The best and worst trends of MWC 2019
Two weeks ago, the Mobile World Congress exhibition ended in Spain. On Habré from it - only the announcement of Microsoft. But the most interesting thing, for which 100+ thousand people gathered in Barcelona, is still the latest in the smartphone market. This time, too, was full of unusual devices and cool technologies, and it seems that nobody fully covered them here in full measure.
Last year we made selections of the best and worst trends, people seemed to like it, so let's try to continue the tradition. In short: Huawei and Samsung this time are great fellows, while Sony and LG are taking the wrong place. And yes, Apple for some reason no one else copies.
The four best
You can have a different attitude to the folding, folding screens that Huawei and Samsung introduced this year. Critics say they are too fragile, and the cost of their production so far is off scale. But one cannot be taken away: this is a real innovation. This is not a monobrow or lack of a USB port. This - for the first time in many years - is something that can really change the lives of users. A smartphone with a screen is larger than that of many tablets.
Visitors to the MWC 2019 could admire the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X, as well as physically touch the TCL's 7.2-inch screen. What is surprising: no defects at the bend, if you were given such a smartphone in the unfolded state, you would not even immediately realize that it has something unusual (except for size).
So far, these are only timid baby steps, but flexible, folding displays are the logical next stage in the development of smartphones. Manufacturers have already reached the limit in terms of reducing the frames around the screens. Now it is possible to increase the useful area of devices without changing their form factor only by creating flexible displays, there is no other option.
Of course, you will have to redo some applications so that they can work in both screen modes - both minimized and maximized. And the smartphone is getting a little thicker (though in my pocket and in my hand it’s even more convenient for many). But the pros already outweigh the cons, except for the price.
With flexible smartphones for the first time there is the possibility of real multitasking. Now devices also allow it, but on a small screen, half of which is still occupied by the keyboard, it is extremely inconvenient to do this, so few people try, it is easier to switch from application to application. With a double screen - you can easily type something from below, watching videos on YouTube from above, or play and scroll through the browser at the same time. Finally, eight-core processors in modern smartphones will be able to deploy. And in the future, when (if?) Folding smartphones will become the norm, and developers will release applications for them, one half of the device can be devoted to the game, and the second to the controller or keyboard. That will allow phone games to become deeper and more interesting.
Huawei Mate X has an 8-inch OLED screen, which when folded is divided into a 6.6-inch display in front and 6.4-inch in the back. The Samsung Galaxy Fold has a 7.3-inch main screen, and when the device is minimized, one small 4.6-inch screen remains in front. The thickness of the devices is 11 mm and 17 mm, which is more than tolerable, the Mate X comes out even thinner than the first iPhone. In terms of performance, Samsung has an advantage, in terms of price - too ($ 1980 versus $ 2600). But those who want to quickly be in the future, most likely, do not stand up to the price, and choose Huawei, which looks a little more impressive.
So far, the only serious drawback of such folding smartphones is the price. But both leading companies have already stated that lowering the cost of manufacturing new flexible screens is their top priority. There is now a consensus in the market that such smartphones have a future. According to CNBC, Apple really wants to release a flexible iPhone in 2020. And Samsung, they say, several such devices are under development at once, for different form factors. And the company expects them to be a great success. If the cost of flexible devices can be reduced at least one and a half times - this is unlikely to stop anything.
Another obvious trend, which was known to everyone who is watching the market. 2019 is the first year that technology, which has been in development for at least 11 years, is finally starting to surface. At MWC, every second smartphone from the Caps Lock stand stated that yes, it is now “5G Ready”. Samsung, Huawei, LG, Xiaomi, ZTE, and all not to list. And Lenovo even announced the possibility of upgrading its old smartphones to 5G using a removable panel.
And here, too, of course, the trend is ambiguous. On the one hand, it’s clear that the future is for 5G (as it was for 4G, 3G, and so on). On the other hand, the infrastructure is not yet ready at all. In the US, 5G will only work in 30 cities by the end of 2019. In Russia - they promise in the 10 largest cities by 2021. In other countries, the situation is no better. So far, the “presence of 5G” in a smartphone can be read as “costs more, does the same thing.”
