The best smartphones for AI enthusiasts in 2019

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We are now in the era of smartphone saturation. After years of intense growth, the global smartphone market is dwindling. According to the latest research from IDC, global shipments of smartphones slipped by 4.9% in the worst year ever.

While our daily dependence on smartphones shows no sign of diminishing, the life cycle of our devices is increasing, with more and more people resolving that a yearly or biennial phone upgrade is no longer necessary. In fact, according to research firm Kantar, Americans replaced their phones, on average, after 23.6 months in 2015. By the end of 2017, the length of time had increased to 25.3 months.

So, what has changed?

Setting up a new phone and phone plan can be a cumbersome task, and unless there are significant advancements in commercial technology – which we haven’t seen in the past few years – consumers are reluctant to part with their hard-earned money. Instead, many people are deciding to hold onto their phones and wait for a truly game-changing new feature before purchasing the latest model.

As we look at the year ahead, there are a number of emerging technologies set to make a new upgrade worth your while, with experts predicting a year studded with trail-blazing releases from industry heavyweights, as well as offerings from disruptive smaller players.

To find out which technology will be most likely to spark mass adoption in the smartphone market, we caught up with WhatPhone, the online phone plan comparison service that explains technical jargon in easy to understand terms.

The 4 Emerging Technologies Shaking Up the Smartphone Market

According to WhatPhone, technological advances such as 5G, foldable screens, blockchain, and in particular, Artificial Intelligence (AI), are the innovations most likely to shake up the industry in 2019. Take a look at our list of most notable mobile tech below:

We can expect companies to root for improvements in performance, design, and usability by integrating these new technologies:

Integrated Artificial Intelligence

AI will be integrated into smartphones on a wider scope in 2019. AI gives phones the capacity to handle certain tasks that require human inputs on their own. Many brands will be looking to strengthen their new models with greater AI processing power.

Apple is leading the charge with its Bionic processors. Samsung is also gearing up for a dominant role in the AI future with its rumoured AI chip. In addition, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is expected to debut an Exynos 9820 SoC with a dual-core NPU (Neural Processing Unit), that will provide enhanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities.

5G Phones

With the demand for reliable data services and increases in bandwidth to unprecedented levels, the stage is set for the introduction of the next-gen wireless connectivity. 5G promises significantly greater signal strength and loading speeds, which is something expected to result in mass adoption. Samsung, ZTE, OnePlus, and Huawei are all gearing up to pioneer the next-gen wireless network with new releases planned for the year.

Foldable screens

Flexible electronic screens are another exciting innovation that many major smartphone brands are looking at to revive the demand for new smartphones. New, pocket-sized smartphones that can be unfolded into a larger tablet will provide greater convenience and flexibility for customers.

Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Fold at the most recent Mobile World Congress, Huawei has made official announcements of its foldable device, and Motorola has been rumoured to have its flexible Razr development almost ready. Others reportedly working on foldable models at the moment include Nokia, Apple, LG, and Chinese brand Oppo.

Blockchain capability

Blockchain phones come with features that facilitate the management of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. Leading the way in blockchain smartphones is HTC, which has released the first blockchain phone ever. The next blockchain phone release is expected to come from Swiss-based SIRIN Labs.

The Most Anticipated Smartphones to be Introduced in 2019

So, which smartphones are harnessing these new technologies best? Here’s WhatPhone’s top five products to look out for:

Samsung Galaxy S10

Specifications of Samsung’s Galaxy S10 suggest that the flagship model will include an emphasis on AI with a dedicated neural processing unit for enhanced AI features. In addition, the device will feature an updated Exynos or Qualcomm 885 processor and new UFS 3.0 memory which will double the data transfer speed, while improving power efficiency. 5G support is also expected as the next generation prepares to go mainstream, as is a 4100mAh battery capacity.

Samsung Galaxy Fold

Samsung is set to claim pride of place among the world’s first manufacturers of foldable smartphones, with the planned production of over 1 million Galaxy F foldable devices this year. It gave a sneak-peak of its foldable device at its annual developer conference last November and is expected to release the consumer-ready model in the first half of 2019. The Galaxy Fold is expected to run on either the Snapdragon 885 or Exynos 9820 processor. It sports a 12MP + 12MP rear camera and an 8MP front camera, plus a 7.3-inch display.

Huawei P30

Huawei is going into the smartphone market with all guns blazing this year, with the scheduled release of the P30, which stacks together AI technology, 5G, and flexible electronics. This powerful device is set to take productivity and connectivity to another level. With 5G capabilities, users can expect supersonic load speeds, and the AI technologies will help save time and effort on many tasks that require human guidance.

The phone’s processors are expected to power AI tasks that draw from user’s repetitive behaviours, such as personalisation of user experience and optimisation of battery usage. Other notable AI capabilities include the camera’s image processing software and facial recognition. The flexible AMOLED display is expected to extend up to 6.3-inch, with a screen resolution of 2560 × 1440 megapixels.

OnePlus 5G

OnePlus is expected to join the 5G foray in the first half of this year. The company has kept the rumour mill running, confirming that the new 5G phone is not the OnePlus 7 scheduled for release in May this year. The company’s official statements say the 5G powered phones, equipped with the Snapdragon 855 chip set, will be launched in an entire set of new releases.

Finney – the blockchain-capable phone

A Swiss-based company named SIRIN Lab is looking to join HTC as one of the first brands to float smartphones with blockchain capabilities. Besides state-of-the-art security for cryptocurrencies, the phone is designed to facilitate the use of cryptocurrencies in several ways. An example is through the Token Conversion Service (TCS), which is an inbuilt token conversion facility that serves as a more convenient alternative to external exchanges.

The upcoming blockchain phone, named FINNEY, will be manufactured by Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, although it will feature technologies from SIRIN labs. The phone’s anticipated release date is November 2019.

A quick note on Apple

Apple is one notable omission in the list above. At this point in time, it’s difficult to speculate what stage of development the tech giant has reached. However – don’t expect Apple to stand by and watch as competitors attempt to steal their throne. While at first glance, the latest iPhones unveiled last year may look very similar to the iPhone X, there is more to see than meets the eye.

The changes introduced in this year’s XS, XS Max and XR, by Apple are happening behind the scenes. AI (Artificial Intelligence) is featured heavily, running through both their hardware and software plans.

The world’s most valuable company is further enhancing its most valuable product into a highly personalised device, sure to capture the hearts and minds of existing and new customers alike.

Getting ready for change

The current state of peak smartphone has created a whole new challenge for the mobile technology industry. But, with challenge comes innovation, and this year will no doubt bring exciting new features and benefits to tempt the mass of patiently waiting consumers, looking for the next big feature.

Brands need to be one step ahead of their competition at all times, and consumers need to stay informed on the products and services available to them in order to get the best option for their needs.

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