Four trends that stood above all others at CES 2019 and are likely to make headlines at MWC

Last updated: 11 February 2019

The biggest trade show for consumer electronics wrapped up last month. CES displayed many innovative technologies including digital taps, smart pressure cookers, a treadmill you can power your house from, and many others. But what were the technology trends that stole the show and will make an impact throughout 2019? And are we likely to see them make headlines at MWC Barcelona? Continue reading to find out.

Ultra-fast mobile connectivity – hype or reality?

5G was at the center of every major press conference and press booth at CES. And while conversations around the fifth generation of mobile connectivity were unavoidable, we didn’t learn a whole lot that we didn’t already know. Also, there were only few actual 5G-compatible product announcements. This might be because most of the products will be premiered at MWC Barcelona (formerly known as Mobile World Congress), taking place later this month.

Meanwhile, US mobile operator, AT&T made headlines by simulating 5G on millions of 4G phones, which it believes are nearly fast enough. AT&T also revealed that it’s using Gemalto’s all-in-one eSIM and IoT module for more simplified and secured IoT connectivity.

But it’s not always “higher faster further” with 5G. There’s also another 5G path that’s designed for massive Mobile IoT which will cater to lower bandwidth IoT use cases. Today, these applications utilize LPWAN technologies like LTE-M or NB-IoT, which are paving the way to 5G as both standards will be part of 5G specifications. At CES, Gemalto launched the 5G-ready Cinterion® EXS62 and EXS82 IoT modules, based on the latest Qualcomm® 9205 LTE IoT modem.

We also saw a 5G prototype smartphone from Samsung, kept behind glass, but we’re likely to know more about it at MWC.

While we didn’t see any major 5G innovations at CES, it became clear that entrepreneurs and developers are bringing connectivity and intelligence to more things – and with it comes a world of new possibilities that are going to be made a reality by 5G.

The Future of the Smartphone

CES has never been renowned for its smartphone announcements, as the majority of phone makers keep those for the following month or their own individual launch events. However, we did get some hints into what to expect from new models this year, with key smartphone topics being 5G and flexibility.

As we’ve mentioned, Samsung was among the first major vendors to show a prototype of its 5G phone, expected to be on sale from this summer. Then it was the turn of chipmaker Qualcomm, which also displayed 5G-enabled prototypes from Chinese brands Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi on its booth. However, the catch is that they’re all primarily for the Chinese market. So, customers in China might be the first people to enjoy phones compatible with fifth-generation mobile connectivity.

Royole’s FlexPai, the first foldable smartphone, was incredibly popular at the event. The larger, foldable screens are set to deliver better viewing experiences for streaming content and making video calls than current larger smartphones. And while there’s a lot of hype around such phones, it will be at MWC where we’ll see if they can live up to it and become a genuine trend.

Innovations in media consumption

This was a big year for TVs at CES, with real innovation and big leaps forward. For example, Samsung showcased a new type of TV modular system, called Micro LED TV. It uses only red, green and blue LED pixels, which means that it can deliver true black levels and incredibly bright and colorful picture. The amusing thing about this technology is that it can be assembled in any size or shape. Speaking of shapes and sizes, LG debuted an OLED TV that can roll-up-and-down from a box, providing you with multiple ways to consume content on the screen.

Many of the big names in consumer electronics debuted 8K TVs, but do we really need 8K? The main benefit of it is more detail and the sharpness of the picture. But it only goes that far. You can only really tell the difference in the picture quality if you’re buying a 65-inch or above TV (unless you have exceptionally good eyesight). Plus, you won’t be able to watch 8K videos until 5G becomes commercially available.

AI – impressive, and in everything

CES 2019 represented a fundamental shift in conversation when it comes to AI. Until recently, most technologies centered around people having to learn how to adapt to the tech. That’s why the focus has been on the user interface, and the technologies with the most user-friendly interface have been the ones to make the biggest impact.

Now, AI is challenging this to the point that it’s no longer the people adapting to the technology, but the technology adapting itself to each person/ situation to suit their individual needs. That’s why current AI technologies such as voice assistants gather as much data as possible about their owners, so that they can learn their patterns, habits and preferences.

Almost every company was showing AI applications at CES this year. Smart home electronics from ovens that identify foods in order to cook them properly to robotic vacuums that recognize objects in order to avoid running over them, were all present at the event. What’s more, voice-powered smart speakers such as Alexa and Google Home are now compatible with pretty much anything in your home – from kitchen appliances to mattresses and even toilet seats.

Are we likely to see any of these trends in Barcelona?

Companies will certainly continue conversations around the latest innovations in 5G, mobile and AI at MWC in February. Along with these, we expect topics such as eSIM, digital identities, commercial drones and IoT to be leading the conversation in Barcelona.

Gemalto will be present at the world’s biggest mobile industry event where we’ll showcase our secure connectivity and device lifecycle management solutions for OEM and MNOs. So, make sure you pop by stand 2J41 to witness some of our demos and talk to our experts. We look forward to seeing you there!

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