Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 July 2019

Smartphones of 2019 will pack in more tech capabilities

Next year's models may be foldable, take 3D pictures and use artificial intelligence

Customers buying iPhones from the Apple store in Dubai Mall. Leslie Pableo for The National
Customers buying iPhones from the Apple store in Dubai Mall. Leslie Pableo for The National

Dogged by decelerating sales, smartphone manufacturers will get creative with technology in 2019 – an exciting time for consumers to consider an upgrade. New models could come packed with 5G, folding screens, shrinking screen bezels, better cameras and longer-than-all-day battery life.

New models could com with 5G, folding screens, shrinking screen bezels, better cameras and longer-than-all-day battery life.

Samsung, the world's biggest smartphone maker, is aiming for a massive update - including a 5G-enabled model - for the 10th anniversary of its leading Galaxy S family next year.

After a 14 per cent slide in smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2018, according to Gartner, the South Korean company has more innovations in the pipeline for 2019, said Tarek Sabbagh, head of IT and mobile division at Samsung Gulf Electronics.

“We will continue to ... expand our research capabilities and invest in future technologies that cater to all target consumer groups – both tech and price-wise,” he told The National. “[Year] 2019 will see a more aggressive approach towards innovation.”

This year, Samsung introduced premium features to mid-range devices in order to appeal to a younger demographic.

At 18.9 per cent, the company retains the biggest global market share of smartphones, according to US researcher firm Gartner, followed by Huawei and Apple with 13.4 and 11.8 per cent, respectively.

Chinese Huawei, which is ranked the sixth biggest spender in research and development globally, is a leader in innovation in the industry. The company spent $13.23 billion on R&D in 2017.

“R&D remains one of our main strategies to win smartphone market in 2019, as consumers are extremely discerning and value quality innovation in their lives,” said David Wang, UAE country manager at Huawei Consumer Business Group.

Huawei is moving from smartphones to intelligent phones with the development of the world’s first 7nm mobile chipset - Kirin 980 - which powers artificial intelligence and offers a significantly faster user experience.

The phone maker is working on a device that can capture 3D pictures, according to reports. Code-named Princeton internally, this gadget can create 3D models of people and objects, and produce images from different angles.

Huawei is also aggressively positioning its affordable Honor series to build consumer loyalty in emerging markets, and industry experts believe the company could pose stiff competition for competitor Samsung.

“The gap between Samsung and Huawei continues to shrink, as Huawei expands aggressively by investing in branding and distribution in the emerging markets of the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and Africa,” said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner.

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Apple, which became the first $1 trillion publicly-listed US company in August this year, did not change much in its new iPhones released in 2018. According to industry insiders, the tech company is expected to launch iPhones in two new sizes next year, but no major change is expected design-wise.

Nokia is also attempting a strong comeback with new launches. HMD Global, a Finnish company that has exclusive rights to sell Nokia phones, launched Nokia 8.1 in the UAE this month.

We expect that 2019 will be another exciting year for the smartphone industry, with research showing that the demand for large-screen phones will continue to grow,” said Sanmeet Kochhar, general manager, Middle East for HMD Global. “We will be putting enhanced artificial intelligence in our smartphones, so that our devices can predict and address our customer’s needs.”

Abbas Ali, managing editor of TechRadar Middle East, expects the biggest change in 2019 in smartphones will be the introduction of foldable displays and 5G support.

Several vendors, including Samsung, Huawei and LG, are expected to launch new foldable screen products in 2019.

“Samsung has already announced plans for foldable phones and Huawei is also expected to showcase foldable displays on phones. 5G phones will be introduced next year but need a couple of years to mature,” said Mr Ali. “I can see wider adoption of the eSIM format and even more cameras on the back of our phones.”

An eSIM is embedded in the mobile device and does not needed to be removed from the phone.

Industry experts say that 5G-enabeld devices are not expected to inundate the market before 2020.

“It is unlikely that 5G will be seen in mobile devices in significant volumes before 2020,” said Roberta Cozza, a research director at Gartner. “We expect 5G mobile phone sales to total 65 million units in 2020.”

Updated: December 24, 2018 10:10 AM

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