The annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) opened its doors in Barcelona on Monday under the shadow of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
GSMA, the organisation that hosts MWC, said it cancelled the Russian Pavillion at the event, adding that it “strongly condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine" which began on Thursday.
"The GSMA follows all government sanctions and policies resulting from this situation. There will be no Russian Pavillion at MWC22. Security for the event is constantly reviewed and adjusted as information emerges," GSMA said in a statement.
"In light of this emerging situation and considering the tragic loss of life, MWC seems immaterial under the circumstances".
Reuters also reported that some Russian companies had been banned from the telco fair but did not specify who.
GSMA said it was a "unifying event" and that it has a "vision to convene the mobile ecosystem to progress ways and means that connectivity can ensure people, industry, and society thrive".
With connectivity in mind and the message that the show must go on, here are some of the highlights of this year's MWC as the event showcases the latest innovations in the telecommunications and technological world.
Euronews Next will be reporting from the connectivity-focused conference, which starts on Monday and continues until March 3.
Watch our journalist taking you on a trip to Barcelona:
Here are some of the things you can expect at MWC 2022.
1. Connectivity unleashed
Of course, any telecoms conference is likely to focus on connectivity but this year’s key theme is "connectivity unleashed".
"We're trying to emphasise that we're moving away from just simple connectivity to meaningful connectivity where we are connecting things and we are using data and everything that benefits from being connected will be connected," said Mats Granryd, Director-General of the GSMA association which organises MWC.
"It's no longer just mobile operators to mobile operators or me connected to you. It is fintech. It's car manufacturers, it's utility companies, it's transport companies," he told Euronews Next.
"We're unleashing the full power of connectivity, that we can do that now because we have 5G".
2. Shiny new gadgets
As well as new releases expected from the smartphone giants, there are smaller tech companies that may steal the limelight as the ones to watch.
In the run-up to this year’s event, the Chinese smartphone maker Realme teased that it will be unveiling the world’s fastest smartphone charging technology at the MWC 2022.
The technology would supposedly see your phone’s battery charged from zero to full in just a few minutes. Realme already has a fast 125W charger on the market but this one is said to be much faster.
The company will also announce the launch of its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 powered smartphone, the Realme GT 2 Pro in the European markets during MWC 2022.
As for the tech giants, South Korean giant Samsung announced on the eve of MWC 2022’s official opening that it would bring out shiny new laptops. The Galaxy Book 2 Pro and Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 feature improved webcams with better resolution. The new devices are also looking to boost security and interoperability.
All eyes will be on Samsung’s recently announced Galaxy S22 smartphone and Tab S8. But for now, that’s all we know.
The Chinese company Honor also said it has planned a big reveal and said its Magic 4 series will be revealed on the first day of MWC.
We don’t quite know what the updates will be as Honor's Magic 3 smartphone came out just six months ago. The company has been independent for just over 12 months since splitting from Huawei. All Honor has said for now is that the Magic 4 will be "full of features that will unleash the Power of Magic".
And finally, the foldable phone is back. Or Fold and Roll as the company TCL calls its prototype. It’s not your traditional flip phone as it uses a mechanism that extends a fold-out display and maximises the smartphone screen display.
3. Easing COVID measures
The COVID-19 pandemic is of course not over but this year’s MWC hopes to be one of the biggest physical events since the outbreak of the pandemic two years ago and expects to attract about 50,000 attendees.
It is far less than the 109,000 attendees registered in 2019 but is much more than the 20,000 who were present at last year’s MWC.
There are 1,500 exhibitors confirmed, 1,000 speakers and there is an 85 per cent occupancy ratio in the seven halls that will be used.
As for COVID-19 prevention measures, Spain, like much of the world, has been rolling back restrictions following high vaccination rates.
Unlike last year when a COVID-19 test was needed to get into the venue, a vaccine certificate is all that is needed at MWC 2022.