According to IDC, smartphone vendors shipped a total of 355.2 million units during the third quarter of 2018, resulting in a year-over-year decline of six per cent. This was the fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines for the global smartphone market, which raises questions about what manufacturers can do to speed up device lifecycles.
The often increasing cost of higher end smartphones along with somewhat iterative feature updates has naturally resulted in owners keeping hold of their current models for longer. So what can vendors do to ensure that the devices of 2019 offer significant feature updates to encourage upgrading?
We look into the future of smartphones and what you should expect from flagships in 2019 and beyond.
CES and Mobile World Congress are taking place in the first quarter of 2019 where we see new devices advertised and launched. In the first quarter alone, we’re likely to see new handsets from the likes of Samsung, Nokia and Huawei, with Apple and Google following in the second half of the year.
We can expect to see the first ‘5G ready’ smartphones released despite the fact most countries are unlikely to launch 5G services before 2020. But manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei and Lenovo have all announced their commitment to making 5G ready phones in 2019, and chipmaker Qualcomm will be making 5G a reality in its next 7nm Snapdragon chipset.
These next-generation handsets will be able to shift seamlessly between 4G and 5G and we should see them land in the second half of the year. However, Samsung is rumoured to be making the next device in the Galaxy line 5G ready, and this could launch in February.
Over the last year, we have seen camera technology evolve significantly. The Huawei P20 Pro introduced three rear cameras to improve depth and definition of photographs, which was then fine-tuned in the Mate series. The Pixel 3 from Google and the V40 from LG were then released with two front-facing cameras, including an ultra-wide lens. And the latest Huawei device, the Nova 4, arrived to the market complete with a 48-megapixel camera.
This year we expect camera functionality to be pushed even further with higher megapixels and more lenses, while ultra-wide front-facing cameras may become the norm. We’ve already seen rumours that the next Samsung Galaxy could feature six cameras and the Huawei P30 will continue with its triple lens camera on the rear of the device.
The notch was made famous by Apple in 2017 and since then we have seen plenty of Android competitors follow suit. However, 2019 might be the year we lose the notch in favour of less bezels. Huawei’s Nova 4 has lost the notch and instead features a ‘hole punch’ where the front camera is found. It is thought that Samsung will be introducing this style of display in order to allow for an ‘infinity screen’. Leaks in the media also suggest that in the upcoming Huawei P30, we may see a teardrop notch, rather than the typical bar.
Another feature we believe will make the cut in flagship devices this year will be reverse charging – using one smartphone to wirelessly charge another. Huawei introduced this in the Mate 20 Pro and Samsung is rumoured to be featuring it in the upcoming Galaxy line.
The future of smartphones looks set for fewer bezels and infinity displays, innovative camera technology to capture the perfect shot and of course 5G chipsets.