The year 2017 has been quite eventful. In the smartphone world, we mostly witnessed a shift towards full view screens and dual cameras, apart from several other significant evolutionary upgrades for the better.
The performance and battery backup of affordable phones has never been better, thanks to powerful and power-efficient chipsets like Snapdragon 625. We still don’t have a perfect Android (or iOS) flagship, but at least we have, what certainly feels like, a perfect camera phone.
Let’s quickly recap the major smartphone trends of 2017 before we discuss what we think lies ahead of the curve.
Summing up the 8 major smartphone trends of 2017
- Full-view displays have taken the smartphone world by a storm.
- Dual cameras are finally smartphone staple feature.
- 4GB RAM and 64GB storage have finally permeated to affordable phones.
- Face Unlock gains some traction.
- Thanks to Reliance Jio, MicroSD card slot makes a comeback.
- Stock Android is no longer a rarity (Nokia, Billion, Tenor, Moto, HTC, and even Xiaomi).
- Snapdragon 625 consolidated Qualcomm’s position in affordable and mid-tier phones.
- In general, battery backup on phones has improved a lot.
Smartphone trends to look forward to in 2018
So, that brings us to the next question. What’s in store for the next year? Well, there are quite a few interesting upgrades on their way.
In-display fingerprint sensors
The biggest casualty of 18:9 displays have been the front fingerprint sensors. The Face Unlock isn’t as good a replacement which is why manufacturers have been working on under-display fingerprint sensor for a while.
The technology couldn’t make it to S8 or iPhone X, reportedly due to high failure rate, but in-display fingerprint sensors have now entered mass production. In fact, the first mainstream in-display fingerprint sensor phone from Vivo is set to arrive as early as CES 2018 (January 09-12).
Snapdragon 660, Snapdragon 630
The success of Snapdragon 625 and Snapdragon 430 helped Qualcomm infiltrate MediaTek’s stronghold last year. To further strengthen its grip, the dominant chipset maker will be pushing a lot more muscle in its mid-tier (series-600) mobile platform.
The Snapdragon 660 will be the first mid-range chipset to include Kyro cores and the Snapdragon 630 will add iterative refinements to Snapdragon 625. Both these chipsets will be formed on the power-efficient 14nm FinFET process and we will be hearing a lot about them next year.
Of course, the Snapdragon 845 will dominate tier-1 flagships.
Also Check: Best Snapdragon 660 phones you can buy
Foldable display phones
Manufacturers have been filing patents for foldable display phones for many years now. In fact, Samsung first showcased its folding smartphone prototype 6 years back in 2011. More recently, Microsoft put some weight behind the tech and also filed a patent for what looks like the future ‘Surface Phone’.
This is naturally being viewed as the next revolution in displays and a means for adding an even bigger size screen without bloating the size.
We don’t expect foldable-displays to go mainstream the same way as 18:9 full-view screens anytime soon but we are optimistic that the world will have witnessed a fordable display gadget by the end of next year.
Better 2X Zoom and Software based portrait mode
Dual cameras have indeed become smartphone staple this year but at the end of the year, we are inclined to believe that they don’t add as much value as one might expect. The best cameras still use just one sensor for primary photography and the phone with the best portrait mode has just one camera.
Most premium phones use the extra sensor for 2X zoom and in low light, the zoom is still digital and reliant on the main sensor.
Next year, we expect more OEMs relying on software for Portrait mode and flagships will strive towards perfecting their Zoom capabilities. Oppo is already working on a periscope-like lens assembly for 5X optical zoom without any camera hump and other OEMs are expected to innovate on similar lines.
The iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 duo have the necessary hardware for the promised AR push and developers are already working on leveraging the technology for future updates
Apart from AR, Artificial Intelligence will play a bigger role in enhancing smartphone experience next year. We already have phones marketing AI-based software (and assistants) across different budgets.
Phones like Pixel 2 exemplify the power of software in overcoming hardware constraints. The phone integrates AI based refinements to improve numerous aspects including camera performance.
Google isn’t alone, though. Huawei’s Kirin 970 chipset uses the separate neural processing engine for AI-based resource allocation to avoid inadvertent lag that creeps up in Android phones over a period of usage. Even Oppo is marketing an AI-based beautify mode in its new set of selfie experts.
Next year, the scope and reliance on AI and machine learning in smartphones is expected to broaden.
Smartphone trends in 2018: What to expect
Apart from the changes mentioned above, we might finally get the promised high-density batteries or get to experience one of the many battery revolutions under works. A lot is happening right now and it’s still not crystal clear what 2018 might or might not have in store, but things look really good for now.