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January 31, 2018

2018 Smartphone Tech: The Good, The Bad, and the Innovative

Who would have believed, when IBM announced its Simon Personal Communicator in 1992 at a cost of $1,100, that the smartphone segment would be what it is today with features like dual camera technology, iris authentication, facial recognition, wireless charging, and more?In 2018, expect to see a steady stream of smartphone technology at tech trade shows and in retail outlets as consumers look for the latest and greatest mobile devices. Read on for a look at 2018 smartphone tech with a focus on the good, the bad (or at least the underwhelming from the recent past), and the innovative to look forward to.

The Good

Fingerprint Sensors

In mid-December technophiles and smartphone aficionados salivated over news that a big-name phone maker was fixing to release models with a fingerprint sensor included under the display. In an announcement, Synaptics said that it and a top-five smartphone maker were mass-producing the fingerprint-sensors-under-display technology, otherwise known as Clear ID FS9500.While the name of the smartphone manufacturer was intentionally withheld, some believe that Synaptics provided some clues suggesting that it the company in question was none other than Samsung. Case in point: Synaptics said that the Clear ID technology was intended to be used with smartphones containing infinity displays. As it turns out, only Samsung phones have infinity displays as it uses them in its popular Galaxy S8 and Note 8 models. This doesn't mean that Samsung won't have some competition, though, since Qualcomm said previously that its in-display fingerprint scanners would be ready this year.

iPhone X

Of course, it wouldn't be right to discuss the good without taking a look at the iPhone X, which has been dubbed by many reviewers as Apple’s best-ever model release. While officially rolled out late last year, the iPhone X is definitely worthy of being included on this list. Among the features, it uses TrueDepth camera technology to power its Face ID. With Face ID as the all-screen design, this means that the home button has been relegated to the tech trash heap, Face ID is not only used for unlocking the mobile device, but also for authenticating payments and for other functions that would usually require some sort of validation or verification.

The Bad

There have always been smartphones that failed to live up to expectations, and there’s no doubt that 2018 will see its fair share of dubs or underachievers. But since it’s still quite early in 2018, it might be too soon to drop the hammer on any contenders, especially since many will be released in the months ahead. Smartphones from 2017, however, are fair game. With that said, what stands out in terms of not-so-special smartphone tech in recent months?

iPhone 8

Some consumers believe the iPhone 8 belongs on this list -- not because it was really all that bad, per say, but because it was too pedestrian for a company of Apple's stature. Yes, the wireless charging was nice, the increase in processor speed was admirable, and the display quality was on point, but it could be argued that Apple was merely playing it safe as it prepared to release iPhone X. And that smartphone definitely didn't disappoint.

Google Pixel 2 XL

Another option on some people's list of disappointing smartphones last year was the Google Pixel 2 XL. Why was it disappointing? There were issues with the quality of its display. So, while the Snapdragon 835 chipset benefited overall performance and the camera was second to none, the display had issues like screen burn in and inadequate viewing angles. Not exactly what you’d expect from a modern smartphone.

The Innovative

Samsung’s Galaxy X

Where do we begin? There is speculation that a Samsung prototype smartphone, named Galaxy X, will be quite versatile. While Samsung has not publicly said much about it, rumors have it that the mobile device will feature a 7.3-inch display screen that can be folded in the middle.There are apparently numerous models in the prototype stage -- one, it is believed, can be folded inwards and another one can be folded outwards. Previously, rumors suggested that the Galaxy X had a hinge as well as a couple of displays, but it looks as though Samsung has opted to go with a single panel.It's believed that Samsung’s Galaxy X was actually shown secretly during the recent CES event. Industry sources have said that the inward-folding prototype appears to be the more popular of the two prototypes while the outward-folding prototype apparently has more cutting-edge next-gen features baked in.While it would be nice if the Samsung Galaxy X could be ready for this year, it could take until 2019.

In-Display Fingerprint Scanners

In-display fingerprint scanners will definitely make a splash this year. As was mentioned earlier, it appears as though Samsung, in partnership with Synaptics, is moving forward with its own recognition technology. Fingerprint scanners offer a quick and accurate way for authenticating and verifying users. One problem that could compromise the penetration rate of this technological innovation, however, is that a lot of manufacturers have acknowledged that making display-embedded fingerprint scanners is difficult, and they have specifically noted that it's hard to ensure the accuracy of the technology when it is placed under a screen.

Dual Camera Technology

Dual camera technology made waves in 2017, but there's plenty of runway left, and it could take off in a big way this year. The technology is increasingly finding its way into models at various price points. A lot of dual camera systems are intended to enhance image quality or to provide new shooting mode options, but one trend in this space is the move towards enhancing zoom functionality. WIth this technology, you won't need to haul around a telephoto lense for your smartphone. The technology will already be baked inside of your smartphone. According to some industry speculation, Samsung could rollout Galaxy Note 8 with 3x optical zoom features.Yes, 2018 is now upon us, and the months ahead will see the rollout of some new and innovative smartphone technology as manufacturers jockey for position in the crowded space. As the year progresses and more models hit retail outlets, it will become increasingly clear how the smartphone tech in 2018 will shape trends for years to come.

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