• Alex Abbey

A year in review: Mobile

It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a unique year for all of us. The ongoing pandemic has forced considerable changes in the way we work, live and play, and this change is being felt both in our personal lives, but also in our working lives, with a large number of industries shifting towards a remote workforce.

Naturally, this shift has not only affected where we work, but how we work, and people are looking at their tech to help them drive business productivity. Specifically, they are looking more and more at their mobile setup and how device functionality, applications and an always-on signal can benefit their business.

2020 has seen a fairly significant development in mobile, which has adapted to keep up with the demands of businesses and consumers. This article looks at some of the key developments in more detail and some of what’s to come in 2021.

The networks and 5G

The ultimate driver behind all mobile setups is the network connectivity offered by O2, EE, Vodafone and Three. At the back end of 2019, all four had launched 5G connectivity, but now its rollout is widening, with at least 98 cities and towns live via at least one mobile operator - you can read more about 5G with our article here.

In line with its continued rollout, we have seen a steady uptake in 5G services through 2020 – with customers opting for 5G ready smartphones, tablets, MBB dongles and home routers. This is in part because users are needing improved speeds and greater capacity when using data rich applications such as video conferencing apps and YouTube. Research from Ericsson also backs up this claim, with 6-7% of users, over a 12-month period, moving to a data plan with more than 5GB data*.

GiffGaff, who are an MVNO powered by O2, also estimate that by 2025 on average we’ll be using over 94GB data per month**. While speculative, we actually anticipate it will be more, as Unlimited Data becomes the tariff of choice and hardware is 5G ready by default (Apple have already made this move with the iPhone 12 range, which you can read more on here).

Hardware in 2020

Despite everything, manufacturers soldiered on with the release of a number of smartphones across 2020, serving customers with the best tech for their business. Here’s a few device launches that caught our eye

Samsung Galaxy S20 range

Released in March, Samsung were arguably one of the first to go big with a flagship, just as the pandemic was starting to take grip on the nation. Fortunately, the devices already offered a lot of the things people would come to need / want over the next 9 months, with big battery performance, 5G connectivity and crystal-clear display.

Sony Xperia 1 II 5G

Back in May, Sony stepped into 5G with the new Sony Xperia 1 II flagship device. It fused together style with functionality and a gorgeous 4K capable screen. Its camera setup was also impressive, with built-in professional features and an editing suite which was and continues to be ideal for those spending more time outdoors during lockdown.

Cat S62 Pro

Cat Phones, under the ownership of Bullitt Group, followed up their successful Cat S61 with the ultimate rugged device - the S62 Pro. Designed for those who work in difficult work environments (construction, retail and logistics to name a few), the Cat S62 Pro comes with a stylish yet incredibly rugged build and a one-of-a-kind thermal imaging camera that is quicker and more accurate than its predecessor.

Apple iPhone 12 range

It’s no surprise to see the Apple iPhone 12 range on the list of devices that caught our eye in 2020. It was Apple’s first steps into the world of 5G and each of the new devices (of which there were four) boasted great design, arguably the best camera setup in the market and are backed up by Ios14 and all the features that has to offer.

These are just some of the key launches that have taken place this year and it’s worth noting that the likes of Oppo, Nokia, Google and Xiaomi also contributed some brilliant devices over the past 12 months.

What is clear in the device launches we’ve seen this year is that 5G capability, cameras, productivity and stylish design continue to be key focusses for the manufacturers. Productivity features are particularly resonating with customers because of changes in the way people now work. And for productivity, there’s no better offering out there than the Galaxy Note20 range from Samsung.

The Galaxy Note20, Note20+ and Note20 Ultra are the ultimate productivity smartphones. This is largely down to the Bluetooth powered S Pen, which both acts as a remote control and allows for note taking and drawing on the fly, but also due to its ability to connect to Samsung DeX. DeX from Samsung enables users to extend their device into a desktop-like experience, connecting to a monitor, mouse and keyboard so they can take their work wherever they go.

You can expect devices to become more productive as time goes on, which will also include better integration with core software providers such as Microsoft and Google.

So what can we expect in 2021?

Mobile in 2021 is all about data usage, 5G and cloud applications. Because of 5G, we’ll be using more data for our cloud applications and software, and eventually they’ll be no such thing as a 4G handset and tariff – 5G will be the default. And as cloud-based technology becomes the norm at home and in the workplace in 2021, we can expect more apps integrated with the cloud to reduce costs, increase efficiencies and enhance the user experience.

We’ll also see continued growth of subscription services both in terms of tech (lease agreements rather than up-front payments as customers look to prevent heavy financial outlay), but also software and apps. Apple is well aware of this market development and recently launched Apple One, a unified subscription service which bundles in Apple Music, Fitness+, News and more, for one monthly fee.

And expect hardware from the biggest manufacturers that continue to redefine what a mobile can do. We’re talking augmented reality, folding devices, flexible screens, wearables and more in 2021 and beyond – it truly is an exciting time to be in mobile.

Whatever happens, you can be sure that Apeiron Communications will be at the forefront of mobile in 2021, supporting our customers every step of the way on their digital journeys.


*Ericsson, Shifting mobile data consumption and data plans (2020): https://www.ericsson.com/en/mobility-report/articles/shifting-mobile-data-consumption-data-plans

**GiffGaff, Mobile data usage (2020): https://www.giffgaff.com/sim-only-plans/campaign

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