Question: What tech you are looking forward to seeing/using more in 2018?
As for most exciting tech I am looking forward to, the list includes under screen fingerprint sensor (we could see a device featuring the tech as soon as next month, so fingers crossed) and phones featuring an actual foldable display - that would be just awesome. Also, I'd like to see driverless cars being adopted by countries worldwide (assuming the tech is well tested).
And finally, I know this will not be happening next year, but I won't mind traveling from one country to another in an Ellon Musk-envisioned rocket, provided it saves a lot of time and, more importantly, is safe.
Triple camera setups and even better bokeh modes would be an excellent start. I also wouldn't mind a slight reversal of the slimness trend and get slightly thicker phones with larger batteries. And while at it put in some larger camera sensors - the extra thickness will mean they won't protrude and ruin the design.
Also, if someone can actually pull off the fingerprint sensor under the display thing that would be great. Otherwise please stick to fingerprint at the back below the camera (I'm looking at you, Samsung and Apple).
Finally, I'm looking to see how much of a game-changer Project Treble will be. Manufacturers can only avoid for so long so 2018 should be able to reveal if it truly has the potential. Particularly it's latter months when Android P will already be around.
I'm looking forward to under the display fingerprint scanners. I also hope that fingerprint scanners survive 2018 and not move aside for face scanning, which is slower and less convenient 90% of the time.
In our previous installment of Our Editors Talk I said I'm looking forward to having stereo speakers as standard on flagship phones so I'll reiterate. I hope Samsung, Xiaomi, OnePlus and LG all start putting stereo speakers on their pricier phones. And I'll finish with a little add-on - I hope speakers get better too - louder, cleaner, more dynamic.
The sequel to the Apple iPhone X. I'm kidding! Enough with the iPhone. It's safe to say the iPhone X design will be recycled for a few generations along with the all-screen front, the notch, Face ID and animojis before we move to the next big thing.
I'm sure 2018 will bring us faster processors, GPUs, more RAM, enhanced cameras, better VR tech. I will always be looking forward for the battery to replace the Li-Ion cells we are currently using, but I doubt it will come in 2018.
What I am trying to say is that there is no technology on the horizon that will give me the chills in a 2018 phone. But there is something I want to see happening ASAP. I want every company selling me a flagship smartphone to bundle it with the fastest available charger, cable, all the necessary adapters for that cable and charger, and a high-quality pair of wired or wireless earbuds.
If I am buying a $1000 smartphone with fast charging and no audio jack or a praised high-end DAC - then I want to be able to use these features out of the box, immediately. Your PR has won me as a customer and I want to open that box, turn on the phone and fast charge the promised % in 15 mins.
If you ditched the audio jack because it was better to go wireless - give me some wireless earbuds in the box. If you ditched it because the high-end DAC you've put - give me some compatible headphones to enjoy it.
I know most of you saw me accusing Apple, but that's not about Apple per se. It's the same with Google and Sony. But I don't want to point fingers. I just wish to be able to enjoy all the features of a device right away, instead of going for online research and boring shopping sessions for adapters and headphones. That's not what I paid for, and it should not be this hard to enjoy a device which costs about as much as a used compact car.
I'm going to have two bites at the cherry here, firstly.
For me, it's how new technology will bring about change in the look and feel of our phones. In design we often talk about an emotional connection with products, on the surface, this sounds pompous but emotion is described as an intense mental activity and a certain degree of pleasure or displeasure. I'm going to show my age now but I was excited when Motorola launched the original Razr, its look, how it felt in the hand through the use of materials and those back-lit keys - you see my point. I simply had to have one, right there and then. I felt the same way about the original iPhone and I'm waiting to truly feel that way again.
Among other things, I anticipate that as a result of the advances in screen technology we'll start to see the influx of new designs afforded by the flexibility of the next gen of display tech. I'm not a fan of the terms fold-able and bendable but it best sums up where we're at with a flexible display bringing about a paradigm shift in design.
Not only in the ability to have a larger display when unfolded or extended but to have the same size display as today in a smaller phone. The ZTE Axon M isn't this though as I believe twin screen designs are to compromised and the rumored Samsung Galaxy X may also take this approach. My long shot hope for 2018 would be that the mythical Microsoft Surface Phone sees the light of day.
And secondly, Airplay 2. I love music and have various products that allow me to listen to music no matter where I am or what I'm doing. I didn't go down the Sonos route for home though as I used ceiling speakers and as a result, I have various solutions that include Apple TV's, Bluetooth adapters and Bluetooth speakers to fill my home with sound. When I want to stream to them ALL at the same time though I use the Mac in the den, this isn't without its problems though.
