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Mobile World Congress highlights the fractured smartphone ecosystem

The news: Mobile World Congress (MWC) kicks off this week in Barcelona, Spain, and upstart Chinese smartphone brands are expected to push the envelope in innovation and new form factors, per The Verge.

The contrasting global smartphone market: North America is caught in the thrall of the Apple and Google smartphone duopoly that is focused on handsets but extends across ecosystems including wearables, fitness, entertainment, and mobile payments.

The rest of the world, however, will be getting a glimpse of future devices at MWC that might never make their way to the US and Canada, mostly due to geopolitical embargoes.

What’s coming at MWC 2023: Chinese smartphone companies are finding limelight in the void left by LG, HTC, Nokia, Qualcomm, and other brands that have either folded or opted to hold their own events.

  • Honor is launching Honor Magic VS foldable for international markets.
  • Xiaomi will launch its Xiaomi 13 Series.
  • Realme will reveal Realme GT3.
  • Oppo’s sister company OnePlus will show its OnePlus 11 flagship.
  • Lenovo might announce the ThinkPhone by Motorola’s wider European availability.
  • TCL is showcasing its NXTPAPER 2-in-1 laptop featuring an innovative paper-like color display, as well as its RayNeo X2 AR glasses. 

Our take: Smartphone makers can take risks and showcase unusual designs and innovation at Mobile World Congress, which could help expansion across non-North American countries or regions with strict bans.

Despite the fragmented nature of the global smartphone market, Europe’s carriers and consumers are starved for choice, innovation, and new form factors, especially after pandemic-related delays.