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Coronavirus leads to a canceled Mobile World Congress. What now?

Alex Sheehan
Alex Sheehan

Feb 24, 2020 — 4 min read

MWC, which happens every year in Barcelona, has been called off. What about all the latest and most advanced mobile device releases?

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Mobile World Congress (MWC) happens every year in Barcelona. The trade show brings together some of the biggest advancements in the mobile technology world. The latest and most advanced mobile devices are released there. 

Below, a look at what was expected to debut at the event and what some manufacturers have planned as launches.

What is Mobile World Congress?

Industry association GSMA hosts the annual trade show where some of the world’s biggest smartphone product debuts happen. In fact, MWC launches are what puts the event on the map. The industry is abuzz as some of the biggest manufacturers release their latest advancements. 

From the official website: “The GSMA MWC series (formally known as Mobile World Congress) is the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, and incorporates a thought-leadership conference featuring prominent executives representing global mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors, and content owners.”

The 2020 event was set to take place on February 24-27 with a focus across seven different categories: 

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  2. Connectivity: The 5G Era
  3. Customer Engagement
  4. Industry X
  5. Media & Entertainment
  6. Our Planet
  7. Security & Privacy

New device launches

Though many debuts are kept under wraps and leaked through rumors, some are confirmed ahead of time. 


Note that Huawei bans prevent these phones from having the Google Play Store or any Google apps. 

  • Honor 9X Pro – released August 2019
  • Honor View 30 – announced in China in November 2019
  • Honor View 30 Pro – announced in China in November 2019
  • Mate XS – March 2020 launch planned


In lieu of MWC 2020, LG has its own branded events planned for the first half of 2020 where they plan to announce new smartphones and devices, as well as specific launch dates. 

  • LG G9 ThinQ
  • LG V60 ThinQ


Very little information is known about the anticipated device launches from Motorola. The manufacturer hasn’t released or confirmed any information about upcoming events, launches, etc. 

  • Moto Edge+
  • Moto G8
  • Moto One 2020


  • Nokia 5.2 – released in India; future launches TBD
  • Nokia 8.2 – released in India; future launches TBD


  • Oppo Find X2 – Feb. 22 launch


  • Samsung Galaxy A series – information not available


Sony is hosting its own livestream to announce new devices. The keynote will start at 2:30 a.m. EST on Feb. 24. You can tune in via the Sony Xperia YouTube channel.

  • Sony Xperia 2
  • Sony Xperia 5 Plus


  • Vivo Apex 2020 – information not available


Tech Radar anticipates Xiaomi to make their device launches in March 2020.

  • Xiaomi Mi 10
  • Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro

What’s happening for Mobile World Congress 2020

After the coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan, China in 2019 and later spread to other countries, travelers all over the world have been on high alert. As a result, many companies canceled their participation in MWC 2020, including Amazon, Cisco and Sony. 

On February 12, 2020, GSMA decided to call it off for 2020. They’ve released the following statement on the event website: 

“Since the first edition of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2006, the GSMA has convened the industry, governments, ministers, policymakers, operators and industry leaders across the broader ecosystem.

With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has canceled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event.

The Host City Parties respect and understand this decision.

The GSMA and the Host City Parties will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions.

Our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world.”

What now? 

The future of MWC is uncertain. While we know there are no plans to hold the 2020 event somewhere else—it has been officially canceled—GSMA has plans to move ahead for next year, with Barcelona’s Fira Gran Via as the main venue.

Ben Wood, a mobile analyst from CCS Insight consultancy, told Tech Radar, “The GSMA now needs to be careful that there is not a knock-on effect from this year’s cancellation. Major companies and many attendees will be reviewing the importance of MWC to their business and the GSMA must work hard to have a clear path forward. This is particularly true for smaller business that have had to swallow many of the costs from this year’s show.”

Only time will tell. Follow our experts on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date with all things mobile and home tech.