2018 is winding down, and we’ve witnessed a number of significant events this year as far as mobile tech is concerned: these include the US government signing an order laying out its 5G strategy, major telcos rolling out 5G, companies like Vivo and Huawei launching mobile phones with fingerprint sensors under the display, a rise in bezel-less phones (or at least near-bezel-less phones!), and more examples of artificial intelligence being used in mobile phones.
Some of these events will shape the mobile landscape in 2019 and beyond, and I believe the three trends below will be some of the biggest phone tech trends to watch out for in 2019.
The rise of “5G-ready” mobile phone
The US Government just recently signed an order laying out its long-term 5G strategy in anticipation of the worldwide launch of 5G in 2020.
The order addresses quite a number of things, including ensuring there is sufficient spectrum available for the anticipated growth in 5G adoption in the coming years.
AT&T already revealed plans to deploy 5G technology in late 2018 and into 2019 in some US states, Verizon already offers 5G in limited locations, T-mobile already laid out its plans to roll out 5G, and Sprint plans to provide mobile 5G to several US cities in the first half of 2019.
Multiple 5G devices are also expected to roll out in 2019. These include the Samsung Galaxy S10 and the Sony Xperia XZ4.
Now, while 2020 is generally expected to be the year 5G becomes mainstream, you can expect to see a lot of 5G-ready mobile phones in 2019; whether it’s to have a competitive edge or simply due to customer demand, there will be a lot of 5G-ready mobile phones in 2019.
Foldable mobile phones
One other phone tech trend to watch out for in 2019 is the rise of foldable mobile phones. Samsung has showed us prototypes of foldable mobile phones with flexible displays a few times in the past: first in 2011, then again at CES 2013.
More recently, though, Samsung showed off its eagerly-anticipated foldable mobile phone at its annual developer conference and took things a step further: it announced that this foldable mobile phone will be available within the first half of 2019.
Not just that, but Samsung also recently announced it will produce over one million units of this foldable phone within the first half of 2019.
Of course, Samsung’s foldable phone won’t be the first in the market — ZTE launched a foldable phone late 2017 — but Samsung’s plan to produce a million units of its first commercial foldable phone in 2019.
Google’s announcement about making Android optimized for foldable phones, and Apple’s patents that hint at the possibility of a foldable iPhone being in the works all hint at the fact that the market for foldable phones is ripe, and the major phone brands aren’t taking a backseat.
Mobile phones with in-screen fingerprint scanner
Fingerprint unlocking in mobile phones isn’t a new thing, but you can probably count the number of mobile phones in the market today that have an in-screen fingerprint scanner on one hand.
This will change in 2019.
Technological advances like Synaptics’ Clear ID and Qualcomm’s in-screen fingerprint sensors have shown that mobile phones with in-screen fingerprint identification technology are nearer rather than far away.
So far, we’ve had the X20 Plus UD by Vivo integrate an in-screen fingerprint scanner; the mobile phone by Vivo is the world’s first phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor. We’ve also had the Huawei Mate 20 Pro with an in-screen fingerprint scanner alongside 3D face unlocking.
In 2019, however, you can expect a lot more mobile phones to be launched with in-screen fingerprint scanners; it’s already rumored the Galaxy S10, due to launch in 2019, will have this feature, and a study by IHS says as many as 100 million phones will have this feature in 2019
As consumers begin to demand and expect it, you can expect more mobile phones to launch with in-screen fingerprint sensors in 2019.
The rate of innovation in the mobile phone industry is rapid, and you can certainly expect to see many more trends than the above ones. In 2019, however, the above trends will be some of the top trends that will shape the mobile phone industry.