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 in 2019.
Expect a lot of foldable phones like the FlexPai from Royole (pictured here), with Samsung gearing up to produce the Galaxy F it's been prototyping for years. Flattening smartphone sales are also catching up with Apple, which could come out with new iPhones in the fall that are more of a departure from the relatively iterative iPhone XS and XR. Meanhwile, device makers and wireless carriers are racing to bring the first 5G phones to the market just as networks based on the new connectivity standard start coming online this year.
Here’s a peek at what’s in store for 2019 and beyond.
Credit: Tom's Guide
For years, Samsung has told us its first foldable smartphone, tentatively named the Galaxy F, was just around the corner. That corner wasn't in 2017, nor in 2018. However, there's new reason to believe 2019 will be the year, as Samsung revealed a prototype of the device at its developer conference last November. The Galaxy F is expected to contain a 7.3-inch display that reveals itself when the device is unfolded; when it's closed, there's a display on the outside reported to measure 4.6 inches. The latest rumor suggests that Samsung's foldable phone will also offer 5G compatibility, at least for the version that's released in South Korea.
We could find out what Samsung's planning as soon as Feb. 20, when Samsung has a product event scheduled (though that will likely center around the upcoming Galaxy S10).
MORE: Samsung Galaxy F Rumors
The Galaxy F 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 this 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, as seen in this leaked Galaxy S10 E image. 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. There could even be a fourth range-topping model that would feature four rear cameras and 5G connectivity. We'll find out which rumors prove accurate on Feb. 20, when Samsung has an event in San Francisco where the S10 is all but certain to debut.
You don't have to wait for Samsung to release the Galaxy F to see a folding smartphone in action. Royole is already taking orders for its FlexPai phone, a 7.8-inch device that folds in half, giving you two smartphone screens. We've had a chance to handle the FlexPai and came away impressed with its versatile design, even if the phone felt like it was rushed out to beat other planned folding smartphones to the market. Be prepared to pay up for the FlexPai — it starts at $1318 for a model with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
Credit: Tom's Guide
Yes, three new iPhones were unveiled only a few months 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 new iPhones are already out in full force.
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. Then again, other, more recent reports allege a trio of cameras on the back, on at least the XS Max successor, similar to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro's elaborate imaging stack. And one rumor signals that Apple could embrace advanced 3D cameras from Sony in order to enable gesture control in games, sophisticated room scanning capability and more.
Sure, Motorola's midrange offerings might not rise to the level of excitement that Apple, Samsung and Google's latest wares garner, but they're nevertheless very important devices because they define the budget phone segment. The Moto G6 was a very well-rounded though perhaps overly conservative effort from Motorola, so we're excited to see the company press on with the $299 Moto G7.
The G7 combines respectable performance from Qualcomm's Snapdragon 632 chipset and 4GB of RAM with an expansive 6.2-inch, 19:9 LCD interrupted only by a teardrop notch. Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and back completes the phone's premium look. The G7 will be joined by two cheaper alternatives in the U.S. — the $249 G7 Power and $199 G7 Play — while some regions will see an even more powerful G7 Plus, armed with improved dual cameras. Expect full reviews when the G7 family launches this spring.
Credit: Tom's Guide
LG will hold a press event in Barcelona on Feb. 24, the day before Mobile World Congress kicks off there. But what specifically will the company unveil? All signs point to the LG G8 ThinQ, though nobody's quite sure what form the successor to last year's G7 will take. One report out of Korea says it will be a foldable phone, while another contends that it will be a dual-screen model in which the second optional screen attaches to the phone. (And it could be one of many phones LG shows off at MWC, if the company does have a 5G device in the works — more on that in a bit.) The render shown here from serial leaker OnLeaks shows a more conventional approach, though that version could incorporate a Sound on Display feature that removes a visible earpiece from the phone's display.
Could the iconic Motorola phone be making a comeback? The Wall Street Journal thinks so, reporting that Motorola could reintroduce the Razr as a foldable phone, possibly as soon as February. There are few details in the Journal report, other than the fact that the phone would be released in a limited run exclusively on Verizon and cost $1,500, which might dim your nostalgia somewhat. If and when it does break cover, though, the new Razr could potentially give Samsung's highly-anticipated Galaxy F a run for its money.
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