Predicting the onward course of technology has always been a perilous, and in some cases downright scary game, and much is made of how tech continues to develop in ways both terrifying and inspiring.
Sure enough, there’s already been a lot of talk about how 2018 is the year that will see many a science-fiction fantasy brought to life – ranging from electric cars and increasingly difficult-to-track artificial intelligence (AI), right through to gadgets that don’t even need plugs to charge.
Not all of it’s going to be that outlandish, though. To give you a sense of the fuller picture of the latest technology, here’s our rundown of some of the big new gadgets for 2018.
Samsung Galaxy S9
The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are hardly slouches as far as flagship smartphones are concerned, but speculation about their successors is already reaching fever pitch. Some of it, as you might expect, has been a bit daft – one video supposedly showing a leaked version of the S9+ has been debunked as a probable Chinese clone.
We’re not even sure of when exactly the S9 is likely to be released. The S8 was announced in late March last year and then hit the shelves in mid-April, but sources have said that won’t become a pattern. A Bloomberg report has indicated that the S9 will probably be fully unveiled in February, before becoming available in stores from mid-March.
A lot of detail is already filtering through about the device, however, including that it will apparently have the same 18.5:9 aspect ratio as the S8, but with even smaller bezels to maximise the screen size. It has also been suggested that the device will draw upon the iPhone X Face ID-esque functionality of Samsung’s brand new Exynos 9 Series 9810 processor.
Apple Watch Series 4
The incorporation of LTE into last year’s third-generation Apple Watch helped to make it a truly useful smartwatch. With a version of the timepiece now boasting an eSIM that enables cellular connectivity without a phone, it’s fair to say that the Series 3 is already pretty Star Trek-ish.
But the ultimate potential of the still-young smartwatch category is likely to extend much further than the simple ability to make calls and send texts without an iPhone in sight.
Given that all three generations of the Watch so far have looked basically the same, there is much speculation that the fourth one could see a drastic restyle. One Apple patent drawing – for a strap design technology, but depicting a watch with a circular face – has even got people wondering whether the boys and girls at Cupertino might be tempted to switch from the Watch’s familiar square design.
Given that we’re basically talking about mobile phone chips here, it’s an impressive feat if Microsoft really has managed to get Windows 10 to operate on them smoothly.
The prospective advantages of such technology – including enhanced battery life, fans no longer being needed and maybe even lower prices – could make 2018 a very significant year indeed in the history of the laptop.
Apple iPhone SE 2
The Californian giant’s usual product release schedule indicates that this year’s expected successor to its range-topping smartphone – the iPhone X – will be a mere refinement instead of an overhaul.
This means that the device presently being speculatively referred to as the ‘iPhone XI’ – or ‘iPhone 11’ if Apple decides it’s already bored of the Roman numerals – might not be the iPhone to watch out for in 2018.
Instead, consider the iPhone SE. Priced at just £349 in the UK for the 32GB version, the only four-inch smartphone presently available new from Apple has been quite a hit among those who prefer smaller handsets. It launched in March 2016 but wasn’t updated a year later, which led many to wonder whether it would end up a one-off in the Apple range, like the iPhone 5c was.
However, more recent reports are pointing to an ‘SE 2’ being released in the first quarter of this year. According to The Sun, such a device could borrow the A10 chip from the iPhone 7, or even the iPhone 8’s A11 processor, while being priced somewhere between £399 and £599.
Slowing tablet sales in recent times suggests that this once much-hyped product category could do with something a bit exciting – maybe even downright weird – to give it a boost. Could the ability to fold up your tablet be ‘it’?
We’re not sure, but that’s not stopping a lot of the usual wizards giving it a go anyway. At last summer’s Lenovo Tech World event, for instance, the Chinese manufacturer showed off its latest version of the Folio device that it had first exhibited as a concept the previous year. It’s a 7.8-inch Android tablet with a hinge in the middle, meaning it can be folded into a 5.5-inch dual-screen device resembling a smartphone.
Samsung has been working on a similar innovation, with Koh Dong-jin – the president of the Korean firm’s mobile business – having indicated that it aims to release a smartphone drawing upon its bendable OLED screen technology at some point this year.
LG ThinQ TVs
Voice-controlled TVs might turn out to be one of the more unjustly ignored technology developments of 2018. Indeed, LG took advantage of the quiet period in the run-up to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas – taking place this year from 9th to 12th January – to announce new such TVs under the ThinQ brand, complete with built-in Google Assistant.
That means you’ll be able to control such a TV with the power of your voice alone – for example, to turn it off or change the channel.
Well, alright, it goes a bit further than that, as it can also serve as a smart hub for your wider home, enabling you to control other home gadgets. So expect to be able to do stuff like turning down your room’s smart lights or bumping up the heating simply by talking to your TV.
Imagine how drastically your life could be transformed by just a few of these exciting new gadgets in 2018! In fact, for all of the more apocalyptic technology-related predictions that we’ve been hearing in the news recently, it might just be safe to come out from behind the sofa after all – at least until 2019…