This was a bad year for the smartphone. For the first time, its seemingly unstoppable growth began to slow.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.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.
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.
Let’s get this one out of the way, shall we? It’s a bit tricky — after all, plenty of publications are going to claim 2019 as “The Year of 5G,” but they’re all jumping the gun. It’s true that we’re going to see the first wave of 5G handsets appearing next year.
OnePlus and LG have committed to a handset and Samsung, being Samsung, has since committed to two. We’ve also seen promises of a Verizon 5G MiFi and whatever the hell this thing is from HTC and Sprint.
Most notably Apple is not expected to realease a 5G handset until 2020.
The Royole is fascinating, but its execution leaves something to be desired. Samsung’s prototype.The company made it the centerpiece of its recent developer conference.
Bezels be damned. For better or worse, the notch has been a mainstay of flagship smartphone.We’ve already seen (and will continue to see) a number of clever workarounds like Oppo’s pop-up.
The pin hole/hole punch design found on the Huawei Nova 4 seems like a more reasonable route for a majority of camera manufacturers.
- Embedded Fingerprint Readers
The flip side of the race to infinite displays is what to do with the fingerprint reader. Some moved it to the rear, while others, like Apple, did away with it in favor of face scanning. Of course, for those unable to register a full 3D face scan, that tech is pretty easy to spoof.
For that reason, fingerprint scanners aren’t going away any time soon.OnePlus’ 6T was among the first to bring the in-display fingerprint scanner to market, and it works like a charm.
- Cameras, cameras, cameras (also,cameras)
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.