Last year, people were seen standing in long queues waiting for their turns. No, this has nothing to do with demonetization;rather, this account is of service rollout of a specific 4G mobile network operator, which had people from across thesocioeconomic spectrum lining up to buy its SIM cards. The demand for4G services in 2017 underlined India’s strong resolve for digitisation, and its consumers’ readiness for the latest technology.

Smartphones have been at the epicenter of this transformation, and anyone even remotely associated with the sector knowshow exceptional 2017 and 2016 have been for smartphone adoption in the country. These two years saw new market entrants achieve top position on the back of their differentiated product offerings, generating three-digit growth along the way and popularizing 4G by providing hi-tech features at extremely convenient price points.

But the best is yet to come. Smartphones are expected to continue being at the forefront of the country’s ongoing digital renaissance in 2018. Here, then, are some trends that will drive the Indian smartphone sector, especially with regard to mid-level smartphones, in the coming year.

The 18:9 smartphone trend

Full display with bigger screen sizes are going to witness massive acceptance in the year to come. Smartphones in the future will have bezel-less screens (screens without their outer casing to hold them in place) and 18:9 aspect ratios. Owing to the upturn in the multi-functionality of devices, especially with extensive entertainment content available on the go, smartphone manufacturers are trying to introduce large screen-to-body ratios with smaller bezel. The trend is limited to high-end smartphones at present, and is expected to trickle down to more affordable mid-range smartphones in 2018.

Sleeker batteries with higher power output

Battery life is struggling to satiate customers who want to achieve almost all their daily tasks with their smartphones. This is alongside the ever-increasing demand to make smartphones slimmer and more visually appealing. Had it been human, smartphone manufacturers would’ve sent their batteries for weight training at the gym… and they possibly would! 2018 will see introduction of much sleeker smartphones with greater battery output, in line with the market expectations.

AI in smartphones

Artificial Intelligence is not artificial anymore. The technology comes naturally with upmarket smartphones in the form of AI-based virtual assistants and applications that leverage Machine Learning. But Artificial Intelligence requires greater processing power, which prevents it from coming into the mainstream usage. With multiple OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) making considerable progress in enabling the technology for the masses, AI-enabled smartphones—both high-end and mid-range—can become a tangible reality for aspiring consumers in 2018.

Dual cameras

Dual camera offers better depth, greater picture clarity, and post-processing. It also helps you achieve the perfect bokeh effect, wherein you can focus on a subject while blurring the rest of the background. Two lenses additionally increase the optical zoom to around 1x-2x, while also enhancing the focus and perspective in the picture. In a nutshell, every snap taken using a dual camera appears to be taken by a professional photographer. This is one of the prime reasons why they are gaining so much popularity the world over, especially amongst shutterbugs. Expect more pocket friendly smartphones with dual cameras to be launched in the market in 2018.

Go, Android Go

Google will be unveiling a lightweight version of its latestAndroid 8 (Oreo). Android Go will have relative functionality and has been designed to operate on smartphones that have working memory of 1 GB or less.Effective data management will be one of the key features of this operating system. Taking criticaltakeaways from the rollout of Android One, Google is expected to revolutionise the entry to mid-level smartphones in developing markets with its latest offering.

The author is Chief Marketing Officer, itel Mobile


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