2020 has already made its half way through and with it the next smartphone generation. What developments and trends can we expect this and the upcoming years? The first trends for the 2020 smartphones are emerging. With its Snapdragon 865, Qualcomm has announced the SoC that will fire most high-end devices in 2020. The processor will be the first of the manufacturer to be set aside with a 5G modem, which means that all smartphones equipped with the chip automatically support 5G.
2020 will be the official starting signal for 5G smartphones, because in addition to the Snapdragon 865, Qualcomm will make other SoC series 5G-ready, as the chip developer confirmed at Ifa 2019. In addition to the Snapdragon 865, the company has also introduced the Snapdragon 765 (G), which will fire devices in the upper middle class. In contrast to the 865, the SoC even has a 5G modem on board.
Not only Qualcomm, other companies have also presented their first SoC with 5G-on-chip. Huawei’s Kirin 990 5G has been official since September, as has Samsung’s Exynos 980. The Taiwanese manufacturer Mediatek also wants to play a part in the luxury segment: The Dimensity 1000 comes with an integrated 5G modem. While Qualcomm has already mentioned some partners, Mediatek has not yet commented on any hardware manufacturers.
The new processors not only add more performance – the Snapdragon 865 is expected to increase by about 30 percent – but also support for camera sensors with up to 200 megapixels. The first models such as the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Pro (test) have already installed a 108-megapixel sensor, in which the pixel mass is added up by pixel binning, thereby reducing the resolution, but increasing the image quality. This method is already used in other smartphones with 40 megapixel sensors such as Huawei’s P30 Pro (test) or Mate 30 Pro.
In contrast to the “pixel craze” at the beginning of the 2010s, the whole thing actually works, which is related, among other things, to smart software algorithms and more computing power. In addition to Huawei and Xiaomi, Apple also shows advances in computational photography with its iPhone 11 models and Google with its pixel smartphones.
Industry leader Samsung will apparently go a step further with its Galaxy S11 in terms of camera skills in the spring and may also use the 108-megapixel sensor developed with Xiaomi. Others will follow.
There are also interesting developments for the front-facing camera. While 2019 was the year of hole punch and pop-up cameras, in 2020 the first manufacturers could rely on selfie cams that are installed under the display. Accordingly, there will be neither a display hole nor a sliding mechanism for pulling out the selfie cam – the screen is free from optical interference.
The two manufacturers Oppo and Xiaomi have already shown the first solutions that should appear in the first devices over the coming months. Samsung had already given a first look at this technology with its New Infinity display in November 2018; it could take some time to complete.
With Apple’s it is called Pro Motion, with Google Smooth Display and with Oneplus Fluid Display – we are talking about screens with a higher (sometimes dynamically varying) refresh rate of 90 to 120 Hertz, with which the system works more fluently and the interaction with the smartphone is more direct takes place. From 2020, other manufacturers also appear to be using this technology. Both Samsung and Huawei are said to have corresponding plans: The Galaxy S11 and the P40 Pro are each to have 120 Hertz screens on board.
If you believe the Taiwanese trade publication Digitimes with a rather mixed success rate, Apple’s iPhones are 2020s with promotional displays provided. Gradually, the 60 Hertz, which is the standard used by all manufacturers, should be a thing of the past.
While there have already been announcements regarding foldables, we assume that other players besides Samsung, Huawei and Motorola will enter the new terrain of foldable smartphones. Nevertheless, the new device category should continue to be used with caution, as manufacturers face even greater challenges, especially with regard to the display: There is still no reliable protection for the foldable screens, as there is currently no rollable or foldable glass.
Of course, in order to make the device category successful, prices would have to drop massively. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold costs more than two classic high-end smartphones with a price of over 2,000 euros, Motorola’s new Razr will cost around 1,600 euros at the start of 2020. Also for Huawei Mate X, which is so far only available in China, the equivalent of over 2,000 euros are due. Samsung’s next foldable, which has a similar design to Motorola’s Razr, should not be particularly cheap yet.
2020 could also see new developments in the direction of battery and charging technologies. Manufacturers are working on faster charging solutions of up to 100 watts, which means that even larger batteries of 4,000 milliamp hours can be literally pressure-loaded within 17 minutes.
We can also expect the charging power to increase wirelessly: Xiaomi had already announced a wireless 30-watt charging solution in September 2019, with which a 4,000 mAh battery can be fully charged in about half an hour. For comparison: Most Qi wireless charging stations support 7.5 to a maximum of 15 watts. Xiaomi claims to test wireless fast charging with 40 watts.
In addition, manufacturers could finally install larger batteries, which is not necessarily at the expense of weight or smartphone dimensions. Rumor has it that Huawei is working on graphene batteries, which could increase the battery capacity to 5,500 mAh, but could reduce the battery volume to 70 percent of a lithium-ion battery. This technology should already be used in the Huawei P40. Samsung could not use graphene batteries until 2021.
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