The big flagship smartphones for 2019 have been released, or at the very least, announced. As a result, it comes time to look ahead to smartphones in 2020, and some of the new trends or innovations the likes of Apple or Samsung will adopt for their 2020 flagships. Waterfall screens, under display cameras, and 5G. Oh my!

The “S11” and “S11+”

So, what does Samsung do? I honestly don’t believe they’ll do another generation with the punch hole cameras as seen in the 10 series of Samsung phones, so if push comes to shove, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did a pop up camera system as seen with the Samsung Galaxy A80. Playing with theoreticals for a moment, if Samsung is able to achieve implementation of an under display camera, than there’s no doubt in my mind that they will adopt a “waterfall” screen design. For the uninitiated, a waterfall screen design has the edges of the screen curve into every side of the phone. Think of how the sides of Samsung phones curve, and apply that now to the top and bottom as well. So perhaps 2020 will see the first truly “bezel-less” displays.

I also believe it to be in the realm of possibilities for Samsung to implement a higher refresh rate display. The 60 Hz flagship Note 10 series noticeably looks dated in this regard to the more mid-range OnePlus 7 Pro and its 90 Hz panel. And as a closing note, I’d fully expect the headphone jack to be a goner in the S11 series. They took it away from the Note this year, and the vocal minority moaned for a week, but it ultimately proved inconsequential for Samsung.

The iPhone 12

Moving on to the display side of things, Apple will probably continue to expand upon their OLED displays seen now in their iPhone 11, possibly joining the high refresh rate camp as well. However, Apple faces the same issues as Samsung does implementing this, in that color accuracy, as it stands now, suffers when increasing the refresh rate. So for a high refresh rate panel to match the desired standards of Samsung and Apple, some innovations in that field need to be made (it should also be worth noting that Samsung manufactures the panels found on iPhones). As for an under-display camera, this is pretty hard to get a read on. The standards for this camera would be even higher than Samsung’s, so once again unless some significant milestones were reached with this tech, then I don’t see Apple having this in the iPhone 12. But once again, playing with theoreticals, if Apple were to have an under-display camera, they would opt for just a bezel to bezel flat screen, and not join the waterfall display gang.

Finally, I would argue that with iOS 14 (historically speaking, new major versions of iOS tend to release either with or near new iPhones) a more robust file management system will be present. This has been rumored or hinted at for years, and has been a fairly big ask from Apple fans, however, by implementing USB-C, the world of portable, expandable storage greatly opens up for iPhones, and a competent, easy to use file system to say backup photos from your iPhone to a portable USB-C SSD becomes necessary. 5G most likely will NOT be a feature on the iPhone 12, the reasons for which I outline more in detail here.

Other Players

Huawei could have a big year in 2020. As they are one of the leaders abroad in implementing 5G networks, their flagships in 2020 will probably have 5G connectivity out of the box. Their camera optical zoom tech is already insane, so I don’t know how much more they will iterate upon that. However, 2019 was…tumultuous, to say the least for Huawei. They have effectively split from Google, and by and large are trying to get their own OS off the ground. On top of that, I look forward to seeing how Huawei’s processor tech evolves, and how it will compete with Qualcomm’s SnapDragon, Samsung’s Exynos, and Apple’s A Series.

ASUS and Razer have had good success by just simply packaging the most powerful chips into their phone, and marketing them as gaming devices. And all they honestly have to do is continue that, as there is a profitable, albeit somewhat niche audience for these sorts of products.

Finally, OnePlus. OnePlus has started hitting its stride, especially in 2019, offering insane bang for the buck with their phones. I believe they will continue their trend of packing in a ridiculous amount of features for the price, as well as continuing to have the fastest and most responsive Android skin on the market.