But still, the trend toward accelerating the Internet is difficult to write down as bad. Who doesn’t want to see 10-20 Gb / s in their own smartphone? Dreams of using it as an access point immediately appear, especially when a cable Internet service provider gives you a sad 100 Mbps. And, of course, the heart rejoices, watching how networks, developers, city halls, and creators of the standard in 3GPP work together on the introduction of new technology. Companies such as Intel, Qualcomm, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung, ZTE, Cisco, Ericsson - all are on the same front. It is expected that the full economic effect of 5G will be achieved by 2035 and amount to $ 12 trillion.
So - yes, the future is behind this trend. Who knows what will happen to flexible screens, AR / VR and everything else, and 5G is with us now for a long time. Although smartphones supporting this standard are still too early to buy. And next year will be too early, yes. Take the example of Apple, which will begin to make iPhone with support for fifth-generation networks no earlier than 2020.
AR and VR
More and more manufacturers are focusing on technologies for augmented and virtual reality. You could see examples of how gadgets work with them at the stand of almost every company, and the number of people in helmets and glasses could not be counted, despite the fact that the exhibition seemed to be dedicated to smartphones. All companies sought to show that with their devices immersion will be even more effective. The future is behind augmented reality, the only question is how quickly it will come.
From the most impressive: Huawei has found a way thanks to 5G to get a VR effect, even without glasses at all. The cameras of her new device are able to detect in real time where the viewer is looking, and quickly give him the corresponding high-resolution picture, adjusted to the features of the human eye. That is, we can plunge into virtual reality even without weighty headsets, and without even risking tripping over something. True, such technology will not reach the hands of private users in the next few years.
One of the stars of the event was Microsoft, which showed its new MR-headset for professionals for $ 3,500, which they themselves spoke beautifully on Habré.
And it is also expected that next year Apple will present its AR headset, and then the industry will really explode.
Basically, all the new technologies in the flagships are associated with displays. Apparently, there is a consensus that the new gigabytes of memory are no longer impressive to the public. And while flexible displays cost fabulous money, the best of the "budget" options for increasing the usable screen area is, oddly enough, punching holes in it. All other elements are neatly embedded under the display, and most of the front surface of the device remains untouched. The “monobrow” of the iPhone X, by far the worst MWC trend of 2018, which all manufacturers thoughtlessly copied, now finally becomes unnecessary.
The best "hole" smartphones at the exhibition showed Samsung. Its new display technology, introduced back in October, allows you to hide all the main sensors under the screen, so that the slot remains only needed for the camera lens. It looks very neat, especially when the screen is dark. It seems that all smartphones should have looked like that. Similar to MWC 2019, Xiaomi, Vivo, Sony and Honor (a sub-brand of Huawei) also introduced.
But the monobrow business is still living. This year, LG did not hesitate to go out with her. Her flagship LG G8 ThinQ seemed to come out straight from 2018. Under the black recess on top of the screen, it stands out 12 (!) Times more space than the Samsung Galaxy S10 under the “hole”. What can I say. It is hoped that next year we will not see such devices on the market.
The three worst
More, more cameras!
It seems that over the past few years, manufacturers are competing who can insert more lenses into their smartphone. If so, then everything, the competition is over, you can announce the winner. Nokia at this MWC introduced the Nokia 9 PureView, where it immediately crammed five (and even six, if you count the front). Everything, no longer needed, going home, okay? Soon there will be no space left on the smartphone. And if one of the cameras breaks down? And if your hands sweat? Cleaning five lenses is not enough fun.
The seven holes in the back of the Nokia 9 PureView are cameras, plus a flash and a sensor. It is expected that this will allow you to take pictures of higher quality (taking 5 photos at a time, and then combining them, more on @marks ).
The default smartphone costs $ 699, which is quite divine for the characteristics of such a device (6 GB of RAM, the Snapdragon 845 chipset, 128 GB of storage, a decent screen). At B&H, Nokia 9 was generally offered for $ 599 , including a 10,500 mAh power bank. Plus, there is a built-in Adobe Lightroom for processing received photos. So if the seven holes in the back do not seem disgusting, the offer as a new device is very profitable, plus HMD Global, the owner of the Nokia brand, releases a smartphone in a limited edition for fans, so it’s difficult to blame the company for something here. But the whole trend towards an increase in the number of cameras is possible without it, huh? Otherwise, we will never stop. Even 16 lenses are no longer the limit. And for some reason he’s doing the best photos Google Pixel 3, where there is only one camera.
