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MWC 2017 : Day One : Smartphones

by Woody Oh | Feb 27, 2017

MWC 2017, the biggest and most eye-catching mobile industry trade show, is taking place in Barcelona, Spain from Feb 27 (Mon) to Mar 2 (Thurs).

Strategy Analytics has a large team of analysts spanning smartphones, drones, robots, tablets, wearables, smart home and connected cars in attendance. In addition to hosting invitation-only client presentations in beautiful Barcelona (attend), we will of course be hosting a post MWC Webinar on March 6 (register).

On Day One
, we saw new smartphones announced by several leading vendors such as Huawei, LG, Nokia (HMD Global) and Samsung (teaser).

1. Huawei : P10 & P10 Plus : Incremental Upgrades to P9 & P9 Plus

Huawei, the world's no.3 smartphone vendor in 2016  (behind Samsung and Apple), unveiled two new flagship smartphones for the first half of the year, the P10 (5.1 inch FHD) and P10 Plus (5.5 inch QHD) at MWC 2017. This Chinese vendor is clearly proud of two particular features for the new phones. It devoted nearly one third of its presentation talking about two new colors, Dazzling Blue and Greenery, which it developed in partnership with Pantone (both colors will be exclusive to the P10 and P10 Plus). It spent another third of the time discussing upgraded dual-camera functionalities in terms of more pixels, brighter aperture and OIS (optical image stabilization). These developments were co-engineered in partnership with Leica, beginning with last year's P9 series and Mate 9.

While there are few of the display-related form-factor changes seen from LG’s G6 and expected from Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S8 flagships, Huawei clearly intends to continue with Pantone-supported color-focused design marketing and Leica-collaborated dual camera as key differentiators for its flagship devices. For the P10 and P10 Plus, we recommend Huawei prioritize female-oriented marketing worldwide, focusing on two selling-points, color and camera. We suggest it continue improving its camera-related software to keep delivering the best-in-class user experience in this field.

The P10 and P10 Plus will be available in a number of countries across China, Germany, Colombia and Russia from early March 2017, with prices topping out at US$660 wholesale for the range-topping P10 Plus with 6GB DRAM.

MWC 2017 Huawei

2. LG : G6 : Indian Summer for Struggling LG's Flagship Business

LG struggled in the global smartphone market last year, dipping to no.9 among global smartphone vendors by volume in Q4 2016, mostly due to the weaker than expected sales of its G5 flagship. During MWC 2017, LG unveiled the G6 (5.7 inch QHD), the successor for its G5. The new flagship brought a new and improved look, sporting the biggest screen-to-phone ratio for any current smartphone by minimizing the bezel. By employing the FullVision display with unique aspect ratio of 18:9, “Univisium” design and rounded corners in the display, the new device remains slim enough for most users to comfortably hold, despite its large 5.7 inch display. LG pulled off an innovative smartphone design that differentiates around display, reflecting LG's efforts to listen to what the market wants at the moment.

Apart from the display-focused design change, LG kept improving its famous camera expertise by working on a dual camera with a wide angle 13MP modules of up to 125 degrees, a 100 degree front camera, HDR10, 4K video capture, OIS and LG UX 6.0. It also boasts IP68 water / dust protection, something that the G5 wasn't equipped with. It is optimized for Google Assistant for better natural language understanding though at this time the service is offered only in two languages, English and German. South Korea, one of the LG's biggest markets, will have a lot of users who will want to use a Korean-supported Google Assistant if it were be supported on G6, and we strongly urge LG to add this capability.

We would recommend LG to focus on display-oriented stylish design as a key selling point. There is an opportunity for LG to do some highly sophisticated marketing, as it is likely that the LG G6 will be offered in a number of versions customized for country and region for wireless charging, Quad DAC, internal storage and mobile payment depending on the market conditions. The LG G6 is available in South Korea first, from 09 March 2017, followed by the US in April, presumably, with the price set for US$620 wholesale.

MWC 2017 LG G6

3. Nokia (HMD Global) : Nokia 6 / Nokia 5 / Nokia 3 : Return of the Old King?

Nokia / HMD Global has returned with several Nokia-branded smartphones powered by Android OS, not by Windows Phone. Apart from the new Nokia 3310, the same-named feature phone based on the legendary Nokia device bulit around 20 years ago, Nokia / HMD Global unveiled three Android smartphones, Nokia 5 and Nokia 3 including Nokia 6, which has already been available in China since January 2017.

Nokia 6 (5.5 inch FHD) is going global after warm welcome in China market for two months, and premium version will be sold for USD250 in wholesale. Mid-tier Nokia 5 (5.2 inch HD) and Nokia 3 (5.0 inch HD) are also going global with the estimated USD160 and USD115 in wholesale respectively. All devices will be available worldwide from Q2 2017. Just like LG G6, Google Assistant will be supported in two languages, English and German.

We would recommend Nokia / HMD Global to capitalize on the legendary Nokia brand with good quality of camera efficiently in countries where Nokia has had good presence, and to emphasize the faster firmware update than ever, which used to be one big weakness that Nokia has had.

MWC 2017 Nokia

Last but not least, Samsung unveiled very short teaser video clip about the forthcoming Galaxy S8 flagships, which will be unveiled at the end of next month, 29 March 2017 in New York. It is expected that this device will be differentiated with other devices, by focusing on the full display form-factor and front design change based on the flexible AMOLED display.

MWC 2017 Samsung

This has been the daily blog for Day One in Barcelona, and we will come back with Day Two blog tomorrow. Stay tuned, and you can find our first blog about our expectations for MWC 2017 across smartphones, display, technical innovations and others here.

Previous Post: MWC 2017 : What Mobile Devices Can You Expect to See? | Next Post: MWC 2017: Day 2: Smartphones

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