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2019 Best smartphone trends

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  • Smartphones took a big leap forward in 2019 in terms of camera performance, screen quality, and design.
  • Some of the biggest smartphone trends of 2019 included triple-lens camera systems that include standard, telephoto, and ultra-wide-angle lenses, as well as new bezel-free smartphone designs.
  • Foldable phones also had a moment in 2019 thanks to the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Huawei Mate X, and Motorola Razr.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Each new generation of smartphones offers some improvements over its predecessors, whether it be larger screens, water-resistant designs, or new camera features. But many of the upgrades that have appeared on mobile devices in recent years have felt more iterative than innovative.

That started to change in 2019, as major smartphone brands like Samsung, Apple, and OnePlus started bringing new features to mobile devices that add meaningful improvements or changes to the ways in which we use our mobile devices.

From ultra-wide-angle lenses to cameras that pop out when needed and disappear when they’re no longer in use, here are the trends that dominated the smartphone industry in 2019.


Triple-lens cameras

Foto: The iPhone 11 Pro’s triple-lens camera.sourceHollis Johnson/Business Insider

The introduction of triple-lens camera systems was arguably one of the biggest smartphone trends of 2019. Apple, Samsung, LG, Huawei, and OnePlus all released new phones in 2019 that had camera setups boasting three separate lenses: a standard lens, a telephoto zoom lens, and an ultra-wide-angle lens.


Ultra-wide-angle cameras

Foto: The Samsung Galaxy S10 lineupsourceAntonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Ultra-wide-angle cameras may not be entirely new, but 2019 was certainly the year they became a trend. Nearly every major smartphone maker released a new phone in 2019 with an ultra-wide-angle camera that’s capable of capturing a much broader scene than the standard lens.

The field of view varies depending on the phone, but devices from Samsung, Apple, and OnePlus have lenses that are roughly 120 degrees wide. The iPhone 11 Pro’s ultra-wide-angle camera has a 120-degree lens, for example, while Samsung’s Galaxy S10 has a 123-degree field-of-view and the OnePlus 7 Pro’s has a 117-degree field-of-view.


Foldable screens

Foto: The Samsung Galaxy FoldsourceHollis Johnson/Business Insider

After years of teases and hype, the first crop of foldable smartphones arrived in 2019 from companies like Samsung, Huawei, and Motorola. While all of these phones have a foldable design in common, the their shapes and sizes vary.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold, which the company announced in February, opens and closes like a book. A 7.3-inch screen is located on the inside of the device, while a 4.6-inch cover screen sits on the front to display information when the gadget is closed. Samsung was supposed to launch the nearly $2,000 device in April, but it delayed the launch until September after some reviewers experienced technical issues after just a couple of days of use.

Huawei’s foldable $2,400 Mate X, which the Chinese tech giant also revealed in February, has a display that bends backward rather than folding in like the Galaxy Fold. It has an 8-inch screen when unfolded, and a 6-inch display when closed. The phone launched in November after being delayed twice.

Motorola’s recently announced $1,500 Moto Razr is a revival of the classic flip phone from the early 2000s. It has a 6.2-inch screen that bends in half so that it can snap shut just like a vintage flip phone, and a smaller 2.7-inch display on the front for showing notifications.


Borderless screens with notch-free designs

Foto: sourceOnePlus/Business Insider

Smartphones with edge-to-edge screens have become increasingly common over the past two years. But those borderless designs also introduced the „notch,“ a cutout near the top of the display for housing components like the selfie camera and facial recognition sensors.

Now, in 2019, we’ve seen a growing number of companies implement new designs to eliminate bezels and notch cutouts, getting one step closer to achieving a look that resembles a seamless slab of glass.

With its Galaxy S10 lineup, for example, Samsung introduced what it calls the „Infinity-O“ display, which essentially looks like a hole was punched into the display to accommodate the front-facing cameras. This makes the camera cutout slightly more subtle than it is on the Galaxy S9, which has a thin border above the screen for the camera.

Other smartphone makers have taken a different approach to eliminating the notch and bezel. OnePlus and Asus, for example, have both released new smartphones with pop-out cameras that emerge from the device when needed and remain concealed otherwise.