Apple announced Airplay 2 at WWDC but we've yet to receive it. If I were a betting man I'd wager that we'll see a full Airplay 2 deployment around the time that the Apple HomePod ships early next year. Airplay 2 will be the first major upgrade since its launch 7 years ago and provides the ability to stream to multiple Airplay 2 compatible sources with a high level of buffering to avoid sound breakup. We'll have to wait and see it's full capabilities but I'm already laying the ground work to convince my wife that two HomePods will be better than one.
I gave up on gaming quite a while ago but I think that VR is the one thing that can lure me back. However, the current systems are just not exciting enough for me to spend money on the - PC/console headsets are stuck with annoying cables, mobile headsets suffer from lack of good content.
Both Oculus and Vive announced stand-alone headsets that are built with smartphone parts. But I would prefer an accessory - Gear VR, Daydream, that kind of thing. And (and this is a must) let me wirelessly stream the game from a computer or console.
Going forward, machine learning and AI are going to be a big part of our lives. We have already seen a few demonstrations this year, with Google, in particular, being very vocal about its endeavors and even Apple and Huawei having dedicated Neural Engine chips on their custom mobile processors. Both ML and AI are meant to an end, so it's hard to say what we will be getting from them but as these things improve, our phones will get a lot smarter about how they handle our data. Is that scary? A little bit but hey, at least now you can search for pictures of your dog from your photo gallery, which is kinda cool.
AR obviously seems to have some potential, now that both Apple and Google are throwing their weight behind it. The first few demonstrations of AR we have seen so far seem cool but we aren't even beginning to scratch the surface with this. This could have some seriously profound applications and I can't wait to see what they will be like.
I am also glad HDR video is making its way into mobile. HDR Video has much more obvious advantages thanks to its wider color gamut, higher contrast, and wider dynamic range. It's something even a layperson can notice, unlike improvement in resolution. I hope to see more high-quality HDR displays on phones by this time next year.
Another display-based technology I would like to see is high frame rate. It was disappointing to see Apple not implement it on the iPhone X after introducing it with the iPad Pro this year, but I guess it's hard to implement on OLED. Still, the Razer Phone showed us it can be done on a mobile device, so now I'm excited to see more manufacturers build it into their next phones. Like HDR, HFR has incredibly obvious real-world advantages and just makes the experience that much better, so hope to see more of this in 2018.
Also, can we all just get rid of micro USB now? We saw a whole bunch of USB-C devices this year but there are still those that come with micro USB, especially in the budget category. Then there is the whole host of accessories, such as Bluetooth headphones and speakers who don't seem to have received the memo and are still deploying micro USB. If you are a manufacturer still making micro USB devices in 2018, just stop. No one wants to see which way their cable is pointing before plugging it in anymore. We have better things to do. Just USB-C everything in 2018.
2017 was definitely the year of the "taller display", almost every smartphone company has made one this year. It's still too early to tell what trend we'll see in most of 2018, but we can certainly look forward to seeing the further expansion of smart home products as smart home voice assistants become more accessible and popular. The Google Home Mini and Echo Dot are two really hot products this holiday season for $30 and the industry is slowly expanding to new regions.
Contemplating the future always seems to be a very easy task, especially if we let our thoughts and wishes run wild. I'm at least going to try and keep a level head. Circling back to the practicality point I made on previous pages, I really would like to see more emphasis on sensible devices with mass-marketable qualities. Sure, flagships are fun to play with and clearly a catalyst for innovation, but I would like to see a more competitive battle for the ultimate mid-range take place. The Xiaomi Mi A1 and Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro, I mentioned, both come close, but why not an amalgam of the two? Why not an AMOLED panel and a dual camera setup, to put it into specifics?
Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) and A8+ (2018) dropped just recently and are a perfect illustration of my point. All the tech is there already, we just need to make it cheaper, better, more attainable and universally beneficial.
As for some bolder and more ambitious 2018 wishes - flexible displays is definitely at the top of my list. The potential implications are huge. For one, I am personally getting increasingly tired of watching the same old, tired "slab" design. Flexible panels could finally be the catalyst needed to revive some alternative form factors from the past, perhaps enable some new ones as well. (Phone bracelet, anyone?).
Plus, it might just put the breaks on the bezel-less and curvy tendencies of late. Again, I will admit those look great, but also have questionable ergonomics, at best. In my mind, angling and bending spacious display surfaces around might just be a better alternative.
