From ever-shrinking bezels to dual rear cameras trickling down to budget devices, smartphones have changed dramatically in 2018. And things are set to change even more as we enter 2019.
On the horizon, we hope to see radical new designs from Samsung, which is finally gearing up to unveil the foldable phone it's been prototyping for years, as well as new iPhones from Apple that are more of a departure from the relatively iterative iPhone XS and XR. LG and Sprint are partnering on what could be the U.S.' first 5G-capable device, planned for release in the first half of 2019, while Xiaomi — the Chinese firm that kicked off the entire bezel-free trend with its Mi Mix way back in 2016 — has an excellent opportunity to further innovate with the successor to the Mi Mix 2S, pictured here.
Here’s a peek at what’s in store for the remainder of 2018 and beyond. (Image Credit: Tom's Guide)
It won't be long until we get our first glimpse of OnePlus' next phone. The OnePlus 6T will be revealed at an event in New York on Oct. 30. While we already know a bunch of key details about the device — it'll have an in-display fingerprint sensor (the first smartphone launched in the U.S. to do so), a redesigned teardrop notch, no headphone jack and it'll launch with Android 9 Pie — there are still some question marks hanging in the air. We've heard rumblings that the 6T will arrive on U.S. carriers, as well as a few additional networks in the U.K. OnePlus appears finally ready to abandon the pure direct sales approach that brought it so much success in the past. While that marks an important milestone for the still-young company, we fear the new philosophy could accompany a price hike. Only time will tell — though if history is any indication, the OnePlus 6 probably isn't long for this world. (Photo Credit: Tom's Guide)
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For years, Samsung has told us its first foldable smartphone, tentatively named the Galaxy X, was just around the corner. That corner wasn't in 2017. However, there's new reason to believe 2018 will be the year, thanks to comments from Samsung's mobile chief, DJ Koh, who related to CNBC that the device will debut before the end of the year. In fact, he hinted it may even be as soon as Samsung's developer conference, slated to begin Nov. 7.
When it does ship — perhaps next year — the phone is expected to fold out into a larger tablet, with the latest rumor suggesting a device that would leave part of the display uncovered when folded up so you could easily see incoming calls or an always-on display. The Galaxy X's most similar counterpart would have to be ZTE's Axon M, an AT&T-exclusive foldable handset that came out in 2017. Though we hope the idea is better implemented than ZTE's buggy effort. (Image Credit: Foldable concept by Almesryoon.com)
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The Galaxy X might represent the future of phones one day, but the Galaxy S10 and S10+ will be the Samsung devices that end up in most customers' hands next year. Emphasis on the plural "devices" there, because the latest rumors suggest there will be not two but three tenth-generation Samsung flagships to choose from in 2019. These devices could be sized at 5.8 inches, 6.1 inches and 6.4 inches, if current reports are correct. Additionally, the smallest of the three may have a flat display rather than a curved one, evoking the difference between the Galaxy S6 and S7 and their Edge counterparts a few years back. A trio of rear cameras have also been rumored, as well as Snapdragon 855 power and in-display fingerprint sensors on the two more expensive models. (Image Credit: Tom's Guide)
Yes, three new iPhones were unveiled only a few weeks ago. But this is the smartphone industry, and things move very, very fast. Devices are planned years in advance before they ever see the light of day, and so it's not terribly surprising that rumors about next year's iPhones are already beginning to emerge. Of course, right now we know very little, though KGI Securities analyst and all-around Apple soothsayer Ming Chi Kuo says Cupertino's future handsets will continue the dual-camera lens setup and probably ditch 3D Touch in an effort to keep costs down. Perhaps Apple will change the design after two years of the notched iPhone X look, but then again, the iPhone 6, 6S and 7 all looked functionally the same, so it wouldn't be unlike Tim Cook and company to cling to the current form factor for one more year. (Image Credit: Tom's Guide)
Xiaomi may not be a particularly well-known company on this side of the Pacific, given that they don't really sell anything here. However, their devices are important and world-renowned for two reasons: they take chances with design, and they build quality products at prices that are lower, on average, compared to the competition. And that has us very excited about the Mi Mix 3 — the third iteration of Xiaomi's range-topping, almost bezel-free smartphone that actually kickstarted the trend two years ago. Rumor has it the Mi Mix 3 will sport a slide-out front camera system similar to Oppo's Find X, a whopping 10 GB of RAM and potentially even support for 5G networks. Of course, you may have some trouble finding a 5G network to run it on — or even an LTE one, for that matter — as the Mi Mix 3 is not expected to release in the West. (Image Credit: Tom's Guide)
MORE: Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S Review
Here's what we know: LG and Sprint are partnering on a 5G-capable smartphone, and it's coming in the first half of next year. The device was announced by Sprint's director of product development, John Tudhope, who confirmed the phone will run on 5G infrastructure in the nine cities around the country where Sprint will initially deploy the service in 2019. Beyond that, we know very little. Sprint has kept quiet on pricing, though Tudhope did express a desire to keep it in line with the cost of other flagship phones on the market today. Given that those numbers are rising at an alarming rate, however, we could still be looking at a 5G phone here that reaches well past the $1,000 mark. Early adopters, start saving your pennies now. (Image Credit: Sprint)