2019 flagship features we want to see - Android

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2019 flagship features we want to see - Android

From the camera department to AI silicon, here's what we want to see from 2019's high-end smartphones.

OnePlus 6 camera

We’re already more than halfway through the year, but there are still a quite few more flagship phones due for release. From Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 to Google’s Pixel 3 and Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 3 and beyond, there’s a lot to be excited about.

We’re more enthused by next year’s high-end devices though, which will inevitably pack next-generation silicon, potentially deliver 5G, and hopefully up the camera ante. Here’s what we’d like to see from 2019 flagships.

5G connectivity5G roadmap presentation

The timeline for 5G phones is still pretty tight, but we’d like to see some 2019 flagships at least gain support for what pre-5G capabilities are available, if not true super-fast 5G, which may take another year or two. That way people upgrading next year won’t be left in the lurch when the tech becomes mainstream.

On top of that, we’d like to see networks actually providing larger and cheaper data plans. After all, what’s the point of faster speeds if data is still too expensive to take advantage of all that new media potential? Then again, 5G will also reduce network congestion, so mass gatherings and sports events should be more bearable.

Proper flagship photo qualityGoogle Pixel 2 camera and fingerprint scanner

Flagship phones all deliver a brisk experience for the most part, but the camera still presents a real challenge. For every Galaxy S9 and Pixel 2, we’ve got a OnePlus 6 and Xiaomi Mi Mix 2, not quite delivering that effortless, yet consistently high-quality experience.

This was a focus for both Xiaomi and Oppo in 2018, both launching initiatives related to the field. Hopefully their efforts bear fruit, but we also want other manufacturers to invest in delivering better photos. After all, what’s the point of spending more than $800 on a super-fast phone if the camera is trash?

Following the critically acclaimed Huawei P20 Pro, we’d also like to see more brands hop on the triple camera or 40MP camera bandwagon. Toss in pixel-binning and advanced image processing techniques, and there’s plenty of room to raise the bar.

More innovative camera modes

Huawei P20 camera app Night Mode

The night mode option on a Huawei flagship.

It’s one thing for a phone to take excellent photos, but a wealth of camera modes can also make the handset much more versatile. So we’d like to see brands step up with more innovative camera effects.

Editor's Pick

It feels like few brands really stood out with their camera effects this year — almost all simply offered simple portrait mode and 2x zoom options. In fact, I think features like LG’s manual video mode or Huawei’s night mode are arguably more impressive than a plethora of dodgy portrait mode shots.

We’ve also seen brands like Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo offer AI-powered photos modes in 2018. We hope manufacturers do more with the technology in 2019 than just identifying the sky or grass and cranking up the saturation.

Better wireless audioQualcomm AptX HD notification

I’m firmly in the headphone jack camp, but I’ve slowly come to accept that more brands will drop the feature in 2019. Dongles are just a stopgap — it’s clear the industry wants you to go wireless instead.

We want 2019 flagships to deliver much better Bluetooth audio capabilities than they do now. Higher quality audio technology like aptX HD and Sony’s LDAC will make the transition more bearable for audiophiles. Everyday users will also benefit from higher quality wireless audio, too.

Bluetooth 5.0 everywhere

Bluetooth settings on the Galaxy S8

The latest Bluetooth standard has popped up on many phones since its launch last year, but we still see a few exceptions. Most notably, the Huawei P20 series lacks Bluetooth 5.0.

In any case, every major brand should embrace the latest standard on its flagships. The benefits are plentiful too, including faster speeds and much greater range. With Bluetooth mesh networks set to invade your home too, now is a good time for better Bluetooth to arrive on your phone. If we’re going to have wireless forced on us, the least we should be able to expect is a stable and quality connection.

Wireless chargingWireless charging pad

Wireless charging has finally become a Big Deal after Apple adopted it in the iPhone X, even as more and more Android manufacturers are ditching the tech in favor of fast wired charging. We know, Apple didn’t invent the technology — Palm adopted it first — but Apple’s seal of approval has certainly helped to popularize it (alongside Samsung, of course).

Read more: Best phones with wireless charging capabilities in 2018

The technology has made big strides since the days of WebOS, delivering decent charging speeds. Toss in the proliferation of cheap charging pads and coffee shop support and the time is right for 2019 flagships to reintegrate this feature.

Apple and Samsung both use the Qi standard, so we’d like to see other brands adopt this too. Anything else will result in fragmentation and consumer confusion over compatible charging accessories, even if Samsung already also supports PMA.

More durable phones

The LG G7 ThinQ

The LG G7 ThinQ’s MIL-STD-810G compliance means it should be more durable than most devices.

Glass designs enable wireless charging, but they also make for a less durable smartphone. Now, dropping your phone means risking spiderweb cracks on the rear of your phone too. Unless you use a case, which kind of undermines having such a beautifully crafted glass slab in the first place.

Our hope for 2019 flagships is that manufacturers produce more durable glass, either by incorporating new technologies or beefing up their testing process (doing both is good too).

Heck, I’d be happy with a plastic device too — it works just fine with wireless charging. We’ve also seen more than a few water-resistant plastic phones too. In any case, we hope next year’s flagships can withstand a drop or two. Speaking of durability, smartphone reliability goes deeper than build materials.

Water resistance

The HTC U12 Plus

The HTC U12 Plus has IP68 dust/water resistance.

It seems these days that almost all glass flagships are a no-brainer to get water resistance. Take a look at the Galaxy S9, P20 Pro, LG G7 ThinQ, and HTC U12 Plus for proof.

However, plenty of devices still lack an IP67 (or 68) rating, despite still packing a glass design — just look at the OnePlus 6, regular P20, and Oppo Find X (even if some of them are still “unofficially” water-resistant). None of these devices sport wireless charging either. It’s a real shame; you’d think they’d offer one or the other at the very least.

I can forgive a brand for lacking wireless charging or water resistance if they have a phone made out of metal or, in Oppo’s case, had a radical design. But what’s OnePlus‘ and Huawei‘s excuse?

More (and better) in-display scanners

Vivo X21 UD in-display fingerprint scanner

The Vivo X21 packs an under-display fingerprint scanner.

Today’s in-display fingerprint scanners don’t hold a candle to traditional capacitive scanners, lacking both accuracy and speed.

Editor's Pick

Nevertheless, we’re expecting more phones to adopt in-display scanners next year, but we’d definitely like to see the underlying technology improve first. Right now it’s just a little too slow and error-prone for our liking, but it’s still early days.

Vivo showed what the future could possibly hold, with its Apex concept turning roughly half the screen into a fingerprint sca

18/07/2018 07:16 PM