The best smartphones of CES 2020: Samsung, TCL, OnePlus, and more

CES is not usually a technology trade show that has a wealth of new smartphones, but several companies did arrive at the 2020 version with new phones to show us. Not only did we see devices we’ll actually be able to buy, but we also saw some concepts and early previews of hardware that may arrive in the future.

Let’s take a closer look at all the mobiles we saw at CES, whether they’ll be here tomorrow or if they’re just glimpses of what may come in the near future.

The products in this article were selected by our editors as standouts in the smartphones category at CES 2020. Check out our Top Tech of CES Awards, which award our favorite products in over ten categories, to see all the hottest gear.
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CES 2020

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite and Galaxy Note 10 Lite

Samsung has introduced Lite versions of its two most popular current flagship phones, the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10. The addition of the Lite name means these they have more modest specs, but are still powerful enough to satisfy most people. Both share massive 6.7-inch AMOLED screens with a hole-punch selfie camera at top-center. The Galaxy S10 Lite has a Snapdragon 855 chip, while the Note 10 Lite has Samsung’s Exynos 8895 inside.

The cameras are different too. For the S10 Lite, Samsung has used a 48-megapixel main lens with a 5-megapixel macro lens and a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens. The Note 10 Lite has a triple 12-megapixel lens setup. All are housed inside some seriously noticeable bumps on the back of the phone. Price and release date have not been confirmed at this time.

TCL 10 Series

TCL started its push into smartphones late last year with the TCL Plex, and has now announced three phones in a new 10 Series range — the TCL 10 L, the TCL 10 Pro, and the TCL 10 5G. The 10 L and the 10 Pro will be coming to the U.S., while the 5G version will get a global release in the future. All three will be priced below $500. This was just a preview of the new phones and confirmation of the brand’s launch in North America — the TCL 10 Series phones will be fully revealed during Mobile World Congress at the end of February.

Cat S32

No, not the fluffy kind of cat, the tough kind of Cat. The Cat S32 is the latest rugged phone to wear the Cat name, and it has a durable body that’ll survive a drop from 1.8 meters, as well as an IP68 water- and dust-resistance rating. Built not just for the clumsy, it’s perfect for anyone who works or plays in challenging environments, and needs their phone to survive if the worst happens.

It has a MediaTek A20 processor, a 5.5-inch screen, a 5-megapixel selfie camera, and a 13-megapixel rear camera. Most importantly, the battery has a 4.200mAh capacity to keep it going through several days of moderate use. It’ll come to the U.S. in the future.

Alcatel 1B

Alcatel, a brand licensed by TCL, actually launched four smartphones at CES 2020, but it’s the 1B that stood out most. It has Google’s Android Go software, a clean, basic version of Android made for low-power smartphones. The Alcatel 1B costs the equivalent of $66, yet has a big 5.5-inch screen  — unusual for Android Go phones — a quad-core processor, and a special button to call up Google Assistant. It’s coming out over the next three months in Europe and Africa.

OnePlus Concept One

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OnePlus showed off a concept phone at CES. Called the OnePlus Concept One, it has a sheet of electrochromatic glass over the camera lenses on the back, which switches between opaque and transparent with an electrical charge. The benefit is a cleaner design when the lenses are hidden away, and the chance to add a cool neutral density filter to the camera when it’s active.

Made with longtime OnePlus partner McLaren, the phone is covered in leather, making it a real luxury piece. The two firms are exploring the potential of bringing the tech to a phone we can buy in the future.

Boox E Ink Phone

Boox makes e-readers and is an expert in utilizing E Ink screens. The company displayed a prototype smartphone with an E Ink screen that may go into production over the next few months. The benefit of E Ink is less strain on the eyes and lower power consumption, resulting in a phone that’s great for reading and with long battery life.

Because the company is experienced in E Ink technology, the screen doesn’t drastically slow down the user experience, can display pictures and video, and has special modes to speed up scrolling through webpages and other content. The specifications are not finalized yet, and neither is the price, but it’s an exciting twist on the regular smartphone for those interested in reading on their phones.

Coolpad Legacy 5G

Coolpad is not a name that will be familiar to everyone, but its newly announced Legacy 5G will definitely grab some attention. The phone will launch before the middle of 2020 in the U.S., and provide a 5G connection on the T-Mobile and other Sub-6 5G networks for less than $400. That’s about half of the current price of a 5G phone, and less than TCL’s will be asking for the TCL 10 5G.

It has a 6.53-inch screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, 4GB of RAM, a fingerprint scanner, and a pair of cameras on the back. The main lens will have a 48-megapixel sensor, and be accompanied by a second 8-megapixel ultrawide lens. The battery will have a 4,000mAh capacity. Expect more news on the Legacy 5G in the coming months.

TCL Foldable Smartphone

Another prototype at CES 2020 was the TCL folding smartphone. We’ve seen foldable phones from screen tech experts TCL already, but this was the first time we could hold and try one out. It’s more tablet than phone, as it does not have a screen on the outside of the body, making it slightly too large to use as a regular phone. However, it’s just an example of what TCL can do with folding screen technology. The company has at least 36 different prototype folding device designs in its labs.

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