Yes, it’s true. 2018 was a bad year for the smartphones sector. It was quite shocking as many had hoped for great trends but the growth somehow began to show down.
But we’re hoping 2019 is a better year for the smartphones.
What to expect in 2019 for the smartphones sector?
Things started off on a bad note in February, when Gartner recorded its first year-over-year decline since it began tracking the category. Not even the mighty Apple was immune from the trend. Last week, stocks took a hit as influential analyst Ming-Chi Kuo downgraded sales expectations for 2019.
As Techcrunch says, people simply aren’t upgrading as fast as they used to. This is due in part to the fact that flagship phones are pretty good across the board. Manufacturers have painted themselves into a corner as they’ve battled it out over specs. There just aren’t as many compelling reasons to continually upgrade.
Of course, that’s not going to stop them from trying. Along with the standard upgrades to things like cameras, you can expect some radical rethinks of smartphone form factors, along with the first few pushes into 5G in the next calendar year.
If we’re lucky, there will be a few surprises along the way as well, but the following trends all look like no-brainers for 2019 –
1) 5G –
5G is definitely the first trend to hit 2019. Plenty of publications are going to claim 2019 as “The Year of 5G”. We are sure to see quite a few smartphones of this 5G trend.
OnePlus along with LG, have committed to a handset and Samsung has committed to rather two handsets. Few other obvious picks are Verizon 5G MiFi, HTC and Sprint. It’s quite shocking that Apple hasn’t approached or spoken about them choosing 5G handsets as of yet. Rumor has it that the company would release 5G handsets only in 2020.
As a matter of fact, 5G would arrive into this world as a marketing gimmick. When it does completely roll out, 5G has the potential to be a great, gaming-changing technology for smartphones and beyond. And while carriers have promised to begin rolling out the technology in the States early next year (AT&T even got a jump start), the fact of the matter is that your handset will likely spend a lot more time using 4G.
That is to say, until 5G becomes more ubiquitous, you’re going to be paying a hefty premium for a feature you barely use. Of course, that’s not going to stop hardware makers, component manufacturers and their carrier partners from rushing these devices to market as quickly as possible. Just be aware of your chosen carrier’s coverage map before shelling out that extra cash.
More Insight –
2) Foldables –
Yes, there were 2 foldables released till date but to be honest, they were not quite up to the mark. The Royole is fascinating, but its execution leaves something to be desired. Samsung’s prototype was made the center piece in the recent developer conference, but didn’t really step out of the shadows with the product — almost certainly because they’re not ready to show off the full product.
Now that the long-promised technology is ready in consumer form, it’s a safe bet we’ll be seeing a number of companies exploring the form factor. That will no doubt be helped along by the fact that Google partnered with Samsung to create a version of Android tailored to the form factor. This is quite similar to its embrace of the top notch with Android Pie.
Of course, like 5G, these designs are going to come at a major premium. Once the initial novelty has worn off, the hardest task of all will be convincing consumers they need one in their life.
3) Pinholes –
Notches are surely one of the greatest growth in terms of smartphones in the previous years. Almost all the companies have embraced this notch feature in order to let the users witness the complete end-to-end feel of their smartphones.
Unfortunately Samsung hasn’t taken this route of edge-to-edge but we’re hoping they would also soon announce this notch feature. Even Google made it a part of Android (while giving the world a notch you can see from space with the Pixel 3 XL).
We’ve already seen (and will continue to see) a number of clever workarounds like Oppo’s pop-up. Similarly, the pin hole/hole punch design found on the Huawei Nova 4 seems like a more reasonable route for a majority of camera manufacturers.
4) Embedded Fingerprint Readers –
Rear finger print sensing to face scanning like Apple, to use sensors for security purposes of your smartphones has grown. Although Apple’s method could be spoofed, probably that is the reason why companies like OnePlus 6T has in-display fingerprint scanner.
OnePlus 6T was among the first to bring the in-display fingerprint scanner to market, and it works like a charm. Here’s how the tech works, quoting from TechCrunch –
“When the screen is locked, a fingerprint icon pops up, showing you where to press. When the finger is in the right spot, the AMOLED display flashes a bright light to capture a scan of the surface from the reflected light. The company says it takes around a third of a second, though in my own testing, that number was closer to one second or sometimes longer as I negotiated my thumb into the right spot.”
Samsung’s S10 is expected to bring that technology when it arrives around the February time frame, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of other manufacturers follow suit.
5) Cameras –
The way cameras have grown in the mobile sector is truly tremendous. From just a rear camera to dual camera and now to 5 cameras! (like Nokia).
Smartphone cameras are pretty good across the board these days, so one of the simple solutions has been simply adding more to the equation. LG’s latest offers a pretty reasonable example of how this will play out for many. The V40 ThinQ has two front and three rear-facing cameras. The three on the back are standard, super wide-angle and 2x optical zoom, offering a way to capture different types of images when a smartphone camera isn’t really capable of that kind of optical zoom in a thin form factor.
Maybe the makers are trying to help us with getting the best out of the AI and ML techniques but honestly too many cameras only make the phone look a bit weird and also very delicate.
Hence, one can only wait for these features to launch at the market in 2019, for us to judge them properly.