With 2018 coming to an end, the smartphone launch season of the year has also ended. Now OEMs are working on their 2019 flagships filled with innovative new features to attract consumers. Since the smartphone market is slowing down, it is now more important than ever for companies to come up with innovative features to allure customers.
Like every year, we are going to see few technologies absolutely dominate the marketing campaigns and they would be positioned as such to attract new users. Apple is not really known to be quick to adopt new technologies so it will end up passing on most of them. Nonetheless, if you are interested in what these features are, read below.
Be prepared to hear and see one word everywhere in 2019 – ‘5G.’ Smartphone OEMs are going to heavily push 5G as the buzzword for their 2019 flagship phones to entice users to upgrade to them. Contrary to what the marketing blitz might lead you to believe, 5G networks in Europe and the U.S. is far from ready. They are still in nascent stages at best and they still have a long way to go. And some carriers like AT&T are even updating older non-5G Android smartphones to show a fake 5G icon.
More importantly, while we will see 5G phones debut in 2019, they will be not without their fair share of issues. 5G phones are going to be thicker and heavier than their 4G counterpart. They are also going to be power hungry which means the first batch of 5G phones are going to offer poor battery life. Sounds familiar? This is because the same thing happened when the first wave of 4G phones hit the market. Despite all the marketing blitz, it took almost 1-2 years to solve these issues with 4G phones and in all likelihood, a similar scene is going to play out here as well.
What’s the buzz about 5G you ask? Well, 5G networks will offer faster download/upload speeds at lower latency. The lower latency along with additional bandwidth offered by 5G will help open the door to a world of possibilities in the AR/VR field. It will also allow for always-connected cars, drones, and give IoT devices the boost they require. It could allow surgeons to remotely control machines and perform surgeries despite being hundreds of miles away. Imagine being able to view the live stream of a match in a VR headset in real-time. It would give you the feeling of actually being present in the stadium from the comfort of your couch.
What about Apple?
Well, it took Apple almost two years after Android OEMs implemented Gigabit LTE to offer the same feature in iPhones. The company also took its own sweet time to bring 4G connectivity to iPhones. Apple is known to adopt a technology once it is mature enough and so the Cupertino company is unlikely to offer 5G connectivity on iPhones until 2020 or later.
2. 12GB RAM
2018 saw plenty of phones launch with massive 8GB RAM and that’s a trend that will continue in 2019 as well. It is not like 8GB RAM in a smartphone is useful but it provides an OEM with bragging rights. And for that sole reason, we are going to see some OEMs launch devices with up to 10/12GB RAM. OnePlus has already launched the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition this year with 10GB RAM and other Chinese OEMs will continue this trend in 2019. They will not offer 10GB of RAM in the primary variant of their mainstream device but they will offer at least one variant of their flagship phone with oodles of storage and 12GB RAM.
10GB RAM in 2019 iPhones?
Having 8GB or 10GB RAM in a smartphone is impractical right now. Neither iOS nor Android is capable of utilizing 8GB or 10GB RAM properly and neither are the apps that are available for them.
Knowing Apple, it is highly unlikely that it will ship any variant of its 2019 iPhones with 12GB or even 8/10GB RAM. Sure, it might bump the RAM on the 2019 iPhones to 6GB if iOS 13 comes with some massive changes but anything above that is not going to happen.
Heck, Apple even offers the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro with 4GB RAM, with only the 1TB variant of the tablets coming with 6GB RAM. And these are devices that Apple is marketing as a PC replacement and which are meant to handle extremely heavy workloads.
3. Multi-Camera Setup
We have already seen the likes of Huawei P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro launch with a triple-camera setup at the rear. However, 2019 is the year when triple-camera setup in smartphones will become mainstream. And it makes a lot of sense as well. A primary shooter paired with a telephoto sensor for optical zoom and an ultra-wide shooter to fit as much of a scene in a photo as possible.
There are even rumors of Nokia working on a phone with a Penta-camera setup and Samsung recently launched a mid-range device with a quad-camera setup at the rear — a 24MP primary shooter, 10MP telephoto zoom lens, 8MP ultra-wide sensor, and 5MP depth camera.
While we have already seen LG launch phones with a wide-angle camera for a few years now, it is Huawei that has perfected the implementation. The Mate 20’s ultra-wide shooter has a macro lens which means it can focus on an object from a very close distance. This opens the door to a world of possibilities in terms of photography which is why we are going to see even more OEMs launch phones with a triple-camera setup at the rear.
