The best smartphones expected before, during, and after MWC 2016

The Nextbit Robin is shipping soon, invites from Samsung and LG are out, and rumors of other devices continue to develop. 2016 is starting out with plenty of new smartphones to consider.

(Image: Nextbit)

It's always a bit quiet on the smartphone front from November through February, but then Mobile World Congress brings in a flurry of new phone announcements to kick off the year.

MWC 2016 takes place in Barcelona from 22-25 February. We've already seen a couple companies announce events just prior to MWC, have a new device launched on Kickstarter coming just before MWC, and have heard of a couple other rumored devices likely to be revealed soon after MWC.

Nextbit Robin

The Nextbit Robin was revealed as a Kickstarter project back in September 2015. I was in one of the first groups to back the project and understand I may see my Robin arrive in a couple of weeks, just prior to MWC.

The Nextbit Robin is an Android Marshmallow smartphone with a unique approach to storage. While you will get 32GB of onboard storage, the focus is on the cloud with intelligent technology that will automatically manage cloud storage. I backed the project because of this unique aspect and believe it could be something we see from the primary smartphone vendors in the future.

Robin looks to be a well-designed smartphone with a focus on the user. It's powered by a Snapdragon 808 processor, has a 5.2 inch display, a 13 megapixel rear camera, 3GB of RAM, a 2,680 mAh battery, dual front-facing stereo speakers, a fingerprint scanner, and quick charge support. It also comes in some modern color schemes. Stay tuned for my hands-on impressions and review as soon as it arrives.

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge - What to expect
Evan "@evleaks" Blass

Samsung was the first vendor to send out invites for its 21 February event in Spain. It is expected to reveal the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.

It's possible Samsung will go back to its roots with the inclusion of a microSD card slot. New technology from Samsung could include a ClearForce display, providing pressure-sensitive functionality similar to 3D Touch seen on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. We may also see water resistance and USB Type C appear in this new flagship.

Samsung is not known for timely software updates so for Samsung fans it's often faster to buy the next new device to get the latest version of Android. The Galaxy S7 should launch with Android Marshmallow.

LG G5

LG posted on Twitter that it would be showing off the latest LG smartphone on 21 February, the same day as Samsung. The LG G5 may possibly move LG away from its recent plastic, leather, and rubber designs to a full metal body. We've seen metal and glass used in the latest iPhone and Samsung models and its often been stated that LG devices haven't had an appealing design language that makes you want to always carry it.

It may have a 5.3 inch main display with a small secondary display, similar to the excellent LG V10. A Snapdragon 820 is likely to power the LG G5. It's unknown if we will see the microSD card slot remain, but a removable battery is still rumored to be present here.

LG may have some unique camera technology in the LG G5. The LG G4 and LG V10 were arguably the best camera phones of 2015 so it stands to reason that LG may lead again here with the LG G5.

HTC One M10

HTC didn't achieve much success with the HTC One M9 and then the One A9 appeared as more of a mid-level smartphone. HTC needs a winner to kick off 2016 after several quarters of disappointing financial results.

The rumored HTC One M10 (aka Perfume) may not appear until after MWC with rumors swirling about a release later this year. It's likely to have a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM and at least 32GB of internal storage with a microSD expansion card slot.

It may follow the One A9 design language more than the One M9. Very little is actually known about this device and there are rumors that the UltraPixel camera could return in an improved form.

Apple iPhone 5se/6c

Apple rumors appear the day after a new iPhone is launched and as expected they are all over the place. Mark Gurman from 9to5Mac is usually fairly reliable when it comes to iPhone rumors and wrote that an Apple iPhone 5se may be announced in March with the primary attribute being a 4 inch display.

I know many people that love their 3.5 inch iPhone and won't upgrade to the 4.7 inch models so I think there is definitely still a market for a smaller display device from Apple. Rumors indicate this smaller iPhone may have specs one generation down from the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, making it perfectly capable with a lower launch price.

There is an Apple event on 15 March and we'll have to wait to see if an iPhone is included with the rumored new iPad Air and Apple Watch products.

BlackBerry Vienna

I just posted my second look at the BlackBerry Priv and like what I see in BlackBerry's first Android smartphone. There are rumors that BlackBerry may launch a similar Android smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard not hidden under a slider, much like an Android-powered BlackBerry Passport.

It seems that the BlackBerry Priv is doing well with solid reviews and satisfied customer ratings. It makes perfect sense that a non-slider QWERTY device would launch from BlackBerry, but everything is still in early rumor stages at this point. If we do see such a device, it is likely to be revealed well after MWC.

Look ahead to the rest of 2016

Later in the year we are likely to see a new Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy Note 6, Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Sony Xperia Z6, new Moto X, OnePlus 3, and many more from the likes of Huawei, ZTE, and others. We'll bring you the news on these products as 2016 moves forward so stay tuned for another exciting year in smartphones.

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