The Wrap – What’s next for phones? (January 18, 2019)

What’s coming in the world of smartphones, as we look to Oppo’s impressive new camera and Galaxy S10 rumours. Plus we’ll check out a new smartwatch and glance at some new gear. All that in five minutes. This is The Wrap.

Transcript

For the week ending January 18, you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and this week, it’s time to start considering phones. You might look at yours and wonder if it needs an update, because while it’s only January, phone makers are already looking to what they can deliver this year.

If last year was any indication, we’re going to see more emphasis on cameras with AI to help you take that perfect shot, as well as fuller screens. Those were the trends last year, and they’ll continue this year, alongside high-speed 5G. Telstra will likely have it first, and then expect it from the other carriers later on.

But first we need phones, and new phones are coming.

February’s Mobile World Congress is a little over a month away, and that’s where you can expect these sorts of announcements. Before then, we’re hearing about what phones will arrive first.

In fact, Samsung could very well lead the bunch, announcing that ahead of Mobile World Congress, it will be showing us what’s next for the Galaxy phones on February 20 in America, which is February 21 in Australia.

Current rumours suggest an evolution of the path Samsung has developed in the S8 and S9, with a long screen that takes up most of the front, an emphasis on speed and design, and a few more tricks. We’re hearing Samsung will use a hole punch screen with the front-cameras punched out of the front like a hole punch — get it? — with as many as two, three, or four cameras on the back. Huawei is expected to cross over into four this year, so if Samsung offered four ahead of Huawei’s P30, we wouldn’t be surprised.

And there could be as many as three or four phones announced that day, with maybe a high-speed 5G option.

Oppo also announced some phone developments this week, showing off a new in-screen fingerprint technology that allowed you to register your finger on more of the screen, while its camera technology is truly interesting.

You see Oppo showed off a ten-times zoom camera for its phones with a periscope-like technology, potentially doing away with long lenses and just letting you go phone. It’s not the first time Oppo has showed a technology like this, and back in 2017, it had a five-times camera, but it was never released on a phone.

Perhaps this one will. It would definitely give Oppo something no one else has, and could give camera makers a run for their money.

Before then, there’s a new camera out. At least one, actually.

Sony has this week announced mirrorless camera for around $1500 that offers 4K filmmaking capabilities with some smart object tracking and a flip-up screen. Think of the Sony a6400 as a selfie filmmaking machine, because that’s what it feels like it’s trying to be.

The year has only just begun, and it’s just one of a handful of products already on their way out to consumers keen for new gear.

Arlo’s brand of WiFi-enabled security cameras saw a new product this week with the Arlo Audio Doorbell, a product that is exactly what it sounds like, offering a $129 WiFi connected doorbell for your home.

Jabra has a more business-focused version of its Elite 65t earphones in the Evolve 65t, while Blue has a new microphone. I feel like The Blues Brothers just mentioning it.

And we’re also checking out a new product to start the year with Samsung’s Galaxy Watch, the new generation of its smartwatches, retaining the circular design and rotating controls from the Gear S range, but updating a few things.

The design isn’t one of those changes, but the insides have, and there’s now a big battery to go with them, sitting under a 1.3 inch circular Super AMOLED screen alongside WiFi, Bluetooth, and the ability to pay for things using Samsung Pay.

Now if you’ve seen Samsung’s watches in the past, there’s not a lot of difference here. The Galaxy Watch is controlled using a neat dial around the screen, plus the touchscreen. It comes with a GPS and can track your fitness, but for the most part, it’s a smartwatch with notifications to stop you from looking at your phone.

And it’s a smartwatch that just goes on and on as far as the battery is concerned. We were testing the 46mm version, and we only needed to charge the Galaxy Watch on the fifth day. That’s basically an entire work week, which for a watch with a full colour screen is really impressive.

But we can’t help but feel that Samsung’s Galaxy Watch needs more. It tracks your fitness, it gives you notifications, and it tells the time, but it’s basically just the Gear S3 from a couple of years ago with a better battery.

That makes it worth checking out, but not the best smartwatch ever. Just one of the best that works on Android.

And ironically, we’re out of time. So you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. The Wrap can be found every Friday at Podcast One and Apple Podcasts, and will be back next week for more tech five. Until then, have a great week, and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Take care.