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Smartphone Trends Of 2019

With megapixel wars, folding phones and the journey towards 100% edge-to-edge screen coverage continuing, we thought we'd have a look at what 2019 might bring for smartphone photographers.

| Huawei Mate20 Pro in Camera Phones

Smartphone Trends Of 2019 : Various smartphones grouped together


2018 has been a busy year for smartphone releases, even more so for smartphones that photographers should be interested in, and with more megapixels, higher continuous shooting speeds and better low light performance, those who create these clever devices are certainly paving the way for some interesting introductions in 2019. 

Not so long ago, the camera on a smartphone was a secondary feature that took OK photos but was nothing to shout about. Fast-forward to the end of 2018 and the likes of Huawei are creating smartphones that photographers are actually praising and using more regularly when capturing their photos. 

With so many innovations arriving this year, it will certainly be exciting to see what 2019 will bring in terms of smartphone camera technology and with promises for more megapixels than ever before, better sensors and even folding smartphone designs, we're certainly looking forward to putting 2019's smartphones to the test. 

While we wait to find out what the big smartphone manufacturers will be releasing next year, we thought we'd take a look at some of the trend predictions for what technology and smartphone features we're expecting to see in 2019. 

Let's start with the megapixel race...


The Megapixel War Is Never Ending

Smartphone Trends Of 2019 : Xiaomi smartphone


It's a race that camera manufacturers have been taking part in for years and now, smartphone creators have taken their places at the starting line. The brands who will be taking the lead early in 2019 look to be Honor and Xiaomi, both who which say 48MP cameras will feature in new smartphones. In fact, Honor has gone one step further and has confirmed the 48MP device will be called the Honor View20 and it will, also, almost be a 100% edge-to-edge display (more on that later). 

Honor is promising big things from the new camera so it's definitely one we'll be testing out on ePHOTOzine!

Will we see the number of megapixels grow even more? That partly depends on if the sensor technology is created (as it has been by Sony and Samsung with the 48-megapixel sensors - more on this next). 


Sensors Are Getting Better 

Smartphone Trends Of 2019 : Samsung ISOCELL Bright GM1 and GD1

The Honor View20 has a 48-megapixel rear camera that features a Sony IMX586 sensor, first announced back in July and Samsung have also introduced a 48-megapixel image sensor that could be heading to smartphones very soon. The Samsung ISOCELL Bright GM1 and GD1 are expected to be in mass production in the fourth quarter of this year which means we could see them, potentially, appearing in Samsung smartphones next year. 

As sensors get better, so do the cameras in our smartphones so this part of the industry is an area we'll be keeping a close eye on. 


Improved Low Light Performance 

Smartphone Trends Of 2019 : Huawei P20 Pro Low-light image


Better sensors and (AI) technology means that low light images captured by smartphones are getting better. At one point, there was no way you could capture a decent image at night with a smartphone but with the likes of Google introducing a 'Night Sight Mode' to their Google Pixel 3, low light smartphone images are now something you can feature in your portfolio. 

Google isn't the only brand offering low light modes either with Huawei, OnePlus and Samsung smartphones now having similar functions/modes built in. Plus built-in image stabilisation and apertures such as f/1.5 (as you find on the Samsung Galaxy Note9) also help smartphone users capture better low light images. 

Does the low light image quality of smartphones match that of an entry-level mirrorless camera? Well, the answer to that, as of yet, is 'no' but the smartphone companies are making impressive, and quick, steps towards it. 


Better Bokeh For Beautiful Portraits 

Smartphone Trends Of 2019 : Samsung Galaxy Note9 - Portrait / Live Focus Mod


Background bokeh used to be something you could only create with a traditional camera/lens set-up (or digitally in Photoshop) but now, smartphones offer portrait modes that are getting better by the day. 

Some smartphones have telephoto lenses, putting a more traditional style portrait camera in your hands while others use a secondary camera to create "Bokeh" or background blur. There is one smartphone that doesn't fit into either of these categories and that's the Google Pixel which only has one camera but some very clever technology means the smartphone can still create the background bokeh effect we all like so much. 

As with low light images, none of the smartphones we've tested could match the quality of image (and bokeh level) an entry-level mirrorless camera can produce but their performance is impressive none-the-less. 

As technology advances and modes get that bit more clever, we're sure that portraits captured with smartphones will get even better. 


Multiple Lenses

Smartphone Trends Of 2019 : LG has filed a patent for a smartphone design which features 16 lenses

Multiple lenses appearing on smartphones isn't something new but cranking that figure up to 16 is and that's exactly what LG has done in a recent smartphone design patent. The technology sounds interesting but if it will become reality is a different question. However, it does make you wonder if multiple lenses is the way forward for most smartphone manufacturers? 

Of course, there are those bucking the trend and that includes Google as their Pixel smartphones have never had multiple rear lenses (although, the Google Pixel 3 does have two selfie cameras on the front) and the Honor View20 will only have the 48-megapixel camera built-in too. 


No Bezels, But Still A Selfie Camera Built-In

Smartphone Trends Of 2019 : Samsung Galaxy A8s


When it comes to smartphone screens, 'bigger is better' apparently and creating a 100%, edge-to-edge display is something many smartphone creators are striving for. To help them get this, many are now introducing designs where front-facing cameras are cut out of the screen rather than sitting in a notch at the top of the smartphone. 

So far, we've seen it on the Samsung Galaxy A8sHonor View20 and the next Huawei smartphone is rumoured to be notch-free, too. 

Will this design be something smartphone users like/prefer? Only time will tell...but, so far, it does seem to be a popular choice for manufacturers going forward so, perhaps, it's something we'll just have to get used to. Will it be any less annoying than a top-notch? We'll let you know as soon as we have one of the new smartphones in our hands.  


Folding Smartphones

Smartphone Trends Of 2019 : The Royole FlexPai


We're not talking clamshell style smartphones (like we all had 'back in the day') but these are actual folding smartphones that go from tablet to smartphone and back again. 

Samsung is one of two companies to preview a foldable smartphone design concept and it's called the 'Infinity Flex Display'. The other company offering a 'fully flexible display' is Royole who are calling their device the 'Royole FlexPai'. 

There's no information on when the FlexPai will be available in Europe, the company has just said 'to follow' and Samsung chose to not reveal the full device (dimming the lights at the conference) as they want to keep the inner workings under wraps until it's released.

An interesting concept but is it one that will take-off and become a regular sight on the smartphone market? We'll find out next year. 


Photography Focus 

Smartphone Trends Of 2019 : Additional shooting modes found on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro


One thing we are certain of is that photography will continue to be a huge focus for smartphone manufacturers in 2019 with better AI, auto modes, bokeh tools and lenses continuing to appear. Many smartphones also offer manual controls and RAW shooting which are also brilliant options for photographers to have at their fingertips. Plus, you only have to look at TV adverts to realise how important the photography angle is to smartphone designers, with the likes of SamsungGoogle and Huawei really hammering home that their smartphones are tools photographers should be using. 

What smartphone will you be upgrading to next and why? Let us know in the comments below. 


More Smartphone Related Content

Smartphone Trends Of 2019 : Huawei Mate 20 Pro Rear Camera


If you're thinking of upgrading your smartphone, have a look at out 'top smartphone recommendations for photographers' we also have plenty of comparison articles for you to take a look at should you be considering two particular smartphones

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