MWC 2017 Preview: Samsung, LG, Nokia, BlackBerry, 5G And IoT

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From smartphones to next-generation connectivity: Silicon runs down the tech to expect at Mobile World Congress 2017

BlackBerry

blackberry privBlackBerry won’t be showcasing any of its software or products at MWC this year, but the BlackBerry Mercury Android smartphone made under license by TCL but designed by BlackBerry will make its debut.

Not one to follow the conventions of modern smartphone design, the Mercury will feature a QWERTY keyboard and is rumoured to have a camera that makes use of Sony’s relatively new IMX378 image sensor, found in the impressive camera on the rear of Google’s Pixel XL smartphone.

Hardware aside, the Mercury will feature a dollop of BlackBerry’s secure messaging services on top of what is likely an Android Nougat operating system. For business users, particularity those working in sectors with strict data privacy rules, the Mercury could be a boon, particularity when is comes to hacking out important emails on the move.

If nothing else the Mercury stands as the last hurrah for BlackBerry in designing hardware, as TCL will take over those duties with subsequent mobile featuring the BlackBerry brand.

5G, IoT, virtual reality and smart software

brocadeAs for the rest of MWC 2017, we can expect to hear a lot of chatter around 5G, particularly as chipmaker Qualcomm has already announced it will showcase tech with paving the road to 5G in mind. Granted there’s a lot of disparity around the next generation of mobile broadband, but we can expect to see industry luminaries throw their thoughts and developments on 5G into the ring next week.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a now a regular feature in the topic and products being discussed and displayed at MWC. As we wander the halls of the conference, we are expecting to seem all manner of smart devices and systems that tap into sensor networks and connected hardware, ranging from cars and drones to lighting and robots.

Virtual reality (VR) made a bit of a splash at last year MWC and we don’t expect it to go away anytime soon; no doubt there will be a plethora of VR headsets on display from mainstream and niche companies. And we expect to see developers show-off their software that embraces immersion in virtual environments.

We hope to also see more around augmented reality, with smart glasses designed to feedback information to industrial workers operating in environments where using a smartphone isn’t ideal. Microsoft’s HoloLens is not likely to be present, but we wouldn’t be too surprised to see other augmented reality headsets from a startup or two on display.

Finally, with the rise of virtual assistants and the continued development of artificial intelligence (AI), we predict there will be plenty of chatter around smart software and its ability to automate the more arduous aspects of both work and personal life. Chatbots, virtual assistants and AI-powered systems should crop up in both keynotes and on the show floor throughout the conference.

This year MWC looks to be a packed show, and while the likes of Microsoft, Google and Apple won’t have a notable presence at the conference, we can expect a fair amount of interesting technology to crop up next week. Make sure you check back with Silicon to keep track of the news and views coming out of MWC 2017.

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