Screens with higher refresh rates for smoother scrolling

Foto: sourceCrystal Cox/Business Insider

Both the OnePlus 7 Pro and Google Pixel 4 support refresh rates of up to 90Hz, which is higher than the average refresh rate for a smartphone screen and should make the phones‘ display feel faster and more responsive.

They’re not the first smartphones to support refresh rates that are higher than usual for a mobile device. Last year’s Razer Phone 2, for example, has a 120GHz refresh rate. But the notion that higher refresh rates are coming to more smartphones – especially ones made by large companies like Google – suggests that it may be on pace to become the norm.


Lower prices

Foto: sourceHollis Johnson/Business Insider

Flagship smartphones still hover around the $1,000 price range, but major players in the industry have launched more affordable devices over the course of the year. Samsung, for example, launched a version of the Galaxy S10 that’s about $150 less expensive called the Galaxy S10e.

Apple also positioned its least expensive new iPhone, the iPhone 11, as it’s flagship model this year. At $700, the iPhone 11 is also $50 less expensive than last year’s iPhone XR was when it launched.

And Google also released the Pixel 3a in 2019, a lower-end version of its flagship from 2018 that starts at $400, which is half the price that Google charged for the Pixel 3 when it debuted last year.

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Samsung temporarily shuts down phone factory following coronavirus case – Engadget

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Chris Velazco/Engadget

Samsung’s coronavirus problems extend beyond people steering clear of phone stores. The company has closed a phone factory in Gumi, South Korea until February 24th after confirming that a factory worker was infected with COVID-19. The company told the worker’s associates to self-quarantine and will test them for the virus, and will also keep the relevant floor closed until the 25th.

Chip and display factories across South Korea aren’t affected, Samsung said. Gumi isn’t far from Daegu, the heart of the current outbreak in the country.

The Gumi plant makes higher-end handsets primarily destined for the South Korean market, but they include foldable phones like the Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy Fold. That could pose problems given already limited stock — while it’s not a devastating blow, even a few days without production could lead to shortages and dampen the Z Flip’s launch.

Samsung isn’t alone in facing coronavirus-related supply issues. Apple has warned of iPhone shortages after a temporary halt to production, while Valve expects a shortfall of Index VR headsets due to production stoppages. Few are directly the result of infections, though, and this is a blunt reminder that the risk to the tech industry extends beyond China.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Samsung camera test: Galaxy S20 Ultra's 108-megapixel camera, 100x zoom photos – CNET

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The Galaxy S20 Ultra is all about the camera.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Of Samsung’s three new phones, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is the one most stuffed with camera goodies. While Samsung redesigned the entire camera system (the company says S20’s sensors are three times larger than the Galaxy S10), it’s the 108-megapixel sensor and 100x AI-assisted zoom that make the biggest splash. Part of my job during my ongoing Galaxy S20 Ultra review is to evaluate if the photo experience helps justify the Ultra’s $1,400 price. 

I’ve already shot dozens of photos, peering at them closely from my computer screen and on the phone. It’d be overkill (and probably break your browser) if I shared them all here, so consider these the highlights. In the coming weeks, my colleagues and I will snap and analyze hundreds of photos and scores of video to drill down into exactly where the S20 Ultra’s camera stands, especially against top competition like the iPhone 11 Pro MaxGoogle’s Pixel 4 and Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro

These photos are not touched up or edited in any way unless stated. But note that they have been processed by CNET’s content image tool — you won’t see every pixel, but you’ll hopefully see enough to give you an early idea of the S20 Ultra’s camera performance. I’m also testing the regular and 8K mode video camera, but those files are huge and harder to share here. There will be plenty of footage in the final review, though.


