With the end of 2018 around the corner, I thought it would be interesting to look ahead at the upcoming year and make some predictions on features we can expect from smartphones in 2019. In this article, I will be focusing on 5 features that I think will make a big presence.
#1 - Foldable displays
If you read my blog on the Samsung foldable display announcement, you’ll already know that Samsung has confirmed they will be launching their very first smartphone with a folding display in 2019. Like with every new innovation in the smartphone industry, other manufacturers won’t be far behind.
In fact, both Huawei and Oppo may be pushing to launch a foldable display next year too and we may get to see the latter’s offering at MWC in early 2019. With foldable display tech being so new, there are some worries surrounding the potential for issues with the build or display quality. However, if Samsung’s show at SDC 2018 was anything to go by, we should not have anything to worry about.
The general consensus is that foldable smartphones in 2019 will sit as standalone options that will cost more than the flagship from each manufacturer, but they will still include flagship specs alongside the folding display.
#2 - In-screen sensors
With some 2018 phones, such as the OnePlus 6T, already implementing in-screen fingerprint sensors, we know that the technology is ready and waiting for next year’s launches. In-screen fingerprint technology is relatively new, so it’s not surprising that big names like Huawei, Samsung, and Apple shied away from it this year.
However, with a push for smaller bezels and flashier features each and every year, I cannot see why the Galaxy S10, Apple XS 2, or Huawei’s latest 2019 flagships won’t feature in-display fingerprint sensors. We should also start to see far more smaller brands like Oppo including in-display fingerprint sensors into their displays.
It might not stop at fingerprint sensors, either. We already know that the notch might be killed off in 2019 in favour of an ‘o’ shaped hole in a top to bottom display like shown above. Rumours are heating up about both Samsung and Huawei offering this option on at least one of their smartphones in 2019. This approach could mean that some sensors and even the speaker may, and I mean may, be hidden under the display.
#3 - Three and four camera lenses
I shared some positive feedback on the three-camera lens setup on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro earlier this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if many more smartphones in 2019 adopt a similar strategy.
In fact, some smartphones may even take it a step further by including a total of 4 rear camera lenses. The Samsung Galaxy A9 already launched across the globe and that smartphone includes 4 rear camera sensors, suggesting that the top smartphone manufacturers aren’t going to stop at 2 or 3 sensors.
It begs the question, will we see a smartphone with 5 rear camera sensors? Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if at least one manufacturer is crazy enough to do it. We’ve seen an impressive level of innovation in the smartphone industry this year and I think that’ll trickle through into 2019 and beyond. With that being said, I think it’s more likely that a 3 camera or 4 camera lens setup will become the common choice, for 2019 at least.
#4 - More AI software features
As it stands right now, AI in smartphones is all about machine learning and big data. For example, camera apps use AI to learn more about photography to make high quality point and shoot photos as easy as possible. AI assistants use data gathered from millions of other users to provide more valuable responses for the user. Learning algorithms can take information about an individual user’s smartphone behaviour to minimise the battery and performance apps use in the background.
I think that we’ll see dozens of more AI-fuelled software improvements in 2019 that will make operating a smartphone more convenient and more fluid than ever before. In fact, I believe AI will be so baked in to the Android and iOS experience that it’ll be hard to tell what features and components are powered by machine learning and which ones aren’t.
#5 - Even bigger displays and gaming functionality
Mobile gaming has evolved from millions of Candy Crush and puzzle game players to millions of people playing full blown 3D action games. These 3D games have always been around on mobile, but thanks to the explosive popularity of Fortnite and PUBG, the mobile gaming industry has never been bigger.
Many manufacturers are now creating unique gaming focused smartphones and some gaming brands like Razer and ASUS ROG are jumping into the smartphone game. I think we’ll see many more gaming phones in 2019 and manufacturers may push harder to market these devices to compete against handhelds like the Nintendo Switch. This will also mean we’ll see more gaming focused accessories like controller attachments to give an alternative to pesky on-screen controls.
For the everyday smartphone user, this may mean there will be even more big screen phones to consider for your next device. For example, the Huawei Mate 20 X is a 7.2 inch behemoth that’s aimed at those who think a 6 inch display just isn’t enough. I think we will see far more ‘super phablets’ like the Mate 20 X thanks to the recent mobile gaming boom.
Thanks for reading my thoughts on the top 5 features to expect from smartphones in 2019. What do you think about my opinions? Do you think there will be any more new features seen commonly next year?