The best new phone features to go mainstream in 2019
After a few relatively calm years in mobile tech, 2019 is shaping up to bring some real innovation in the form of next-gen form factors, camera prowess, and connectivity standards. This is why, following our roundup of the best phones to expect this year, we touched our crystal ball to tell us which will be the best new features and technologies that those handsets will attack our poor wallets with.
Foldable form factors
Not to rain on the "all-screen" parade but it's been a hard pregnancy to conceive the best screen-to-body ratio possible, starting with wide notches then waterdrop ones, and culminating with dual-screen phones. How about we complicate things even further, and introduce a device that can fold in two when you need it for smartphone functions and unfurl into a tablet screen size for media consumption or browsing?
You got it, said Samsung, eight years after the first bendy screen prototypes emerged in its labs in 2011. Not only that, but LG, Huawei, Xiaomi and even Apple are now said to explore the new horizons that the foldable form factor might bring. Google is on board with full Android support as well, so we can't wait to see if 2019 will turn into the "year of the foldable phone" before anything else.
Both Qualcomm with its Snapdragon 855 chipset, and Samsung with the Exynos 5100 modem, will be setting a fire under the 5G network rollout this year, and the first handsets with the next-gen connectivity standard are expected in the first half of the year. Xiaomi will try and beat everyone to the punch, but Samsung's 5G-enabled S10 X is where all eyes would be, as this one is also expected to land on Verizon at some point.
Given that the S10 is expected to sell in the tens of millions, the punch-hole design is likely to become ubiquitous for those makers that want to brag with their screen-to-body ratio without resorting to a slider, dual-screen, or motorized camera designs, let alone those pesky notches of yesteryear.
If you thought that Samsung one-upped everybody with the quad-camera Galaxy A8, the Nokia 9 PureView may bring a penta-camera kit very soon, and none other but the top-end Galaxy S10X with 5G connectivity is expected to sport four flagship-grade cameras on the back as well.
Apple won't be leaving its camera cred in the dust, either, as it is heavily rumored to introduce a triple-camera iPhone in 2019. Now, whether those three cameras will be arranged in the infamous square as the first leaked prototype, or horizontally like in the second you see here, is a matter of design preferences, but the first tri-camera iPhone may very well become a reality this year.
Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint readers
Again, it's out there but phones like the S10 will make this superior in-display finger scanning tech ubiquitous. It can work through thicker cover glass than current solutions which are arguably slower and more cumbersome than fingerprint readers that aren't incorporated in a display.
Arguably, that has been the reason behind Samsung's wait to adopt the in-screen finger reader solution so far. Moreover, these are expected to become even better by allowing you to tap anywhere on the screen with your thumb instead of a tiny predetermined space, as you can see in Xiaomi's demo below.
First 1TB phone, first with 12GB RAM, and fast UFS 3.0 storage
The new UFS 3.0 (Univeral Flash Storage) standard promised to double the memory bandwidth of UFS 2.1, which is the current go-to standard for flash storage in the mobile space. Samsung's head of mobile memory product planning Jay Oh revealed that the company will launch its next wave of UFS 3.0-enabled devices in the first half of 2019. Though the Galaxy S10 itself wasn't mentioned by name, it is a very likely candidate for the tech to debut on.
In addition, phones like the top-shelf S10X model with 5G connectivity are expected to sport models that have 12GB RAM and 1TB of storage. If anyone can pull this off, it's the memory kingdom of Samsung, and yet the first phone with 12GB RAM will be released very soon, way before the S10, which, however, may carry the title "the world's first 1TB phone," if that's what rocks your boat.
Zoom and depth
The periscope-y 5x optical zoom tech of Oppo, developed with technology from Corephotonics, has now turned into a 10x hybrid zoom effort and is ready for mass production into phones. The OnePlus 7 is a prime candidate, but we wouldn't put it past another flagship coming from behind the Great Wall to land 10x zoom first.
In addition, the top-shelf Galaxy S10 model, as well as Apple's XS Max successor, are expected to ship with 3D depth-sensing time-of-flight (ToF) cameras on the back. Such cameras are already present on a few models from Chinese manufacturers but they aren't exactly well utlizied there yet, so we can't wait to see what applications Samsung or Apple may have found for said ToF cameras.