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Smartphones are getting weird again, and it could be a sign that the industry is on the brink of another huge change

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  • In recent years, new smartphones from companies like Apple and Samsung have seemed like iterative improvements rather than game-changing releases.
  • But at Mobile World Congress, brands like Huawei and Nokia debuted new phones with unconventional features and new form factors.
  • It’s unclear if any of these new phones will prove successful, but it’s a sign that tech companies are seriously thinking about what comes next after the modern smartphone.

When Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone more than 10 years ago, he famously showcased its ability to function as three devices in one: a phone, an iPod, and an Internet communicator. But the breakthroughs that occurred in the years following the iPhone’s debut were almost just as impactful the launch of the App Store in 2008, the emergence of larger-screened devices following Samsung’s first Galaxy Note in 2011 , the rise of touchless voice controls with the launch of Siri in 2011 followed by the original Moto X in 2013, and the iPhone 5s’ TouchID home button that made passcodes feel obsolete in 2012.

Yet it’s become increasingly difficult if not impossible to pinpoint new smartphones that have made a similar impact. New models introduced by the industry’s biggest players like Apple and Samsung have felt iterative more than revolutionary in recent years.

For example, the biggest differences between the top-of-the-line iPhone Xs Max launched by Apple in September compared to 2017’s iPhone X are its bigger and sharper screen, improved water-resistance, more sophisticated processor and enhanced camera improvements that are appreciated but certainly don’t fundamentally change how smartphones are used. The same can be said for Samsung’s new Galaxy S10 , which offers a superior screen that the company claims offers more accurate color representation than its predecessor and a refreshed design along with a better camera.

 

samsung galaxy s10 lineup
samsung galaxy s10 lineup

But if the news announced at this year’s Mobile World Congress conference is any indication of the future, it looks like smartphones are about to change in a fundamental way. New unconventional phones launched under the Huawei, Energizer, and Nokia brands have made an appearance at the convention this week, boasting features and form factors that are at least exciting and refreshing if nothing else.

Huawei’s new foldable phone, the Mate X , features a flexible wraparound display that makes the phone resemble creased paper when folded, while Avenir Telecom’s Energizer P18K Pop packs a massive 18,000 mAh battery that gives it 50 days of battery life when in standby mode. HMD Global’sNokia 9 PureView smartphone has a staggering five cameras on its rear. And just ahead of Mobile World Congress, Samsung unveiled its first folding smartphone, the Galaxy Fold , which can run three apps on its screen simultaneously.

 

energizer Power Max P18K Pop thicc phone
energizer Power Max P18K Pop thicc phone

The slowdown in smartphone innovation has seemingly been reflected in sales as well. Global smartphone sales stalled in the fourth quarter of 2018, up just 0.1% compared to the same quarter in 2017, according to Gartner . A team of analysts at UBS led by David Mulholland recently estimated that smartphone units will decline by 5% in 2019, citing a change in consumer buying patterns and lack of innovative features.

“We recognize new features always take time to gain attention in the minds of consumers, but if we look at some of the key new features in the last recent years like FaceID and artificial intelligence, they have been much slower at gaining interest in comparison with features like fingerprint sensors and dual-camera solutions,” says a UBS note published on February 14.

 

Nokia 9 PureView
Nokia 9 PureView

That’s not to say these new offbeat devices will play a role in boosting industry sales, and they may not be emblematic of the next major evolution of the smartphone. After all, the feature phones with retractable keyboards that dominated the early 2000s like the T-Mobile Sidekick don’t look anything like the sleek rectangular touchscreen smartphones we use today. But the Sidekick and others set the stage for an era in which we use our phones for much more than just texting. These new foldable devices may similarly lay the foundation for whatever comes next. While what exactly that entails remains unclear, one thing is for sure such devices are no longer just prototypes or concepts; they’re on the horizon.

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Mobile Phones

These are the improvements Samsung has made to the Galaxy Fold

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Samsung delayed the launch of the Galaxy Fold after some of the review units it handed out last month failed. The device was supposed to be released in the United States on April 26 and a week later in markets across Europe. That didn’t happen and the company still hasn’t confirmed a new release date.

It took back all of the review units and said that the display protection would be improved. A new report out of South Korea details the improvements that Samsung has made to its first foldable smartphone.

New report details Galaxy Fold improvements

According to the report, Samsung has tucked the protective layer on top of the display into the body. This will not allow the user to peel off the layer. The display on some review units had broken for precisely this reason. The users had removed the protective layer on top just because it looked like a screen protector. Samsung did say during its press briefings for the Galaxy Fold that this layer is not to be removed. It would be a good idea to tuck the layer into the body so that customers don’t try to pull on it absentmindedly.

