Last year at this time, phone watchers everywhere bemoaned the state of phones. Sales were stagnant, devices felt same-same, and while we knew change was in the air, nobody was sure if the 5G and foldable phone revolutions would go to plan. Now in the first days of 2020, devices like the rumored Galaxy S11 and Huawei P40 Pro have the chance to deliver on some of last year’s dramatic promises.
2019 brought us the historic Samsung Galaxy Fold, Huawei Mate X and Motorola Razr flip phone. We also saw less flashy, but equally important themes of longer-lasting and faster-charging batteries, operating systems added new bells and whistles (dark mode!) and digital assistants got smarter. Phone cameras embraced new sensors and enhanced image capture, from seriously impressive periscope zoom technology to astrophotography in the Pixel 4.
Smartphones over the years have evolved, bringing in new features and improving our user experience. And this trend of up-gradation might have slowed down in the past, with new features seeming like minor upgrades, but 2020 is the year when we can expect some major ones — not just in smartphone design but also the way we use our phones. Here’s what we can expect from smartphones in 2020.
If 2019 was the year of seeing foldable phones come to life, then 2020 is about determining if phone screens that bend are a potential future or a gimmick destined to be forgotten like 3D displays.
Samsung, Motorola, and Huawei have launched foldable phones that work, each with their own design. The Galaxy Fold gives us a book design that opens into a tablet. The even larger Mate X has one big wraparound screen around the outside of the device, which can be used in three different ways. And the Motorola Razr is a small phone flips up vertically to reveal a tall, narrow display within.
Foldable phones seek to give you a larger screen in a much smaller body. In 2019, they’re expensive, ranging from $1,500 for the total Razr to over $2,000 for the Galaxy Fold and roughly $2,400 for the Mate X.
That’s at least 50% more expensive upfront than you’d spend on a premium superphone, like the $1,000 iPhone 11 Pro. Consider, too, that foldable phone screens are made of plastic, a more fragile material than glass. They’re more prone to scratches and damage from too much direct pressure.
We know that the Fold, Razr, and Mate X will get a company in 2020 and beyond. Phone-makers like LG, Xiaomi, and TCL have been vocal about experimenting with foldable designs, like this foldable device that bends in three places to open into a 10-inch tablet.
Samsung already teased a new foldable in the works, a vertical flip phone reminiscent of the Motorola Razr. Rumors also suggest that Samsung is working on the Galaxy Fold 2 for August 2020.
IN-DISPLAY FRONT CAMERA
For a few years now, smartphone makers have been minimizing the bezels on a device. We got the notch, the tear-drop notch, the pop-up camera, and many other creative options — all to hide the front camera while delivering a truly bezel-less experience. And it looks like this year might surely be it. Smartphone makers like Xiaomi, Oppo, and OnePlus are teasing some creative technology that puts the front camera right below the display — without any cutouts or holes, how cool is that?
FASTEST WIRE AND WIRELESS CHARGING 5G
Every smartphone maker today is striving to pack in the largest battery they possibly can with the fastest charging tech they can find. OnePlus has pretty much nailed it with its WARP charging, followed by Xioami’s Quick Charging too which isn’t far behind, and this year we expect this to get faster than that.
Moreover, brands like Samsung and Apple that bring wireless charging on their phones could also make it as fast as wired charging speeds.
While India will take a while to fully embrace 5G connectivity, some states in the US have already started getting 5G connectivity. And we have already been seeing 5G variants of some flagship phones being sold by telecom operators. We can expect more smartphone makers have 5G offerings to get people excited.
HIGH-REFRESH RATES SCREEN AND BETTER CAMERA
High-refresh rate displays was a trend that was picked up in 2019, and people really loved it. The smooth user-experience made the phone feel faster and it was soothing to the eyes too. This year, we can expect more smartphone makers to implement this tech on their devices,
Smartphone cameras have gotten really good for the past few years, and last year, Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro really took it to a whole new level — defeating even the Pixel 4 — although that phone had its own set of issues.
Another thing we saw last year was the fact that smartphone makers included lenses of different configurations to make photography better, and we can only expect that trend to continue, with so many users finding it useful.