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MWC 2016 Preview: Galaxy S7, LG G5 and Much More

Get ready for a slew of smartphones. Mobile World Congress kicks off in Barcelona at the end of February, with all the major phone makers using the event as a launching pad for their latest devices.

Credit: peresanz / Shutterstock

(Image credit: peresanz / Shutterstock)

Past editions of Mobile World Congress have seen new versions of major smartphone lines, and this year figures to be no exception, with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5 both expected to debut. And while smartphones command most of the Mobile World Congress spotlight, other devices figure to make headlines as well with VR headsets, smartwatches and tablets very much in the mix.

We'll be in Barcelona the weekend before Mobile World Congress gets underway Feb. 21. Here's what we expect to see.

Samsung Galaxy S7 and What Else?

Samsung has an Unpacked event slated for Feb. 21, which looks like it's going to be the coming-out party for the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Unlike in past years, these new phones could come in different sizes — the S7 is rumored to have a 5.2 inch display, while the curved Edge may be bumped up to 5.5 inches. Samsung could follow Apple's lead and add a pressure-sensitive display that recognizes different presses and taps.

Leaked images of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge from Weibo and Reviewdao

Leaked images of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge from Weibo and Reviewdao

It's unclear exactly which processor could find its way into the Galaxy S7 lineup: the Snapdragon 820 or the Exynos 8890. Different rumors about the new phone also seem to be at odds over which sensor will power the camera in the S7. Whether it's Sony's Exmor RS IMX300 sensor or Samsung's own Britecell inside the S7, the updated phone is expected to take better low-light images.

Samsung will also reportedly introduce a new 360-degree camera designed for shooting video that can be viewed on virtual reality headsets like the Gear VR. Another rumor has Samsung showing off a new fitness-focused version of its Gear S2 smartwatch.

MORE: Galaxy S7 Rumors

LG to Unveil G5

LG began teasing its Mobile World Congress announcement last month, with invitations that featured a wind-up box and the words "Play Begins." It's unclear exactly what LG means by that message, but the phone maker has confirmed that it's going to launch its next flagship phone at the event.

That would point to the LG G5, a replacement for the LG G4 introduced last spring. Rumors circulating around LG's next phone suggest that the G5 will introduce a modular design that includes a slot for adding hardware extensions like keyboards or game controllers. A modular approach would also give the G5 a unibody form while allowing users to swap out the phone's battery. With other flagship phones running on non-replaceable batteries, this modular approach could help the G5 stand out from the crowd, though LG will have to improve upon the subpar battery life that was a bone of contention with the G4.

Rumored specs for the LG G5 claim the phone will have a 5.3-inch Quad HD display, along with a secondary display for quick access to apps in the style of LG's V10. Like the V10, the G5 could feature an always-on display that shows the time and missed notifications, if a teaser tweet posted by LG this week is anything to go by. The new phone is expected to feature a Snapdragon 820 processor and dual-rear cameras.

We'll find out for certain what LG has in store after the company's Feb. 21 press conference.

MORE: LG G5 Rumors

HTC: Vive News or New Phone?

It's no secret that HTC is working on a successor to its disappointing M9. What is up in the air is when exactly HTC will take the wraps off its next flagship phone. Mobile World Congress would seem like an ideal setting — the M9 debuted last year in Barcelona — but rumors have the M10 arriving next month at a special event in March.

Should HTC end up pushing the M10 to a later date, its Mobile World Congress message could be all about virtual reality. HTC will start taking preorders for its HTC Vive VR headset on Feb. 29, the week after Mobile World Congress, so the show could prove to be the right time and place to finally announce a price tag on the device. The Vive already had a strong showing at last month's CES, adding a front-facing camera. It makes the room-mapping Chaperone feature more useful while opening the door to more mixed-reality experiences for developers.

Sony’s Mystery Event

Sony's Xperia Z5 — unveiled at last fall's IFA show in Berlin — only reached the U.S. this week, so don't expect a new flagship phone to make its debut in Barcelona. Still, the electronics giant has a press event planned for Feb. 22, so we can expect something out of Sony this month. At last year's Mobile World Congress, Sony trotted out a new tablet as well as apps for its SmartEyeglass augmented reality headset; it's possible that this year's announcements could be along similar lines.

Huawei P9 Possibly on Tap

All we know about Huawei is that the Chinese device maker will hold a press event on Feb. 21. What Huawei plans to unveil at that point remains a mystery, especially in light of the company's active CES last month. In addition to a spate of smartphones led by the Mate 8, Huawei also revealed new versions of Android Wear smartwatch it debuted at last year's Mobile World Congress. Huawei could be planning a successor the P8 in the P9, which could sport dual cameras in the back and come with 4GB of RAM to satisfy power users  Pocket-lint says the company may debut a dual-boot laptop.

The Rest

At CES last month, Lenovo said it would deliver a phone based on Google’s Project Tango, which adds position-detecting technology to mobile devices. Lenovo has told us a price tag and a ship date — less than $500 and this summer — but hasn’t shared other specs and details. Mobile World Congress could be the venue where we learn more about what Lenovo and Google have in store.

It's not a product announcement, but Intel plans to host a press event to discuss what's required to deliver on the promise of 5G networking speeds. (Spoiler alert: Likely lots of technologies that Intel is developing.) Xiaomi is making its Mobile World Congress debut at this year's show, where the Chinese phone maker is expected to show off its soon-to-launch Mi 5 smartphone. As for Alcatel, leaked screenshots suggest the phone maker will soon unveil the Idol 4 and 4S as the successors to its budget-minded Idol 3.

What are you most looking forward to at MWC 2016? Let us know in the comments.