The year 2018 will go down in the annals of tech history as the year even mid-range smartphones started sporting AI-powered chipsets, dual cameras on the rear, high-resolution screens and other cutting-edge features. We reached out to leading analysts to weigh in on some of the emerging tech trends that could become the standard in 2019. Here are the top four trends to keep an eye on.
Top tech trends of 2019: Multiple-camera smartphones, 3D rear cameras
Now that dual camera configurations are seen across smartphones, don’t be surprised if triple, or even quad, cameras become the new standard in the coming year. Huawei, Oppo, and Samsung have already launched smartphones with multiple cameras. So, yes, expect more manufacturers to follow these brands and bring smartphones with more multiple cameras to the market. HMD Global, for instance, is rumoured to be working on one with as many as five lenses on its upcoming Nokia 9 PureView flagship device.
“Number of cameras will be a big marketing hook, as we will see three or four cameras at the back becoming a standard from mid premium segment onwards,” says Navkendar Singh, Associate Research Director – Devices and Ecosystem: India & South Asia, IDC. “Of course, it remains to be seen as to what will be the exact specific utility of each camera – bokeh, wide angle or portraits,” he adds.
Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group, CMR agrees that manufacturers will focus on putting multiple cameras on a smartphone this year. The evolution of multi-camera smartphones (with more than four lenses), he says, will become a norm in 2019. Prabhu is of the opinion that a 44-megapixel camera will become the “new default” among many upcoming smartphones in 2019.
By now, you may have probably heard a thing or two about 3D camera sensors. Smartphone manufacturers have tried to create phones with 3D cameras in the past, but the technology never took off. This year though, we might see a slew of smartphones with 3D camera sensors on the rear.
“We might see a few flagship launches in 2019 with the 3D camera set up for the back camera, which will enable 3D scene capturing, depth perception and help create use cases in AR on phone for gaming, shopping etc,” says Navkendar.
The recently launched Honor View20 already comes with Sony’s “time of flight” (TOF) sensor that allows users to scan objects in real time and create 3D models that could be used in apps and AR games. Some reports even claim that Apple has shown interest in Sony’s next-generation 3D camera sensors. These sensors will apparently power both front and rear cameras on a smartphone. Will Apple launch its iPhone XI with 3D camera sensors? Only time will tell.
Top tech trends of 2019: Artificial Intelligence (AI) will dominate in 2019
Artificial Intelligence, of course, will get much more exciting in 2019. Many analysts believe AI has the potential to fundamentally change the landscape of smartphones next year.
“Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now used to enhance the overall experience of the smartphone and users are also aware of these features and widely adopting these features AI based camera being one on most famous,” says Shobhit Srivastava, Research Analyst, Mobile Devices and Ecosystems, Counterpoint Research.
Thanks to AI-powered chipsets (Qualcomm Snapdragon 845/855, Apple Bionic A11/A12 and Kirin 970/980), several smartphones are AI-capable. You can yourself see how AI-assisted camera in Pixel 3 works, or how AI is driving voice assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa on our phones and smart speakers.
In 2019, AI will potentially move beyond cameras or virtual assistants, which means we might see the increased usage of AI in various other forms. “AI in smartphones will go beyond camera and battery. AI will start playing role in the content over smart devices,” says Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst at techARC.
Navkendar adds that “AI on phone will be a big talking point in 2019. We should see it going beyond standard photography use cases to superior video and photography experiences enabled via AI.”
Top tech trends of 2019: ‘Punch hole’ smartphone screens
Notches are here to stay, but the next year will see “punch hole” screens dominating the smartphone market. Huawei has already announced the Nova 4 and View20 with punch hole screens, as has Samsung with its Galaxy A8s. Asus is rumoured to launch new smartphones with a “punch hole” cutout for the selfie camera located in the display and so is Xiaomi.
“Innovations in screens will continue in 2019,” says Navkendar. “Not so much in quality of the screens but more on the look and feel. All efforts will continue to go towards making a smartphone screen fill up the front side of the phone.”
“So, thinner bezels, reduced/eliminated notches, holes on the screen (only for camera) etc,” he adds.
Top tech trends of 2019: Growth expected in mid-to mid-premium segment
“Key price points with noticeable growth will be the mid-end and mid to high-end band. The sweet spot will be the Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 price band,” says Srivastava.
The analyst points out that the smartphone growth in India is expected to be in the mid-end to the premium mid-end segment. Despite the fact that Indian consumers have gradually shifted from low-end to mid-end phones, the general trend is unmistakable.
Srivastava also adds that he does not expect many changes in the top players in the market. According to Counterpoint Research, the top players (as of October 2018) in the Indian smartphone market are as follows: Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo, Oppo, and Micromax.
“India will be a highly competitive market for smartphones in the upcoming year. So, we will see the bottom players exiting the market,” he adds.