CES 2021 mobile tech preview: Galaxy S21, foldable phones, wearables garner attention

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CES 2021 will put a big emphasis on mobile tech
Image: Cody DeBos | The Burn-In

It’s hard to believe that 2020 is coming to an end. This year has felt like an eternity for most people due to its many challenges. However, the start of a new year brings with it plenty of hope for the future.

Something else that occurs at the start of the year is CES—one of the world’s biggest technology showcases. Although this year’s event will be held virtually instead of drawing hundreds of thousands of people to Las Vegas, it promises to offer a nice break from the negativity and monotony of 2020.

Mobile technology will be a highlight of CES 2021. Device manufacturers and other companies want to show off their latest innovations in the booming space. From new flagship smartphones to wearable tech to 5G, there are a lot of things to look forward to.

With that being said, let’s cover a few of the topics worth keeping a close eye on as the virtual event draws near.

Samsung Galaxy S21

Samsung’s lineup of smartphones has quickly risen to the top of the industry, making it one of the few brands that can challenge Apple for mobile superiority. In order to retain that position, it is constantly innovating and pushing the limit of what is possible in a smartphone.

Although many manufacturers have shied away from showing off new devices at CES—instead opting to host their own events—this year could be a bit different. Numerous rumors have all but confirmed that Samsung will host a virtual Unpacked event on January 14. That happens to be the last day of CES 2021, meaning the tech giant has something big up its sleeve.

Every indication points to the Galaxy S21 lineup as the highlight of the Unpacked event. It’s likely that Samsung will show off both the Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S21 Ultra in the closing moments of CES. This will leave consumers wanting more in the wake of the multi-day virtual conference.

Interestingly, a CES Galaxy announcement would mean that the S21 lineup is arriving earlier than previous generations, Digital Trends notes. Samsung typically releases its flagship devices in February. However, the publicity that comes with CES—especially in this year’s virtual format—is just too good to pass up.

It will be interesting to see what sort of features the S21 family brings to the table. The next-gen smartphones will likely have a hefty price tag. They’ll need to prove to consumers that the cost is worth it. Things like 5G support, an under-display selfie camera, and snappy new hardware could do just that.

Wearable Devices

Some people don’t group wearable devices into the “mobile tech” category. However, by nature, wearable gadgets are mobile. They come with us everywhere we go, in some cases making them more mobile than our smartphones.

With that in mind, CES 2021 should be rich with announcements from the wearable tech space. Many smaller brands take the opportunity to capitalize on the exposure provided by the event to show off their latest products and breakthroughs.

It’s worth noting that several of the companies who presented in years past aren’t on the list for CES 2021. These include big players like Fitbit and Fossil as well as companies like Withings and Mobvoi. Two manufacturers that are on the list are Garmin and Amazfit.

Aside from those involved in the smartwatch space, the annual tech showcase is typically a haven for cutting-edge wearables. Things like smart glasses could find a bigger place at this year’s event thanks to the increasing prevalence of tech like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

Foldable Phones

The rollout of foldable smartphones couldn’t have come at a worse time. Most of the devices arrived shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic started. Those who were going to buy one all along probably did so anyway. However, the virus has clouded the markets in a way that makes it difficult to determine if consumers are as excited about folding phones as manufacturers are.

CES 2020 was huge for the foldable device sector. Several companies showed off concepts, prototypes, and finished products in a variety of form factors. This year’s event should be more polished, Digital Trends notes.

Only a handful of companies have launched folding smartphones that are accessible to consumers. Few of them are worth their four-figure price tag. CES 2021 will give manufacturers a chance to prove that their folding designs deserve a place in the market.

Of course, there will also be plenty of radical new designs that probably won’t see the light of day outside of the event.

5G’s Second Chance

Prior to the pandemic, 2020 was supposed to be the big year for 5G. Indeed, it would have likely been one of the more defining stories of the year had other events not overshadowed it. The COVID-19 pandemic not only took priority over 5G, but it also stifled its growth.

With the rollout of vaccines and an end to the pandemic in sight, 5G is ready for its second chance in 2021. That being said, there will once again be an emphasis on the tech at this year’s CES event.

Carriers and manufacturers will present keynotes and innovations in the 5G space in an effort to build the new network’s reputation. Many will focus on how 5G impacts other areas of tech—like healthcare, VR, and wildfire prevention.

Indeed, thanks to 5G’s high speed and low latency, a wide variety of projects that were impossible just a few years ago are now realistic. It will be interesting to see how the discussion regarding 5G pans out at CES 2021.

Online Event

As noted, this year’s CES event will take place digitally. It is scheduled to kick off on January 11 and will run through January 14. Those interested in press conferences and keynotes from major brands in the tech world should tune in on the first day. After that, industry experts will weigh in for various panels and discussions regarding the current and future state of technology.

Stay tuned to The Burn-In for all things CES 2021 and be sure to follow up for news on the latest announcements from the virtual event.

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