2019: First foldable smartphones

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Google puts a ban on Huawei

One of the most distinctive and biggest stories of 2019 is US adding Huawei to entity list. Back on May 2019, Huawei was blacklisted by order of the U.S. Executive Department of Commerce.

This was because Google has determined that Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro models had backdoor access to Google services because of user interface (UI) security vulnerabilities.
Such a decision had many consequences for one of the largest smartphones manufacturer. The worst part was that Huawei could not use Google apps or services on newly released mobile devices. Consumers were strongly affected by the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro, as both models operated without Google services and applications.

Several months Huawei had to comply to the restricted terms counting huge financial losses. During that time, events took a another direction. Huawei’s lawyers found that terms of the restriction also included a clause prohibiting the use of government funds to purchase telecommunications equipment manufactured by Huawei. Taking advantage of this, Chinese company submitted a lawsuit to FCC (Federal Communications Authority).

In the process, other companies based in US making a significant contribution to the development of Huawei services both domestically and globally have also suffered financial losses. Basically all companies closely related to Huawei services or production was asking for speedy abolition of such prohibition, which in the long run could have a serious consequences for further relationship with one of the largest mobile technology manufacturer.

Nevertheless, Huawei could not wait any longer and was forced to seek for solution. The only way was to overcome these restrictions as fast as possible, so Huawei announced about their own mobile OS development projects. As Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said, “We are developing our software not to stand out, but to maintain a close partnership with Google and Microsoft.”
Yeah sure, we’ll see about that.

Looking at big picture, imposing such a sanctions on technology giant having financial capital of 122 billion is really risky. Huawei can build their software with integrated services on the same open source Linux platform and it would only be a matter of time before it becomes a full-fledged competitor against Google or Apple mobile OS.

Finally, in July 2019 an agreement between Huawei and US government was reached and Google’s restrictions were lifted. However, it become clear that Huawei’s faced scenario can be repeated to any other manufacturer having a strong impact on sales and rankings of its production in global technology market.

Limited edition Android 10

Latest Android 10-th version release for the first time in Google’s OS history was not marked with a sweets name. As usual, Google Pixel users were first to receive this update. Later this update was globally released to other smartphones as well.

Apart from visible design improvements that doesn’t fundamentally change Android OS usability, basic users may not even be able to find new features or feel a need to use them. But more advanced ones will definitely enjoy whole list of the latest functional solutions.

Not for me to judge, but anyone can “borrow” and adapt well rated or most popular latest functional improvements developed over time by other OS competitors or the same widely known smartphones manufacturers. If such Google solutions are repeated over time, more picky users will soon notice this and will definitely start looking toward competitors, where modern solutions are born rather than copying foreign ideas.

First foldable smartphones

When I saw first ideas of such a project 3 years ago, I started smiling and thought: “Back to the past, only this time without buttons.”

Yes, fashion repeats itself. Like some engineering or technical solutions discovered at the wrong era, but during the time when market changes, those concepts later become introduced as “new” inventions.
Folding display concept was getting more real with each flagship display flexibility improvement. Consumers wanted to have a mobile device with larger high resolution display which would be comfortable enough to carry in a pocket and at the same time easy to use in daily routine. The problem with Android phones like Galaxy Note, Pixel XL and similar-sized devices was that despite having a bigger HQ display, they also tore pockets and taking a call usually covered entire face letting you pass through the person being absolutely unnoticed (which in some cases might even be an advantage).

There were rumors for a while that Huawei is actively working on the “Falcon Wing” – a concept for its flexible models, but Samsung has finally made this first brave step. By globally presenting the “Galaxy Fold” flagman, Chinese company highlighted the reliability and resilience of the foldable design, which was developed using the engineering mechanisms of well-known watch manufacturers.

As mobile technology market is very competitive, “Galaxy Fold” briefly boasted because of its exclusivity. Soon after, Huawei introduced “Mate X”, as their first model to take position in folding smartphones market.

I have to notice that first folding smartphones look really attractive and elegant only as long as they are used in full size. When folded, both “Galaxy Fold” and “Mate X” become clumsy in their design and while the width is reduced, overall thickness of the phone is greatly increased. It’s true that these models are more resistant to shocks, not only because of the reinforced body and hinge inside of it, but screen itself is also factory covered with a thicker protective film.
If after dropping caseless smartphone we feel lucky avoiding crashed display and only facing minor back or body damage, then careless use of folded Android device will undoubtedly damage the entire screen which is basically covering whole device. Changing display for mid-class smartphone usually costs 60% of device value, so just imagine how much it’ll cost to change foldable smartphone display…

Those who like to chase technology innovations will have to pay a four-digit price for the “Galaxy Fold” which currently stands at $ 2,800. Wisely thinking users will definitely wonder whether to choose a good laptop or invest into innovation that will definitely drop to three-figure price level in next 2 years.

5G mobile network

Telecommunication companies gradually switching to 5G mobile network is another field for smartphones manufacturers to compete between each other by integrating 5G capability into flagship devices.

Although 5G featuring devices introduced by Samsung, LG and OnePlus last year didn’t received much attention, buying smartphone in 2020 that supports new generation mobile data connectivity seems like a pretty good idea in the long run. After all, sooner or later we will move on to that.

Manufacturers were also curious about how new models supporting 5G would handle a completely different level of connection speed, reaching more than 1Gbps. Main smartphone components like CPU, GPU and RAM will definitely get more weight dealing with much faster data exchange and more processing operations at the same time. Such data streams will also require significantly more battery power, which is going to be another challenge for manufacturers.

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