Mobile World Congress 2019, the world's largest trade show about phones and all things mobile, is set to start in a couple of weeks on Feb. 24. To see how far the industry has come in just the last year, we take a look at last year's standout devices and how they compare to the fanfare they garnered when they first debuted.
The 5.8-inch Galaxy S9 and 6.2-inch S9 Plus impressed us with their gorgeous screens, terrific camera and whiplash-fast speeds. They were one of the best phones in 2018 and the upcoming Galaxy S10 is expected to be even better.
The DeX Pad turned Samsung's Galaxy S9 into a touchpad, which drove a PC-style experience you used it with a plug-in monitor. When it launched, there was a possibility that the DeX Pad would work with the older Galaxy S8, but alas it's still only compatible with the S9 and S9 Plus.
The V30S ThinQ was a variant of 2018's V30 with slightly better specs. It emphasized artificial intelligence and had some extra AI features with the camera (hence the ThinQ name, which made its debut with smart appliances and TVs at CES 2018). Later in November, LG would launch the upgraded LG V40 as a successor.
The 8110 4G was a refreshed version of Nokia's classic 20-year-old phone. First launched in 1996, the original Nokia 8110 popularized the "slider" phone and appeared in the iconic sci-fi movie The Matrix. This model served as the company's second attempt at reviving a classic Nokia phone, following 2017's rebooted Nokia 3310.
Nokia's 2018's Sirocco flagship had a 5.5-inch display that stretched to all sides of the phone. While we liked its long battery life and sleek Android One operating system, the phone lacked any standout features to justify its high-end price, and the camera wasn't very impressive.
Nokia's pair of midrange Android phones combined neat metal designs with low prices. The Nokia 6 (pictured here) was the cheaper of the two and came in a few new colors. In May 2018, Nokia released the Nokia 6.1 in the US, which featured a 5.5-inch display and a 16-megapixel camera. The Nokia 7 Plus had a 6-inch screen encased in a two-tone metal body. In October, the company released the 7.1, which had a smaller 5.84-inch screen and a dual-camera setup.
The Nokia 1 was an affordable, easy-to-use phone, primarily for making calls. It had a 4.5-inch screen and ran the light Android Go version of Android, which allowed you to still go online, take a photo and listen to music.
The Matebook X Pro is compact and light, with a stellar sRGB display, a very good sound system and solid performance for its size. Unfortunately, it has one of the worst webcam placements ever and the AC adapter has a horrible case of plugspreading disease.
Status: Available now with new M5 Lite version as well
Huawei's two M5 tablets were built for video and had curved glass displays, a 2,560 by 1,600-pixel screen resolution, IPS panels, U-shaped antennas and SIM slots. The 10.8-inch M5 Pro, however, had four speakers and came with a stylus, while the 8.4-inch M5 had only two speakers and doesn't include the stylus. In January at CES 2019, Huawei released the M5 Lite (pictured here), a tablet with kid-focused parental controls.
The Blade V9 and Blade V9 Vita didn't blow us away. But their overall feel came closer to what premium phones offered in size-to-screen ratio. The 5.7-inch Blade V9 edged out the 5.45-inch V9 Vita in specs and had a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor, Android Oreo 8.1, 32 or 64GB of storage and a dual rear 16-megapixel camera.
The Tempo Go ran Google's Android Go operating system, which is a lightweight version of Android designed for lower-end devices. At the time of its debut, it was one of the first US Android Go phones, and the first to have Qualcomm's new quad-core MSM8909 processor.
Sony's Xperia XZ2 and the XZ2 Compact (pictured here) came with some serious camera features. They shot HDR photos with 4K resolution and recorded super slow motion video at 1080p resolution. The XZ2 Compact had a smaller display and we were disappointed by its front-facing camera. In August 2018, Sony announced the XZ3 successor, which has a 6-inch screen, a 19-megapixel camera and a Snapdragon 845 processor.
We liked that the Lenovo Yoga 730 (pictured here) had faster eighth-gen Intel Core i-series processors than the 2017 model. But while its battery life was "good," it wasn't a standout for the category and we didn't like that it didn't have an SD card slot.
As for the IdeaPad Flex 14, Lenovo tried something new with the semi-hybrid. But its fold-back hinge was of dubious practical use, as it didn't fold all the way down into a tablet. Without the gimmicks though, it's still a good laptop.
At last year's MWC, the Apex was just a concept phone. It packed a selfie camera that popped out of the top and an in-screen fingerprint reader. In June, Vivo announced that it would make the Apex a reality under the name Vivo Nex. It's available in Asia, India and Russia. It has a 6.59-inch screen and dual rear cameras.
The Land Rover Explore was an Android-based phone built by Bullitt with rugged elements from the Land Rover brand. It could take on the worst with features like a IP68 waterproof rating, a 4,000mAh expandable battery and even an SOS flashlight.
The SikurPhone was an Android device that came with its own cryptocurrency wallet and was designed to be extremely secure. It used its own encrypted messaging platform and internet browser to ensure that no one was spying on you.
Status: Available now in varying markets, 1X and 1C phones updated for 2019.
In 2017, Alcatel released seven budget friendly phones at MWC. These phones ranged from the super affordable Alcatel 1X and 1C to the Alcatel 5 (pictured here), which had some premium features, but still cost less than 300 euro (about $370, £265 or AU$470).
Then, earlier this January, Alcatel showed off 2019 versions of the 1X and 1C phones. The 1X has a 5.5-inch display and dual rear cameras, while the 1C has a smaller 5-inch screen and a single 5-megapixel camera.
The Asus ZenFone 5 had a premium look with barely-there bezels and a wide-angle lens. During its launch, Asus also introduced the ZenFone 5Z, which came with a Snapdragon 845 processor, and the 6-inch ZenFone 5 Lite.