If you take a look at my list of disappointments, it will instantly make sense that I'm looking forward to Samsung putting the fingerprint scanner on the S9 duo and the Note9 in a decent position. Sony and Nokia should finally join the bezel-killing game, which is definitely both overdue and exciting. I'm also anxious to see if there will be a Pixel 3 or if Google will simply scrap the whole project and start anew, perhaps releasing another messaging app in the process. Jokes aside, I hope 2018's Pixels will look more alike than 2017's, and will finally come with properly trimmed bezels. If Google keeps focusing on the camera, then that should be even better than this year's, which would be a nice achievement.
2018 should be the first year during which we'll have two OLED iPhones launching. I'm no Ming-Chi Kuo, but I assume one will keep the iPhone X's screen size, while the other will be bigger - an iPhone XI Plus if you will (but hopefully Apple will come up with saner branding). This handset I expect to start at $1,199 or even $1,299 in the US, so it could go for around €1,399 to 1,499 in Europe. That would be the second year in a row of Apple breaking psychological thresholds in terms of pricing, and I'm interested to see how it all pans out. I don't think we've reached the maximum of what people are willing to spend on a smartphone with the iPhone X, and its sales numbers back that, but perhaps next year we will be at a point of 'enough is enough'. Doubtful in my opinion, but we'll see.
Next year could also be the year when no iPhone has a Home button anymore, and iOS will be all about the gestures introduced with the iPhone X. That's a welcome development, I think, because of that gesture-based interface, while not perfect, is a step forward in user experience. After all, you kind of use gestures on your smartphone all the time already - you just don't think of them like that. But what is scrolling (in any direction), or pinching to zoom? So why should one then break that paradigm by pressing a physical button to do certain things?
I've remained intrigued by the way Samsung and Huawei, and even Sony, have been finding ways to integrate Android into larger platforms- either the desktop PC route with Dex or Projection or a touchscreen projector with the Xperia Touch. I really think that as mobile processors become more powerful, the line between mobile device and home device will become blurred- until eventually, you can just have one in your pocket that does it all.
This probably won't happen in 2018. But, I'm looking forward to seeing developers push the capabilities of the newest chipsets in this direction, and hopefully, we'll see a new (and more practical) generation of projection/touch recognition technology.
Chinese companies Huawei, vivo, Oppo, and Xiaomi are among the top manufacturers even without appearing at the most influential markets like the US, the UK, and Germany. Next year we might see the big picture getting redrawn with the vivo sponsorship of the World Cup in Russia. The company will get unprecedented brand coverage, compared only with the Samsung partnership with the International Olympic Committee.
At the same time Huawei is joining hands with AT&T and we may finally see more Chinese companies in "the land of the free, home of the brave". We can't know yet if they will manage to disrupt the market. Users are yet to choose between the prejudice of Chinese companies being spies and the ability to have powerful smart devices for a fraction of what they were paying until now.
With the release of the Snapdragon 845, I've heard that HDR videos recording will finally pick up. Smartphone cameras are quite limited in video recording quality, especially at night or when you need a lot of dynamic range. Although they still have ways to go, smartphone videos are already beating videos from my 5-year-old, entry-level DSLR in everything but the detail and dynamic range. I'm super excited to see how far the tech will advance by next year.
I've also heard some rumors about RED's upcoming smartphone and its holographic screen. I'm super curious what that will look like and I love technology that is nothing like what I've seen before.
An ongoing debate at the office, scratched smartphone screens are still an issue. I'd assume that the big names in the field aren't sitting on their hands, but all too often we get minor scratches between the unboxing in the middle of the office (huge crowd) and hitting the studio 20 minutes later 20 meters away. And, mind you, this involves some properly meticulous folks (which is all of us, what do you mean, no, we definitely didn't stick an S-Pen the wrong way into a Note5 back then!). So let's get them display glasses all sorted out before getting excited about other stuff.
I've been rambling on about multiple cameras on a single smartphone, and since it hasn't quite happened the way I want it yet, I'll go on rambling. And I don't mean two rear ones, and two front ones, no - put them all on the back. Or at least put three specific ones - ultra-wide (LG-style), regular wide (24-26mm equivalent), and a normal one (~50mm equivalent). Something longer would be nice too but seeing as how space is a constraint, and no maker is particularly fond of making thick phones, I'm managing my expectations.
I'd love to be able to get excited about a new battery tech, but not to be used in a smartphone - the daily charging has become so routine that I don't really notice it. But start adding other stuff - Bluetooth headphones every three days, a smartwatch every day (another device I got rid of after owning it for two weeks), a power bank that turns out empty when you need it - when's this madness going to end?! Thing is though, batteries are the one area I don't really see an actual breakthrough happening. Or should I try to stay more positive?