Technology Reviews

Samsung’s MWC 2023 booth made me feel it should copy Apple

I’ve been going to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona for years, even when it was held at the previous Montjuic venue, which hasn’t hosted the trade show for a long time now. I and the team members accompanying me would primarily visit to check out the Samsung booth, but it was also a great opportunity to see what the other companies were working on.

There was a time when Samsung used to launch even flagship smartphones at the Mobile World Congress. It used to be a very important show for the company, particularly during the years when Samsung had competitors like HTC, Sony, LG, Nokia that no longer exist in the smartphone market.

Samsung would eventually move away from MWC launches for new phones as it preferred to conduct its Unpacked events for the Galaxy S series. These events have largely taken place in San Francisco, and while one could argue that there are better ways for Samsung to unveil these phones, it doesn’t take away from the fact that MWC isn’t as important as it once was for the company.

As someone who would only attend MWC to check out Samsung’s booth, I can’t help but feel that the company’s presence at MWC has become boring. There are no new product launches and nothing to create any excitement about what’s to come. Samsung’s booth at MWC 2023 was mostly all about the Galaxy S23, a device that’s been out for several weeks. It felt more like being in a Samsung retail store.

It seems this year’s MWC presence was more out of necessity than anything else. Samsung would focus on branding and marketing which was a lot more prominent throughout Barcelona. Even the airport would be plastered with ads about the company’s products. They weren’t as prominent or frequent this time around as most of the spots had been happily taken by Oppo. Samsung would also launch a pop-up Galaxy experience opposite the Apple Store on Passeig de Gràcia but that was missing this year as well.

As a Samsung fan, it was tough to see what seems to be a lack of interest on the company’s part to make the most of its MWC presence. It would have been good to see something more exciting from the company, perhaps new concepts or its vision for future products, but sadly that was missing from the booth of the company that’s the undisputed king of Android devices.

That might be one of the reasons why there wasn’t as much buzz around its booth as there used to be in the past. For example, when the original Galaxy Fold was announced, it was proudly showcased behind heavily protected glass boxes at MWC 2022. It was the center of attention and got Samsung a lot of great press at the event.

Many of Samsung’s rivals have taken a different approach, particularly those that are based in China. They seem to be capitalizing on Samsung’s lack of interest in MWC with a more comprehensive presence, new product launches, and highlighting concepts of future products. For example, Lenovo-owned Motorola showed off a concept phone with a rollable display, even though most people probably won’t even know that Motorola is still in the business of making smartphones.

Samsung Display did have sliding, flexible, and foldable display panel concepts at its booth but it was in an entirely different hall. It was showcasing its concepts in an isolated environment, so to speak, whereas in my view it would have been better to align them with the primary Samsung Mobile booth to get that hype going. Perhaps it would be good to combine these booths next time or at least be positioned alongside each other to maximize the reach.

The company will probably never go back to launching its new flagship products too close to MWC, even though that would certainly make its presence at the trade show more exciting, but at least there should be a more collaborative effort between the different divisions of Samsung to showcase their technologies better.

An uninspiring booth isn’t great at the Mobile World Congress. It should offer a glimpse into the future. For Samsung, it should be a way to make fans proud of its capabilities, of everything it has achieved, and of everything else, it’s going to achieve. If not, then perhaps it should copy Apple and not care about having a presence at MWC altogether.