Mobile World Congress will be interesting this year, with companies like Samsung and Xiaomi pulling out.

It’s February, the time of the year when the countdown to the biggest tech event of the year begins. Mobile World Congress may be an yearly event, but it sets the tone for the rest of the year. The world “mobile” is in the name itself, but that’s not all that this event is about.

This year’s MWC is shaping up to be an interesting one. Usually headlined by Samsung’s first flagship launch for the year, this year sees the South Korean giant pulling out. Moreover, popular Chinese startup, Xiaomi, which made its MWC debut last year, is also going to be a no show.

Moreover, Qualcomm’s flagship chipset for the year, the Snapdragon 835 is reportedly going to be absent as well. Now that makes for a pretty drab picture doesn’t it?

It seems this year will depend on devices like the LG G6, the only flagship smartphone expected at MWC this year. In addition, Sony is supposedly going to launch no less than five new smartphones this year, followed by Motorola’s new mid-ranged smartphones the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus.

Going by the rumours and leaks, this year’s MWC in a way symbolises everything that is wrong with the smartphone market right now. The event is usually preceded by a plethora of leaks about new smartphones, but just like the saturation in the mobile market, this year’s event seems to be shaping up for less phones and more innovation in other areas. Don’t get us wrong, there will still be a lot of smartphones at the event, but for once, it would be right to expect more.

Everyone expects VR to take centre stage, with AR doing the rounds as well. Virtual Reality has been knocking on our doors for a while now, with Google making progress with Daydream, while biggies like Oculus and HTC’s Vive are just waiting to enter the mainstream. It would be a reasonable guess to expect more companies to announce support for platforms like Daydream or come up with more innovative uses for VR.

Phones aren’t dead though

Perhaps the most awaited products at MWC 2017 come from Nokia. The company has announced an event at MWC, where it will unveil its plans for 2017 and the big comeback. Nokia apparently will be the only company announcing a Snapdragon 835 powered product.

In addition, the LG G6 is yet another for by LG at making headway in the smartphone market. However, perhaps the most interesting development is the recent rumour that Alcatel is going to announce a modular smartphone.

Alcatel’s device will apparently have LEDs that turn on and off to the beats of music. It will be interesting to see what else these modules can do and whether Alcatel can top Motorola’s concept with the Moto Z.

Topping that off is a rumoured BlackBerry Mercury smartphone and an alleged HTC flagship that may also run on the Snapdragon 835.

Summing up

Despite the plethora of smartphones we just talked about, MWC may end up being about everything around them. Smartphones have always been meant to be at the centre of a bigger ecosystem and Mobile World Congress 2017 may finally see that blossom in full flow.

Things like IoT, virtual reality and augmented reality make for the ecosystem at large and with more saturation in the market, it is only natural for companies to start thinking of new ways to make money.