Overview of 2018 in smartphone world
Dynamic was the 2018. Many exciting things have happened in the smartphone market, and we believe it would be nice to make a recap of some of these things. Let’s talk about some features that prevailed and once again see the best of the market as of right now. You may even get some Christmas presents ideas, so let’s get started!
In-display fingerprint reader
Even though we’ve had fingerprint scanners for biometric protection for quite some time, smartphone manufacturers have gone to new lengths just to provide something new. The next step in terms of protection may have been something akin to Apple’s FaceID, but many manufacturers actually opted for an alternative.
The first phone to host this new type of fingerprint scanner was the Vivo X20 Plus UD, a phone that came to the market in January 2018. It was inaccurate, and it sometimes did its job almost too well – even the owner wouldn’t be able to enter the phone. However, it marked the beginning of another era in terms of smartphone protection.
As the year moved forward, the fingerprint scanning technology has become better and better, and, for example, the reader placed under the display of OnePlus 6T does its job excellently. It was a natural development, and it seems that the manufacturers needed less than a year to fully figure out how to implement the new technology to work almost flawlessly.
The significance of this technology is twofold. Firstly, for phones that had their scanners on the front, now they don’t take up valuable space on the front panel, so the screen-to-body ratio can be as big as it can get, well above 85% for many phones. Secondly, the phone simply has one less cutout and one less “hole” towards the internals. Waterproofing is made easier and it is now more reliable than ever before.
Front facing camera
Speaking of screen-to-body ratios, manufacturers needed to figure out a way to reduce the bezels as much as possible. However, some components needed to be on the front, mainly the front facing camera, the speaker and the many sensors up there. Different manufacturers have chosen to solve this problem differently, so let’s see some of the solutions.
The notch is old news, and frankly – nobody likes it. It’s just a necessary evil, and users just had to embrace it. Manufacturers have, however, done as much as they possibly could to reduce its size. This is how we ended up with the waterdrop notch. Another Chinese manufacturer was the first here – Oppo in their F9. This phone was the first one to lose the edges around the notch, and that could still house everything needed for normal smartphone use.
No matter how small, it is still a notch, and Vivo wouldn’t have it. In their Nex S, Vivo chose to ditch the idea of a notch, and instead place the camera on a reel to pop out of the phone on demand. This was a revolutionary design, and something completely new. Too bad the Nex S used a piezoelectric speaker – this phone had full potential to be just excellent.
Another way the loss of a notch was handled was with a slider. For example, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 has its display on a slider, and should you need the camera, simply pull the display down to reveal the camera. This is an interesting design, and it shows exactly what the manufacturers are capable of in order to increase that sweet, sweet screen-to-body ratio.
However, both the slider and the pop-up camera increase the number of moving parts, and this only means that the chance for malfunction is greater. Samsung was the first to see this issue and as a solution they have presented their Infinity-O display design. What this is is basically a hole in the display that stores the front facing camera, allowing the display to go all around it. Samsung’s Galaxy A8s has such designed display, and we must say that we’re left with mixed feelings about it.
Every major chipset manufacturer has introduced a new flagship chip. Most smartphone manufacturers (virtually all who don’t have in-house chipset R&D) have opted for a Snapdragon 845 (for example Xiaomi Pocophone F1) in their flagship phones. This is a capable chipset, and it will be useful in phones even in 2019 for sure. However, it’s not the only one.
Huawei, for example, in 2018 introduced their Kirin 980 in their Huawei Mate 20 Pro. This was the first 7nm chipset to be introduced, and it was announced that it would be groundbreaking, revolutionary chip that would move the industry as a whole towards better performances. Although it was the first to be introduced, it wasn’t the first one to be released.
In their 2018 iPhone line-up (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR), Apple have released the A12 Bionic, first commercially available 7nm chipset, and it was – fast. So fast in fact that in terms of the AnTuTu Benchmark it had a score of almost 50000 points higher than the Kirin 980.
Samsung’s flagship chipset, Exynos 9810 (Galaxy Note9) was sadly nowhere near the performance of these 3 up there. That’s why the company chose to go with the Snapdragon 845 in markets where users deem speed the most important.
To be frank, all these chipsets are phenomenal, and only the most nitpicky of users can see the differences just by using the phones. It’s only in synthetic benchmark tests where the difference is clearly visible, but users are not synthetic bots… or are they?
What all of these chipsets have in common, and what’s different compared to their last year’s older brothers is that there ones have much increased AI capabilities. We can honestly say that not speed, but AI was the major advancement in technology in terms of building a smartphone chipset in 2018.
When it comes to smartphone operating systems, for years now we have a duopoly of two major OSs. Both of them have made significant improvements in 2018. Let’s see what was new in Android 9.0 when it came out with Google Pixel 3 and 3XL!
Many things were different compared to last generation’s Android Oreo, including the new OSs focus on user wellness and user experience. Android Pie introduced nicer design together with a Dashboard that lets users check data such as how much time they spend on your phone, how many times they unlock it during a day and how many notifications they receive.
It’s all around the best Android so far, slick, fast, responsive and easy to use. It uses less battery and offers so many useful features.
On the other hand, it’s competitor from Apple, the iOS also received an update this year – iOS 12. This new software also brought some new features to the table, but honestly not too many very important ones. The biggest improvement was Dual SIM support (eSIM) for the new iPhone line-up. This is something useful and completely new in iPhones which were, up to now, exclusively Single SIM phones.
Other upgrades included somewhat minor stuff like new emojis, improved Siri features, iMessage and camera updates etc.
The point here is not to say that one OS is better than the other – we simply want to say that both of them have had some advancements, and together they are moving the industry as a whole further.
Happy New Year!
This year was exciting and interesting for a smartphone geek. We’ve had some amazing phones, great new tech and all around this year has marked the beginning of AI assisted smartphone use. We can only imagine what cool new features we’ll get in 2019.
At the end, MOBOSdata team wishes you all the best in the year to come! Stay with us next year as well to read more about everything that’s new and exciting in the smartphone world!