2018 Predictions: GfK key account director Imran Choudhary


According to GfK key account director Imran Choudhary over the next 12 months we will see more facial recognition in new devices but consumers holding on to devices for longer

In 2017 many consumers began to de-couple their handset purchase from the tariff purchase.

A sizeable portion are already doing this and this trend will no doubt grow in 2018, as consumers gravitate towards innovative tariffs and SIM free device purchases to best meet their needs and to lower lifetime cost when compared to traditional two-year contract device cycles.

With handset prices increasing and consumers hanging on to their devices for longer, we’ll see networks and retailers focus on providing more affordable ways of upgrading to the latest device more frequently​ – so we will see more leasing and annual upgrade plans come to the market.

In the handsets market 2018 will see continued development on the hardware front as OEMs look to bring more innovations to consumers. We can expect the flagship devices supporting the Android OS come up with a FaceID equivalent to compete on this feature with Apple. We’re going to see more edge-to-edge screens and continued overall improvement of major specs. One thing that we might see in 2018 is a greater focus on how AI analytics can play a part in how phones can get better over time. We can also expect to see a strong showing from the challenger brands as they look to close the gap on the dominant two players and the challenger space will become ever more dense, which is great for the consumer.

In terms of something different, there are rumours we may see a foldable screen arrive in 2018. It might be a year too early for that, but you never know! Hopefully OEMs will bring innovations to devices that consumers are craving – that address a real pain point and make life easier.

Software will continue to be the heart of the mobile experience, not just relating to the device but the broader functions we do on our smartphones. Voice-activated assistants like Siri have been around for a while, but in 2018 we’ll see this develop as others like Samsung and Google, who brought their assistants to their devices in 2017, will no doubt show their learnings and continued development.

We’ll hopefully see these assistants seamlessly link to third-party apps and products both in and outside the incumbent ecosystem, providing the consumer with a converged user experience.