The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona lost much of its lustre last year when Huawei and LG – two of the big three international brands that have traditionally used the mega trade show as a platform for mobile phone launches – decided not to announce their new flagships there. That left the Samsung Galaxy S9 as the lone major product launch at the show. This year, the event is bouncing back with its most jam-packed line-up yet. Not only are Huawei and LG back in the mix with new releases, but Chinese brands including Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus – none of whom had been a major presence at MWC before – will also join the fray with new product announcements. This new LG smartphone is the best Android phone for video Perhaps to avoid the crowd, Samsung has opted to hold the launch event for its new flagship in San Francisco five days before the Barcelona trade show. But considering the proximity of the two dates, and that the Korean phone maker will also exhibit at MWC, you could consider the launch news as part of the MWC announcements. While the Barcelona event will no doubt hold a number of surprises, here is what we can expect to see. Samsung Samsung has confirmed it will show off its new Galaxy S10 flagship phone, which will feature the same hole-punch display (basically a selfie camera embedded inside a hole drilled into the screen) seen in the Honor View 20 already . But Samsung’s take should be superior as the S10 will have an OLED screen instead of the LCD one used by Honor. The new design will give the S10 a nearly full-screen face, while it will very likely use a triple-camera system and run on Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855 processor. More excitingly, however, is the foldable phone that the company already teased late last year. Likely to be named the Galaxy X or Galaxy F, this will be a true foldable phone in the sense that it will be one large OLED panel that can be folded in half for a smaller form factor when not in use. Previous attempts at foldable devices, such as the ZTE Axon M , relied on two panels connected by a hinge. Huawei Huawei overtook Apple as the world’s number two phone brand by units sold last year, and it has very publicly stated that its goal is to overtake Samsung next. So it is not surprising that Huawei has all but confirmed that it, too, will unveil a foldable phone at MWC. Little is known about Huawei’s implementation, but according to a source the phone will also be capable of handling 5G cellular reception. This shouldn’t be surprising, as Huawei is the world’s largest telecommunications company and a leader in the development of 5G tech. It is worth considering, however, whether a 5G phone has any practical use this early in the year. We’ll explain more at the end of this article. Fans are also expecting Huawei to unveil its follow-up to the company’s spring flagship P series at MWC, but reliable sources tell us that is not happening. Instead, Huawei is saving the P30 for a later launch event in Europe. The P30 is expected to use a waterdrop notch design with four rear cameras in the top tier “Pro” model. LG LG will introduce its G8 flagship and a second 5G device at the show. The South Korean tech giant has already confirmed a front-facing TOF (time-of-flight) 3D scanning camera for the G8, which is likely to be used to offer real 3D face unlocking similar to iPhones, instead of the less secure flat 2D face unlocking that most Android brands offered in 2018. There are also rumours that the G8 will support a second screen attachment that will turn it into a foldable device. This will, though, adopt the older design of two connected screens instead of that of Samsung and Huawei’s more cutting-edge devices. Vivo, Oppo and OnePlus Vivo stole the show last year with an unofficial, and surprise, unveiling of the Apex all-screen concept phone. This year, it is hoping to repeat the magic with the Apex 2019, though the device won’t be much of a surprise – Vivo already introduced the device in China last month. The Apex 2019 is a seamless unibody smartphone with no buttons, charging ports, or speakers, similar to the recent Meizu Zero. Vivo Nex is a Mandarin-speaking, no-notch, bezel-free smartphone Oppo has confirmed to us that it will show off its new camera technology that can offer 10X lossless zoom. It is not known whether Oppo will introduce just the camera tech, or an entire smartphone with the camera built in. OnePlus is expected to show off a 5G-ready version of its highly popular 6T smartphone. Xiaomi Xiaomi has confirmed that it will announce its new Mi 9 flagship, even though it will be two months earlier than the usual Mi launch cycle. The Mi 9 is expected to be powered by the new Snapdragon 855 processor, but in typical Xiaomi fashion, we predict the device will be priced at least 30 to 40 per cent cheaper than what Samsung, Sony and LG are asking for their phones with the same chipset. Sony While Sony is still a major player in various consumer electronics segments including cameras and video games, its smartphone business has fallen on hard times. But the Japanese tech giant is hoping to turn things around at MWC with the Xperia XZ4, the latest in the company’s flagship line. This device is rumoured to have an extra tall aspect ratio of 21:9, making it skinnier and lankier than most phones. Things to consider At this year’s MWC, the products announced are likely to fall into three camps: cutting-edge innovation that will improve usability immediately; promising design but probably not practical for real use; and empty hype. Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and Huawei’s P30 will likely fall into the first category. Both brands have more than proven their ability to craft cutting-edge smartphones, and Samsung’s hole-punch cut-out display is objectively less intrusive than a large iPhone notch. Huawei’s rumoured four-camera set-up, meanwhile, should continue to push boundaries just like last year’s triple-camera set-up did. The second camp – promising products that will likely not be practical – will mostly include the foldable phones. As mesmerising as it is to have a tablet-sized screen that can fold into half or even one-third its size, the technology and software support is likely far from polished. 5G networking is coming, so what does that mean for us? Finally, the empty hype group will be 5G phones, because 5G networks are not close to being ready for mass use yet. Even when the very first 5G networks roll out in late 2019 or early 2020, it will be in a small handful of technologically advanced cities such as Seoul, Beijing and maybe New York. For everyone else, 5G won’t be reality until at least late 2020. So what’s the point of showing off 5G phones in spring of 2019?