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CES 2020 Device Blog: Day 4: Wrap Up

by Juha Winter | Jan 10, 2020

CES 2020, the world’s largest consumer electronics trade show, takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, from Jan 7 (Tue) to Jan 10 (Fri) 2020. Strategy Analytics has a team of analysts across various services in attendance.

Our CES 2020 devices pre-show report can be found here. Meanwhile, we are blogging on a daily basis on the latest devices and trends that we spotted in the show this week. For quick reference, we’ve published the following blogs so far:

CES 2020 Device blog: Day 3: Bluetooth, Robots & Foldables here

CES 2020 Device blog: Day 2: Smartphones (Huawei, Coolpad, Xiaomi, LG & others) here

CES 2020 Device blog: Day 1: Smartphones (Samsung, TCL-Alcatel, OnePlus) here

CES 2020 Preview report: Smartphones available here

CES 2020 Wearables blogs: part 1 (expectations), part 2 (smartwatches), part 3 (feature watches), and part 4 (hearables)

Since it’s the final day, it’s time to wrap up and summarize what we think are some of the key highlights of the show.

On the smartphones front, this year’s show was definitely less exciting than in the previous years. Although all the major vendors, even Apple, and many smaller ones were present at the show, very few of them introduced new models in a big way. It certainly looks like most vendors are saving their big launches for MWC in Barcelona, only one and a half months away. Apple didn’t launch or discuss any devices, but it was involved in panels relating to mobile software and security, where the vendor’s iOS operating system and overall software ecosystem continue to stand out positively.

Samsung did announce the Galaxy S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite in the show, ‘light’ versions of the S10 and Note 10 targeted at a more price sensitive audience. These devices feature larger, rigid OLED displays instead of the curved-edge ones found in the flagship S10 and Note 10 series models. Even so, the displays in the new Lite models utilize Samsung’s Infinity-O technology to minimize the bezels. The devices also feature enhanced front cameras as well as re-designed rear cameras.

Samsung Note 10 Lite

TCL, the Chinese vendor that houses also the Alcatel, BlackBerry, and Palm brands, introduced three new modes under its TCL brand, the TCL 10 5G, TCL 10 Pro, and TCL 10L, each with a quad camera setup. The 5G version is powered Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765 chipset. Under the low-end focused Alcatel brand, the new models 3L, 1S, 1V and 1B were introduced, the latter two priced below US$100 in retail. TCL also showcased an attractive foldable prototype smartphone, but it was clearly just that, a prototype, with many hardware features absent. Still, it proves the vendor is serious about getting into the foldable devices market.

Huawei didn’t launch any new models, but instead showcased its existing product lineup, including the P30 Pro, the Mate X, the Mate 30, and the Nova 5T, all from 2019. Because of the technology export ban imposed by the US government on the vendor, introducing new models aimed at Western markets with key US hardware and software components such as the Google Mobile Services has not been possible. As a result, the vendor is going ahead with plans to use its own Harmony OS and its own suite of services to replace the Google Mobile Services in new devices, unless a deal can be reached and the ban lifted. The headwinds remain strong, however.

Coolpad is another Chinese vendor looking to take a piece of the US smartphone market through the opportunities related to the introduction of 5G in lower price tiers. The vendor announced its first 5G smartphone, the Legacy 5G, priced under US$400 unlocked and supported by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint 5G networks in the US. The device is powered by the same Qualcomm 765 chipset and X52 modem as the TCL 10 5G, a prime competitor. Coolpad is a relatively unknown brand in the US with less than 1 percent market share, and it goes against the likes of TCL-Alcatel, Lenovo-Motorola, and LG in the mid-price tiers.

Even if smartphones as such didn’t make a big splash at CES 2020, it’s clear that major enabling technologies such as 5G and mmWave generated much buzz. All major smartphone vendors except for Apple have already launched 5G smartphones, and it’s a given that Apple will follow suit this year. 2020 is the year when 5G will also go down the price tiers, not being limited to the high end any more. While current 5G devices operate in the sub-6 GHz frequency bands, the capability to use considerably higher frequencies, namely between 24 and 100 GHz, is called mmWave, referring to the very short wavelengths of said frequencies. Future 5G devices, and indeed some of those that are introduced in 2020, will support mmWave as an alternative to the sub-6 GHz frequency bands, providing more capacity primarily in densely populated urban areas.

As popular accessories to smartphones, wireless headphones featured prominently at CES 2020. In particular, the truly wireless headphones segment (TWS) that are also charged wirelessly in addition to transmitting audio wirelessly was showcased by vendors such as Jabra, Panasonic, Technics, Klipsch, Nuheara, Ausounds, Edifier, JBL, Shure, 1More, and Audio-Technica. Many of models shown also featured actve noise cancelling (ANC), with increasing number of new models including the technology.

SA’s Emerging Device Technologies (EDT) research shows that both personal service robots and professional service robots are growing fast. At CES 2020, vendors such as Charmin, Samsung, Sarcos, PuduTech, GROOVE X, Toyota, WHILL, PostMates, BrainCorp, and Agility Robotics showcased several robots.

Samsung introduced perhaps one of the coolest new personal companion robots, the Ballie, an artificial intelligence (AI) enabled personal assistant designed to follow its owner everywhere. The curious thing about the robot is its form factor which closely resembles a tennis ball! Nevertheless, the rolling robot has all the functionalities of a smart speaker and smart home hub, allowing the control of smart home appliances and being able to perform searches from the Internet, act as a fitness instructor, and much more. It’s not clear whether the robot will see mass production, but it’s an interesting concept in any case, showing what can be done in robotics already today.

Samsung Ballie

That wraps up our live coverage of CES 2020, but be sure to check out our various insight reports on the newly announced products, services, and key developments from the event. SA has cutting-edge expert research available in all of the areas discussed – let us know how we could help your company succeed in 2020 and beyond.

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