2019 iPhones with Triple-Camera Setup?
There are rumors of Apple switching to a triple-camera setup for its 2019 iPhones. However, it is still too early to tell if there’s any weight to these rumors or not.
4. 50W Fast Wired Charging
2018 saw phones like the Galaxy Note 9 and Mate 20 Pro launch with beefy 4,000mAh+ batteries. In 2019, we are going to see smartphones with even higher battery capacity. With battery technology not improving noticeably, OEMs are left with the only option of increasing the battery capacity to offer even better battery life in their devices. And this makes faster wired charging even more important.
While many fast charging solutions already exist in the market, they were designed for phones with 3000-3500mAh batteries in mind. A 50W fast wired charging solution for a device with a 4,000mAh+ battery is going to be a match made in heaven.
Huawei has already debuted its 50W fast wired charging solution dubbed SuperCharge with Mate 20 Pro and the technology is likely to trickle down to its other devices in 2019. With SuperCharge, the Mate 20 Pro charges from 0-100 percent in just over an hour, while it takes only around 15 minutes to charge from 0-50 percent.
A fast wired charging solution might seem overrated to many but once you experience it, there’s no going back. It will completely change the way you use your phone.
What about Apple?
Apple added support 18W fast charging tech to its iPhone lineup with the iPhone X and iPhone 8 in 2017. Given how long it took the company to implement the feature on iPhones, it is unlikely that we will see the company implement an even faster charging solution on its iPhone lineup in the next year or two.
5. In-display Fingerprint Scanner
In-display fingerprint scanners first came to the spotlight before the release of the iPhone X in 2017. It was rumored that Apple was going to launch the iPhone X with an in-display fingerprint scanner. We all know how that turned out to be. Nonetheless, since then, we have seen quite a few phones hit the market featuring an in-display fingerprint scanner. But they have all been far from perfect — they are slow and their accuracy is not as good as traditional fingerprint scanners used in smartphones. The best implementation of the in-display fingerprint scanner so far has been on the OnePlus 6T but even that is noticeably slower than a regular fingerprint scanner.
In 2019, we are going to see in-display fingerprint scanner become commonplace in flagship and premium mid-range smartphones. They are also going to get faster and offer improved accuracy as the sensor gets better with every new iteration.
In-display fingerprint Scanner in iPhones?
Apple has completely given up on the fingerprint scanner in favor of Touch ID and even in its in-display form, the fingerprint scanner is not going to make a return to the iPhone lineup.
6. Displays without the Dreaded Notch
Notches are a temporary solution until the technology comes around to hide the front-facing camera and relevant sensors below the display. Until that happens, we are seeing OEMs either adopt the notch or come up with some innovative solutions to avoid it.
The latest in the quest to avoid the notch is punch-hole displays. These displays literally have a hole in them to accommodate the selfie camera. We have already seen Huawei and Samsung announce phones with a punch-hole display but it is in 2019 that this tech will become mainstream. While it does not exactly get rid of the notch, there’s no denying the fact that this is a novel solution to the problem.
— SamMobile (@SamMobiles) December 11, 2018
Will Apple adopt Punch-Hole Displays on iPhones?
Unlikely. This is because punch-hole displays only have enough space for the selfie camera. There’s no space to accommodate other sensors that are required for Face ID to work properly.
7. Foldable Phones
After seeing foldable phones in demos at trade shows for years, we are finally going to see them turn into a reality in 2019. Samsung has already demoed a near-final version of its foldable smartphone last month and the company is expected to release one to the public in limited quantities next year. While foldable phones sound cool in theory — you can fold your device into a smartphone and unfold it into a tablet when needed, a lot about them still remains unknown.
It is unclear how good their displays are going to be, how thick they are going to be, and just how well they would work in real life. Its a technology that sounds good on paper but how well it will work in real life is something that is yet to be seen. Apart from Samsung, Huawei is also expected to unveil a foldable smartphone in 2019.
There have not been any reports of Apple working on a foldable iPhone and since the technology is still too young, it is unlikely the company will adopt it.
These are just few of the key smartphone technologies that we are going to see dominate the market in 2019. While not mentioned above, AI is obviously going to be another big deal in smartphones in 2019 as we are going to see OEMs improve it further to add even more impressive software features to their devices.