Samsung and the MWC conference in Barcelona have long had a top-down relationship. The energy at the show has fluctuated according to whether the world's largest handset maker decides to hold its big phone launch in the first half of the year in Spain. If Samsung appears, there is a noticeable advantage in the interest.
On Wednesday, just a few days before the kickoff of this year's MWC, Samsung introduced its Galaxy S10 range and its Galaxy Fold. In San Francisco.
One would think that it would mitigate the wind in the sails of the CMM. But between the mix of unique new devices, an international plot and, of course, the 5G, the show offers a good chance to stand up without Samsung. MWC traditionally offers you a window into what the smartphone world will look like over the next year. But with 5G, you could see the basics of how things will evolve over the next few years.
"This will be the most significant MWC since the launch of 4G," said Wayne Lam, analyst at HIS Markit.
When CES in January will offer a modest glimpse of what 5G might look like, MWC will be the real launch of next-generation cellular technology. After years of media hype that 5G is going to change our lives by connecting everything to a super-fast, super-responsive network, some deployments are underway.
Heck, even President Donald Trump tweet about it.
Another reason to get excited is the potential to see more foldable smartphones being prepared. Samsung may have launched the Galaxy Fold, but Huawei and Xiaomi may have their own flexible devices. Similarly, LG has an intriguing second screen for one of its flagship phones.
The other problem is how Huawei will manage in the spotlight of the show while facing increased global surveillance of the safety of its products. The company is generally very present at the MWC and this year will not be different.
So yes, it's going to be a wild and strange show.
5G, 5G, 5G
We are in 2019 and the 5G has finally arrived. South Korea has activated the service, although customers and deployments remain limited. In the US, AT & T has a true 5G (and not the wrong 5G E) on a dozen markets, while Verizon has been running its 5G Home service since the end of last year (some are wondering if Is really 5G).
There is no doubt that we will see real deployments of 5G throughout the conference. Renowned companies such as Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia will probably set up test networks in the Fira Gran Via convention center.
It will be a good test in the field of these networks, given the density of pedestrian traffic and cellular requirements competing with many deployments.
MWC will also be a good place to see larger apps beyond a faster connection to a smartphone. In the past, Ericsson has shown how a responsive network can help you drive an excavator thousands of miles away, while Huawei has shown the potential of smart cities.
"The mobile phone industry is growing at a steady pace, and we anticipate that the most important theme of the MWC in Barcelona will be how 5G will change the world, and in particular the role it will play to usher in a new era of smart connectivity, "said Mats Granryd, general manager of the GSMA, the professional group that presents the show.
Not only Samsung
The Galaxy Fold stole the thunder away from the Galaxy S10 at Samsung Unpacked. Foldable MWC phones could do the same.
While Samsung has managed to stand out from the competition, companies like Huawei and Xiaomi could have the last word.
Although the Galaxy Fold appealed to the public with its demo, Samsung chose not to let anyone approach too much, and the phone called MIA when the demo area opened. Another company could steal the show by giving people closer contact with their foldable devices.
At CES, I tried Flexpai from Chinese start-up Royole. While the software was buggy, the foldable screen worked well and it was without a doubt one of the most impressive things I saw at the show. The fact is that the bar is low and tolerance for products under development is high for flexible phones.
CNET indicated that TCL was working on a family of folding devices and that it could also be fun during the show.
It's not just fun and games. One of the highlights of the series will be how Huawei will deal with issues related to his conduct. The United States led the crusade against the company, its Justice Ministry having laid numerous charges, including intellectual theft, fraud and obstruction of justice.
Meng Wanzhou, the company's chief financial officer and founder Ren Zhangfei's daughter, is incarcerated in Canada while awaiting extradition to the United States under certain charges brought by the Ministry of Justice. Huawei denied any wrongdoing, and Ren said in an interview with CBS This Morning that the move was motivated by political considerations. (Note: CNET and CBS This Morning are both part of CBS.)
Similarly, ZTE will return from the edge of the precipice after an agreement with the US Department of Commerce on sanctions related to its work with North Korea and Iran. He has been keeping a low profile at CES 2019, but is expected to return with a press conference in Barcelona.
In recent years at the CMM, phones have sprung out of nowhere to enthrall fans of shows.
There is the mysterious LG smartphone with a second attachment to the screen. This is not exactly a collapsible smartphone, but a potentially unique innovation that allows us to go beyond the boring rectangular slab.
In 2017, the startup HMD Global, which manufactures phones using the Nokia brand, has attracted much attention with the remake of the Nokia 3310, perfectly suited to the nostalgic trend that also saw the revival of the NES Classic.
HMD did it again last year with the Nokia 8110, also called the Matrix phone. Leaks point to a phone with five amazing cameras at the back.
Maybe it will be for a trifecta of retro phones. Or a Chinese phone maker, Oppo, will come out of nowhere to amaze the crowds.
With Samsung out of the mix, everything could happen at MWC.
The story was published at 5 o'clock in the morning.
Mobile World Congress 2019