There was also a small gap at the top and bottom parts of the hinge. Substances like dirt or lint could get in and lodge beneath the display, causing lasting damage. The report says that Samsung will reduce this gap to prevent foreign substances from getting in. We had also pointed out that the company needed to place warning statements prominently about the protective layer on the packaging itself. While that wasn’t the case on review units, the consumer units will have more warnings.

These improved units are now reportedly being tested with mobile carriers in South Korea. Samsung is expected to announce a new Galaxy Fold release date this month. The handset is said to arrive in June. Samsung mobile boss DJ Koh has also said that the company will confirm a new release date sooner rather than later.

Source: https://www.sammobile.com/2019/05/15/improvements-samsung-made-galaxy-fold/

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Hardwares

Huawei’s Honor 20 might just feature 4 rear cameras

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Honor is in the final stages of preparation to launch the Honor 20 series, and they are surely going all out for this one. Even though they have managed to keep a solid lid on the information around this phone for a while, we have gleaned in the past that this device could feature four camera sensors on the back.

It seems the brand has confirmed the same in a new taser image which states ‘Fantastic beauty, four photos.’

Of course, this is as vague as it gets, but it could be what we are thinking too. If this were to be true, there is a high chance we see the massive 48MP sensor from Sony be the main camera to be supported by a 16MP super wide-angle lens, and two 2MP cameras – one for depth sensing and the other being a third sensor for detailing, maybe.

These cameras will, no doubt, be something to look forward to. Likewise, they could have one of the best Night Modes to expect – given that the president of the brand shared a Night Mode picture from one of their upcoming devices once but blurred it out for effect.

For now, we have the leaks to rely on for other possible specs.

Going in line with other massive units for this year, there s a high chance the Honor 20 carries a 6.26-inch camera with almost perfect bezel-less screen, save for the hole in the screen. 6GB and 128GB configurations will help this phone give many other units on the market a run for their money, and the in-house HiSilicon Kirin 980 chipset will keep things going.

Perhaps one of the most impressive arrangements is the fingerprint scanner being on the power button, since the phone doesn’t have one the back nor under the screen (this is an LCD screen, so that’s understandable).

With Android 9 Pie coming with it out of the box, it remains to see which one of these specs are correct, and what we might have missed.

Source: https://www.naijaandroidarena.com/huaweis-honor-20-might-just-feature-4-rear-cameras/

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Mobile Phones

Samsung insider teases breakthrough phone design coming in the second half of 2019

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A Samsung insider who is perhaps best known for sharing details about brand new phones well ahead of their official announcements is back teasing that some sort of breakthrough smartphone design is coming in the second half of the year. It’s unclear at this time whether he’s talking about a Samsung phone or not, but the leaker did say recently that Samsung will be among the companies to deliver this brand new design.

Ice Universe is the leaker in question, a constant presence in smartphone news. He posted the following Galaxy Note 7 images on Twitter teasing that a “better-designed phone” is coming later this year.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

Ice universe@UniverseIce

Why do you prefer Galaxy Note7? Is it because of its excellent design? Fortunately, I kept some photos of it. You will see a better-designed phone in the second half of the year.

The Galaxy Note 7 represents Samsung’s biggest disaster to date. The phone was very well received, but then Samsung had to deal with a plethora of battery incidents, from explosions to fires. The phone was recalled and ultimately canceled, and Samsung had to deal with all the blowback. The Note 7 recall actually forced Samsung to delay the launch of the Galaxy S8 in early 2017, as it was still investigating the Note 7 and putting additional safety measures in place to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

No matter how great the Galaxy Note 7 design may have been, it’s still a 2016 phone, and smartphone design has come a long way since. The Galaxy S8 was Samsung’s first phone with an Infinity display. That screen morphed into the Infinity-O screen of this year’s Galaxy S10, which is what we expect to see on the Note 10 come August.

Samsung (and everyone else in the business) has tried to continuously increase the size of the screen at the expense of the bezels. Some did with it notches, pop-up selfie cams or slider phones. Others put two screens on the phone. And Samsung created hole-punch displays. The first foldable phones were also unveiled earlier this year, with one of them stealing the show back at the Mobile World Congress in 2019. So we already have smartphone designs better that are miles better than the Galaxy Note 7.

How could Samsung or anyone else further perfect the smartphone design? The only thing nobody has done is to sell a phone with a selfie camera placed under the screen. That would be the perfect all-screen phone design, and something we expect to see in stores in the not-too-distant future. But is it ready for 2019?

Ice Universe seems to know something we don’t, and he’s not sharing more details about it. However, since he’s teasing it with the help of Note 7 pics, it’s easy to assume Samsung is behind this new handset design, and that the Galaxy Note 10 could be the device he’s referring to.

Source: https://bgr.com/2019/05/15/galaxy-note-10-design-vs-android-and-iphone-leaker-teases-innovation/

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