The year 2019 will be crazy. Crazy in a good way because we have a feeling more technological innovations will be unveiled. They may not be new ones but we’re crossing our fingers those rumors, leaks, and teasers on 5G devices, foldable smartphones, and more camera lenses will finally go commercial. We’re also looking forward to more Android phones with an on-screen or in-display fingerprint sensor. If you move the fingerprint scanner in front, then the extra space at the rear could be used for more camera lenses. And then there’s artificial intelligence (AI) becoming integrated into more devices, services, and other technologies.
1. More phones with on-screen fingerprint sensors
In 2018, more OEMs implemented the on-screen fingerprint sensor. Others call it the in-display fingerprint reader. We thank Vivo for finally making things a reality as the first company to go commercial with the technology. The Vivo Xplay 7 leaked with an under-display fingerprint scanner turned out to be the Vivo X20 Plus UD which also arrived with a Full View display.
Before Vivo, there have been several talks about Samsung launching under-glass fingerprint sensors with Synaptics. The latter did launch the technology in 2016 followed by other companies such as CrucialTec.
Last year, Samsung’s on-screen fingerprint sensor was said to cause display issues and then nixed for the Note 8 and still nothing. Maybe this year, cross your fingers, the South Korean tech giant will finally and officially launch the Galaxy S10 with on-screen fingerprint sensors since other smaller OEMs were able to do it. We remember the Sharp Aquos S2, OnePlus 6, OnePlus 6T, Xiaomi Mi 8, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and OPPO R17.
2. Almost to completely bezel-less displays
Huawei has been planning on a full bezel-less display and noted that the notch is part of transition only. This year, we look forward to more phones with completely bezel-less screens.
3. 5G support and expansion
The idea of 5G began in 2015 when 20GBs per second 5G network were promised to make debut in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Verizon soon planned 5G trials for the following year and in preparation for the 2020 launch. AT&T announced trial tests for 5G in 2016 and soon, we heard of more collaborations like AT&T and Nokia for more 5G connectivity trials, Verizon and KT partnering for 5G technology standards, and Samsung and T-Mobile for more trials and demos.
The technology is going public this year ahead of the 2020 launch. T-Mobile’s 5G connectivity reached 12 Gbps in a test. More developments have happened including Qualcomm rolling out a 5G modem and gigabit LTE.
Samsung and HTC succeeded in 5G connectivity trials in South Korea. Intel announced its first 5G modem and 5Gbps download speeds. In the US, Samsung tested 5G connectivity with Verizon.
New related technologies are ready like Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem rolling out. AT&T has been speeding up mobile 5G rollout with multi-gigabit speeds and more testing. 5G is closer than you think as Verizon successfully completed more tests. T-Mobile and Nokia partnered to work on 5G technology.
Just a few months ago, we learned Verizon 5G Home would be launching and coming to select cities including Los Angeles. Believe it or not, the 5G network is now available in four US cities for the first time.
Expect 5G smartphones to be released this year including the OnePlus 5G phone (not OnePlus 7), Moto Z4 with 5G Moto Mod (or Moto Z3), a Samsung Galaxy S10 5G variant, Huawei 5G foldable phone, Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, an LG 5G phone.
4. Foldable smartphones going commercial
The year 2019 will also be the year foldable phones will finally go commercial. Sure, the FlexPai made the flexible-foldable phone concept real after the ZTE Axon M proved that it could happen.
The Samsung Galaxy Foldable Phone will be out soon. It could be called the Galaxy F, Galaxy Fold, Galaxy X, or Galaxy Folder. The South Korean tech giant already showed off the foldable phone recently although not final yet.
5. More powerful, affordable gaming phones
More gaming phones will be revealed this year since a few models focused on gaming were released in 2018. More devices are expected to follow the Razer Phone, Razer Phone 2, Black Shark, Black Shark 2, ASUS ROG Phone, Xiaomi Pocophone F1 (Xiaomi Poco F1 in India), and the Xiaomi Play.
We say more powerful and affordable gaming phones because the competition for the top gaming smartphone won’t be just on the specs but on the pricing. Premium specs and features don’t always mean expensive as the Xiaomi Poco F1 made it possible. We wondered how the Xiaomi gaming phone was made affordable.
6. More AI-powered technologies
Artificial intelligence or AI will be available on more phones and services. Lenovo invested in artificial intelligence and more AI products are in the works. Samsung also acquired Fluenty to focus on AI. It was also developing AI processors for smartphones and servers.
Last year, LG decided to add the ThinQ suffix to give way to AI and launching more AI features. A MediaTek Helio P60 processor was launched ready for more AI functions. Vivo introduced a new AI-Powered Super HDR tech.
We were told Bixby will be updated as Samsung acquired a new AI startup. More AI-focused phones have been launched like the OPPO F7, Huawei P20 Pro, Nokia X6, LG Q7, and the AI-ready Google Pixel 3. In the near future, the Samsung Galaxy S10 will be ready with more AI features.
7. More camera lenses
The more, the merrier. That seems to be the motto of top OEMs this year as new smartphones may launch with more cameras. First, there was only the dual rear camera system popularized by the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus. The top Chinese OEM was then followed by more phone makers. The Huawei P20 Pro was launched last year with triple rear cameras. The Huawei Mate 20 series followed the same.
Samsung launched a quad camera phone–the Galaxy A9, similar to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro. Samsung will release the Galaxy S10 with triple rear cameras. Nokia may also launch a five-camera phone. The Honor Magic 2 has six cameras.
We look forward to more phones with multiple cameras and lenses although we’re not quite sure if they’re necessary. What do you think?