2017 came with a lot of improvements in smartphones as we know it. In the smartphone sector, we all witnessed a shift towards full view displays and dual cameras, and 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 and 835 Chipsets. Nevertheless I’ll say 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 me quickly recap the major smartphone trends of 2017 before I tell you what I think we should expect in 2018.
1.Full-view displays took the world storm.
3.4GB RAM and 64GB storage are now available on affordable phones.
4.Face Unlock gains some traction.
5.Stock Android is no longer a rarity (Nokia, Billion, Tenor, Moto, HTC, and even Xiaomi).
6.Snapdragon 625 consolidated Qualcomm’s position in affordable and mid-tier phones.
7.In general, battery backup on phones has improved a lot.
So, that brings me to the next question. What’s in store for us next year? Well, there are quite a few interesting upgrades you should expect.
In-display fingerprint sensors
Do you know why Samsung’s Note 8’s fingerprint scanner is an awkward position?, It’s because it was actualy meant to be under the screen but Samsung couldn’t meet up and had to place it beside the camera. However Vivo have already made a prototype with the Finger Print Scanner under the screen.
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.
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 For Mid-Range Smartphones
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.
Foldable Display Phones
Many smartphone manufacturers have been filing patents for foldable display phones for many years now. Samsung actually showcased a foldable smartphone prototype way back in 2011. Also, 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.
I don’t expect foldable-displays to go mainstream the same way as 18:9 full-view screens anytime soon but I’m quite 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 became quite popular this year however 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,I expect more OEMs relying on software for Portrait mode and flagships will strive towards perfecting their Zoom capabilities. Chinese OEM 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.
What actually is Augmented Reality? In a layman’s understanding I would define it as the ability to see evil spirits from your phone’s camera.(Welcome to Africa lol). However, if you’re familiar with Pokemon Go , it should give you a little idea of how AR works. Google and Apple put their approval stamps on AR with ARKit and ARCore SDKs and the same should yield something more meaningful than AR Stickers by the next year.
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 should play a bigger role in enhancing smartphone experience next year. We already have phones marketing AI-based software (and assistants) across different budgets. Siri, Cortana, Alexa And Google Assistant should get a boost next year
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.
Apart from the changes mentioned , you 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.
Virtual Reality would also improve next year.