The state of the smartphone industry in late 2019

The state of the smartphone industry is strong; companies are busy innovating

Slightly over a decade later, it is fair to say that the smartphone industry has matured. This way, changes we see in phones past 2019 are mostly incremental.

This trend has held for at least 2 years now. To be fair, it is not that companies are not innovating. They still are doing their best to build on the once shaky technologies.

They are building more advanced camera lenses, more powerful and power efficient chips, more durable glass and more elegant displays, more user friendly and intuitive software, better inter device, inter-users and local to cloud integration.

This way, we the end-users now have a sizable catalogue of quality (sometimes breath-taking) devices to choose from. As competition between industry players continue, this catalogue will only get better.

5 competitive areas in the 2019 smartphone industry

  1. Photography

    Looking back to days of iphone 3GS or say Samsung Galaxy S, we can see how the smartphone camera has grown from the gimmick it once was to something to reckon with.

    The average professional photographer will not be compelled to completely drop the need for high end cameras. Still, they can switch to a mobile camera every now and in certain situations.

    For the average consumer, the average smartphone is more than ideal. Most of the phones are great, some more than others.

  2. Machine Learning

    The age of artificial intelligence is upon us, and the smartphone is its main carrier.

    As of now, the main players dictating steering the direction of AI in the industry are Google, Amazon and Apple. Microsoft and Samsung have made attempts but have not been as successful.

    Samsung failure has been due its clientbase reliance on Google’s Android OS. Google’s assistant reigns as king thusly casting a shadow on Samsung’s Bixby.

    Bixby has become not only gimmick. So much so that Samsung ended up removing the Bixby button from their Note 10s lineup. Something tells me, that the decision was not simply for design purposes.

    As “microsoft’s magical” hands killed the phone business they acquired from nokia, their somewhat impressive Cortana assistant will foreseeably remain a prisoner in the windows OS.

    As Google’s Assistant reigns Supreme, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri are getting better. Amazon doesn’t have a smartphone flagship. Nonetheless, its dominance in home automation and its compelling Alexa usefulness has curved it a space in the smartphone home.

    Apple’s embattled Siri remains protected by Apple’s walled garden. This way, it has been granted a chance to rebounce and reassert itself. Who is to say it will not surprise us all? It’s not in my place to hold my breath, but hey! It seems to have the proverbial nine lives of a cat.

  3. Chip Engineering

    Users have now moved more aspects of their lives to their smartphones. Consequently, these changes keep demanding more power. Such tasks include, high bandwidth connection (e.g 4G, LTE & 5G), high refresh rate video games, high resolution video streaming, AR gaming …

    Users need more power to handle more cpu and gpu intensive tasks fast and seemlessly. More power per % of the battery per the minute.

    This also means that new chip designs have to be more power efficient. I presume that one way of achieving this is designing chips that produce less heat.

    Apple Silicon A series chips lead this space. Qualcomm’s SnapDragon, Samsung’s Exynos and Hisilicon Kirin follow. Apple chips remain walled in its garden while SnapDragon is used by a number of players.

  4. Display Technology

    As things are getting better, people place more attention on the finest details. Considering displays, these points of nuance, include levels of brightness, better viewing angles, color contrast and color grading.

    Perfection in these areas is considered important to provide realistic and elegant device use in multiple environments. For instance, people crave for brighter displays when they are outdoors due to sunlight. The days when users would put up with straining to view what’s on their phone have gone by.

    Today, more people embrace darkmode. They are also acquitely aware of washed out blacks and true blacks. This way, we’re all appreciative of higher contrasts screens.

    LCD and OLED screen technologies are now getting better by the day. LCD LED screens are brighter and support a wide range of colors. OLED provide true high contrast. As far as brightness goes, they’re rapidly catching up.

    In the age of high dynamic videos, both LCD LED and OLED screen technologies are in a race to outdo each other. It goes without saying that OLED screens seem to be getting the hype as the superior of the two.

    Honestly, this hype is somewhat warranted. Nonetheles, modern LCD screens are not only cheaper, but they’re put up on a good show. A perfect example of this is the display LCD display on Apple’s iPhone XR.

  5. Industrial Design

    The smartphones of today are manufactured with beauty and functionality in mind. All top flagships lead the charge in the quest for perfection.

    Manufacturers have kicked plastic out of the window. In the past couple of years they have added high durable glass, aluminium and stainless steel as the main components to build their phones. In 2019, there are rumours of a shift towards titanium and ceramics bodies. The final products from this materials not only have a premium look and feel, but they also tend to be more durable.

    Smartphones also feature thinner bezels as manufacturers seek to provide edge to edge displays. These move provides more real estate for the user to work with. Perhaps this need has led to manufacturers exploring to the need for foldable smartphones. Were they to work, they would revolutinize smartphone displays. Following Samsung’s Fold failure, this change will probably have to wait for the next decade.


I like to write code and scale mountains.