As the year begins, we look forward to something better than last year and more willpower to make good with our New Year's resolutions. More so, we look ahead to where future smartphones dare take us. Will they read our minds? Will they predict the future? Maybe not in the next few months. But we look at what they can actually do within this year, and it's an exciting year by the looks of it.
1) Goodbye bezels, hello 18:9
The LG G6 and Samsung's Galaxy S8 opened the flood gates to a more bezel-less smartphone design, followed by the iPhone X, Apple's 10th anniversary iPhone.
This year, this design is expected to trickle down to the more affordable midrange segment, as taller panels become more accessible to midrange device manufacturers. Expect taller and slimmer devices similar to the design pioneered by Samsung and LG as they become the new standard.
Alcatel has actually begun the trend with a batch of new phones shown at CES 2018, ranging from $100 to $300.
The best thing about the bezel-less design being commonplace? Future flagships will have to differentiate themselves in other, more innovative, ways. For the high-end market, it seems that there's no other way to go but up.
2) More power for more devices
Battery life is becoming more and more a concern as our life becomes more connected than ever. Smartphones have been getting bigger, more powerful batteries through the years, and this year is no exception. In fact, this might be the year smartphones get batteries as big as 4,000mAh on the regular.
In 2017, we've seen devices like the HTC U11 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro carry 3,000mAh and 4,000mAh, respectively. The good news is these bigger batteries will be increasingly common throughout 2018. As smartphones get a bit taller and manufacturers discover how to make batteries and chips more efficient, battery life will significantly get better.
3) In-display biometrics
Rumors have been abuzz that Samsung's next flagships will come out with in-display fingerprint scanners. Considering last year's progress with the tech, this seems highly plausible. Samsung has set the stage with their bezel-less design; they might be preparing to do that once again this year with their biometric tech. This will probably happen around the second half of this year, once the tech has been more or less perfected.
4) Wireless charging and more glass
Metal and aluminum are nice materials to build a smartphone with; they're durable and also look and feel good. They're also the biggest hindrances to wireless charging. As iPhone 8 and iPhone X sales go up, expect more glass on your flagships as other devices attempt to reach feature parity with Apples' devices, specifically with regard to wireless charging. As water resistance became a much sought-after feature for flagships, so too, will wireless charging in 2018.
5) HTC's big year
It hasn't been a good year for HTC, and it hasn't been for quite some time now. The downward trajectory of this once-beloved Taiwanese company will likely be interrupted this year, what with Google's investment and the company's attempts at creating a leaner organization.
This means one of two things can happen this year; either HTC will get their mobile division in shape with a giant release or the company will start winding down its smartphone business for a smoother acquisition by Google. Either way, 2018 is set to be a big year for HTC.
6) A popsicle from Google
The next version of Google's Android OS has seen a number of names, as predicted by a number of people, blogs, and media outlets. From Pancake to Pumpkin Pie to Petit Four, the most likely candidate is the simpler and more globally popular Popsicle.
Information is scarce regarding features and updates, but expect a preview release by summer and a final release around the middle of August 2018.
7) The iPhone X Plus
There has been speculation that Apple would release their largest smartphone ever with an edge-to-edge display in the near future. With the continuously growing sales of the iPhone X, it seems likely that this Apple phablet will see the light of day within the year. In fact, it has also been predicted that there will be three devices, one with a 5.8-inch screen, one with a 6.1-inch screen, and one with a 6.5-inch screen.
We'll have to wait and see if Apple will actually make these giant devices, but if history is any indication, only one device will actually be released.
8) iPhones on the cheap
The iPhone SE is a great device, especially when you consider its price. Fortunately for those looking for a smaller smartphone, Apple is predicted to refresh the iPhone SE for 2018. Rumor is that the tech giant will release a new budget version for the other spectrum of the market and in an attempt to engage the Indian population.
The iPhone SE was released in March 2016, and its rumored successor is expected to come out within the same time frame—around March or April of 2018. Rumored specs include an A10 Fusion chip, 32GB-128GB of storage, 2GB of RAM, a slightly larger battery, and a 12MP back camera and 5MP front camera combo.
9) Samsung Galaxy S8 successors
Just a few months after the release of the Galaxy S8 and S8+, the rumor mill has been abuzz with their successors, namely the Galaxy S9 and S9+. It has been believed that its release could be as early as January, but most sources expect it much later – around March or April 2018.
Rumored specs of the device may include a “3D-sensor front camera” that can be used to unlock the device. Depending on the timing of the release, though, it may come instead with the much awaited in-display fingerprint sensor.
It will be hard though to expect a massive redesign for the S9 as the S8's Infinity Display was just introduced last year. This year will be more of a refinement rather than a revolutionary change in design as this unofficial concept art on Twitter suggests:
Samsung Galaxy S9 | Concept 4K+ Display In-Display Fingerprint Sensor Dual-camera (5x Zoom/1000fps) Stereo Speakers 4000/4500mAh 5G pic.twitter.com/5fIjOSaBYc — Benjamin Geskin (@VenyaGeskin1) March 30, 2017
10) The arrival of foldable smartphones
Foldable smartphones have always been something of a holy grail for mobile devices. Just imagine a touchscreen smartphone that's always connected to the internet and with a hi-res widescreen for your multimedia and games—then imagine that you can fold that in half and fit it in your breast pocket. Awesome, huh?
Both Samsung and Apple may be working on crafting OLED's for their smartphones that can either bend or fold completely. In fact, Samsung and LG have been talking about the idea of folding phones since 2009. LG even came out with a proof of concept in the form of the G Flex and G Flex 2, released in 2013 and 2015, respectively.
The clincher here is Apple's application for a US design patent for a foldable phone. That patent was filed only this year.
As you can see, exciting times are coming with regard to smartphones this year. It's a good time for those planning to get a new smartphone, but waiting until the second half of the year will help you make a better decision because you can see how the smartphone landscape pans out.
Of course, you should all take these predictions with a grain of salt. Whatever the outcome, though, you have to admit that smartphones are getting much better every year, with more features, more durable bodies, and more attractive designs. All we have to do now is wait and see. – Rappler.com