Wearable tech at MWC Barcelona: What to expect

The MWC is less than a month away. Typically, a few wearable tech announcements are made at the world’s largest mobile industry exhibition. Here’s what to expect.

The GSMA, which represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, organises the MWC trade show. It has been held in Barcelona every year since 2006.

The only exception was 2020, when the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. It was actually scheduled to take place, but because so many companies backed out, the organisers decided it was pointless to hold the event.

MWC was back in 2021 as an in-person event with reinforced COVID-19 safety measures, combined with some virtual elements. The number of attendees was cut from the 100,000 who usually attend to 50,000. Those who attended were required to provide results of a COVID-19 test from the previous 72 hours before arriving. There were other safety measures, too.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

In 2022, Mobile World Congress returned to its regular calendar date of the end of February. In 2021, it was postponed until June.

The official dates for this year are February 27 to March 2. However, media launches begin a little earlier, on February 25 to 26. These two days are an opportunity for businesses to make announcements and launch press releases. Expect bigger attendance numbers this year. Things are gradually returning to normal as evidenced by CES 2023 in January.

Wearables typically don’t make a strong showing

MWC draws a diverse audience, including mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors, and media. However, in terms of wearables, the MWC does not provide much. After all, this is a “mobile industry and technology event,” i.e. primarily a mobile phone show. Furthermore, companies frequently plan special events for wearable technology launches.

Having said that, we do get a few announcements. For example, in 2021 TLC debuted its new product lineup. Of most interest to us were its NXTWEAR G Wearable Display Glasses and the MOVETIME Family Watch 2. In that year Samsung used the opportunity to showcase the operating system for watches it was building at the time together with Google.

In 2023 companies such as Honor, Huawei, Motorola, Nokia, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Samsung, Xiaomi and Qualcomm have all confirmed attendance. Of course, smartphones and tablets will take centre stage. But expect some news on the wearables front.

For example, we are expecting a bunch of watches from Motorola in the near future. Moto Watch 70, 100S and 200 were leaked by a retailer in November, plus they have all received regulatory approval from the FCC. 

Oppo Watch 3 is yet to launch in Europe and the US. The first timepiece to use the new Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 chip has been available in China for a number of months now. MWC could be an opportunity for an international release. The company is also working on something called OHealth H1. Previewed at CES in Las Vegas, this is a Star-Trek-esque device that tracks six vital signs.

We are also expecting Xiaomi Mi Band 8 to launch in the coming months. But this is unlikely to occur at MWC.

As MWC approaches, we hope to learn more about potential wearable tech launches. The gathering is a great platform for companies to announce new products and partnerships.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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