Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and Nokia’s Banana Phone Steal the Big Mobile Show

The future of phones is on display at Barcelona's 2018 wireless extravaganza.

Some 100,000 people are descending on Barcelona for the 2018 Mobile World Congress to see the latest smartphones, AI devices and autonomous drones exhibited by more than 2,000 companies. The wireless industry’s biggest conference is also the industry’s largest networking opportunity for executives, bankers, analysts and the like to talk shop — and potential deals.

Among the CEOs are Deutsche Telekom AG’s Tim Hoettges and Vodafone Group Plc’s Vittorio Colao, who will jostle for airtime discussing the major trends shaping the industry such as cybersecurity, the arrival of ultrafast fifth-generation mobile networks and blockchain.

   

   

Visitors explore a simulated cloud based computing installation at the MessageBird pavilion.

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An employee demonstrates a fitness training exercise with a SOLOS Mirrors smart mirror at the Infineon Technologies AG stand.

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Attendees use HTC Corp Vive VR headsets and gun-mounted VR sensors during a demonstration at the company's stand. Virtual reality devices have been around at MWC for a few years now, but they largely continue to occupy the enthusiast video-gamer niche. The ambition for device-makers is that as the products become more powerful, smaller and lighter, VR use cases will mushroom, luring more people to actually buy them.

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An attendee tests the AI-powered Mercedes-Benz MBUX multimedia assistant. With a touchscreen, navigation and AR technology, it will enter production in spring 2018.

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Attendees photograph new Galaxy S9 smartphones during Samsung Electronics Co.'s "Unpacked" launch event. This year, Samsung is back to unveil its latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S9.

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A Vestel Group robot greets attendees.

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Attendees photograph Nokia 8110 4G smartphones—which according Helsinki-based manufacturer HMD Global Oy—has up to 25 days of standby time from a single charge.

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HMD Global is presenting Nokia-branded phones after making headlines with a reboot of the iconic Nokia 3310 in 2017.

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Attendees work on devices at the Huawei Technologies Co. pavilion.

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Samsung has equipped the S9 Plus with two cameras: a wide-angle and a telephoto, and both capture at a resolution of 12 megapixels. Samsung even mounts the two lenses of the S9 Plus vertically — something Apple Inc. does with its flagship iPhone X.

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An operator controls a 5G-enabled robot as it performs a live Japanese calligraphy demonstration on the NTT DOCOMO Inc. stand. While most mobile-phone companies are targeting 2020 to start rolling out 5G, issues like network standards, high spectrum prices, as well as interference from rain, trees and fog continue to pose problems.

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An attendee films a Nokia 8 Sirocco smartphone. The phone is machined from a single piece of stainless steel.

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Attendees browse smartphones and laptops during Samsung's launch event.

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MWC has long been a venue for companies to show off their newest mobile devices and vie for consumer attention. The S9 is critical for Samsung, which needs to show it has the hardware and software chops to maintain its leadership in the Android market.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg