New phone designs aim to shake up MWC 2019

More phones with 5G, foldable designs and multiple cameras at the world's largest mobile show.

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Samsung  wowed us with its foldable Galaxy Fold and four Galaxy S10 phones before MWC -- the largest mobile conference on the planet -- has even begun. But mark my words, this will be a busy, exciting show, and one that Samsung will use to share even more details about its amazing phone that unfolds into a tablet (even if you probably won't buy one).

Samsung won't be alone on the foldable stage.  Huawei , the world's second-largest smartphone maker behind Samsung, is rumored to show off its first-ever foldable phone.  LG Nokia Oppo  and  Xiaomi  might also plan to make their mark at the annual Barcelona confab.

Watch this: MWC 2019 phone trends we'll see

What makes this year's MWC even more vital than last year's show is the energy we'll see behind three extremely powerful trends that have the potential to define a decade of mobile phones : foldable designs, 5G data speeds and amazingly complex photography due to a plethora of rear cameras (the Galaxy S10 5G has six in all). As sales stagnate across the entire smartphone world, the products and news announced at MWC offer a beacon of hope for revitalizing one of the fastest-moving industries on the planet.

Watch this: What to expect from Mobile World Congress 2019

Here are the phones and brands we expect to see take that challenge.

Close up with the Galaxy Fold's original screen, notch and hinge

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Number of phones likely: 3-4
Samsung press conference: Feb. 20, 11 a.m. PT, San Francisco
Samsung MWC booth opens: Feb. 25 in Barcelona

Yes, Samsung has already launched the Galaxy Fold, four Galaxy S10 phones and a slew of other devices. But the king of the hill will absolutely take the opportunity to go big with its booth and show off all its fun, new toys. 

While the world's largest phone-maker isn't hosting a press conference, my money is on Samsung saving a few demo surprises for MWC  -- and I'm just speculating here -- for example, quite a few for its upcoming foldable phone...?

Read also: Galaxy Fold is the most exciting phone we've seen in years


5G phones like the Galaxy S10 5G are going to be all the rage.

Sarah Tew/CNET


Number of phones likely: 1
Oppo press conference: Feb. 23, 2 p.m. CET (5 a.m. PT)

Chinese brand Oppo brought us the showstopping Find X in 2018, so we're hoping for a similar showing. If the rumors are to be believed, Oppo might be gearing up for the Oppo F11 Pro, an all-screen phone with a 48-megapixel camera that pops out of the body, and excellent low-light shots. Looks like it would have that stunning gradient design on the back, too.

Oppo Find X is the sexiest phone of 2018

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Number of phones likely: 2-3
Xiaomi press conference: Feb. 24, 10:30 a.m. CET (1:30 a.m. PT)

Xiaomi stole some of Samsung's foldable phone thunder when it posted a video teasing its totally unique foldable phone design. We can only hope that's what's on Xiaomi's plate for MWC.

However, the Xiaomi Mi 9 flagship phone is also bouncing around the corridors of conjecture. Xiaomi has taken its opportunity at MWC to launch this line of phones before, so the announcement stands to reason. Xiaomi usually makes a higher-end variant of its Mi phones as well, either a pro model or a special edition.


Number of phones likely: 2
Huawei press conference: Feb. 24, 4 p.m. CET (7 a.m. PT)
Honor press conference: Feb. 26, 4 p.m. CET (7 a.m. PT)

Huawei told us, in so many words, that it plans to have a foldable phone with 5G support in February, potentially melding 2019's most important phone trends in a single -- likely ridiculously expensive -- device. This would be a tremendous moment for the beleaguered No. 2 smartphone brand, and a chance to one-up Samsung, whose foldable phone is widely expected to make an appearance in San Francisco a few days before Huawei's press conference.

Huawei reportedly hopes to overtake Samsung as the world's No. 1 smartphone brand by the end of 2020.

Honor, a Huawei offshoot that the company has tried to spin off as its own brand for years, will host a "party" that's also a presentation. A midprice Honor 11 seems likely. This phone would follow the flashy Honor View 20 , which has a surprisingly good 48-megapixel camera for a midrange phone.

Honor View 20's hypnotic colors will make your jaw drop

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Number of phones likely: 1-2
Nokia phones press conference: Feb. 24, 4 p.m. CET (7 a.m. PT)

We only expect one Nokia phone from HMD, the company that licenses the Nokia name, but the one we think we'll get would be a doozy.

According to a render posted by frequent Twitter leaker Evan Blass, the Nokia 9 PureView will have five cameras on the back, use Zeiss camera technology and run Android One, the "pure" version of Android that Google shares with device makers.

It's also possible that HMD will make this its third year of releasing a throwback feature phone (aka "dumb phone") to the glee of nostalgic types everywhere. Last year's Nokia 8110 "banana phone" and 2017's Nokia supercheap 3310 practically won MWC in their respective years.


Number of phones likely: 2-3
LG press conference: Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m. CET (10:30 a.m. PT)


The LG G8's selfie camera will have a time-of-flight sensor that can scan a 3D image of your face.


LG wasn't shy in announcing its own LG G8 ThinQ phone ahead of MCW, complete with a 3D front-facing camera that can securely unlock the phone just like the iPhone XS and iPhone X before it. 

The G8 is also expected to have a second screen case attachment.

We don't know much else about the LG G8, or if LG will also show or tease a foldable phone like so many others. However, we already believe that LG might announce a 5G device.

The handset-maker has also been known to trot out midrangers like the LG X Power , so there's a possibility a phone like that could also make its debut.


Number of phones likely: 3
Sony press conference: Feb. 25, 8:30 a.m. CET (Feb. 24, 11:30 p.m. PT)

Rumors point to the Sony Xperia X4 being the marquee follow-up to last year's Xperia X3. We can look for bold camera claims here, including enhancements to slow-motion video.

It's unlikely we'll see a 5G phone from Sony so soon. The company doesn't want to rush a product that the majority of phone buyers won't snatch up in 2019, Sony Mobile marketing VP Don Mesa told Digital Trends in January. Sony does often reveal a handful of midrange models alongside its top device, however.


OnePlus may not launch the OnePlus 7 at MWC, since the OnePlus 6T just came out, but we could see its first 5G phone.

Angela Lang/CNET


Number of phones likely
: 1

OnePlus isn't holding a press conference at MWC, but it'll be on the ground. It plans to show off its 5G phone, which was announced this past December and will be available on the UK carrier EE. 

Originally published 4 a.m. PT, Feb. 11.
Update: Feb. 21 at 10:20 a.m. PT.

MWC 2018: Where are they now?

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