Smartphones are the most interesting pieces of technology in our era. Each year, smartphones are improving in terms of hardware, specifications, design, feel and software. Smartphone design language changed drastically last year and thankfully, the adaptation of this design was seen across a range of smartphones.
Also, the internal hardware performance differences are diminishing each passing year. This year, no matter what phone you get, you can enjoy most of the apps to their fullest potential. Android, iOS and others (if any) are optimising their software to the hardware available. Let’s take a look at the anticipated smartphone tech in 2018.
Large displays, fewer bezels and some notches
These features have been in trend since 2017 and will see a polished evolution in 2018. Unless you live under a rock, you know that smartphone design is evolving since last year. The iPhone X went bezel-less with a notch for face unlock hardware. Android phones tend to mimic iPhone design cues and 2018 will see more of it.
Expect long/widescreen displays with or without notches. ASUS and many other brands have already adopted the notch for their upcoming phones. Android P developer version also features support for notches. Notch, really! Lesser bezels, more display and some notches are the recipes for smartphone design in 2018.
Better dual or more cameras
Smartphone cameras are not just improving in quality but also in quantity. These cameras have to be better for clear visual data. Some manufacturers have the software to back their excellent image processing through a single camera. For others to match up to these expectations, more imaging data is required and hence more cameras. They also serve as a primary sensor for many smart software algorithms.
Also, Samsung introduced variable aperture with OIS on their 2018 Galaxy S series. This not only brings more power to the user but also results in some insane low light shooting capabilities. Other manufacturers do an excellent software trickery (Portrait mode and EIS) to produce similar results. Many social media apps utilise Machine Learning and AI for their camera’s interface. Payments too are now reliant on better visual data and 2018 looks sharp through most smartphone lens.
Improved Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
Your phone is loaded with sensors. Why reserve these sensors for one particular app or task when they can be used to collect enhanced data that improves your software experience? Clear camera data can provide you more visual information than meets the eye, microphones can trigger voice assistants, GPS can provide you location-based results and much more. Sensors in our phone are essential information providers for machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Newer hardware and software enhances machine learning even further. With that said, most of your apps and your phone software will soon rely on data to provide you with the best personalised experience. There is a thin line between intrusive and enhanced artificial intelligence. Sensory data and its usage are evolving at a much faster rate and shaping our tech reality as we know it.
Better data security
Smartphones are now smarter than ever before. They are our personal portal to a virtual real life. With time, their security is improving in terms of quality and quantity. From passcodes to fingerprint scanners to Iris scanners and now face unlocking, smartphone security is getting innovative. Not only is it easy to secure your phone but your data is also secured much better than before.
For a quick unlock you can set the phone to face unlock. For payments and permissions, something more secure like fingerprint and Iris scanners will help you secure your phone. In short, many security options and more secure data is a necessity in a vulnerable digital world.
Headphone jack and micro USB survive the wrath of time
Thankfully, some manufacturers have a spine. Apple got rid of the headphone jack a couple of years ago and many Android OEMs followed their approach. However, some others know the importance of customer satisfaction. The headphone jack is still around and might be until wireless audio becomes a standard.
Also, despite USB Type-C being the successor to Micro USB ports, it is still not a standard as the latter is. Hence we see Type-C ports on flagships and a few mid-range phones. Most affordable phones which sell in massive quantities use the Micro USB port as it still a widely popular I/O port across the globe.
Innovations are the new inventions. Re-imagining the way we can use a certain hardware through innovative software solutions adds to the smart in phones. This is further fuelled by AI and Machine learning algorithms placed all across the software realm. Cameras that can learn your surroundings, recognise friendly faces to voice recognition and much more can be enabled by machine learning. These innovative features are creative hardware and software implementations based on user-provided data.
Google Pixel and HTC phones can be squeezed, some phones can accompany you underwater and some others can control all your home or office gadgets with IR sensors. Some can shake to wake the camera and hence, innovation is the added flavour of a good recipe. Expect the trend to continue this year as well.
(Hopefully) Consistent software updates
Understand the term software update and software version update are two different things. Android is all over the place and fragmentation is an avoidable issue faced by Android smartphone space. Google is trying its best to bring in some projects to reduce the fragmentation issue. Apple is consistent with software updates, though it can be buggy at times.
Software updates are based on the ecosystem: Android and iOS have their unique paths.
That said, with the increasing vulnerabilities, security updates are expected on a consistent basis throughout the year. Also, with the new Android approach, future software updates seem possible. Manufacturers will still stop updating their phones to push newer phone sales and its high time we learn this simple yet effective marketing strategy.
Better value for money
With increasing competition in the smartphone space, the demand for value has increased too. Affordable phones feature metal bodies and sturdy glass protection while flagships are just short of using rare materials for their phones. Today, affordable chipsets are good performers too and software fragmentation is (hopefully) reducing.
All these elements translate into optimum value for your money. This stands true for most products and brands across the price brackets. After all, there is nothing as satisfying as getting the best deal for your moolah. And this year, you can be assured of it.
Another year of smartphone evolution
Smartphones enjoy an uncanny attention in today’s era. This has resulted in constant updates and innovations in this segment as compared to most other consumer gadgets. We believe this demand is still increasing and will continue for another couple of years as our smartphones become much more than phones for us.
In 2018, smartphones continue to evolve with the newer design and we must say, they finally look impressive and more immersive than ever before. Beautiful designs, amazing cameras and unique software features will continue evolving this year as well. The year 2018 seems like a good time to get a new smartphone.