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What to expect out of Mobile World Congress 2022 [Updated]

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The mobile industry's show of shows is once again slimmed down thanks to the pandemic, but here's what we're expecting to see (from afar).

Most years if you were to wander the halls of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, AKA the premier event for the mobile industry, you'd probably find a frantically working Finder employee, writing and capturing all the news out of the big show.

Not so in 2022, because, well… pandemic.

It's much the same story as it was in 2021 and 2020, with sensible health precautions taking precedence over our stone-cold lust for shiny new mobile gadgets and services. Curse you, need to breathe!

That aside, the pandemic has also shaped what we expect to see (from afar) revealed at MWC 2022. Where once the likes of Samsung would hold major phone launches, it's likely to be a smaller show with fewer brands making a big splash. That's not the same as saying that there won't be any new phones or announcements likely to occur at MWC 2022. Here's what we expect to see unveiled over the MWC 2022 week.

Officially, MWC 2022 doesn't kick off until 28 February 2022, running until 3 March 2022, but realistically news starts to kick in on the weekend before.

Samsung logo

Samsung: New phones unlikely, new laptops likely

Samsung is fresh off announcing the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Galaxy S22 Plus and Galaxy S22, not to mention the massive new Galaxy Tab S8 tablets. It's not even that far removed from announcing the Galaxy S21 FE.

As such, it seems unlikely that we'll see new Samsung phones showcased at MWC 2022, although it's not outside the realms of possibility for Samsung to show off cheaper Galaxy A series phones in their shiny new 2022 robes at the show.

What's been more strongly rumoured is that Samsung will use MWC 2022 to instead debut new Galaxy Book laptop devices. Samsung has a strong play in the laptop space, but don't get too excited. We've seen plenty of Samsung models launched at shows in prior years including MWC and CES, only to find out that Samsung Australia isn't planning to release them locally.

Oppo: Say hello to the Oppo Find X5

It wasn't exactly a secret that Oppo was going to announce the Oppo Find X5 just before MWC, the successor to the unusual Oppo Find X3. No, we don't know what happened to the Find X4 either.

That's exactly what it's done, taking the wraps off three different Oppo Find X5 models. The flagship Oppo Find X5 Pro has a 6.7 inch display, while the Find X5 and Find X5 Lite rock 6.55 and 6.4 inch displays respectively. Oppo's betting big on the use of its MariSilicon X NPU to give it an edge in photography and cinematography, especially for the Pro and regular models.

Want to know more about the Oppo Find X5? We've got you covered right here.

realme: GT2 will launch, but will it come down under?

Fellow BBK Electronics stablemate realme has made a definite splash down under with a wide range of colourful, youth-centric and above all affordable smartphones in recent years. At MWC 2022, the brand will launch a new smartphone in the form of the realme GT 2, although "launch" here is a slightly odd term.

In realme's home market of China, the realme GT 2 has been on sale since January. It is sold in standard and pro forms to appeal to different price points. The standard realme GT 2 has a 6.62-inch, 1080x2400-pixel, 120Hz AMOLED display, Snapdragon 888 processor with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage. Cameras are handled via a triple rear lens array with a 50MP primary sensor. Its battery is rated at 5,000mAh with support for up to 65W charging.

realme GT2 Pro

The more enticing realme GT 2 Pro features a 6.7-inch, 1440x3216-pixel, 120Hz-capable AMOLED screen. The processor bumps up to Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, 12GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage. Battery capacity is rated at 5,000mAh with 65W charging, but it's in the camera space where it gets more interesting.

At the rear of the realme GT 2 Pro, there's a 50MP primary sensor, 50MP ultra-wide and a 3MP microscope camera. At a certain level, the GT 2 Pro mimics much of the 2021's Oppo Find X3. That's what you get when you're stablemates, I guess.

What we do have to guess at is whether the MWC 2022 reveal will lead to actual Australian availability. The inclusion of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 would suggest a true premium price for the realme GT 2 Pro. That's not a space the brand has played with in the past, although it's somewhere that Oppo has had some success.

Lenovo: Laptops likely, a Motorola refresh possible

Lenovo isn't formally presenting at MWC 2022, but it's not above riding a hype wave. We do know the Chinese brand will have announcements timed to go out around MWC 2022.

The smart money says that Lenovo will do what it usually does, using the big show to reveal some new laptop models and maybe – but far from definitely – a few mobile phones under its wholly owned Motorola brand.

TCL: Low priced phones aplenty

TCL announced a small number of low-cost phones under its own brand at CES 2022, but those were specific models for the US only. At the same time, it made no secret of its plans to announce new affordable phone models at MWC 2022 for the wider planet. That should include Australia, and the focus here is likely to be on the mid-range affordable segment. TCL no longer experiments with weird Blackberry or Palm phones, but it still has Alcatel for its true budget space as well.

TCL phone

It has also used MWC in the past to show off foldable concept designs, with the promise that it would only bring TCL branded foldables to market once it could do so at more affordable prices than current models. It feels unlikely that 2022 will be the year that TCL foldables that Australians can actually buy will break cover, but I can live in hope.

It's also likely that TCL will further expand plans around other wearables and tablet devices – again, most likely models first shown off or teased at CES 2022.

HMD Global: What's next for Nokia?

HMD Global still holds the rights to produce mobile phones under the Nokia brand, and MWC has long been its showcase event for new smartphone models.

It's likely to show off new smartphone models at MWC 2022, with 2 real questions to answer.

Will we finally see another Nokia "flagship" phone, or will it continue to play it safe in the mid-range and budget phone spaces? There's a lot more competition in the Android phone space than when HMD Global first broke onto the scene, and we don't always see every model released here.

Having the Nokia brand on tap also lets HMD Global play with our nostalgia glands, and it's possible there may be a fresh "throwback" phone that points to Nokia's dominant past as well. However, that's a less likely play for the Australian market, but we'll have to wait and see.

What has already announced with a Nokia badge on it are a pair of laptops.

No, really, Nokia laptops. The Nokia PureBook Pro line offers up a 15.6 inch or 17.3 inch display, 12 Gen Intel Core processors and a range of colours. Despite the Nokia branding, they're not HMD Global efforts, but instead produced by French brand OFF Global. Will they make their way to Australia? It doesn't seem likely, but it does point to head brand Nokia licensing out its name ever more widely.

Other brands: Lots of announcements likely, availability slim

MWC won't just be dominated by the phone makers above. It's highly likely that brands like Honor, ZTE, Xiaomi, Vivo, Huawei and others will have MWC 2022 announcements to make.

However, the presence of those brands in Australia isn't all that strong, officially speaking. We've seen a handful of models for sure, but it pales next to the wider array of handsets those brands produce, and that may well be the focus at MWC 2022. Just because it's announced there doesn't mean that it'll officially come to Australia. Or indeed, that if you imported one that it would work nicely with our 4G or 5G networks.

Haven't you forgotten about Apple?

Apple Worldwide Developers Conference

Not at all – but Apple's essentially forgotten about appearing at MWC since… (checks watch)… ever, actually. Apple doesn't play well with sharing the spotlight with others, and it's expected to have its own launch event in early March, where we expect to see new Macs and possibly the 2022 iteration of the iPhone SE get launched. That's just after MWC 2022 wraps, so why would Apple steal its own thunder with an MWC announcement?

Want more Mobile World Congress news? See all the latest products and announcements on our MWC 2022 news hub.

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