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Five Things to Watch For at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona This Week

Re/code will have full coverage and analysis all week, but here is what is top of mind from our team on the ground at Mobile World Congress.


Anyone who is anyone in mobile (and a lot of others that aspire to be someone) is gathering this week in Barcelona for the mobile industry’s largest trade show.

What began as a fairly niche regional show more than a decade ago is now the one-stop shop for all things wireless. Of course, Re/code will have full coverage and analysis all week, but here is what is top of mind from our team on the ground at Mobile World Congress.

1. New flagship models

While Apple may choose to hold its own events for major new products, both HTC and Samsung are using Mobile World Congress to bring out their latest and greatest. Our big question is whether the kinds of new features that may find their way on to devices — curved screens, better cameras, etc. — are enough to make a difference in either company’s fortunes.

2. Some darn impressive phones that won’t break the bank

As we’ve talked about, the big story in Barcelona isn’t what is being added to this year’s flagship model, but just how cheap you can get a phone that has everything from the flagship of a year or two ago. Our take is that $150 now buys the average phone buyer just about everything they want or need in a phone. A lot of these midrange models have already appeared, including models from Motorola, Sony and LG. Expect a lot more phones to make their debut this week, especially brands that aren’t as big in the U.S. but are strong in other parts of the globe.

3. The weird and wonderful

Some of the most unexpected treasures we’ve found over the years have been the more unusual wireless products. Robots for kids and smart canes for seniors are just a few of the things we’ve found in the past.

4. Don’t call it a comeback but please call it a comeback

Folks that have been weaker will be looking to bolster their image. Barcelona is extra important for those who have been thus far been on the outside looking in. BlackBerry, Microsoft and Intel are among the big names hoping that people walk away from Barcelona with increased confidence that they can yet make a difference in the future of mobile.

5. Five stands for 5G, the next generation of cellular technology

It’s still years off and the standards haven’t been finished but discussion is heating up around what is needed in the next generation of cellular networks and which countries and companies will provide it. For sure, 5G will need to bring both faster speeds and the ability to support a network with billions of devices. The most aggressive companies want to see the first commercial network in place for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, with an earlier test network perhaps possible for the 2018 Winter Games in Korea.

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