Seven Noteworthy Smartphone Trends
By Nachiket Mhatre
This year’s edition of the Mobile World Congress was a lukewarm affair. While everyone expects Apple to stay away from the event, the unavailability of Snapdragon’s premier 835 chip meant that the big smartphone manufacturers shied away from unveiling their flagship smartphones. Even Samsung, which has been hoarding the Snapdragon 835 chips, didn’t launch the Galaxy S8 as it needs more time to ensure the highly-anticipated phone doesn’t turn out to be an explosive affair like its disgraced predecessor.
Having said that, even the past MWC’s haven’t impressed in terms of innovation as smartphone tech has more-or-less plateaued in terms of both engineering and innovation. The improvements to processors, storage, battery, cameras, and overall design has been largely incremental and not ground-breaking for quite some time now. So even if MWC 2017 may not have outright wowed us, it still makes sense to make a note of the smartphone design and engineering trends evident at the event. Here are some of the most significant ones that have caught our eye this year.
(3) The Race for Dual Camera
While various smartphone manufacturers such as Huawei, LG, Honor, Lenovo, and ASUS have toyed around with the concept of dual cameras in various implementation to different effects, but the world didn’t take notice of this gimmick until Apple touted it as the next best thing since slice bread on the iPhone 7. MWC 2017 had its share of dual-camera phones as well. The award-winning LG G6 opts for two 13-megapixel Sony cameras for wide and regular modes, as opposed to the G5’s big/small arrangement that led to a quality drop between the two modes. The dual-camera tech is reported to work well with Snapdragon’s zoom technology and LG’s own camera optimisations.
The dual-camera Huawei P9 turned out to be our resident camera expert George’s personal favourite in the camera comparison test, and the company continues the tradition with the P10 and P10 Plus with the dual-lens Leica 2 camera. The phone combines 20-megapixel monochrome and 12-megapixel colour lenses and mates them with the powerful Kirin 960 processor and some nifty software optimisations along with 4K video recording to boot. OPPO seems to have out quite a bit of R&D effort into the dual camera zoom system of the OPPO 5x. Developed in conjunction with Israel’s Corephotonics, the unique dual camera zoom setup employs a complicated maze of telephoto lens, prisms, and a secondary sensor buried deep inside the phone in a 90-degree configuration. When combined with its nifty camera software, the initial reports peg the OPPO 5x to be a revelation in smartphone zoom technology.