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Tech in 2018: 5G phones, folding and blockchain have finally become a reality Tech

Smartphones have become smarter in 2018. The update, however, came not only in the form of incremental improvements in hardware, in the camera and in chipsets, but also in the technology under the hood. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have become a mainstay in smartphone space.

We take folding phones for example. The concept of rollable and flexible displays has been around for several years. These displays have also made their appearance in technology conferences. But none of them could ever get to commercial production. Folding phones, however, have become a reality in 2018.

Royole Corporation, an unknown company from California, became the first smartphone company in the world to launch a folding phone. Called FlexPai, the smartphone is available in China at a starting price of 8,999 yuan (about Rs 95,000).

FlexPai, once opened, has a large 7.8-inch display. This makes the device bigger than many modern big-screen phones like Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Apple iPhone XS Max. The phone offers up to three screens, including the hinge that doubles as a screen.

Samsung folding phone
After years of being in development, Samsung's first folding phone was finally presented this year. The Korean giant uses an Infinity Flex display in its device that offers a 7.3-inch display when folded. The company should launch the commercial telephone at the beginning of 2019.

Samsung is betting big on its folding phones as it plans to ship at least 1 million units of the phone. According to reports, Samsung will launch a new version of its foldable phones every year, similar to its Galaxy S-cycle.

Samsung will launch its folding phone at the start of 2019
(Kyodo News via Getty Images)

Blockchain phones
While a single form factor is undoubtedly attracting mass users, some brands are focusing on creating enough powerful phones to handle blockchain technology. At the beginning of this year, Sirin Lab, based in Switzerland, launched "Finney", the world's first blockchain phone. The smartphone integrates the embedded cold storage cryptographic portfolio, the consent of the distributed registry and the sharing of encrypted peer-to-peer resources.

HTC soon followed the example with its blockchain phone Exodus 1. The device has a "secure enclave" that keeps your cryptocurrencies and even non-fungible tokens (NFTs). It also has a "Social Key Recovery" mechanism that allows you to track down the device when it disappears or is stolen.

According to reports, Huawei is also considering a blockchain-based phone. The device should see the light of day at the start of next year.

5G smartphone
The 5G mobile network is ready for the official launch at the beginning of next year. Ahead of the launch, a number of smartphone companies have confirmed the intention to launch 5G compatible smartphones. Samsung said its next-generation flagship phone will be ready for 5G. Other important players who have confirmed 5G phones are OnePlus and Xiaomi.

The biggest driver of 5G mobility will be the chipset. Qualcomm's latest flagship processor, Snapdragon 855, is equipped with integrated 5G modems and promises to offer 50 or 100 times faster than the current 4G network.

Qualcomm and Samsung will bring the first generation of 5G smarphones to the United States in the first half of 2019. OnePlus will launch the 5G Snapdragon 855 processor in the UK at the start of next year.


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First publication: 30 December 2018 16:38 IST

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