Expect Samsung To ‘Bring It’ At MWC 2019 Even After Unpacked Event

It’s another February, and once again I’m in Barcelona, so it must be that time of year again for Mobile World Congress (MWC). I think this is my 15th MWC. I know some things will continue to remain the same, like great tapas and the world’s best ham and cheeses and the possibility of public transportation strike, I do expect some major changes at MWC this year as well. For example, unlike in years past, this year Samsung decided to launch its new Galaxy S10 portfolio a week early at its Unpacked event, which I personally attended along with Moor Insights & Strategy analyst colleagues Anshel Sag and Mark Vena.

There was quite a bit of excitement at the Galaxy S10 Unpacked event in San Francisco last week, not just the change of launch venue, but also the introduction of not just two, but four new S10 devices; the Galaxy S10e, S10, S10+, and the S10 5G. Also, there was the unveiling of the first foldable Samsung mobile device the Galaxy Fold. It was easily the best mobile event Samsung has ever done and ranks in the top of all time for me. So, a big question on my mind today at the start of the Sunday MWC press conference circuit is how will Samsung bring the excitement of Unpacked forward to MWC.

Attendees can see Galaxy S10 5G and Galaxy Fold 

Obviously, attendees at MWC will get to kick the tires of the Galaxy S10e, S10, and S10+ at the Samsung booth, but I’ve also heard from a reliable source that Samsung will also be showcasing its Galaxy S10 5G and Galaxy Fold devices, which were conspicuously absent from the experience room at Unpacked in San Francisco. I’m told I’ll be able to touch and feel the S10 5G alongside Samsung’s other Galaxy S10 portfolio and the Galaxy Fold may also make an appearance on their booth.

When looking at the S10 5G one of my focus areas will be the phone’s thickness (or thinness). If you recall, some “experts” were saying handset makers should be able successfully to fit the fastest 5G modem and chipsets into newer smartphones without dramatically changing the base phone’s dimensions, so I’ll be looking to see what Samsung was able to achieve. This is particularly difficult with the fastest 5G implementation, called mmWave.

Regarding the Samsung Galaxy Fold, I’d welcome the opportunity to examine in more detail how the device opens and closes given Samsung’s touting of its revolutionary new hinge mechanism at Unpacked. Of course, a hands-on demo of the huge new 7.3” display unfolding would be welcomed as well, but I’ll be happy with an in-person experience with the device nevertheless.

New 5G RF 28nm CMOS chipsets

MWC is more than just a mobile phone show and in the week prior to MWC, Samsung made some significant announcements about the progress of its 5G network equipment business. The company announced the launch of a new 5G RF chipsets for its 5G base station, which it says will reduce base station power by 25% and chip size by 36%. The company also announced it had shipped more than 36,000 5G base stations, which is more than I believe Huawei shipped, a major competitor in the 5G equipment market. So, I’ll be very interested to hear what 5G carrier partners it has landed.

Mobile World Live Broadcast on a 5G network    

While single-use 5G networks will likely be on display on many booths at MWC this year with equipment provided by Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia, Samsung managed to score a small coup in getting GSMA Live TV, the official broadcast channel of MWC, to utilize its 5G network equipment to support the station’s live MWC broadcast transmission. I am looking forward to checking out the video quality of the broadcast as prior broadcasts had fiber backhaul, not wireless.

Wrapping up

Last week was a very big week for Samsung in San Francisco. Now, I want to see how well the company can carry the momentum of Unpacked into MWC when faced with an onslaught of foldable and 5G device announcements and network equipment contract wins from other major competitors; stay tuned.