As much as I love mobile phones, in the past few years, the market has become a little boring, with not a huge amount of innovation. We have seen screens get bigger, the introduction of the notch, cameras have improved considerably and AI has been introduced.
These trends look set to continue into 2019, with screens covering even more space3 on the screen, the notch getting smaller, AI being adopted more, and the battle for the best camera really heating up.
However, this year sees the first significant piece of tech to come to the mobile industry in years, in the form of 5G, eight years after 4G was released. 5G promises to a wide range of benefits far beyond raw download speed.
The other piece of tech that could shake up the mobile market is foldable displays. Multiple companies are working on a phone with Samsung leading the way. The hope for this tech is that we can have a phone with traditional dimensions that can then fold out to be more like a tablet.
So, what are some of the most exciting phone of 2019? I have attempted to put this list together in some form of chronological order, but exact dates are mostly unknown.
Honor View 20
The View 20 should be the first flagship device launching in 2019, though it actually launches in China on 26th of December but the global launch is in Paris on the 22nd of January.
The big selling point of most Honor phone is the pricing, with the original Honor View 10 launching at £449 and it is likely this will be similar, and I would say definitely be under £500 keeping it in competition with the OnePlus pricing.
The View 20 is the second phone to be launched with an in-screen camera. This means the screen completely surrounds the camera rather than being placed in a notch. The first was the Samsung Galaxy A8s but this will be the first phone using it with flagship specifications.
The other big talking point is the camera which uses a Sony IMX586 CMOS with a sizeable 1/2-inch sensor (0.8 µm/pixel) with a massive 48MP. The combination of the camera and punch hole screen could make this phone better than the amazing Huawei Mate 20 Pro.
Samsung Galaxy S10
Launching just before MWC, the Samsung Galaxy flagship range of phones is usually the first phone to feature the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC which this year will be the SD855.
There has been a lot of hype about the Infinity designs that Samsung have been developing for their phones. One day they promise to have the camera hidden behind the screen entirely, but for now, it is a punch hole design similar to the View 20.
The top of the range Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus could feature 5 or 6 cameras and will likely have a 48MP camera sensor too. It won’t launch with 5G but it is expected that they will launch a 5G variant later in the year.
Storage and pricing options are going to be crazy with the S10+ it is expected one model will have a full 1TB of storage but set you back £1399.
There was some confusion at the Qualcomm summit when the OnePlus presentation slides indicated that it would be the first Snapdragon 855 phone to the market. A slight translation error happened and it will be one of the first to market.
Regardless of timing, OnePlus are always a fan favourite, they bring all the latest features to their phones, along with a superb clean version of Android all while being one of the most affordable options on the market.
It might not be the most exciting phone on the list but it will probably be one of the best choices in terms of bang for your buck.
For lack of a better name, the OnePlus 5G could be the first 5G phone to the market and is expected to land before the end of May.
UK operator EE will be the first network in the world to offer OnePlus' incoming 5G smartphone.
This new device will be separate from the normal OnePlus line, so it is expected to co-exist with the OnePlus 7 rather than the OnePlus 7 launching with 5G. One reason for this is that 5G is going to add quite a bit to the cost of a phone. It is expected that the OnePlus 5G could cost close to £600
Huawei P30 Pro & Mate 30 Pro
I am not sure when Huawei will launch a 5G flagship device, the P20 Pro launched at the end of March, so it is unlikely to feature in the P30, but at the same time, I doubt Huawei will wait until October to launch their first 5G device.
The P30 has always been quite camera-centric and the P30 is expected to feature Sony's 38MP IMX607 which apparently should be the best sensor to date for low light photography.
According to industry sources, Huawei's P30 Pro will have a notch and a curved OLED panel. It is believed it won’t launch with a punch hole because Samsung is currently the only OLED maker that produces such panels.
The P20 Pro was probably one of the best phones of 2018, so I would expect the P30 Pro to be equally as good.
Assuming the trend continues Mate 30 Pro will likely launch in October following a SoC at IFA 2019 similar to the Mate 20 Pro launch. There is a good chance that this will feature 5G or at the very least have a variant that features it.
Xiaomi MI MIX 3
The 5G Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 was confirmed in late October and, in the UK and Europe at least, is currently set for a Q1 2019 release date. Recent news came out stating that a 5G version of the phone will arrive in the first half of 2019 and it will feature an upgraded Snapdragon 855 chip.
Samsung X / Samsung Galaxy F
Samsung is really trying to innovate with their mobile division at the moment; perhaps due to slowing mobile sales, they need to invigorate the market.
There has been a lot of hype about foldable phones in the past year with Samsung leading the way with the technology.
The foldable Galaxy X was unveiled at Samsung's Developer Conference held in the Moscone West convention centre in San Francisco on November 7, 2018.
Samsung previously hinted its first foldable handset might be unveiled on-stage at CES 2019 in early January, or MWC 2019 in late February. In reality, we have no idea when the device will be launch and with it being such a revolutionary design it is likely Samsung have a lot of testing and bugs to iron out before it is ready for consumers.
It will almost certainly come at a considerable price premium. The cost to make the phone is significantly more than traditional devices and it is likely Samsung will add a sizeable tax for consumers wanting to adopt the latest technology. Initial reports suggest it could start at £1400
I posted leaks about the Nokia 9 all the way back in April, and there has been hype for it for well over a year now. Nokia hasn’t launched a proper flagship device since the Nokia 8 back in August 2017.
Recent rumours suggest it has been delayed once again and at this point, my excitement about the device is simmering down, especially when there are so many other great camera orientated phones launching.
The reason behind the initial hype was that the new phone could feature a penta-lens layout which has 5 cameras on the rear with dual LED flash and a depth sensor all arranged in a large circular design. This sounded genuinely amazing at the start of last year when one or 2 rear cameras were the norm, but now we are expecting to see triple rear cameras featuring 48MP lenses which is starting to steal some of Nokia's thunder.