Thursday, 18 July, 2024

Retrospecting 2019: All the innovations and tech trends in the smartphone industry this year


Bivek Khatiwada

2019 had been a great year for smartphones. We get to see some laudable innovations and fancy piece of tech in 2019. And as 2019 is coming to an end, we took time retrospecting all the notable innovations and tech trends that made headlines in the smartphone industry
this year. And here are some of the noteworthy ones:

5G evolution
5G technology is still in the sapling phase. Nonetheless, many smartphone brands strode forward to bring 5G-enabled handsets in 2019. Giving the taste of a new generation of wireless communications, smartphone companies like Samsung, OnePlus, Huawei, Motorola, and Oppo populated the 5G handsets in the smartphone world in a decent number. Well, we may be able to see a burgeoning number of 5G devices in 2020 but for such an early phase, that’s quite commendable.
But that's not all. Chipmakers also went in favor of the 5G revolution in 2019. Huawei launched the Kirin 990 5G chipset in the IFA 2019. And not so long after that, we got to see Exynos 980 chipset from Samsung followed by 5G-enabled MediaTek Dimensity 1000 chipset. The chipset giant Qualcomm had already launched Snapdragon 855 and 855+ chipsets, which used to support 5G connectivity when bundled with the 5G-modem. But later this year, the company launched 5G-integrated chipsets like Snapdragon 865, Snapdragon 765 and 765G. Snapdragon 865 is a flagship chipset, whereas the SD765 and SD765G are basically targeted at the mid-range devices. And this has opened doors for all sorts of 5G-enabled phones in 2020.

Folding phones making strides
Among all the smartphone innovations in 2019, Foldable phones have to be the most noteworthy one. A simple and manageable smartphone, which can turn into a sizable tablet during multimedia consumption. How cool is that? The device sorely screams futuristic. And that futuristic device made a debut this year. Royole FlexPai was the first foldable smartphone to make a debut this year. But the device was more like a prototype and didn’t garner much attention.
Samsung Galaxy Fold was the foldable phone that gathered attention on multiple occasions this year. Unlike the Royole FlexPai, Galaxy Fold looked more like a well-finished commercial product. But before it even made it to the market, it got broken in the hands of the reviewers. Months later, Samsung fixed flaws on the product and delivered it to the customers. Despite being a $1980 product, the Galaxy Fold is still a fragile phone. But we expect Samsung would work on it and will bring more robust foldable phones in 2020.
Alongside Samsung, Huawei had also announced its foldable phone earlier this year. However, the phone took several months to make it to the market. In late 2019, Huawei launched its foldable phone Mate X in China. The phone comes without Google Apps and demands a steep price of $2400.
Motorola’s Razr phone was one of the belling selling phones in history. And it surely was one of the iconic products in the smartphone industry. Bringing the nostalgia back, Motorola launched its own version of the foldable phone with the same moniker “Razr”. With a similar design language but including a futuristic tech on the inside, Motorola got everyone awe-inspired. That’s the reason why the phone got an unprecedented amount of pre-orders from the consumer base. So at the moment, Motorola has halted the pre-orders and has delayed the launch timing due to high demand.
Xiaomi had also teased its foldable phone on several occasions this year. It was said to launch in Q2 of 2019 with the price half of the Galaxy Fold. But the company wasn’t able to showcase the final product to the mass before the end of 2019. But if things go right in Xiaomi’s favor, we can expect it to launch in early 2020.
Notch-less and Bezel-less display bandwagon
2018 was all about cutting down the bezels. So the phones in 2018 incorporated smaller water-drop style notch. But that endeavor reached a new height in 2019. In order to get rid of the notches, bezels, and to increase the screen-to-body ratio of the smartphones, companies started incorporating pop-up style selfie camera on their phones. OnePlus 7 Pro, Redmi K20 Pro, Vivo V15 Pro are some of the noteworthy smartphones with notch-less and bezel-less displays. And the flawless display on those devices was absolutely breathtaking.
But taking a step further, some of the companies included rotating pop-up camera. In such phones, the main or rear camera pops up, rotates around and also doubles as a selfie-cam. As the same camera functions as a main camera and selfie shooter, you get the same level of image quality from both the modes. And because of that special feature, Asus Zenfone 6 (Asus 6Z) and Samsung Galaxy A80 were lauded for such kind of swiveling mechanism.
That was one way to increase the screen-to-body ratio of smartphones. Xiaomi brought a wrap-around display on the MI MIX Alpha to increase the screen-to-body ratio. The phone not just has an immersive all-screen display on the front but it’s stretched to the rear panel as well. Hence, the phone flaunts an unprecedented 180.9% screen to body ratio.

Displays with high refresh rates
Other than the notch-less and bezel-less form factor, we also get to see another commendable improvement on the smartphone displays i.e. the high refresh rates. Earlier this year, OnePlus released OnePlus 7 Pro with an immersive display with a 90Hz refresh rate. And it was taken well in the smartphone industry. Not so long after that, Asus release ROG phone 2 with a 120Hz refresh rate, which set the bar even higher. With a high refresh rate, animations and scrolling get smoother. It also causes less fatigue to the eyes. But despite these advantages of the high refresh rate displays, major smartphone giants like Samsung, Apple, and Huawei didn’t incorporate such kind displays on their handsets. Nonetheless, there are underdogs like Oppo Reno Ace, Realme X2 Pro, and Nubia Red Magic 3 with 90Hz displays. And these smartphones could oblige the major players to bring the high refresh rate displays in 2020.

Multi-camera setup and Megapixel game
Multi-camera setup was the theme of 2019. All the smartphone companies (including Google) incorporated multiple lens setup on their smartphones. Google introduced dual camera setup on its Pixel devices, iPhone went with the triple camera setup, and the flagships from Huawei and Samsung bore quad rear cameras. That’s already impressive. But adding wonders, Nokia 9 Pureview and Xiaomi MI Note 10 made a surprising entry with Penta-cam setup.
But that’s not the only impressive trend in the camera department. Smartphone makers also show an intense devotion to the megapixel game. Earlier this year, when Xiaomi announced Redmi Note 7 and Note 7 Pro with a 48MP camera, everyone got awe-inspired. But that feature went mainstream in no time. Even the flagship phones like OnePlus 7 Pro included the same 48MP sensor on its main camera. But in the second half of the year, 64MP cameras started to make a buzz. But that buzz didn’t last long as Xiaomi launched camera-centric MI Note 10 with a whopping 108MP camera. So considering these progressions, it would be wrong to call 2019 as the year of high-MP cameras.

Leap in fast charging technology
Not so long ago, OnePlus’ 20-watt Dash charging technology used to be the benchmark for fast charging in smartphones. Even during those times, other big smartphone players used to include a slower charger inside the smartphone box. But it changed this year. Samsung included a 25-watt fast charger inside the box and also made the device capable of accepting 45-watt charging. iPhone also provided an 18-watt fast charger inside the box. This generosity is definitely noteworthy. But what’s even more commendable is the leap of the fast charging technology. Last year, we got to see Oppo R17 Pro with 50-watt fast charging technology, which was unprecedented in the smartphone industry. But this year, Oppo Reno Ace came with a 65-watt charger, which can fully replenish a 4000mAh battery just in 30 minutes. Xiaomi also teased its 100-watt fast charging technology. But they couldn’t bring the final product this year.