Christmas and the New Year no doubt brought many users a new upgraded smartphone to use. So let’s see what new, or enhanced smartphone features and functions will be on show during 2019.
1. Augmented reality
Given that Apple and Google are keen to promote this technology, it’s hardly surprising AR (augmented reality) has gradually been gaining a foothold in the smartphone market. This feature does have some really practical uses, so it’s extremely likely that phone manufacturers and app developers have got things in the pipeline. Ikea’s AR app which allows users to experience and interact with products in a whole new way (users place 3D objects in their home via their phone camera) is an example of how major brands are keen to get on the AR bandwagon to change the way we shop for goods. There’s also lots of interest from other industries like home energy, construction, healthcare etc. In addition, augmented reality will enable a true 360-degree gambling experience where the use of holograms means players will not be able to tell the difference between the real and digital world. So you could be sat at home around your kitchen table playing roulette against live dealers.
2. Multiple cameras
Smartphone cameras are already very good and many apps and functions now depend on high-quality imaging. So it’s a safe bet that the newest phones will be equipped with more powerful cameras. Indeed it’s now just as likely to be extra cameras that we see – the V40 ThinQ, for instance, has five: two front- and three rear-facing cameras to produce composite images of enhanced quality. Apart from hardware developments, Apple and Google have demonstrated how sophisticated software can also dramatically improve image quality. So expect new phone camera software to make good use of technologies like AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) to deliver great photos.
While it’s true that 2019 will see new phones equipped to exploit new 5G communication networks. The reality is that this will only happen gradually (if it all) in many geographical locations. Expect to hear more about 5G handsets from manufacturers like Samsung (who apparently will introduce two), OnePlus and LG, but there will be no 5G Apple phone until 2020. However, until 5G technology rolls out to many more areas, it will only be a select few who get to enjoy the experience. For the immediate future, that means many of those who are tempted to upgrade to a 5G phone may just be paying a high premium for a feature they may hardly ever get to use.
4. Foldable smartphones
Foldable phones will be available in 2019. However, even though the Royole FlexPai, for example, looks fascinating, it’s not yet clear how many phone users will see it as a must-have. And in addition, glowing reports of its performance are hard to come by. Google are supporting a Samsung foldable, but this phone is not yet much beyond the prototype stage. Early adopters are likely to find foldables an expensive option, but it’s likely manufacturers will be testing the market soon with their own take on the foldable concept.
5. Faster charging
Improved battery technology is presently somewhat restricted by the desirability of slim, sleek designs. However, more reliable, faster recharging is on the way in 2019, but there are a considerable number of alternative fast-charging technologies which will vie for supremacy. Qualcomm, for instance, has developed a new triple charge system which can deliver wired charging at up to 32W, and wireless charging at 15W. For reference, the charger supplied with an iPhone presently outputs 5W – and any kind of faster charging kit costs extra. Generally speaking, the trend is all towards high-speed charging, and this should be apparent as new phones appear.
6. Face unlocking
Though face unlocking itself is not a new technology, Apple’s Face ID has very much brought it right back into focus. It seems highly likely that Android manufacturers too will upgrade their systems in order to have a viable system which is secure enough to sanction payments. The Apple system allows biometric authentication for purposes such as device unlocking, making payments and accessing sensitive data, as well as offering detailed facial expression tracking for other phone features.
7. Embedded Fingerprint Readers
The advantage of an in-display fingerprint reader is that it removes the need for a bulky regular fingerprint reader to be located low down on the front of your phone. Some manufacturers see design benefits they can access by freeing up that space for new uses. Facial recognition is, of course, a competing technology, but this won’t be a feature that suits everyone. So expect in-display fingerprint scanners to be around for a while, though they may have an uncertain future.