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Galaxy S20 Ultra cameras

  • 108-megapixel main camera: You need to select the 108-megapixel quick setting to take a super high-resolution photo, otherwise images resolve to 12-megapixel (using nona-binning, which essentially creates one super pixel out of ever 9 individuals pixels. Part of the benefit of such a high-resolution image is to get more detail when you crop into a shot.
  • 12-megapixel wide-angle lens: Samsung enlarged the sensor, so this isn’t the same camera as on the Galaxy Note 10 or S10 phones even though it uses the same megapixels. The goal is to let in more light, for better image quality, especially in low light.
  • 48-megapixel telephoto camera: This gets you up to 100x “space zoom,” a feature that uses AI algorithms to take shots at extreme distance. The higher the zoom, the shakier your photo will be (a monopod or tripod is key).
  • DepthVision camera: I didn’t go out of my way to test this yet, but it’s meant to assist with various camera modes. You can’t take individual photos from it.
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Main camera and standard resolution.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

What I think so far

In abundant lighting scenarios, the S20 Ultra’s photos look fantastic: crisp and bright, with plenty of detail. Low light shots get a typical Samsung boost of brightness that you may love or find a little overly cheerful, but that comes down to your mood. Selfies look good, and there’s even a new feature to select a warmer or darker image tone than the default (to apply to the scene, not to skin).

At this early stage in my testing, the two marquee features confuse me. In some of my shots using the 108-megapixel camera option versus the main camera’s 12-megapixel resolution, the benefits of using 108 are clear. Cropping in or zooming in on the image, the superior detail practically punches you in the face. In others, I don’t see much difference. In others still, zooming in on the phone screen or in a full-screen image on the computer reveals mushier edges and more noise than the 12-megapixel counterpart.

I’m going to keep testing that.

The camera’s 100x zoom feature absolutely works, but at such distance, images are intensely blurry, and to me, fairly unusable beyond showing off the phone’s technological capability. I’m just not sure why Samsung didn’t stop at a really good 30x zoom, apart from one-upping competitors. I’m open to being convinced as I continue to learn about the feature and use it in the wild.

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Main camera and standard resolution.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Ultra-wide angle shot.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Main camera, standard resolution.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Main camera, standard resolution.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

*The 108-megapixel resolution version of this image was too large to load.

galaxys20ultra-flower-standardshotcropgalaxys20ultra-flower-standardshotcrop

Crop from standard resolution image.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

galaxys20ultra-flower-108cropgalaxys20ultra-flower-108crop

Crop from 108-megapixel resolution image.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Main camera, standard resolution.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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SF Museum of Modern Art. No zoom.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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At 10x zoom.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

galaxys20ultra-moma-zoom30galaxys20ultra-moma-zoom30

Now at 30x zoom.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

galaxys20ultra-moma-zoom100galaxys20ultra-moma-zoom100

Here we are at 100x zoom.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

galaxys20ultra-selfie-yerbabuenagalaxys20ultra-selfie-yerbabuena

Obligatory backlit selfie.

galaxys20ultra-table-plant-standardgalaxys20ultra-table-plant-standard

Shot on automatic mode with main camera, low-light conditions.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Crop in of 108-megapixel version is impressively detailed.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

galaxys20ultra-cocktailsgalaxys20ultra-cocktails

Shot in automatic mode in low light conditions.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

This story will be updated often with new photos. Keep checking back for more!

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5 reasons you should stick with your Galaxy S10 instead of buying the new Galaxy S20 – Business Insider – Business Insider

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  • The Galaxy S20 represents one of the biggest leaps in Samsung’s phones in years because of new features like 5G connectivity and a smooth 120Hz screen that makes for a powerful experience. 
  • But the Galaxy S20 starts at $1,000, which makes it a pricey upgrade. You can trade-in your Galaxy S10 for up to $600, which gives you a massive discount for the Galaxy S20. But that’s still spending $400 for not much reason at all. 
  • The new features in the Galaxy S20 will surely feature in Samsung’s next smartphone in 2021. Since the Galaxy S10 is only a year-old, it’s worth saving your money until at least the next Samsung phone is released. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Samsung’s Galaxy S20 is one of the biggest leaps we’ve seen on a Samsung phone, even when you compare it to last year’s Galaxy S10

The new devices have totally refreshed camera systems, 5G connectivity, a glorious 120Hz screen, and even Samsung’s Quick Share that’s reminiscent of Apple’s AirDrop — an incredibly useful feature loved by iPhone users. 

