MWC 2021 dates, news and what to expect from the big smartphone show

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the biggest trade show in the mobile calendar and it’s where many of the year’s most exciting handsets are often announced – alongside tablets, wearables, and other tech.

Or at least, it’s usually the biggest trade show in the mobile calendar, but in 2020 it was cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic. However, the good news is that – for now at least – MWC 2021 is scheduled to go ahead, though it will be later than normal, as explained below.

So what can you expect to see at MWC 2021? While nothing has been confirmed just yet, we can take some educated guesses based on previous years. You’ll find them below, and as soon as we learn more we’ll update this article with all the details. So make sure to check back here if you want to stay up to date on MWC 2021.

Latest News

Another one bites the dust: Samsung is the latest phone brand to pull out of MWC 2021. It'll still participate in online conferences, but it'll have no physical presence at the annual tech event.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The biggest smartphone trade show of the year
  • When is it? June 28 - July 1

What are the MWC 2021 dates?

MWC 2021 is scheduled to be held from June 28 – July 1. Those aren’t the original dates, as it had previously been planned for early March, but it has now been delayed to increase the chance of it actually being able to go ahead and be well attended.

While it will be held in Barcelona as usual, it’s also set to have “virtual elements” this time.

The GSMA - the company behind the show - confirmed in mid-February that the intention is for the show to go ahead, but it'll be much further scaled back than in previous years.

In an interview with Mobile World Live, GSMA Limited CEO John Hoffman confirmed that the plan is to have between 40,000 and 50,000 attendees. In 2019, the last physical MWC show, there were around 110,000 attendees.

Of course, since no one can predict the future it’s always possible that the event will be further delayed or even cancelled, but for now, late June is when to mark it in your calendar.

Ericsson is one of the biggest companies that often attends MWC, but the company has decided to withdraw from the 2021 event. Google, Sony, Nokia and others have since said the same - but many still suggest they'll take part in the virtual elements, meaning we might still see announcements from them.

What is the plan for MWC 2022? Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA, has confirmed to TechRadar plans to keep its February window for future shows after the 2021 event.

"We do want to be going back to the February Barcelona rhythm once 2021 is done." Granryd said. "A lot of product launches are happening towards the beginning of the year, so we'd like to time that into our event."

What to expect at MWC 2021

At the time of writing there’s no concrete news about what to expect at MWC 2021, but we have some ideas based on the sorts of products that are typically announced.

Sony at MWC 2021

Sony Xperia 1

The Sony Xperia 1 was an MWC announcement (Image credit: Future)

Sony often announces major phones at MWC. During the 2019 show for example it unveiled the flagship Sony Xperia 1, along with the mid-range Sony Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus.

This year the company has already announced the Sony Xperia 1 III, Xperia 5 III, and Xperia 10 III, so what does that leave for MWC? 

Well, we've also seen leaks surrounding the Sony Xperia 1 III Compact and there's also talk of a mystery 'Ultra' phone, so they're also possibilities.

Regardless though, we’d think it’s likely that we’ll see something from Sony at MWC 2021. That said, the company has pulled out of the in-person event - but it may well still announce something online.

Huawei at MWC 2021

Huawei Mate Xs

Could we see the successor to the Mate XS at MWC 2021? (Image credit: TechRadar)

While Huawei didn’t launch any of its main flagships at MWC 2019, it did unveil the foldable Huawei Mate X, which was quite a big deal. It also often unveils new tablets and laptops during the event.

So while we probably won’t see the Huawei P50 or Huawei Mate 50 at MWC 2021, we might well see something from the company – perhaps including one or more foldables. The Huawei Mate X2 has already landed, but there's rumors that Huawei has some affordable foldables on the way at some point this year.

Nokia at MWC 2021

The Nokia 9 PureView was a highlight of MWC 2019

The Nokia 9 PureView was a highlight of MWC 2019 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Nokia often has a big presence at MWC, with flagships (such as the Nokia 9 PureView in 2019) and lower end phones both accounted for.

At the time of writing the company hasn’t yet launched the Nokia 10, so that’s overdue and will possibly arrive before MWC 2021, but you never know, we might see it there, or even the Nokia 11.

Leaks currently can't agree on whether it will land in the first or second half of the year - if the latter then it might not arrive until after MWC, but the confusion could stem from MWC happening right in the middle of the year.

And if the Nokia 10 doesn't land there, at the very least we’ll probably see some low-end or mid-range Nokia phones, such as the Nokia 8.4. It's worth noting that Nokia has pulled out of attending MWC 2021 in person, but claims it will participate in the 'virtual event'.

Everything else

While we’ve covered many of the likely highlights above, there will probably be all sorts of other things on show from all sorts of other companies.

At MWC 2019 we saw new phones from Alcatel, Xiaomi, ZTE, and more. We also saw new Samsung handsets, but don’t get too excited – in recent years the company has held separate events for flagships, and we've already had the Samsung Galaxy S21 range.

Samsung isn't participating in the physical event, which makes it seem less likely the brand will have anything to show off, but we can't rule it out for good.

Other likely candidates for MWC 2021 phone launches include Honor, Motorola, and Oppo. Plus, you can expect a variety of tablets and laptops, potentially alongside some smartwatches and fitness trackers – though notably there weren’t any at MWC 2019.

What we probably won’t see is anything by Apple or OnePlus, and while Google might unveil something it almost certainly won’t be a phone – at MWC 2019 the company just talked about Google Assistant improvements and Google Fi.

As with a number of other companies though, Google has said it won't attend the physical event, but that still leaves it open to online announcements.

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