The new year is upon us, and there are more smartphones to look forward to. Expect manufacturers to build on last year’s evolutions, such as bezel-less designs and 18:9 aspect ratio screens. Designs should become even smarter and slimmer, and more power-packed inside. But, whether it is the battle for a more refined experience, better features, more powerful specifications or simply design beauty, expect serious competition among manufacturers. We pick some phones that could stand out this year, and possible improvements.
Apple’s new iPhone X
When Apple launched the X last year, it brought a lot of firsts with it, such as the Face ID recognition technology which uses Artificial Intelligence and the True Depth Camera system. Apple will hopefully be able to make this more secure. Expect a slightly larger display than the current 5.8-inch one in the iPhone X, or maybe even two screen-size options. There will be processor and camera upgrades as well, and there are a lot of expectations from iOS 12, the upcoming iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system.
Samsung Galaxy S9
The Samsung Galaxy S8 ushered in the bezel-less era, and the 18:9 aspect ratio screens in smartphones, with the Infinity Display. Its successor is expected to continue that theme. But we would like to see some improvements in terms of performance, and a less cluttered Touchwiz interface wrapped around Android—the current S8 occasionally stutters quite perceptibly, which is disappointing for a flagship Android phone. Also, we could potentially see the fingerprint scanner being integrated within the display, which could kick-start a new era for Android phones.
OnePlus made a big shift from the 5 to the 5T, switching to a larger display and a bezel-less design. The 5T is rather likeable, as its predecessor was, and ticks off the checklist with top-notch specifications, a slick design and great performance. However, the camera quality still needs to be improved to be on a par with rival Android flagships, and that will define the 6.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium (2018)
Last year’s Xperia XZ Premium was the first phone with a 4K display. It wouldn’t be a stretch to expect this year’s successor to retain the 4K screen, but with a modern bezel-less design. What we really want is an updated custom interface that Sony wraps around Android, because the current one has been around for a while now and is getting a little long in the tooth.
Xiaomi Mi MIX 3
This is one of the first phones to adopt the bezel-less design. Its two iterations thus far have given us a taste of Xiaomi’s technological prowess. The third iteration, expected this year, could take another step forward, perhaps with multiple screen-size options. We also hope that the ceramic material is retained. The camera needs to significantly improve.
While 2017 saw the return of the Nokia branding on smartphones, 2018 is a critical year as HMD Global will want to build on the goodwill. The Nokia 9 will be the flagship successor to the Nokia 8, and it has its task cut out to match rival offerings—a better camera is critical, and also a more modern design.
Google Pixel 3
There are advantages to the Google Pixel phones that no other Android phone maker can match—completely untouched Android, the promise of updates on Day 1 of release and the best cameras in the Android ecosystem. However, the Pixel phones thus far have come with fairly high price tags, and the 2017 iteration had some quality control issues too. But now that Google has acquired HTC’s smartphone division to boost its hardware manufacturing capabilities, expect the 2018 Pixel line-up to reset the benchmark.
LG impressed us with the very capable V30, which did well with design, performance, and the camera, and also as a music playback device. The V40 should be able to build on that with relative ease, though some tweaks to the customized interface wrapped around Android are a must.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
This is the Galaxy S9, except with a larger screen and a stylus. This could also get the fingerprint sensor integrated within the screen, and maybe even more features for the stylus. Like the Galaxy S9 line-up, we hope the occasional but noticeable performance issues are ironed out. Expect a fantastic display, a very capable camera and good battery life.