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MWC 2017 : Day 4: Display Innovation & AR Technology

by Yiwen Wu | Mar 02, 2017

Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017, one of the world’s most important mobile communications events, is taking place this week in Barcelona, Spain. Strategy Analytics’ devices team is on the spot to cover the industry’s latest innovations in handsets, smartphones, drones, robots, 5G and other connected technology.

Our Day One coverage, focusing on smartphone launches from Huawei, LG and Nokia (HMD) is available here.

Our Day Two coverage, focusing on smartphone launches from Sony, a new licensing partnership by Jolla / Sailfish, the return of BlackBerry, Alcatel budget phones and ZTE and Gionee, can be found here.

Our Day Three coverage, focusing on the emerging devices and technology for drones, robots, and 5G, can be found here.

In addition to the invitation-only client presentations at MWC 2017, Strategy Analytics will a post MWC Webinar on March 6 (register).

In Day Four of MWC 2017, we would like to switch our attention to the latest development of display innovation and AR technology in smartphone industry.


Numerous Incremental Innovations in Smartphone Display Technology

Mobile screen has become a key differentiator for smartphones. At MWC 2017, we observed numerous incremental innovations from major smartphone vendors in display technology.

The incremental innovations include the extremely thin bezels of Sony Xperia XA1, Sony XA1 Ultra, and Nubia Z11, the four-edged display showcased in Huawei Honor Magic and in vivo Xplay 6, a massive edgeless screen adopted by Xiaomi Mi Mix, and the adjusted screen ratio (18:9 vs. more common 16:9) highlighted in LG G6. These micro-innovations made these models look different, while the major drawback is the lack of killing apps/services to utilize these screen innovations.

It is pity that Samsung didn’t debut any smartphone models with foldable display at MWC 2017. We have high expectation on foldable display in general, and view it as a disruptive innovation for smartphones given its impact on device form-factors and its potential to enable more use cases.

mi mix


to Become the Mainstream for High-end Smartphone in the Next Few Years

Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and Asus Zenfone AR are the two AR smartphones enabled by Google Tango platform. We found both models at MWC 2017, although the former one was released in June 2016 and the latter one was in Jan 2017. Both of them showcased the potential that AR technology could bring to smartphone users, especially in the use cases like online shopping, indoor navigation, measurement, home decoration, 3D gaming, and educational gaming.

We believe AR-enabled smartphone will become the trend in high-end smartphones, as a takeaway from MWC 2017. During the show, Qualcomm demonstrated AR/VR enabled chipset. Snapdragon 821, for example, is optimized for Google Tango with lower power consumption. In the future, Qualcomm will integrate AR/VR functions in all Snapdragon 600 and above chipsets. This will enable AR smartphone in the chipset level. Given the higher BOM cost of AR smartphones, we expect AR will bear fruits first in high-end smartphones.

Then, when will it happen? It depends highly on the development of AR platform, more specifically the availability of AR apps/games and the killing use cases. Developers allocate their resources to the growing ecosystem with solid use base. We believe that if Google could incorporate AR functionality into Android OS firmware, it will significantly increase the number of daily smartphone users for AR. We also believe that key OEM’s involvement could be the catalyst. If Apple, for example, will adopt 3D camera/AR functions in new iPhones in 2018, this will give a strong push to accelerate the development of AR platform.




You can tune into our Day 5 update tomorrow and can find our first blog about our expectations for MWC 2017 across smartphones, display, technical innovations and others here.

Previous Post: MWC 2017: Day 3: Drones, Robots & 5G

Previous Post: MWC 2017: Day 2: Smartphones

Previous Post: MWC 2017: Day One: Smartphones

Previous Post: MWC 2017: What Mobile Devices Can You Expect to See?


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