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28 Feb 2020

5 mobile phone brands that caught our eye in MWC week

Tech heavyweights Huawei, Honor and Sony show off their latest launches

After the cancellation of MWC 2020 amid coronavirus fears, brands have come out in force to prove that their newest smartphones are still worthy of your attention.

MWC is typically the biggest mobile phones event of the year and an opportunity for manufacturers to show off their latest and greatest advancements in mobile phone technology.

Although this year's event, which was due to be held in Barcelona between 24 and 27 February, was cancelled, many manufacturers have gone ahead with their scheduled announcements through their own live streams. Huawei and Samsung are among those who have unveiled new premium devices.

We've rounded up the highlights - from foldable phones to sparkly new flagships - and picked five brands that have caught our eye.

Browse all the best mobile phones from our tough lab tests.

1. Huawei flaunts a new foldable

Huawei Mate Xs 5G

At the end of last year, Huawei announced the Mate X, the brand's first foldable smartphone and its answer to Samsung's Galaxy Fold. The Mate X boasts 5G connectivity, a full 8-inch OLED display (2,480 x 2,200) and a quadruple rear lens array which includes a 40Mp wide-angle lens, 16Mp ultra-wide angle lens, 8Mp telephoto lens and Time-of-Flight camera.

Disappointingly, the Mate X never came to the UK - it sold in China for 16,999 yuan (£1,900). If you're dying to get your hands on a Huawei foldable phone, the new Mate Xs 5G might be your chance, as it is expected to launch in the West.

This new foldable offers some of the same unmatched specs as its predecessor with a few upgrades. You'll get the same quad camera and 8-inch OLED display (unfolded) which when folded, turns into a 6.6-inch display (2,480 x 1,148) on its front panel and 6.38-inch one on its back panel (2,480 x 892).

The elephant in the room is that the Mate Xs 5G runs on Android's Open Source system and won't be able to run any Google Apps.

Huawei P40 series

A year after Huawei launched its P30 series (included the highly acclaimed Huawei P30 Pro), the next generation of its devices is set to be released at the end of March in Paris. As ever, you can expect bigger screens, higher-spec cameras and more processing power.

Read more about Huawei's suspension of Google services.

2. Honor releases its first 5G smartphone

Following the lead of its sister brand, Honor wasn't short of its own announcements this week, lifting the lid on its next series of flagship devices: the View30 and View30 Pro.

It's still unclear if or when these models will make their way to the UK, especially considering that they launched in China at the tail end of last year, but they're tipped to arrive in the coming months.

The biggest talking point with the View30 is that it's Honor's first 5G device, possibly signalling that we can expect to see more affordable smartphones with the technology.

It will have a completely revamped camera array with three rear lenses: 40Mp 'SuperSensing' main lens, 8Mp wide angle camera and an 8Mp telephoto lens with 5x hybrid zoom. On the front, there's a dual camera (32Mp AI selfie camera and 8Mp wide-angle lens). The View30's display also gets a boost to a 6.57-inch Full HD+ display (2,400 x 1,080) from 6.4-inches on the previous model, the Honor View20.

There's also the View30 Pro that's more focused on the camera, with tweaks to the View30's specs like the inclusion of a 12Mp 'Cine-Camera' designed to take movie-standard photos and videos.

Honor is known for its more affordable mid-range models, so although the price hasn't been announced yet we would expect it to be roughly £500 to match the price of the View20 at launch (having 5G could bump this up).

Honor also announced the 9X pro, the next-level model to the Honor 9X that launched in the UK in November. The 9X Pro brings an improved camera setup with an additional 8Mp ultra-wide angle lens.

Bear in mind though, that Honor phones will also lack Google support.

3. Sony unveils four new Xperia smartphones

Sony drew its fair share of attention this week with the announcement of three new smartphones, one of which is 5G. The Xperia 1 II (first) is the sequel to the flagship Xperia 1, with the same large 6.5-inch CinemaWide display and triple rear lens, but you'll get 5G and an optimised camera that includes taking Sony's partnership with Zeiss photography from its cameras into smartphones for the first time.

Sony also announced the Xperia Pro, its other 5G smartphone targeted at those keen on photography. Its best feature is its HDMI connectivity, which enables you to connect it directly to your camera.

Another follow-up device from Sony is the Xperia 10 II (middle), which takes over from the Xperia 10 launched this time last year. This newer model might not have 5G but does have a 6-inch display with an extra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio for better viewing.

As with the Xperia 1 II, there are three rear cameras - 12Mp wide angle, 8Mp ultra-wide angle and 8Mp telephoto lenses. For those who are fanatics about audio quality, this phone also has 'high-resolution audio playback' to deliver the best-quality sound.

The final Sony device is the Xperia L4 (third), a new entry-level model that looks impressive for its expected budget price, if the Xperia L3 (£130) is anything to go by. The L4 will have a 6.2-inch display, which is pretty good compared with other cheap smartphones on the market right now - the Realme 5 and Oppo A9 2020 both have 6.5-inch displays. With a triple rear camera and a split-screen feature to use two windows at once, this could be a great cheap contender.

To see which cheap mobile phones have wowed us so far this year, head to our round-up of the best cheap mobile phones.

4. LG's newest 5G flagship

LG made waves last year when it unveiled its take on the foldable phone trend with the LG V50 Thinq - a smartphone with a removable phone case that has a second display. It was also one of the first 5G smartphones to appear on the UK market and the new version, the V60 Thinq, will undoubtedly hope to make the same big impression.

The main upgrades with this model are a bigger display - now a mammoth 6.8-inch Full HD+ display, up from 6.4-inches - better camera, more software capabilities and improved sound. Some of its highlights include a 64Mp main sensor, 8K video recording and 'Voice Bokeh' which is essentially portrait mode but for your voice, to separate your voice from background noise during video recording.

5. TCL leaked images show impressive 'expandable smartphone'

New brand TCL has garnered a fair bit of fanfare since it entered the mobile phone market earlier this year with its '10 Series' smartphones. This time it's making headlines for leaked photos of its 'expandable smartphone' prototype.

If the rumours are true, this TCL smartphone will add a new and innovative twist to the foldable phone scene, with the phone appearing to unfold like a scroll to become a fully fledged tablet. There isn't much information on this phone at present but we'll keep a close eye out for updates.

Too many options? Our guide on how to buy the best mobile phone will set you on the right path.