The Mobile World Congress is the place to be for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other stakeholders in the smartphone ecosystem. In keeping with this tradition, all roads in the mobile phone world led to Barcelona in March. In the famous Fira Gran Via halls, exhibitors and attendees poured in from more than 200 countries to participate in this annual mobile phone festival. Expectations are typically high, and this year’s outing did not disappoint at all. It was all about the future of mobile phones plus features and functions that will dominate phones this year and maybe even beyond. There is more to report than space will permit, but here are some titbits to whet your appetite.
1. Turning Design a Notch Higher
Trailblazing designs is part of the Apple DNA, so the notch at the top of the iPhone X becoming a standard design feature is probably expected. Apparently, that little cutout at the top of the phone has caused more than a mere stir. Meanwhile, competitors may have noticed the way their users have been casting admiring glances at the notch on the iPhone. Wasting very little time indeed, Android phones are already copying the feature. Asus and LG have been noticed to be ahead in this regard. No sense losing customers to a notch!
2. Facial Unlocking Technology
Mobile phone security is still a big issue, and previous experimentations were limited to security codes, but Apple raised the bar with its facial recognition security feature in the iPhone X. Although it was not exactly a novel mobile phone feature, it still made a difference by providing a biometric authentication that swift, secure and functional in a wide variety of lighting conditions. The stiffest competition in this area comes from Samsung which is introducing an iris scanning feature. Although this feature is superior to Apple’s Face ID, it falls short in terms of speed of execution and convenience.
3. Souped Up LTE
While waiting for the network carriers to up their game, the smartphone manufacturers are trying to stay way ahead of the curve. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 Processor is looking like a standard feature for most high-end mobile phones. One major advantage this chip possesses is its in-built gigabit LTE capability which its manufacturer says should offer twenty percent more than what is commercially available at this time. Other capabilities of the 845 processor chip are its dedicated security chip for fingerprint and payment protection as well as battery life enhancements.
4. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is becoming more of a reality than ever this year. The challenge is actually the existence (or lack thereof) of a killer augmented reality app. The expectation however in 2018, is that the upgraded capability of smartphones (ARCore for Android and ARKit for Apple) will be game-changers as far as augmented reality is concerned. Apple already boasts of some nice-looking ARKit app on iOS while Google Lens is pretty indicative of how Artificial intelligence will work with the inbuilt Google Assistant. Obviously, there is a whole lot to look forward to.
5. Dual Cameras
This is one feature that is fast proliferating among phones, even those manufactured by second-tiers OEMs. The reason? Well, everyone loves a great selfie and this is probably a selfie’s best buddy. The trend started last year but really gained a lot of ground this year. Examples? Think Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Appl iPhone X as well as Huawei Mate 10 Pro. You know what happens when a trend gains so much dominance; it becomes a demanded product rather than a luxury. In summary, this particular trend will catch up even more as the months roll by in the mobile phone world.
6. Wireless Charging
Once, it was seen mostly in adverts but with time and its adoption by the two main contenders in the mobile phone world; Samsung and Apple, wireless charging is expected to feature more prominently in mobile phones in 2018. There have even been experimentations of charging across a distance not just via a charging pad. This year is looking set to see many viable and commercially available options in the market. Consumers are eagerly waiting!
7. Slim Bezels
Slim bezel designs fall into that category of features that get accelerated acceptance and adoption across the board. The trend is catching on such that even second-tier smartphones are also sporting slim bezel designs. Chinese OEM, ZTE and Nokia have gone to market with their Blade V9 and 7 Plus which feature the slim bezel design. Of course, last year, it was the phones with slim bezels that stood out of the crowd, but with the ongoing trend, this year, phones without this design will stick out like a sore thumb. Well, no smartphone manufacturer wants to stand out for the wrong reasons.
Having become a staple in the mobile phone world, emojis are seemingly making an upgraded appearance in 2018. Apple probably kicked off this trend with its face-tracking animated emoji but its competitors have fast caught on. Now, Samsung Galaxy 9 has the new AR Emoji. This one actually mimics the user’s face in the popular Nintendo Wii style and animated it as well. Not to outdone, Asus is debuting with its Zenimoji as well. Of course, the competition never rests, so we can expect other brands to introduce their versions of this feature. Well, well, well, the consumer wins all the time!
There are still quite a few features that are being tried out and others already out there. For sure, it is expected that longer-lasting batteries will become a staple this year. Ongoing research into making lithium-ion batteries last longer should yield fruit this year for the benefit of smartphone users. Additionally, foldable phones are being spoken off albeit in hushed tones, but expectations are high, and manufacturers are unlikely to disappoint their teeming users. We anticipate a very active year, and consumers can look forward to a souped-up experience all around. Are you ready? OEMs are all set!