What to expect from 2018’s smartphones

What to expect from 2018’s smartphones [Image: demaerre via iStock]

2017 has seen some of the most important smartphones released since the first one was created. According to Android Authority, “2017 brought us some of the best smartphones we’ve ever seen”.

The rivalry between Samsung and Apple – the UK’s most dominant brands – led to the most technologically advanced devices we have seen, but they came at a high price. Apple’s iPhone X was the first to break the £1,000 barrier, while debuting a widely praised biometric recognition system in its Face ID. Meanwhile, Samsung was largely responsible for popularising minimal bezels and gave consumers wireless and fast charging.

2018 will likely see even bigger breakthroughs in technology from some of the biggest names in the industry. So what can we look forward to?

In-display fingerprint scanners

One of the biggest developments set to make an appearance in 2018 is the in-display fingerprint scanner. Synaptics has already announced it will be working with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Vivo to produce this technology. Meanwhile, processor manufacturer Qualcomm has also announced that it will be producing its own version of the scanner, set to launch by the summer of 2018.

Many consumers were disappointed when the Samsung Galaxy S8 launched without an in-display fingerprint scanner as there had been a great deal of discussion prior to its unveiling that the technology would feature. Samsung instead elected to position the fingerprint scanner on the back, a decision that has come under some fire due to its close proximity to the camera.

How long it will take other OEMs to incorporate the new scanner remains to be seen, but it is thought that it will be more more widely adopted as the year goes on.

Folding screens

Samsung is expected to be behind one of the other major smartphone developments in 2018: foldable screens.

Although the company is set to launch its Galaxy S9 and Note 9 next year, it has recently filed a patent for a folding device, currently known as the Galaxy X. This phone will likely comprise two displays of equal size, held together by a hinge to allow it to open into a bigger device, according to the patent diagram published by LetsGoDigital.

It follows the company patenting a phone with a screen wrapping onto the back, which demonstrates Samsung’s commitment to smartphone innovation.

Artificial intelligence

Next year, smartphones will likely be introducing more elements of artificial intelligence (AI) into their features and capabilities.

Huawei has already done so, incorporating image recognition and a dedicated neural processing unit to automatically adjust camera settings, which enhances photos, in the Mate 10 Pro. Gizmodo has said that OEMs are likely going “leverage to machine learning to improve things like real-time translation, better content suggestions” among other developments.

It is not a new feature – having already been implemented in digital assistants and various apps, including Google Lens – but AI will likely be more widely adopted as smartphone manufacturers explore the uses it can offer.

If 2017 is anything to go by, 2018 will have to deliver some truly innovative developments in order to drive the evolution of the smartphone. Consumers looking forward to devices like the iPhone X Plus or the OnePlus 6 will likely have a lot to be excited about when it comes to the technology included within them.