2018 is the year of smartphones with notches and glass backs. Earlier, top brands such as Samsung, Apple made smartphones with glass on the back side, but this year, we have seen several brands opting for the glass back, even though it’s fragile. Brands such as OnePlus, Xiaomi, Honor launched smartphones with glass backs. According to a new report by Counterpoint Research, smartphones with glass backs will reach 26% of total smartphone shipments by the end of this year and possibly 60% by the end of 2020.
Premium Smartphones are Already Made Out of Glass
Smartphones with glass backs have already penetrated the premium segment (80%). “Almost all the premium smartphones launched in 2018 came with a glass back and the trend is likely to stay for the rest of the year and beyond,” said Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, Counterpoint.
According to the Hong Kong-based research firm, one of the reasons for glass becoming a preferred choice over metal is the overall look and feel of the device. With average smartphone prices within the premium segment going up, smartphones with glass backs add to the overall look and feel, making them look more attractive and premium.
Reasons for Glass Usage is for the Adoption of Wireless Charging
Another reason in favour of glass backs is the increasing adoption of wireless charging. “Metals don’t support wireless charging as effectively as a glass back does. However, the adoption of wireless charging is relatively low, with Samsung and Apple driving adoption,” said Pathak.
As more smartphone makers start including “Qi” technology, the adoption of wireless charging is set to increase and can penetrate the mid-tier segments.
Glass Does Offer Better Connectivity
From a connectivity standpoint as well, glass doesn’t interfere with radio waves and allows them to pass through easily and hence ensures strong signals for LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Apple has almost 64% of its portfolio with a glass back. Samsung, which started adopting glass backs much earlier than other OEMs, is also driving the trend with 36% of its overall smartphone shipments sporting glass backs.
Within Chinese brands, Huawei has been driving the trend even within the $200 segment through its Honor series. “Xiaomi took a different route, using a ceramic back in its Mix series. Due to challenges in generating mass for the material, it has started adopting glass backs,” Pathak noted.
Vivo and Oppo have started adopting glass backs in their flagships F9 and V11 series. “Going forward, almost all the smartphones in the premium segment ($400) are likely to sport glass backs,” said the report.