The top four features to look for in a 2019 smartphone

  • TECH
  • Saturday, 16 Mar 2019

Sony is rolling out a cinema-style 21:9 aspect ratio to its mid-range devices Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus. — dpa

It's only March and manufacturers have already seriously upped their game in terms of smartphones. The first foldables are set for release soon, while more cameras are relentlessly being added to all other phones.

Smart cameras, foldable screens and 5G – all that and more is what's hot in smartphone technology this year. If you're planning on getting a new smartphone in 2019, you'll want to look out for at least one of these features.

Does it fold?

From what we can tell, 2019 is already one for the books: The first foldable screens are set to launch in the coming months, and they provide a welcome change from the usual slow, iterative updates to smartphones.

When opened up completely, they are the same size as a tablet, and when folded, they can be used with one hand, just like a phone. This could soon make having two separate devices redundant.

But all that flexibility comes with a huge price tag: Huawei's Mate X will cost around US$2,600 (RM10,617), and Samsung will be charging around US$2,000 (RM8,167) for its Galaxy Fold.

Huawei's phone will be 5.4mm thick, with a 8in display and can already support 5G technology for extremely fast Internet speeds. When folded together, the device is 11mm thick, and the screens on both sides of the device are 6.6 and 6.38in.

The Foldable Mate X has a bar that protrudes out when unfolded, which is where the cameras are located. This also offers a good grip on the device.

Samsung's device is slightly different: the Galaxy Fold has a 7.3in display when opened, which is protected when folded, because it folds inwards, instead of outwards like the Huawei. When folded, the Fold has a 4.6in display.

Samsung says that it is working with app developers to make sure that users can seamlessly switch between smaller and large displays when opening or closing an app.

LG has also been working on a new design that can turn one display into two. Although not a foldable per se, the V50 Thinq 5G allows users to dock a second display onto the device, so you can use one for gaming and one for e-mail, for instance.

Are three camera lenses enough?

Three rear-camera lenses (usually a normal, a wide-angle and a telephoto lens) are slowly becoming the norm on smartphones. But Nokia has decided that more is always better, and has added two more lenses on its Nokia 9 Pureview.

Two of the device's cameras take colour images, the others are all monochrome. The result is a 12 megapixel photo that is created after several pictures are layered together. The cameras are located on the back of the phone in a circle formation.

Nokia is not the only one to go all-in on camera technology: Chinese manufacturer Oppo presented an unnamed device with a 10x zoom that still fits into a 7mm casing.

LG's G8 Thinq also has an infrared camera on the front, which is not only able to unlock the phone via hand gestures (Hand ID), also allows users to control the smartphone only by using gestures. This includes motions to open apps, regulate the volume or take screenshots.

Say bye to bezels

For years, manufacturers have been trying to rid their smartphones of bezels – and now they are finally getting there. Displays are getting bigger without phones increasing in size as well.

Sony's new Xperia 1 has a 6.5in 4K OLED HDR display and the company has decided to roll out a cinema-style 21:9 aspect ratio to its mid-range devices Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus as well. If you ever found yourself annoyed by black bars above and below a video, then these phones might be for you.

If the bezels disappear, then that naturally begs the question as to where the front camera or sensors should go. Some phones have so-called notches – small indents at the top of the phone that the display works around – or Samsung's hole-punch design, which puts a hole in the screen where the camera goes.

There are two other solutions on the market: The Archos Diamond has a pop-up front camera and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G has a sliding mechanism. Both allow the camera to be stowed away when not in use.

Is it ready for 5G?

The successor to your phone's 4G LTE is in the works: 5G compatibility will soon be appearing on top-end smartphones, offering download speeds that are 100 times faster. That likely means buffering will soon be a thing of the past, and could even allow for games to be remotely played through a streaming service.

But only a few phones will be ready whenever 5G network launches: Among them are Huawei's foldable, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 5G. Don't expect the roll-out of 5G to happen overnight, though. Experts predict many will still rely on 4G until 2026. – dpa
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