Black Friday’s Big Smartphone Trend – and What It Means for Next Year

Black Friday's Big Smartphone Trend – and What It Means for Next Year

It’s no surprise to find smartphones among the big-ticket holiday shopping items this Black Friday (not to mention Cyber Monday) – especially ones from brands like Apple and Samsung. Smartphones are popular items, and despite relatively incremental improvements, they tend to show up on consumers’ wish lists every year. But as with so many other seasonally recurring consumer items, there are sometimes clear trends that come through in certain years, and there’s a big one in today’s mobile market: The full-size display.

The Importance of Real Estate

Seeking to meet consumer demand, OEMs have increasingly sought larger real estate for their smartphone screens – a move that was already taking shape back in 2014 when iPhone introduced the plus-sized, and aptly named, iPhone 6 Plus. But the big design theme of this year was to get as close as possible to eliminating the bezels of the smartphone, so that the screen takes up almost the entire front of the device. Samsung led the way here with its Galaxy S8 phone at the start of the year, which moved the fingerprint sensor to the rear of the device; and it kept at it with its more recent Note 8 smartphone.

Making Room with Biometrics

Now, Apple has responded in a big way with the iPhone X. Much of the buzz around that device has resulted from its Face ID system, which replaces Apple’s pioneering Touch ID fingerprint scanner with an authentication mechanism based on infrared facial recognition. But it’s fair to speculate that an important driver behind the development of this system was Apple’s desire to make room for a full-size screen, which would have displaced the fingerprint scanning home button.

Not Just Apple and Samsung

And it isn’t just Apple and Samsung that have pushed this trend forward. Toward the end of summer, LG launched its V30 smartphone, a device featuring a full-size display, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and facial and voice recognition to boot. OnePlus, meanwhile, has just announced a new device that, like Apple’s iPhone X, feature a full-size display and a (less technologically sophisticated) facial recognition system, as well as a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. And biometric sensor makers have highlighted this trend in their corporate updates as they have seen a range of clients shift to full-size display designs.

Going forward, pretty much everybody’s going to want full-size displays, and it looks like that is going to further drive biometric innovation. Not only are more smartphone makers likely to incorporate additional unobtrusive modalities like facial and voice recognition, but many are expected to implement in-display fingerprint sensors now that the technology is starting to become viable and available. So while the big trend this Black Friday is full-size screens, it could result in another big trend next year – multimodal and in-display biometrics.