SMARTPHONE REWIND 2018
2018 was a crazy year for phones and today, on the last day of 2018, we are here to talk about. We saw amazing innovation and not so amazing trends.
GETTING A CLEANER PHONE LOOK
HIGHER SCREEN TO BODY RATIO
This year was mainly getting a better screen to body ratio. the weapon for this was the notch. With the adoption of the notch by Apple last year with the iPhone X, many companies got the virtual license that notch can finally work. Notch was also used as a marketing strategy to give larger screens in the same body of the phone.
It was good to see something new, but most didn’t like the notch. OEMs started knowing at last that these big notches are of no use for everybody. Then the size of the notch started to reduce. The width of the notch started to reduce. A better thing that Oppo brought is the Water-drop Notch.
It was then adopted by other OEMs under various names like dew-drop notches. This type of notch was that successful that Samsung, the trendsetter brand himself, adopted it and brought notches under the name of Infinity-U and Infinity-V. Along with these Notch, Samsung also brought up the Infinity-O display. Huawei is also one to bring this one up.
This is a hole in the display which is like a punch. Instead of getting having a dew-drop notch at the center and pose a distraction, this punch hole sits on the side of the screen. This is the maximum-loved way of having a maximum screen to body ratio for the mid-rangers.
These were the stable ways of getting a maximum screen to body ratio for phones. But apart from it, there have been some great innovations. They weren’t heavily successful but were great steps.
The first one was a Pop-up camera. The first one was Vivo Nex in which the front camera pops up from the top and the second one was Oppo Find X, which moves the complete top of the phone upwards for the front camera. These look futuristic and cool at the first look but possess a problem of mechanical failure, that made it not widely accepted. But it didn’t mean, it stopped as Asus has recently got patent for a pop-up camera technique.
The next thing was manual sliders. These were better than pop-ups. But these can’t serve as a mainstream method because everyone won’t like these type of phone for everyday use, but can also serve as some special version of the phone. It was cool to have such a thing.
UNDER-DISPLAY FINGERPRINT SCANNER
These things provide a clean look of the phone. This desire also gave birth to the under-display fingerprint scanners this year. These are optical fingerprint scanners, that uses light from the OLED displays to fall on the finger and the fingerprint scanner captures the photo of the fingerprint pattern.
The first generation was slow but the next generation has got faster. The Qualcomm’s solution for this is an Ultrasonic scanner which uses ultrasonic waves. Coming back to the displays, the latest thing is dual display, which is out with the Vivo Nex 2.
This solves the issue of the front camera as all the pop-up stuff was for the front camera. This only has the rear camera and to use the front camera, the reverse screen is used. It is good for innovation but personally, I don’t see it going too much far. But only future can tell.
MOST VALUE FOR MONEY PHONES
The next thing we saw this year was a phone which had the most value for money associated with it – the Poco F1. One can only imagine getting the Snapdragon 845 at a mid-range budget of Rs. 21,000 which is now Rs. 20,000 which is even better. Only this thing was enough to get the phone its attention and the tag of most value for money.
Talking about value for money phones, Realme is the home of value for money phones this year. Realme 1 has also this tag. MediaTek Helio P60 at Rs. 9,000 was even great. From there, you can’t say that even one Realme phone is expensive. Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 and Asus Zenfone Max M2 are the new members of the value for money family.
The next thing we saw growth of this year was the use of AI. We have dedicated hardware like NPU (Neural Processing Unit) in SoCs, be it Snapdragon 845, 855 or the Kirin 970, 980, Helio P60, P70 or the P90. All these were to take advantage of the AI in software, be it for the Voice assistant or the core AI features baked in the Android Pie or the camera features like scene detection, picture toning, AR.
Talking more about the camera Pixel 3 was again the best single camera phone. Further, about the cameras, this was also the year where we got phones with multiple rear cameras like more than two – three and four cameras. Samsung (Galaxy A9) was the one to bring 4 cameras. And Huawei (P20 Pro) was the one to bring 3 cameras. I see this trend to continue and be a marketing strategy.
5G also saw to lay its foundation this year as the hardware being completely ready for both the flagship and budget phones with the Qualcomm X50 modem and the Helio M70. Devices will be coming out in Q2 2019. 5G in India will commercially rollout in India in 2020.
This year we also saw the entry of gaming smartphones in India with the Asus ROG Phone and ZTE Nubia Red magic. Gaming phones were there before like the Razor Phone and the Xiaomi Black Shark but they were not available in India. Gaming phones are for a very narrow niche, even it is not sure that the gamers will buy these phones. MrWhoseTheBoss made a video on it and I agree with that.
This year was the year where we saw the fastest charging for mobile phones. We saw the release of the SuoerVOOC with the Oppo Find X Lamborghini Edition. Huawei Supercharge came on second place that was launched with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro also showcased the Reverse Wireless Charging which the upcoming Samsung galaxy S10 also said to use.
The other I would like to mention will be the Foldable phones. Samsung and an unknown brand Royole launched the foldable phones. Samsung one seemed to be a more refined one. Nevertheless, both are first gen products and will be refined more. Moreover, several more brands are working on their foldable phones.
PREDICTIONS FOR 2019
2018 got great new stuff for the mobile phones which laid the basis for what we will see in 2019, which I think. these are the things which we will be seeing getting more common.
The first thing is for sure more punch hole for front cameras. This was a better thing than the notch and I am quite sure more brands to adopt this.
Next is the multiple rear cameras and more will be coming next year.
AI will stay in focus and more hardware and software features will be rolling out keeping AI in mind.
The other thing which will be more in focus is the 5G. 5G news will be more rolled out more and more and compatible phones will be seen in the Q2 2019.
Reverse wireless charging will also be adding up as a feature in the flagship phones.
Foldable phones will also take place in next year’s top announcements as I expect more products and news to reach us in 2019.
But after all, these are speculations by me, only time will tell what the industry brings out.
That was all for this year. See you next year.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
I am mad about gadgets especially smartphones. I like to help people deciding their phone. I love talking about gadgets and also share whatever I know about them.