The smartphone market has reached a certain maturity. An observation that sometimes leads us to complain about the lack of innovations offered by brands from one year to the next. However, this does not prevent them from releasing new products, which sometimes look deceptively similar to previous models. Will this year be a year of big changes? We present you four trends that, in our opinion, will shape the smartphone market in 2023.
The smartphone market is far from experiencing its most prosperous period. According to figures from Counterpoint, it reached its peak in 2017 with 1.6 billion smartphones shipped. Each year has been worse than the previous one, except for 2021 which benefited from the rebound effect after the Covid-19 pandemic. By 2022, 1.2 billion smartphones have been shipped, far from historical records.
On the same subject : Is the golden age of smartphones really over?
Ecological awareness and economic tension are leading consumers to renew their phones less. To convince them, manufacturers must innovate by offering a variety of products and features that significantly improve the user experience. Another voice for brands is one of streamlining and the status quo. A risky choice in a market where competition is fierce.
Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Google, Honor, OnePlus, Sony, Realme, Wala, Poco, Redmi, Motorola, etc. What can they offer us in 2023?
Compact smartphones are dead, long live foldable smartphones!
It didn’t save you, the compact smartphone is an endangered species. Today it is very difficult to find a phone with a screen less than six inches and can be manipulated with one hand. The reason is quite simple: they don’t sell enough. Apple has already thrown in the towel after the iPhone 13 mini, leaving the iPhone SE 2022 as the only representative of the brand’s small phones.
This year, Asus is the only one that ventures to release a compact format with the ZenFone 9. For others, the smallest phones you’ll find are 6.1 inches like the Google Pixel 6a or the Galaxy S22. If you want a smartphone that fits easily in your pocket, there is now one, more expensive solution: foldable.
Samsung’s success in the foldable smartphone segment has given the competition ideas. For a very elitist moment, the Galazy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4 were presented as a technological demonstration. Samsung sees it as the future of smartphones, and it looks like it’s not the only one. In fact, many Chinese brands have invested in this market in 2022… only in China. But 2023 will mark the arrival of Chinese ogres around the world, to enable the hegemony of the Korean giant.
Vivo X Fold+, Honor Magic Vs, Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 and other Oppo Find N2 are all names with which you need to be familiar and will bring healthy competition in 2023. Enough to lower the prices in the coming years of this format being too elitist for many to accept.
The “flagship killers”, the return of revenge
In 2014, the OnePlus One launched the “flagship killer” concept. In that year, no smartphone was sold for more than 1000 euros. The OnePlus is offered for less than 300 euros, against almost 700 euros for the Samsung Galaxy S5, released in the same year. Another time. Today, the price of some phones has literally exploded, along with the margins of the manufacturers who sell them.
In 2023, the models closest to the spirit of this “flagship killer” will undoubtedly be the best smartphones offered for less than 500 euros. Take a top-of-the-range phone, strip it of some refinements like wireless charging, a telephoto camera module or even a waterproof certification, and you have a product that’s unbeatable value for money.
In this category, we can mention for example the Google Pixel 6a, the Nothing Phone (1) or the Oppo Reno 8. What do these smartphones have in common? Offer “what’s needed, where it’s needed”. Understand by this that they are convincing enough to meet the needs of 99% of users who use their smartphones for web browsing, social networks and video streaming.
Except for Apple, which focuses its efforts on high-end models, the other Android brands have at least one reference in the mid-range, which focuses a large part of their sales each year. Therefore, a very competitive price segment, where good references should still arrive in 2023.
Very fast charging, but not for everyone
“Fast charge” is a designation that unfortunately is not framed by any rules. So, all the brands will tell you that their smartphone is taking advantage of this technology. In fact, there are some fast recharges. Some manufacturers have decided to stop the race for speed and prefer to be careful about the safety and longevity of their devices.
In this category, we can put Apple, Samsung and Google. According to our 01Lab tests, the Galaxy S22 Ultra recharges in 1 h 04 (45W), the iPhone 14 Pro in 1 h 29 (27W) and the Google Pixel 7 Pro in 1 h 40 (23W). Figures that are clearly related to the size of the batteries that directly affect these results.
Discover : Our top 10 smartphones with the fastest charging
The second category is that of Chinese brands that have been offering pretty impressive charging speeds for some time now thanks to chargers of 80W, 120W, and up to 160W for the OnePlus 10T. Enough to find a 100% battery in less than 25 minutes for certain models.
In 2023, Chinese manufacturers should hit the ground running with smartphones capable of recharging in just 9 minutes thanks to a fast charge of 240W. You read that right. To achieve this, smartphones are equipped with two batteries that are charged in parallel to distribute the charging power and thus limit the heating of the device. As for the duration of these batteries, we still lack insight…
Smartphones that zoom a lot
The most affordable smartphones have long taken decent photos, in good lighting conditions, with their main (wide-angle) camera module. Therefore, brands do not hesitate to add other modules to offer more versatility, especially in entry-level smartphones.
Discover : The best smartphones under 300 euros in 2023
Unfortunately, the quality is not always there. We still often see an unconvincing ultra-wide-angle module and an anecdotal macro module, not to say useless. Telephoto modules for zooming without loss of quality are reserved for high-end models. A selling point that often gives the name “Pro” or “Ultra” to the most expensive smartphones.
In this little game, Samsung made a strong start to 2022 by offering x10 optical zoom on its Galaxy S22 Ultra. For its part, the Pixel 7 Pro is satisfied with a x5 optical zoom, but compensates for this “weakness” with impressive software processing that allows you to get high-quality x10 photos. But the smartphone with the most changes at this point in 2022 is the Sony Xperia 1 IV, which is the first smartphone equipped with “real” optical zoom.
In fact, Sony offers a camera block with the ability to navigate between x3.5 zoom and x5.2 zoom without quality loss. A new and truly remarkable equivalent of the 85-125 mm, but still offering mixed quality, the fault of a sensor that is still too small.
However, this technology is promising and opens the door to future smartphones that may be equipped with a periscopic camera module, capable of replacing the multiple fixed focal lengths found on our phones today. Therefore, 2023 should also be the “year of zoom” in high-end smartphones.