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Don’t hold your breath for more foldable phones at CES 2020

We are dangerously close to the kickoff of CES 2020 and, like you, there’s a lot we’re looking forward to. It’s the biggest tech expo of the year, and a place where we get early glimpses of all kinds of new technologies, like the foldable phone.

It’s been quite the year for the foldable phone: Samsung put forth (and re-put forth) a well-stacked foldable device in the Galaxy Fold and Motorola brought back its iconic Razr in what was my personal favorite application of the folding screen. Coupled with 5G, 2020 is shaping up to be an exciting year for mobile technology and innovation.

I just wouldn’t expect any of that at CES.

Wait, why not?

CES is huge — but it’s never been a very important expo for mobile phones, and recent years have shown a steady decline in announcements from cellular carriers and phone manufacturers alike. Traditionally, CES has been a time for smaller players (Sony, Nokia, Asus, for example) to step forward and show the public something. Outside of a few big-name releases, like Verizon’s 4G LTE showcase that unveiled the infamous HTC Thunderbolt, and one or two other stragglers, big names in mobile don’t do much at CES. As such, the odds of you seeing Samsung’s next foldable device, or even Huawei’s current foldable Mate X, for instance, are slim to none.

Huawei Mate X
Huawei’s foldable Mate X

So, what will we see?

If you want to see the future of phones, look out for Chinese manufacturers. They are smaller, lesser-known names stateside, but all have big ideas and smart innovations — the kind that you’ll see in their concepts or even market-ready devices today and, one day — years later — in a Samsung or Apple phone. For some tantalizing examples, just look to phones like the Oppo Reno Ace that can charge its 4,000mAh battery from 0 to 100 in a blisteringly fast 30 minutes, or the Vivo Apex concept phone that has no ports whatsoever. These are where all the big manufacturers want to get to one day, and a name like Xiaomi might be the one to show you a working version first on the CES show  floor.

The port-less Vixo Apex concept

Life-changing, mind-reading wearables 

One constant for CES is the emergence of new, strange, and potentially life-changing gadgets that aim to improve your quality of life. You can start with smartwatches that detect and help monitor chronic health conditions and go all the way up to devices that literally read your mind — think Elon Musk’s Neuralink. In between, you’ll even find gadgets that can charge your devices through thin air. 

You might’ve thought that beaming energy into a phone or controlling your tablet with your mind were a good few years, maybe even decades off. But expect to see the first glimpses of that far-off tech at CES 2020.

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