But despite several improvements, smartphones didn’t really see any major technological breakthroughs in 2020.
2019 has been an incredible year for smartphones, with the dawn of 5G and foldable smartphones revolution kicking off. This year, smartphones in every space from affordable to premium got even better, while pricing remained competitive. 2019 also saw improved camera performance make its way to mid-range handsets.
But despite several improvements, smartphones didn’t really see any major technological breakthroughs. Most improvements were the same year-on-year enhancements you’d expect without any drastic change. However, a few smartphone trends are edging ever so close to becoming viable in 2020.
The up to 10-day Battery
Battery life on smartphones has already gotten better since 2018. However, the technology hasn’t really changed. Lithium-Ion batteries remain the standard for smartphones. The liquid in a Li-ion battery is flammable and overtime these batteries deliver less energy, which is why a phone’s battery life tends to reduce after two years.
This changes in the case of solid-state batteries. In such cells, the liquid in li-ion batteries is replaced with solid electrodes. Solid-state batteries have a much higher lifespan – double or triple – that of a Li-ion battery. Additionally, solid-state cells can work in significantly higher temperature, enabling manufacturers to adopt more powerful charging than current standards without worrying about overheating.
Energy density is another excellent benefit of a solid-state battery. It can deliver anywhere from two to five times more energy than a Lithium-Ion battery with the same form factor, which could give you a smartphone that could last up to six to ten days on a full charge.
This is one innovation we can say beyond all doubt is coming in 2020. Oppo recently debuted the under-screen camera in a prototype smartphone at its recent INNO Day event. The new technology will allow manufacturers to house the front camera under the display, eliminating the need for motorised modules or notches.
Another benefit to having an under-screen camera is “placement flexibility”. Today, all front cameras are located on the top of your smartphone, making it a little tricky figuring out exactly where to look at times. However, an under-screen camera can be placed anywhere under the display, and there’s no better place to add a camera than the middle, so you’re always looking at the screen and not the camera.
In the past couple of years, smartphones have only been getting stronger. Although today’s smartphones are mighty tough, using them without a case is still risky. However, that risk is going to diminish in time. An era where users no longer need to rely on a case to ensure their smartphone doesn’t get damaged when dropped is not too far away.
Glass has gotten pretty strong in 2019 itself, dropping an iPhone 11 from pocket height will rarely cause any significant damage. Moreover, Samsung’s is also working on a plastic flexible OLED panel that was dropped over 20 times in testing without any damage. The Pixel 4 has also solved the grip issues with the matte finish on the back and sides.
High Refresh Rate Gaming
While the higher refresh rates on phones came as early as 2017, it took until 2019 to gain popularity. But 2019 hasn’t ended yet, and we’re already seeing higher refresh rate panels arriving on mid-range phones like the recently unveiled Redmi K30 series. But now that higher refresh rates are here, it is time game developers bring support for higher frame rates in games to allow users to take advantage of those refresh rates. While some games already support higher frame rates, it is time for mass adoption, especially on the popular titles.
5G for Everyone
2019 saw the rise of the 5G smartphones, but until now 5G has been limited to flagship. It has taken until December to bring 5G to mid-range smartphones. However, in 2020, 5G will be accessible across all price ranges. Qualcomm has already launched its mid-range 5G Snapdragon 700 series chipset, but in 2020, even the Snapdragon 600 series will have its own 5G chip, which means 5G will arrive on more affordable handsets as well. Moreover, MediaTek has also confirmed two 5G chipsets for entry-level smartphones.
The Perfect FoldFoldable smartphones were undoubtedly the one the biggest tech highlights of 2019. However, devices like the Moto Razr, Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X either hit or surpass the USD 1500 mark. But first-generation products usually come with a heftier innovation cost. Additionally, foldable smartphones like the Fold and Mate X have seen success, which will only motivate other manufacturers to hop on the foldable bandwagon. And the best thing that can happen in the foldable smartphone market is competition.