To absolutely no one’s surprise, the early announcements out of the Barcelona-based smartphone show have been dominated by two things: 5G and folding displays. In the weeks leading up to Mobile World Congress 2019, mobility firms have dropped news about the forthcoming next-gen network, while phone makers unveiled their strategies for differentiating themselves in the smartphone category.
On the 5G side of things, there are plenty of new phones coming down the pike that will have support for the new connectivity standard, so it’s really just a matter of when the switch will be flipped on. Sprint said it would do just that in four cities this May. Subscribers in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City will be the first to get access to the network with Houston, LA, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington following close behind. Verizon’s list more than triples that, while T-Mobile delayed their 5G rollout until the second half of this year, and AT&T is still recovering from its misleading 5Ge “rollout.”
Let’s get to the foldables, though. I think I’ve made my thoughts pretty clear on the emerging category of smartphones—essentially that this first round of flexible display devices is going to be a massive flop. But it’s still intriguing to see how manufacturers decide to approach the space. To this point, we’ve seen the Royole FlexPai, the Samsung Galaxy Fold, and Xiaomi’s unnamed foldable device, all three of which have a different form factor. And now, with the rest of the world’s leading smartphone makers all gathered in Spain for their big event, additional devices have started to enter the fray.