2008: Google's Android Makes Its Public Debut
Android and MWC started together. Before 2008, the show was called 3GSM, but in 2008, a turn towards 4G (and incorporation of non-GSM technologies) gave it a more global perspective. At the 2008 show, four processor vendors showed off pre-production devices running Android. They looked nothing like the phones we see today, though: the star was a non-touch-screen phone with a full QWERTY keyboard from Motorola.
"The Android devices at the show came in both touchscreen and non-touchscreen versions, with two different home screen designs," we wrote at the time. "One design had a smooth-scrolling ribbon of application icons along the bottom of the home screen. The other loaded up the home screen with many icons for all of your recent applications and actions."
MWC 2009: Where Are the Androids?
A year after the OS launched, there was still only one Android phone in the US, the T-Mobile G1. We saw two major Android phones at this show: the HTC Magic (above) and the Sony Ericsson Xperia. Samsung, so far, was completely absent from the Android show: the company told us it was on track to launch Android phones later that year.
MWC 2010: Windows Phone Outshines Android
The biggest news of MWC 2010 still wasn't Google's OS. It was Microsoft's brand-new Windows Phone 7, which was adopted by major players like Samsung, LG, and HTC, as well as sideshows like Samsung's own Bada OS. Android's dominance was still far from a done deal.
But Google's Eric Schmidt gave the keynote at the show, and that may have signaled the way the windows were blowing. Schmidt said that Google was now "Mobile first," and pledged that Google would not become a wireless or wired Internet provider, a pledge it's gone back on since then with Google Fiber and Google Fi.
Android phones were now beginning to flow, but they were still pretty weird. Motorola's CLIQ XT had a laptop-like touch pad. Compaq's Airlife 100 (above) was an actual laptop, like an early Chromebook. Microsoft definitely still had a good chance at displacing Google as the leader in smartphones.
MWC 2011: Android Pulls Into the Lead
MWC was now becoming an Android show. This was the "Honeycomb" year, when Google had conflicting versions of Android for phones and tablets that didn't quite mesh. HTC tried to respond by releasing its highly customized "Flyer" tablet, complete with pen, but Google saw the problem and pledged that Android would come together with the next version, Ice Cream Sandwich.
We also saw the first rumors of Google Music and promises of high-end, $99 super-phones, which never quite panned out. HTC also announced two doomed Facebook phones, the ChaCha and Salsa (above). A suddenly struggling Nokia, meanwhile, said its No. 1 priority was to beat Android.
MWC 2012: Snacking on Ice Cream Sandwich
At his keynote, Eric Schmidt warned against heavy manufacturer skins and slow upgrade cycles, a problem still plaguing the Android market. But 850,000 Android devices were being activated a day, increasing the OS's momentum. Of our five best phones at MWC, four were Android devices, including a projector-phone and an Intel-powered phone. HTC was still a major player with its HTC One X, and Google's own booth gave away the name of the next version of Android.
Also, we called the 5-inch LG Optimus Vu (above) a "big" "tablet." Oh, the innocence. If we knew then what we know now.
MWC 2013: Glitter Sparkles?
Samsung finally broke through in 2012 with the Galaxy S III, and it stole the thunder at MWC 2013 by handing out invitations for its Galaxy S4 launch. The GSMA gave its device of the year awards to the Galaxy S III, Nexus 7 and the Galaxy Camera, which I still kinjd of love. Meanwhile, Google tried to calm fears that it would dominate the whole planet by saying it wouldn't open retail stores, and we previewed an Android phone covered in glitter sparkles (above) and another with a shocking, never-seen-again 3GHz processor.
MWC 2014: Galaxy S5. Nuff said.
The biggest news at MWC 2014, of course, was the Galaxy S5, starting a three-year run of Galaxy launches at the show (which ends this year.) Nokia, flipping a big middle finger to Microsoft in its last year of independent existence, decided to roll out a mediocre Android phone, the Nokia X. The second YotaPhone (above) put an e-ink screen on the back of an Android phone, and the Geeksphone Revolution switched between Android and the now-defunct Firefox OS on the fly. John Dvorak asked, When will Microsoft dump Windows Phone for Android? (Answer: Not yet.)
MWC 2015: Sleek, Gorgeous Phones
2015 was a good year for good-looking Android phones at MWC. The show introduced the Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung's "Project Zero" to reinvent its phone designs. But it also had the sleek HTC One M9 and Sony's slim Z4 tablet. Google admitted it planned to become a wireless carrier and Yezz pledged to make modules for Project Ara,, Google's doomed modular phone concept. Tired of smartphones? Check out the Runcible, (above) the weirdest phone we saw at the show.
MWC 2016: LG G5 and Samsung Galaxy S7
It was LG versus Samsung at MWC 2016, with LG bringing its modular G5 phone with a VR headset and a rolling robot 'friend' and Samsung deploying the Samsung Galaxy S7 as well. The strangest, most intriguing phone at the show? Probably the CAT S60 (above), which put a thermal imaging camera into an Android smartphone. Android innovation continues.
MWC 2017: LG G6, But No Samsung Galaxy
The Note 7 disaster prompted Samsung to push its S8 launch until March 29, so the big Android debut this year was the LG G6, though we've also seen the eye-catching 4K HDR Sony Xperia XZ Premium and Huawei P10. Stay tuned to PCMag.com for all the details from this year's MWC as we wrap things up in Barcelona. – PC Mag