Smartphones 2020: The trends to look forward to
5G, foldable phones, flagship killers... what are we looking forward to in the new year?
2019 brought us mechanised selfie cameras, in-display fingerprint scanners, variations of the notch and multiple cameras. The headphone jack lost its place from mainstream smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy devices and foldable phones made an appearance.
2020 has a lot more going for itself than 2019 did and here's a look at what is coming:
The unveiling of the new Snapdragon 865 provides a good idea of what is coming in 2020's flagship smartphones. The Snapdragon 865 comes with the Snapdragon X55 modem, which is the chip that deals with 5G connectivity. Together, it can support up to 7.5Gbps. Benchmark tests have already shown improvements over the 855 by more than 20%.
What you get or don't get will depend on your carrier network and device, but Qualcomm has laid the foundations just in time for the gradual 5G roll-out throughout the US by T-Mobile. It may be low-band 5G, which caps at around 1Ghz, but this will improve over time once the T-Mobile-Sprint acquisition is complete.
Smartphone makers are going to respond to this and 2020 is definitely going to bring more 5G-enabled devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 5G and OnePlus 7T Pro 5G.
The role of technology on mental health is a dicey space and that has prompted a new trend in app and phone development. Instagram is experimenting with doing away with likes. The whole attempt is to make social media a less toxic environment.
Android has made screen-off mode a mandatory feature in its latest software update to help users control their usage and companies are becoming more health-conscious, and we could see this trend influence more apps and devices next year.
Apple TV+ set a new precedent for manufacturers. Establishing itself in the competitive streaming industry against big guns like Netflix and HBO seemed impossible, but Apple found a way to provide their new service to millions. And they did that by offering free of charge on all Apple devices for a year.
Apple Arcade also offers enticing exclusives to mobile gamers for a fee of $4.99/month after a free trial.
We wouldn't be surprised to see other manufacturers with their own projects to launch attempt a similar models in 2020.
AR, 3D-mapping and AI
There is no better way to put powerful processors and giant screens to the test than with Augmented Reality (AR). One glance at Instagram and Snapchat and you can tell that AR tech has become mainstream and AR mapping technology is readily available to users.
The Google Pixel 4's panel of sensors could also offer much for new phones to learn from in 2020. We could see 3D-mapping technology start getting integrated into phones, much like the 3D head-scanning sensors that came with the Sony Xperia XZ1.
Phones are also about to get smarter. Snapdragon has taught the new 865 processor how to manage power efficiency better (by 35%, so they say); how to recognise what's on the screen and on camera and deep-learning.
Dual screens, foldables and high refresh rates
Samsung and Motorola generated a whole lot of buzz with their folding screens and that has brought more companies on board.
Not all the upcoming smartphones will have bending OLED panels though - Microsoft's answer to foldable devices are two separate nearly-bezel-less screens linked together with a hinge, as seen with the Microsoft Surface Duo and Neo.
Expect to see many more high refresh rate screens in 2020 like the 90Hz OnePlus 7T Pro and Google Pixel 4. The Snapdragon 865 now supports 144Hz displays for Android apps.
New flagship killers
OnePlus was a trend of its own, marrying flagship specs with mid-range prices and turning tech heads away from the big players.
OnePlus' prices climbed over the years of success, but 2019 saw plenty of companies rise to fill the void left by OnePlus. Recently released were the likes of the Redmi K20 Pro, Pocophone F1 and Asus ZenFone 6 that can be called flagship-killers. 2020 is going to definitely see more of that.