Emojis: New Smartphone Battleground for Apple and Samsung

Major manufacturers of smartphones that are grappling with a slowing market are already running out of features that can attract users to purchase their latest gadgets.

Currently, they are turning to emojis to display the capabilities for augmented reality (AR) of the handsets of their companies.

Apple was the first one to introduce an AR emoji feature. It is called Animoji and was featured on the iPhone X of last year. The 3-D sensor of the device that is located on the front is able to pick up the facial movement of the user and copied it via an animated emoji.

Samsung followed the lead of Apple with the company’s own answer. It is called AR Emoji, and it was introduced when Samsung released its flagship smartphone Galaxy S9 on Sunday. The said feature allows people to take a selfie and the software of the phone makes it into a custom avatar that imitates the movement of the face of the user.

On Monday, Sony also launched a smartphone at the Mobile World Congress that was held in Barcelona, Spain. The new smartphone is called the Xperia XZ2. It has a feature that allows people to scan their faces and create a 3-D avatar.

These custom avatars and emojis are an example of a use case for augmented reality, a feature that most smartphone manufacturers have tackled. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, informed CNBC last year that AR would make the iPhone “even more essential.” In 2017, Apple released a series of tools for the developers to create AR applications. Google also did the same.

AR may still be considered as a misunderstood technology, and analysts say that starting with emojis is a form to educate people about how the said technology can be utilised.

The research director for European mobile devices at IDC, Francisco Jeronimo, stated: “Emojis are the easiest and quickest way manufacturers can bring something to end users around AR capabilities that consumers get straight away.”

The all-new features and a renewed focus on the capabilities of the cameras for makers of smartphones come as they attempt to convince the users to upgrade to the latest and higher-priced phones, despite a slowing market.

According to data from Gartner, Global sales of smartphones recorded a decline for the first-time ever during the fourth quarter of last year with Apple and Samsung both observing a decline.

Read more: Gartner: Sales of Smartphones Drop for the First Time Ever