Those companies that did not succeed in developing flexible screens, but which really wanted to, came up with a solution. But what if we glue two smartphones together and make it folding as well? From a distance, it may even seem that we also developed a folding display! Innovation!
Not really. It’s not even very clear why such a thing should be brought to the exhibition. This is not a new technology. This is a regular smartphone, to which a second smartphone is attached to the side. Here you don’t have to pour billions of dollars into development, enough Uncle Vasya with a drill and two bolts - and here you also have the latest miracle of technology at home.
As with monobrow, LG also excelled here. Her model V50 is a clamshell smartphone. The meaning of the model is that you can buy a case with an OLED screen, connect them through the connector, and get two screens instead of one. In the horizontal position, at the bottom, for example, you can print, and at the top, you can see what happens to your text (useful for people with low vision). Or control the game from below, and look at it from above (for this LG created a couple of racing games). Or run two applications at the same time - for example, Chrome and YouTube.
ZTE Axon M
There is some benefit from the second display, and there will certainly be people who really like it. But the price for the model is expected to be significantly more expensive than $ 1000. And experts agree that next year, when LG finally finalizes its technology for flexible displays, we will no longer see such a solution.
The same pair of Siamese twins can be “boasted” by the ZTE with the Axon M. Only there everything looks even sadder: due to the huge stripes on the bottom and top of the screens, the devices look like we rolled back five years ago.
Ultra-wide 4K screens
Sony also introduced a rather unusual smartphone. Her new flagship Xperia 1 is positioned as a device for moviegoers. The display here has a 21: 9 format (resolution 1644x3840). This is the first smartphone with this screen format. The vast majority now is 16: 9, part - 18: 9. According to Sony, with their device it will be possible to watch movies better, without black bars at the top and bottom. The display also has a very high contrast ratio, up to 1,000,000: 1, and it produces a more saturated black color. For this, of course, will have to give everything nobly. Price expected around $ 1,100.
But the main thing is not even the price. Ask yourself, especially if you are a movie fan, do you have a need for such a device? Would you like to watch movies made for IMAX on a tiny 6.5-inch screen? Even a laptop does not suit many for this, and here it’s two to three times less. And if you want to see the series, they have 16: 9, Xperia 1 is absolutely not suitable here: there will be black bars on the left and on the right.
Moreover - this year it is a trend. Sony was not the only one to come to the exhibition with such a smartphone. OnePlus showed its prototype of the “ultra-wide” (ultra-long?) Smartphone; Oppo and Huawei played with the idea. Sony generally expects that people will now pounce on its smartphones like hot cakes. Her new Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus will also be released in such an “elongated” format. The whole strategy of the company this year is based on one idea: 21: 9.
At the same time, models leave much more questions than give answers. Where and how to wear them? How deep should the pocket be? How long can the battery last, given that it has to supply several times more pixels? Who buys a smartphone in the world to watch movies?
Nokia with its many cameras has an excuse. They release their multi-eyed monster only for enthusiasts, within a couple of thousand units. And the fact that there is active discussion about their unusual device is a nice bonus.
Sony has a different situation. In the smartphone market, the Japanese company has lost almost all positions. Gone are the days when she was among the leaders, a little behind Samsung and LG. Now Sony, unfortunately, is not even on the radar. It is lower than vivo and Motorola, they do not buy it. Xperia 1 was supposed to be the smartphone that will change the situation. But it is unlikely that an ordinary buyer will find here something for himself that he may be interested in, especially at such a price. And even fierce discussions, like around a five-chamber smartphone, are not here.
In 2018, there were rumors that Sony was considering leaving the production of smartphones altogether. The company’s losses are colossal: at $ 100- $ 480 million per quarter. For the whole year, the company sold fewer devices than Samsung of the Galaxy S9 model alone in the first two months (about 9 million). The new CEO then said that the company's problems were a lack of innovation (and not a misunderstanding of the interests of customers).
Looking at what Kazuo Hirai means innovation, one can judge that if nothing changes, 2019 will be the last year for Sony smartphones. Those who want good features will turn to Chinese devices, and those who have a free thousand dollars to Samsung and Apple flagships. “Kinoformat” in a smartphone for such money is unlikely to find a large audience.
And yes, there is no mini-jack in Xperia 1 either. You want to watch a big movie, why do you need a mini-jack?
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