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Best of 2022: What this year taught us about smartphones

Economies of scale may drive down production costs, making devices more affordable. Picture: Samsung Electronics/Handout via Reuters. Picture: Samsung Electronics/Handout via Reuters

Economies of scale may drive down production costs, making devices more affordable. Picture: Samsung Electronics/Handout via Reuters. Picture: Samsung Electronics/Handout via Reuters

Published Dec 29, 2022


This has been a landmark year for the smartphone industry, with mobile devices seeing massive evolution amid a greater push to bring foldable technology to more consumers.

There are scores of new smartphone releases, much to the anticipation of their respective fans, including the iPhone 14 series, the all-new iPhone 14 Pro Max, the Samsung S22 stable, and strong new entries from Chinese manufacturers Huawei, Oppo and Vivo.

The 2022 iPhone

To the disagreement of its loyal following, the iPhone series launched this year, left little to scream about unless you were in the market for the ultra-premium iPhone 14 Pro Max – the only device of the latest series to feature Apple’s upgraded chipset.

Despite this, with the EU’s clampdown on the standardised smartphone charging mechanism – we could see next year’s iPhone featuring Android’s type-C charging port alongside an all-new upgraded series, given the very few upgrades this year.

Design cues set new trends

IOL highlighted three new design tweaks, which became evident among a series of well-known manufacturers. The three trends included the new popularised notch, reserving space for the facing selfie camera and other functionality, larger, more noticeable camera lenses and rear colour variations.

These design trends have been witnessed across a range of smartphones. At the same time, new devices from Huawei, Oppo and Vivo epitomise these latest trends. They could be a telltale of more widely adopted design trends in the year ahead.

While mostly premium-ranged smartphones featured the new trends, economies of scale may drive down production costs, resulting in more affordable devices featuring the design cues in 2023.

Rise of the foldable

Foldable smartphones were a figment of imagination just a few years ago. Despite this, 2022 ushered in an era for the popularisation of the folding smartphone, one of the latest design formats to grace mobile devices.

Previous years saw decent attempts by Samsung and Huawei while they explored the design format.

However, both showcased their upgraded entries to the format this year – with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 introduced by the South Korean manufacturer and the P50 Pocket Premium and Huawei Mate Xs 2 from their Chinese rival.

Based on the introductions of previously launched devices – foldable smartphones were once only seen as a gimmick to save space without much use for the fold other than an enlarged display.

Meanwhile, offerings from Huawei and Samsung boasted more use for the fold, a diminished crease left by it and increased functionality for the larger screen when opened.

While it is too early to tell whether foldable will become more widely adopted by the public, several smartphone manufacturers have either released or laid bare intentions to remove a device using the design format, including Apple, which may only release one in the next two years, according to online rumours.

Given that it is an early smartphone trend, it is only featured among the most ultra-premium devices, which fetch hefty price tags.

Despite this, much like other design trends, if more widely sought by the public, costs may be driven down by economies of scale, and next year could see the release of a more affordable foldable smartphone.

IOL Tech