Perhaps people really are waiting for 5G, but buyer fatigue appears to have set in this year for the first time. Smartphone sales are coming off the boil worldwide, albeit from record-high numbers, analysts reckon.
This year was meant to be when foldable screens hit the mainstream, but it didn't work out that way. It's difficult technology to get right. Just ask Samsung, which had to delay delivery of the Galaxy Fold to make sure the screen wouldn't break or crease.
The Galaxy Fold is now out (again), and Samsung is no longer the only game in town.
Motorola recreated the flip phone concept with a foldable-screen Razr and Huawei released the Mate X, which looks like an impressive piece of engineering. Even Samsung' is said to be prepping an upgraded Fold 2 with a better camera than the current version.
Apple has kept quiet about an iPhone that folds out into an iPad (iPhad?) which has led to rumours flying and geeks poring over software development kit betas for hints that there will be one next year.
Being able to fold devices appeals to all sorts of people, including Roberto Escobar. Yes, he's the brother of Pablo of the Medellin Cartel infamy, and has launched the gold-cased Fold 1 device.
Fold 1 is marketed with full-on misogyny and looks very similar to the Chinese Royole FlexPai, which made headlines in 2018 as the world's first foldable phone.
We'll probably see more foldable, and maybe even rollable screens (LG is working on those) next year. For now though, they're rare and expensive with the Galaxy Fold coming in at almost $3400 and it doesn't even have 5G.
The Escobar phone costs far less at US$499 but ... no, just no.
In the recent past Huawei could be relied on to provide heaps of bang for the buck with its premium handsets, but not so with the Mate X.
Mate X pricing is up there with the Galaxy Fold and yes I understand that's a bargain for your average Auckland house buyer. It's a lot of folding cash for normal people, though.
There's Huawei being cut off from Google-ware and Western parts suppliers thanks to American sanctions too.
If you do need a new phone, forget about foldable screens for the next bit of time. Huawei needs a breather too while it develops its own operating system to replace Android plus chips and other bits, and figures out how to market the lot overseas.
Luckily for us there are other Chinese makers who haven't yet angered the US, and who have premium smartphones available at non-fold prices.
Oppo is one of them. Who? Well, it's a subsidiary of Canton Bu Bu Gao Electronics Ltd or BBK which also makes phones under the OnePlus, Vivo, imoo and Realme (not the NZ government ID) brands.
Depending on whose numbers you look at, BBK holds the number two or three smartphone shipping spot in the world, after Samsung.
BBK's subsidiaries ship tens of millions of smartphones, including the Oppo Reno2 which doesn't fold without a great deal of force and swearing being applied, nicely built and designed as it is with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and 6.
This is a mid-range phone that does most things right, from a 6.5" AMOLED screen with high resolution, decent brightness and a fingerprint scanner in the glass.
There's 8 gigabyte memory and 256 GB storage that's expandable with a memory card; while the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G in the Reno2 can't keep up with top-of-the-line processors but it's fast enough to play PUBG at the highest quality.
Oppo took a stab at the high-end market with the Reno 10X Zoom that features a periscope tele lens camera and a 48 megapixel Sony sensor for photos and videos.
Despite the clever periscope cam I wasn't convinced of the value proposition of that model but the Reno2 with four cameras at the back (ultra-wide, normal, tele and depth) is more solid in that respect.
The same 48 Mpixel Sony sensor is in the Reno2, and there's the unique pop-up sharkfin selfie camera that avoids putting a notch in the screen that covers the whole front of the device.
Maybe not the very best smartphone camera system, but the Reno2 costs $799 and it'd be a picky photographer not to be happy with the images and video, even in low light.
I've had three system updates so far for the Oppo Reno2, which runs the ColorOS 6.1 interface. The almost-as recent and pricier Reno 10X Zoom is on 6.0 and won't get the nice Soloop video editor as a result. That's partly Google's fault for making Android hard to update, but it will annoy Reno 10X Zoom owners.
Reno2 misses include lack of water and dust proofing, and charging with QI pads - although a bundled 20 Watt wall-wart fills the 4000 mAh battery fast.
The Reno2 is exclusive to Spark and the pricing could be keener too, closer to the $700 mark rather than $800 to stop people from casting side-eyes at similar devices from other Chinese makers.
Still, the money buys you a lot of smartphone that will work really well until foldaphones become more reasonably priced and that's what matters. Isn't it?