendors from around the world will descend on Barcelona next week for Mobile World Congress 2016, the biggest industry event of the year for mobile that kicks off Monday.

Chinese brands like Xiaomi and Huawei are expected to roll out flashy new flagship or other devices while South Korea’s Samsung and LG may well impress with the Galaxy S7 and a new ‘specialist’ X series, respectively.

READ MORE: ‘More evolution than revolution’: move over, smartphones, IoT tipped to be big dog at next week’s Mobile World Congress in Spain

While some pundits are downplaying the role of smartphones at this year’s event in favour of inter-connected Internet of Things devices, there is sure to be plenty to keep punters happy - even if Apple and Google save their big guns for a later date.

Meanwhile, tech fans in Asia can also look forward to late June when Shanghai will host a smaller MWC event for several days.

Samsung Galaxy S7 series

Expectations are high for the S7 due to the success its predecessor has had in keeping the formidable Galaxy series alive and kicking. Samsung claims to have shipped over 10 million units of the S6 within a month of its initial release, but what will the future herald for the S7? With several photos of the handset already having been “leaked” via Twitter and China’s Weibo microblogging site, this is shaping up as the smartphone to watch in Barcelona next week.

The leaked photos show a pair of devices that look similar to previous versions but with rounder corners, softer edges and a flattened rear camera (it protruded on S6 models).

Samsung said earlier it will announce new handsets on February 21, but did not provide any further details. However reliable sources have confirmed they will be water-resistant and have enhanced security and night photography features.

Huawei P9

A year after the release of the P8, Huawei is expected to unveil the newest edition to its premium P series during or shortly after next week’s trade fair. It even sent out a press invitation last month announcing that it would be showcasing its latest “device” in Barcelona.

The Shenzhen-based electronics giant rose quickly in the smartphone stakes last year, only losing out to Samsung and Apple in terms of global shipment volume, according to IDC.

Further cementing its reputation, Huawei was chosen by Google to collaborate on its Nexus 6P, the flagship device for Android. The P8 has accumulated over 16 million shipments, the company said earlier this month. Will the P9 prove just as successful?

LG G5

LG confirmed on one of it websites that it will release a new flagship smartphone called the G5 during MWC by showing a countdown clock with the heading “LG G5 Day” online. To build up more hype, the South Korean tech titan also releases a case specially designed for the new model last Thursday. According to some theories, instead of fading to black, the screen will always display basic information such as the time and notifications in a black-and-white mode.

Xiaomi Mi 5

Xiaomi will release its latest flagship, the Mi 5, on Wednesday simultaneously in Beijing and Barcelona. It has been playing up the quality of the camera, with president and co-founder Lin Bin showing a photo of a flying seagull taken by the handset on his social media account last week - highlighting its ability to capture fast-moving objects.

Xiaomi also released a protective shell for the phone, indicating that it will be similar in size to the iPhone6.

The Chinese company that started out making smartphones and dealing with the label “Apple clone” has since come into its own, rolling out high-spec devices of its own and moving into smart home devices. It sold more than 70 million smartphones last year, 10 million shy of its target, but it still led the Chinese market in 2015 with a 15 per cent share, according to data from IDC.