MWC 2023: The 5 most exciting new phones

OnePlus 11 Concept phone
(Image credit: OnePlus)

MWC 2023 is over, and much like CES, we are left wondering exactly when we’ll get to review some of the amazing new phones that debuted there. After a couple of lighter years at MWC, this felt like a big one again with a range of foldables, standard flagships — and even a new form factor from Motorola.

Now as with CES, there is also the chance that some of the concepts and products that we saw at MWC won’t actually come to market, or at least won’t be released this year. That isn’t stopping us from being excited about some of them, so we’ll let you know where they stand, but just know that like us, you may be left obsessed with a phone you can never have. 

Without further ado, here’s a look at five phones from MWC 2023 that we are chomping at the bit to get in for review when (or if) they launch.

Motorola rollable concept phone

(Image credit: Motorola)

1. Motorola rollable smartphone concept (Rizr)

While the prototype featured the name “Rizr” on it, Motorola simply referred to it as the Motorola rollable smartphone concept, so that should tell you that this unusual Motorola phone isn’t going to be arriving any time too soon. Regardless, I’m intrigued. As the name suggests, the screen on this phone rolls, similar to the LG Rollable concept we saw at CES in 2021. Now hopefully this goes slightly better as LG essentially announced it was leaving the smartphone business two weeks after showing off that phone.

While LG’s went from phone to tablet, this is more akin to a Galaxy Z Flip 4 with the display extending upwards to give you more vertical screen real estate when it’s not in your pocket. I’m more of a Galaxy Z Fold fan, but my main interest here is the tech itself. Rollables certainly have some advantages over their foldable cousins, including not having a visible crease on the display and fewer space issues (caused by the doubled up display when the phone is closed). 

With that said, there are more questions than answers about this phone at the moment with no indication as to when it could come out: no final specs and no clues as to pricing. We are finally seeing some affordable foldables now (we’ll cover a couple below), but it took a few years, so rollables may have a similar trajectory. For now, we’ll just be keeping a careful eye on Motorola to see if they’ll cough up any more details on the rebirth of the Motorola Rizr.

Watch out, Samsung: OnePlus to launch flagship foldable phone this year

(Image credit: Future)

2. OnePlus foldable 

While OnePlus doesn’t have an official name for this phone yet, the company has committed to the first OnePlus foldable arriving before the end of 2023. We are in the dark on quite a few details here as well, OnePlus didn’t have a physical prototype to show off; it merely confirmed that it was coming. However, we can make some educated guesses based on foldable offerings from Oppo, OnePlus’ parent company.

Oppo has two foldables; the Find N2 and the Find N2 Flip, which match up roughly with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4, respectively. OnePlus seemed to suggest that it would just be releasing one foldable, so it’s unclear which form factor it will target first. The Flip version would be the cheaper entry point, which seems like the smart play for the flagship-killer brand, but Samsung’s expensive Galaxy Z Fold 4 may feel more vulnerable due to its $1,799 price point. If OnePlus could come in at $1,200-$1,400, it may be able to steal quite a bit of market share from Samsung.

So what has me so excited about a phone we know so little about? There are two things. First is pricing, particularly if OnePlus goes after the Fold. There’s a lot to be said for that form factor and I would love for more people to be able to try it out. Second, if OnePlus follows Oppo, it will feature a more compact design than the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Oppo offers a wider, but shorter, display than Samsung which makes for a more pocketable experience and a better single-screen experience when you don’t want or need to unfold the phone.

Look for the OnePlus foldable to arrive later this year, perhaps around the same time as the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Galaxy Z Fold 5 in August — if OnePlus is feeling particularly feisty.

Nokia G22 phone in blue with iFixit tools surrounding it

(Image credit: HMD Global)

3. Nokia G22 

Alright so no surprise that there are exciting expensive phones coming, but what about the budget market? HMD, in partnership with iFixit, had one of the most interesting new affordable phones we’ve seen in years with the highly repairable Nokia G22 coming to the UK on March 8 for just £149.99 (€179). 

According to iFixit, it takes just 5 minutes to swap out the battery on the G22 and 20 minutes to replace the display. That’s in pretty stark contrast to the new self-repair programs launched by Apple and Samsung, and needless to say, the parts are considerably cheaper. A new display (the costliest part of any phone) is £44.99, with other parts available for less than £20.

While there are competitors like the Fairphone 4 that offer even easier repairs, the Nokia G22 delivers a more premium budget phone look and feel, while still being much easier to repair than a typical phone. While flagship phones may be a lost cause for repairability, we would love to see the budget phone market shift back in this direction.

Nothing phone (1)

(Image credit: Future)

4. Nothing Phone (2)

I’m cheating a little here; the Nothing Phone (2) was announced previously, but the reveal at MWC 2023 that it will feature a Snapdragon 8 Series chip changes the outlook for this phone considerably.

The Nothing Phone (1) boasts a unique design and a solid overall experience, but it's hampered by relatively weak internals and wasn’t available in the U.S. at launch. The Nothing Phone (2) looks poised to change things up on both counts with a simultaneous North American launch and a flagship Snapdragon processor.

The only real question we have is whether it’s the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 from last year or this year’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Either would be such a massive upgrade from the Snapdragon 778G+ in the previous model that it will be game-changing regardless. If Nothing is trying to maintain that OnePlus-like flagship killer status, it may opt for last year’s chipset in order to undercut some of its competition, but time will tell.

The Nothing Phone (1) was not a bad fledgling effort for the brand, but I’m hopeful for more than just a (literally) flashy design for the Phone (2).

OnePlus 11 Concept phone

(Image credit: OnePlus)

5.  OnePlus 11 Concept 

The only brand to notch a second appearance on this list, OnePlus caught my attention yet again with its OnePlus 11 Concept. This concept builds on the solid OnePlus 11 by adding a new “Active CryoFlux” liquid cooling system that is highlighted by glowing blue lights across the back of the phone.

The OnePlus 11 is already one of the most powerful Android phones we’ve seen, but this new cooling system could allow users to push it even further. It hasn’t been independently tested, but OnePlus claims about a 4-degree Fahrenheit reduction in heat during gaming and almost 3 degrees while charging. If true that would give at least a slight boost to speeds in both conditions.

Unlike the OnePlus foldable, the company offered no indication as to if or when this would actually be released. I’d love to see OnePlus release it, it’s a bit more exciting than the design of the standard OnePlus and would offer mobile gaming enthusiasts a more component all-around phone that can still keep pace with dedicated gaming phones.

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.