The biggest MWC 2024 launches and announcements (and everything Apple should be paying attention to)

Mobile World Congress logo on-screen
(Image credit: GSMA)

Around this time every year the world of technology turns its attention to Mobile World Congress. Taking place in Barcelona, Spain, the event runs from February 26 through February 29 this year and it's where some of the biggest names in consumer technology go to announce their latest and greatest products. Think of it as Europe's CES but with more products that will actually ship and fewer casinos and you won't be too far off the point. And as the name suggests, Mobile World Congress is all about the future of mobile technology whether that's a new phone, tablet, or something else entirely.

Mobile World Congress, or MWC, isn't an event that Apple attends but it's still a vital part of the technology calendar. It's also one that Apple should be paying plenty of attention to because it's where companies like Samsung, OnePlus, Huawei, and others go to show off the products that will ultimately compete with Apple's iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. And this year is absolutely no different.

I've taken a look through all of the biggest and best announcements and launches of MWC 2024 to see which are of interest not only to Apple itself, but those of us who follow it, use its products, and ultimately find ourselves wondering what is happening outside of this walled garden we've so willingly locked ourselves into. And sometimes, just sometimes, things might just be greener on the other side.

Samsung Galaxy Ring

Samsung Galaxy Ring

(Image credit: Samsung)

As rumors of Apple's entry into the smart ring world with the so-called Apple Ring continue to swirl, Samsung is already ahead of the game. The Galaxy Ring was teased last month but it's MWC that saw the big unveiling.

Our friends at TechRadar spend some time with the Galaxy Ring over in Barcelona and the reports are positive. The ring will look to compete with the popular Oura Ring and it has the features to match — sleep tracking is a given, while the wearable will also offer a Vitality score which should offer insights into how your body is dealing with the stresses and strains of life. The Ring will also be able to detect sleep apnea, something Apple's future wearables have been tipped to sport as well.

Why Apple should pay attention

Rumors of the Apple Ring couldn't have come at a better time and I do have to wonder if their leaking was timed perfectly to compete with the Galaxy Ring's unveiling. Regardless, I love my Oura Ring and Apple will have to go some way to convince existing smart ring owners to switch. But this is Apple, and tight integration with Health could make for features and benefits that third-party alternatives can't compete with. If not, Apple might have a battle on its hands if you'll pardon the pun.

OnePlus Watch 2

OnePlus Watch 2

(Image credit: OnePlus)

Apple makes the most popular smartwatches on the planet but that doesn't mean it's the only company making them or that it can't learn a thing or two from other outfits. The newly announced OnePlus Watch 2 is a prime example of that.

Sporting battery life that runs for a massive 100 hours between charges, the OnePlus Watch 2 easily bests even the best Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Ultra 2. It does that by using two operating systems that run on two different chips, one aimed at using the least possible power. The watch switches between the two depending on what's needed, giving battery life the likes of which Apple could only dream. It also looks great, and is much less of an in-your-face statement piece when compared to the utilitarian Apple Watch Ultra design language.

Why Apple should pay attention

While few people are ditching Apple Watches for OnePlus Watch 2 wearables, there's no denying that there are some great ideas here. Taking battery life and stretching it to the point where people can go away for a weekend without taking their charger is a big advantage. People shouldn't have to buy a big and bulky Apple Watch Ultra 2 just to get strong battery life, either. The OnePlus Watch 2 proves that and now it's time Apple took note.

Motorola's adaptive display concept

Motorola bendy phone concept

(Image credit: Motorola)

OK, so this one isn't a real product just yet but it surely will be one day — and it can't come soon enough.

Motorola used its time at MWC to share details about its new adaptive display concept device and Tom's Guide got to take a look at it. Designed to be a phone that can literally be rolled up, this device is part smartphone, part smartwatch.

Featuring a 6.9-inch FHD+ pOLED display, the device can bend backward and be set up in a few different configurations, but it doesn't have a name just yet and we obviously don't know what it will cost if and when it goes on sale. But it sure does look more interesting than the usual slab of metal and glass that we're so familiar with.

Why Apple should pay attention

While I'm not suggesting that Apple should beat Motorola to market with an iPhone that doubles as an Apple Watch, I think this concept should be a wake-up call for those at Apple Park.

With no foldable iPhone on the market and little sign that there will be within the next couple of years, it's never been more clear that Apple is being left behind here. Foldable phones have gotten so much better in the last couple of years that it's high time Apple joined the fray. Whether that turns out to be a foldable iPhone or a bendy iPad, it's time — and it isn't very often Motorola puts Apple in the shade.

Nothing Phone (2a)

Nothing Phone 2a

(Image credit: Nothing)

Nothing took the opportunity of an ongoing Mobile World Congress to tease the upcoming Nothing Phone (2a) while it had the attention of the world's press. The phone won't officially be unveiled until March 5, but this being Nothing, the London firm has already started to tease things ahead of time.

The third phone under the Nothing brand, the Phone (2a) is designed to offer a budget approach for people who want a phone that doesn't cost a small fortune. Despite that, the Nothing Phone (2a) promises the same aesthetics we've become accustomed to as well as a dual-camera setup around the back. Little is really known beyond that, but this could be a budget Android phone well worth keeping an eye on.

Why Apple should pay attention

While we still don't know all that much about the new phone it's still one that Apple should be keeping an eye on. Budget Android phones have come a long way in recent years and the Nothing brand is a much-loved one among those in the community.

While we don't yet know the price point for the Nothing Phone (2a) we can safely assume that it will be considerably less than most iPhones and that means Apple should be paying close attention if only to inform its decisions when working on the rumored iPhone SE 4.

Lenovo's transparent laptop concept

Lenovo transparent laptop concept

(Image credit: Lenovo)

As great as the latest M3 MacBook Pros might be, there is no denying the fact that they look pretty much the same as every other laptop. You can't say the same thing about Lenovo's new transparent laptop concept, that's for sure.

Apparently sporting the market's first laptop with a 17.3-inch Micro-LED transparent display, there isn't much to say about the concept laptop other than you can see through it. There's a borderless display that can be seen right through if needed, and it promises "exceptional contrast and 1000-nit brightness." Lenovo says that the concept "showcases a futuristic perspective on AI PCs, blending digital and physical environments that can enhance user experiences in ways never imagined."

Why Apple should pay attention

We have to be the first to admit that the chances of this ever coming to market are slim, and if it does, it won't be for some time yet. But that isn't really the point — the point is that laptops are getting a bit boring, especially if you want them to run macOS.

It's perhaps time that Apple started to try something new, and rumors of a foldable laptop could point to that.

We've been waiting for a company to show us what futuristic laptops could look like, we just didn't expect it to be Lenovo that did it.

MWC 2024 and beyond

Soon after MWC 2024 is done and dusted attention will turn to what comes next. For Apple, we're expecting the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro handsets later this year and new Apple Watches are also a given. WWDC's preview of new iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch software not to mention updated Apple TV and Apple Vision Pro software will arrive before then of course, while the impending OLED iPad Pro and M3 MacBook Air releases are also worth looking forward to.

But with the Apple Vision Pro now here, it's difficult to find anything to truly get excited about. The technology shown off at MWC is an indication of what's out there in the non-Apple world. Let's hope someone in Cupertino has been paying attention.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.