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Report: Most phones will have glass backs by 2020, so get used to it

Glass is cheaper than metal, after all, and wireless charging is (supposedly) the future.

Published onOctober 12, 2018

  • According to Counterpoint, the overall penetration for smartphones with glass backs will reach 26 percent of total smartphone shipments by the end of 2018.
  • By 2020, Counterpoint posits that number will be 60 percent.
  • Glass is cheaper than metal, and that combined with wireless charging capabilities makes it likely glass will be the first choice of OEMs going forward.

As of today, many of the most prominent flagship smartphones feature a glass back design, including the Google Pixel 3, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, the OnePlus 6, the HUAWEI P20 Pro, and the Apple iPhone XS.

According to Counterpoint Research, the market trend of glass-backed smartphones is not only going to continue but likely grow exponentially over the next few years. Counterpoint’s recent report on the matter concludes that 26 percent of total smartphone shipments will likely feature glass-backed products by the end of this year. By 2020, the firm estimates a whopping 60 percent of smartphones shipped will feature a glass back design.

In other words — if we’re to believe Counterpoint’s estimates — you’d better get used to the idea of owning a phone with a glass back.

Check out this colorful graph which shows how glass back smartphones are taking over:

Why are OEMs adopting this trend? The most likely single answer to that question is cost: it is much cheaper to make a phone with a glass back than to make one with an all-metal design. The other, less likely (but still applicable) answer is that the industry is going to start widely adopting wireless charging, which at this point necessitates a glass back.

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However, wireless charging isn’t likely to be the main reasoning for utilizing a glass back design, since more than a few of the glass-backed smartphones out today — including the OnePlus 6 and HUAWEI P20 Pro — don’t support wireless charging. If it were strictly a matter of wireless charging tech, those phones would probably feature a different design.

Granted, glass backs do help with connectivity to wireless networks, or at the very least interfere less than metal backs might. However, glass backs are also more fragile than metal, so there are multiple trade-offs.

What do you think? Are you excited about the glass back smartphone takeover, or would you rather the durability of something like metal (or plastic)? Let us know your opinion in the comments!

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