The trends that will emerge in the year to come.
Here are the trends we can all look forward to in the Android world in the coming year.
Innovative notches; the death of the 'notch'
Back in April
Notches are getting smaller, they're changing shape, and in some cases they aren't really "notches" at all. 2019's notches will be in the corner(s) of the display, they'll be just barely larger than the components they contain, or they'll be just a hole in the display rather than a full-on notch. All of these new designs are less intrusive, less annoying and take up less of your display.
A prototypical top-dead-center notch will remain for some time, particularly at the mid-range price segments where phones get years-old tech that trickles down. But at the high end we'll see fewer large notches and more innovative screen shapes and cutouts that more graciously integrate the cameras and sensors we need to have.
At first, foldable phones will be big, bulky and boring — but not for long.
The first foldable phones will be big, bulky and not all that enticing, much like the first big "phablet" phones, but don't get discouraged — foldable phone technology is an exciting development that has the potential to change what we consider to be a "smartphone" form factor.
You could also use this discussion foldable phones to include sliders, but
Fewer headphone jacks, ports and buttons
Headphone jacks aren't dead. Far from it, in fact, particularly in all of the segments below the ultra-expensive flagships. But customers don't seem to mind missing the headphone jack too much, and keep buying phones without it — so companies keep putting out phones without one. The trend will continue in 2019, and you shouldn't ever assume that a company will make an about-face move and bring a headphone jack back to a model — when it's dead, it's dead.
But this is really a symptom of smartphone makers wanting to simplify their hardware in a multitude of ways. First, it was removable batteries. Then, SD card slots, LED notification lights, headphone jacks, large speaker grills, and so on. Now it's buttons and ports of all kinds. The fewer openings there are in a thin phone's frame, the fewer failure points to exploit in a pocket or with a drop.
If there's a way a company can remove a port, button or moving part from a phone while spinning it as a positive (or gracefully not mentioning it), it'll do it. Customers will complain a bit, but it doesn't seem to be as big of a hang-up in purchases as it is in discussion.
The start of the (confusing) 5G transition
Unfortunately, we're in for the same transitional headaches as the 3G-to-4G move.
2019 will be, finally, the year of the transition to consumer-ready 5G networks. We've been hearing the hype and promises for a couple years now, but carriers are finally putting their cell sites where their marketing is.
But the transition to 5G will unfortunately be slow, convoluted and ultimately confusing — just like the move from CDMA and HSPA (3G) to LTE (4G). We'll still be using LTE for years to come as the backbone of cellphone networks while 5G is rolled out, as 5G will take several years to deploy fully and even when "finished" will still rely on LTE for rural network deployments. Unfortunately, we're in for the same transitional headaches as the 3G-to-4G move as well;
All photography is 'computational' photography
One of the most consistently impressive improvements in smartphones through 2017 and 2018 was camera quality. Every smartphone over $150 has a pretty good camera, and the top-end models have truly excellent cameras. Nearly all of the improvement has come from what we refer to as "computational photography," or the idea that a series of deeply complex algorithms and processing generates photos rather than a basic sensor simply capturing what it sees.
Google steals the limelight with
And these features aren't reserved for only the most expensive phones from the big brands that have massive dedicated photography engineers. Companies like Qualcomm are making plug-and-play solutions that smartphone manufacturers can license and bring advanced photography solutions to their phones without the massive investment of developing the features themselves.
What are your predictions?
With a fresh calendar ahead of us, and lots of new Android phones yet to launch, where do you see things going? Let us know your predictions and wild expectations in the comments!