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CES phones weren’t many, but they were informative, hinting at the significant trends we’ll see in 2020 — including cheaper 2019’s more expensive features. Usually, the CES presentation is geared towards mid-range devices, but this year we also got some interesting ideas to chew on and a realistic look at what we can expect.
This is not unusual. Phone makers are much more likely to save on their features and high-end specifications for the Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile TV show, taking place on February 24-27 in Barcelona.
By then, they are absorbing hints of what’s to come, including an idea for a peek-a-boo camera that disappears from view when you’re not using it.
Cheaper folding phones are coming
The Motorola Razr costs $ 1,500. The Galaxy Fold is $ 2,000. And the Huawei Mate X is $ 2,400. Folding phones are nothing but cheap
Folding phones are an emerging category that shakes an otherwise static world of phones by tilting the screen in half. The high cost of R&D and new manufacturing techniques make these early folding plans at least twice the cost of their respective 4Gs. The “privilege” of owning a cutting-edge device can also contribute to the price.
But the high price of these first collapsible products means that few people will really be able to buy one. Reducing the price will also mean reducing the property barrier that folding phones need if they are to remain in place.
At CES, TCL showed us a working prototype of a folding phone that was designed to cost less than the Motorola Razr. It has a 7.2-inch display and three rear cameras and will support 5G.
Prices for 5G phones have already fallen
5G phones are not as expensive as foldable ones, but they still cost more per device than 4G with the same features. The same rule also applies to faster 5G data technology – cheaper 5G options will get more people using these devices.
And for carriers, faster data speeds could translate into more profits as customers use more data per person.
For phone shoppers, it is nice to have more affordable ways to get 5G speeds. Enter the TCL Pro 5G for less than $ 500, the CoolPad Legacy for $ 400 and Verizon’s plan to sell 20 5G phones in 2020, including some that cost less than $ 600. Compared to the $ 1,300 Galaxy Note 10 5G , that’s a pretty good deal. Just wait for offsets in the features section.
Cameras continue to be a design element
Camera technology has always been necessary for phones, but even the appearance and placement of lenses have strong opinions.
The Galaxy Note 10 Lite and the Galaxy S10 Lite both feature square and rectangular black cameras, imitating the Google Pixel 4. Some industry observers believe Samsung is taking the bold path to tackle the iPhone 11, the big one, protruding rear lens cluster makes the Apple phone instantly recognizable.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the OnePlus Concept One uses an electric current to conceal or reveal multiple cameras on the back of the phone. The idea is to make the phone look sleeker, especially at a time when camera lenses are multiplying.
Toy phones continue to carve a niche
Phones targeting players have created a small but fixed number of phones. 5G data has huge implications for gaming, promising far more impressive and sophisticated graphics through the kind of on-the-fly rendering that can be achieved through increased 5G data delivery.
Processors also come into play with the Snapdragon 765G, a mid-voltage chipset made specifically for gaming phones. And more phone makers are set to embrace 120Hz refresh rates for smoother animations.
The Black Shark 2 Pro has none of the first two things, but it’s still probably the best gaming phone we’ve seen, as well as a case that makes it work a bit like the Nintendo Switch. A useful gaming feature also makes this gaming-specific handset, rather than a mainstream phone that is powerful enough to play long heavy-duty gaming sessions.
The CES may be over, but for phones, the year is just starting.
Motorola flashes for its futuristic foldaway phone
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What the CES 2020 has learned about this year’s phones: Cheaper Folders, 5G and more (2020, January 16)
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