Subsequent week sees Cellular World Congress return to Barcelona, two years after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the world’s largest cell phone commerce present, and one yr after the present came about without many of its largest exhibitors in attendance. Not everyone seems to be making a return to this yr’s in-person occasion (Sony, Lenovo, and a few media retailers together with The Verge aren’t attending) nevertheless it nearly feels just like the present is again to full power.

However it’s additionally an occasion that’s going to point out off precisely how a lot the smartphone business has shifted lately. Because it stands, all of the present’s largest {hardware} bulletins seem prone to come from Chinese language manufacturers like Oppo, Honor, TCL, Xiaomi-sub-brand Poco, and Huawei, fairly than manufacturers from Europe, America, and even one other Asian nation like South Korea.

Honor, for instance, is planning to announce the Magic 4 series at the show, marking its first Western flagship smartphone launch since splitting with former mother or father firm Huawei. Though the corporate launched the mid-range Honor 50 globally final yr, the Magic 4 is rumored to be utilizing Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, making it a direct (and certain reasonably priced) competitor to the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S22 or the OnePlus 10.

In the meantime Oppo has stated it plans to announce “several high-end flagship products” alongside augmented actuality and 5G “R&D achievements” at this yr’s MWC. The corporate is contemporary off the heels of asserting its newest flagship smartphone, the Find X5 Pro, final Thursday, however nonetheless intends to make use of this yr’s present to make main bulletins.

Or what about TCL, which says it plans to reveal more entries in its 30 Series of smartphones after asserting the primary two entries, the 30 XE 5G and 30 V5G, at CES earlier this yr. Or Poco, the Xiaomi sub-brand that plans to announce the Poco X4 Pro 5G and Poco M4 Pro at an occasion on February twenty eighth. Oppo spinoff Realme is promising to announce the “world’s fastest smartphone charging technology” at this yr’s present, which for these conserving monitor would should be quicker than the 125W UltraDart technology it introduced a few years in the past.

In distinction, main cellphone manufacturers exterior of China have hardly ever proven a lot curiosity in utilizing MWC for main consumer-facing bulletins. Google has by no means launched a smartphone at MWC, and Apple takes the present about as severely because it takes each different main commerce present, which is to say “not very.” However even Samsung, which used MWC to announce its flagship Galaxy S smartphone as recently as 2018, seems to be focusing its MWC launches this yr on a humble laptop. Solely HMD, the Finland-headquartered firm that now produces Nokia-branded smartphones, has routinely timed its major product announcements with the Barcelona commerce present.

MWC’s growing concentrate on Chinese language firms doesn’t imply it’s shedding relevance, as a result of these telephones are extra fashionable with clients all around the globe than ever. As of final yr, IDC reports that three out of the highest 5 hottest smartphone manufacturers worldwide — Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo — are headquartered in China, with the primary and two spots being taken up by Samsung and Apple. It’s an analogous state of affairs in Europe particularly, the place Counterpoint Research reports that seven out of the highest ten hottest smartphone manufacturers are headquartered in China.

As a substitute, I feel the pattern is an attention-grabbing show of who has probably the most to achieve from timing a giant announcement to coincide with a crowded commerce present. It’s not firms like Samsung and Apple, which have the form of international bodily presence that enables them to host huge launches individually from main commerce reveals. However for a corporation like Honor or TCL, a present like MWC appears to be like like a useful strategy to get a whole lot of press into one place to point out off your wares.

The information round MWC 2022 will nearly actually be dominated by Chinese language tech manufacturers, who’re doing the perfect out of anybody at conserving the thrill round Europe’s largest cell present alive. However the extra you have a look at it, it begins to seem like good logistics.


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