A look at the five features of the year which made smartphones cool again.
Smartphones have become one of the most essential equipments of our day-to-day life. From humble beginnings about a decade ago, smartphones have become so powerful today that some models can outright beat a decently powered laptop.
But in order to keep with customer expectations and stand out from competition, smartphone makers have to keep innovating.
It is safe to say that 2017 turned out to be a good year from smartphones, if we look at it from the standpoint of innovation.
The year some radical changes in the basic design of smartphones, besides some advanced features becoming mainstream, such as face recognition, or those using technologies such as artificial intelligence.
Here are five of the most interesting and innovative features from 2017.
Unarguably, the most prominent feature of the year. Though the feature dates back to late 2016, it was the launch of Samsung's Galaxy S8's stunning edge-to-edge 'Infinity Display' which made bezel-less the most sought-after feature of 2017.
With bezel-less screens, phones could sport larger screens without actually increasing the size of the phone itself. Not only this, but phones could also adopt features such as 18:9 aspect ratio, which in turn resulted in other interesting features such as multi-window mode and bumped up pixels per inch (PPI).
Improved security features
2017 saw a major shift in the way people locked/unlocked their devices. With security features such as facial recognition and iris scanner, patterns and passwords seemed like stone-age.
The shift was so drastic that Apple went one step ahead and discarded even the relatively new fingerprint sensor feature from its 10-year anniversary phone, the iPhone X. Not only Apple and flagship Android devices such as OnePlus 5T, but even some mid range and semi-premium phones now use facial recognition as the primary way of unlocking a phone.
Dual cameras and Bokeh effect
The second feature that dominated smartphones in 2017 was dual cameras. However, not all the dual cameras offered the same function. When LG offered users of its premium phones with wide-angle lens companies like Apple and OnePlus stuck with wide angle lens combined with a telephoto lens with optical zoom capability.
Dual cameras allow for the Bokeh effect, which is basically the effect of the background being blurred while leaving the focus solely on the subject, a feature only DSLRs were capable of in the past.
After struggling for years, AI finally made decent foray into smartphones in 2017. From virtual assistants (Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant) to Face ID in iPhone X to processors and even cameras there was hardly a field where AI did not made its presence felt.
For instance, Google Pixel 2/Pixel 2 XL camera scored the highest rating ever achieved by a smartphone on a widely followed benchmark. This was despite the fact that the phone achieved this feat using only a single camera. Turns out, more than the very capable hardware, it was an AI-assisted software which managed this feat.
Augmented Reality (AR), like AI, is in its nascent stages. But after the success of Pokemon Go in 2016, companies invested significantly in AR technologies.Apple came up with an NPU (neural processing unit) in recently launched iPhones which has separate cores dedicated to manage machine learning and AR apps. It also introduced ARKit, a framework which allows developers a platform to code AR-based apps which don't require dedicated hardware. Apple’s ARKit is in line with Google’s ARCore, an SDK which hopes to extract AR’s true potential in future.