These are worthy upgrades, even if you’re a Galaxy S10 owner. But there’s one big, massive obstacle that prevents me from recommending that anyone upgrade from the Galaxy S10 to the Galaxy S20. 

I’m talking about the Galaxy S20’s $1,000 minimum price tag. 

On their own, those four numbers after the dollar symbol should deter most Galaxy S10 owners from upgrading. There isn’t a slightly pared down and less expensive model like the Galaxy S10e.

Samsung does, however, give you the option to trade-in your Galaxy S10 for a huge $600 credit towards a new Galaxy S20, bringing the price tag down from $1,000 to $400. That’s a pretty great deal that almost made me stop writing this article. 

Still, that’s $400 you’d be spending over what you spent on the Galaxy S10 just one year ago. 

Here’s a quick reminder on why your Galaxy S10 is still great, and why a massive $600 discount still doesn’t justify the upgrades you’d get on the Galaxy S20:

The Galaxy S10 phones are still strong performers with great specs.

galaxy s10 custom wallpaper



Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider


The Galaxy S10 phones run on the top hardware from 2019, including the Snapdragon 855 chip and between 8 GB and 12 GB of RAM. Those specs will run the Android operating system, your apps, and games just fine for at least another year until Samsung launches a new phone in 2021. 

And it still looks like a modern, sleek smartphone.

Samsung S10 Smartphone



Hollis Johnson/Business Insider


The Galaxy S10 is still among the prettiest smartphones, even after the Galaxy S20 was announced. They’re classy and clad in premium materials like metal and glass.

The Galaxy S10 has the same variety of camera lenses, including a regular, ultra-wide, and zoomed lens.

Samsung S10 Smartphone



Hollis Johnson/Business Insider


The base Galaxy S20 doesn’t offer much more in the camera front compared with the Galaxy S10. Yes, Samsung added new sensors with more megapixels and zoom than ever before, but that’s unlikely to fix one of the biggest issues with Galaxy smartphone cameras, which typically try too hard to make your photos look good. It often results in photos that look badly photoshopped. Plus, the Galaxy S20’s ultra-wide cameras clock in at 120-degree field-of-view, which is actually slightly narrower than the 123 degrees offered by the S10’s ultra-wide lens.

It’s hard to justify spending $1,000 on the biggest upgrade in the Galaxy S20 that you don’t get with the Galaxy S10: 5G.

***EMBARGO FEB 11*** samsung galaxy s20 5g



Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider


5G is one of the biggest upgrades you get with the Galaxy S20. After all, 5G is the next generation of wireless networks that promises better performance than today’s 4G LTE. It’s a pretty big deal. 

With that said, 5G networks are still quite sparse. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be connected to a 5G network if you get the Galaxy S20. T-Mobile users will have the best chance, as T-Mobile’s 5G network has the most coverage so far. Just note that T-Mobile’s 5G network is the long-range version, which also means it’s the slower version of 5G. You can expect somewhat faster speeds than 4G LTE, but it’s not the super fast 5G you may have heard about. 

AT&T and Verizon have the super fast 5G networks so far, but the coverage is extremely limited at the moment. Verizon and AT&T customers may get a glimpse of 5G connectivity if they happen to live in a city where these carriers have deployed it, but their 5G networks are unlikely to be the primary networks you’ll be connecting to on a daily basis. 

There’s also the Galaxy S20’s buttery-smooth 120Hz screen, but I wouldn’t ditch a year-old-phone just for that feature.

galaxy s20 ***FEB 11 EMBARGO***



Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider


No doubt about it. The Galaxy S20’s 120Hz screen makes for a buttery-smooth look and feel while you’re swiping around. It gives off the impression that the phone is more powerful and advanced than previous phones with standard 60Hz screens, like your Galaxy S10!

Still, I wouldn’t ditch a year-old phone just to get that smooth screen experience. It’s a feature that’s likely to stick around for a while, and it’ll surely be on Samsung’s next big smartphone in 2021, and the year after that, and after that, and so on. There’s no rush, basically. 

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