From faster data and lower latency 5G to the ongoing rise of on-demand streaming, 2020 will see the once humble mobile evolve into a more powerful and always-on device capable of doing pretty much anything you can think off. Here are four trends that are expected to make a big impact as the new decade gets underway.

Mainstream 5G is almost here

Ultrafast next-gen mobile coverage has been in the works for several years now, and after a gradual launch in limited areas, 2020 could be its true breakout year. OnePlus recently released a 5G capable variant of its 7T Pro flagship smartphone, as did with Samsung with its Galaxy Note 10. Apple is also rumoured to have a 5G iPhone ready for late 2020.

In the UK, EE has already rolled out 5G coverage in nine cities including the capitals of London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff and plans to switch on seven more hot spots before the end of the year. Rival operators are following suit. O2 launched its 5G service in October, Vodafone has brought next-gen mobile to 15 towns and cities, and Three wants to build the “UK’s fastest 5G network” with an initial rollout to 24 locations.

Rise of the subscription services

The arrival of 5G and unlimited data packages means the biggest tech companies will be looking to bolster their subscription services in 2020 as consumers watch more TV and film on the go.

It is just over a month since Apple entered the competitive streaming space with its TV+ service and Disney is set to launch its own platform chocked full of classics from its back catalogue the UK in March. Keeping customers engaged through a paid monthly service is a big money spinner for companies and mobile will be a key battleground in 2020.

Augmented reality

The recent unveiling of the Snapdragon 865 processor, which is set to power a number of Android smartphones next year has raised the prospect of more advanced tech features and capabilities, AR being chief among them.

In 2020, 3D-mapping could finally make its way into smartphones. These systems will empower users to create a number of new and experimental filters for social media but on a more advanced level, could allow for the mapping of entire buildings with a single device. Smartphones are set to create a $17bn 3D system industry by 2023.

Foldable and refresh

There was a huge buzz around foldable screens in 2019, but the tech wasn’t quite there yet, 12 months is a long time in tech though, and Microsoft and other manufacturers are set to up their game next year with better designs and functionality. It remains to be seen whether the general public will buy into the tech at more affordable prices, but foldables will offer more flexibility in multi-tasking and exciting viewing modes in 2020.

High refresh screens will also be more common and hopefully easier on battery health next year after Google and OnePlus made their first foray into 90Hz displays in 2019. The new Snapdragon 865 is ready to power 144Hz display so expect more flagship devices to jump on board.

A few other trends you can expect to see include advances in smartphone-related healthcare as new apps and better monitoring come to the fore, new graphene battery tech for longer screen on times and a renewed push for better bring-your-own-device functionality in the workplace.