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(Pocket-lint) - The war on display bezels has been raging for a couple of years - we've seen the change in aspect, the birth of the notch, the reinvigoration of sliders and features like in-display fingerprint scanners all widely used through 2018.

But 2019 might bring a couple of new approaches to cleaning up the front of smartphones. The in-display camera has been widely covered, from the Honor View 20 to the rumour of the Infinity-O display on the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S10. But what about the speakers?

In 2019, we might see a move to change the screen of the phone into the speaker, reducing the needs for dedicated speakers on the front of a phone. Surface sound - using the display as the speaker - will be on display from a number of Korean and Chinese manufacturers at CES 2019 according to Etnews.

The technology isn't new: the Sony OLED A1 TV introduced Acoustic Surface in 2017 and it looks like a similar solution - placing piezoelectric exciter underneath the display surface - could be coming to smartphones. 

Samsung showed off the technology - called Sound on Display - at SID 2018. LG is also working on a solution, called CSO - Crystal Sound OLED - which has been demonstrated at various events as far back as 2017.

It's reported that this technology is only really suitable for OLED displays as it can cause problems with the backlighting in LCD displays - so it might be a feature at only comes to high-end phones.

Etnews reports that (translated): "A Chinese company is also developing technology to commercialize a smartphone equipped with a surface sound display … There is a possibility of commercialization in the second half of next year as soon as possible."

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With companies like Oppo, Xiaomi and Huawei all aggressively attacking the smartphone space, it looks like 2019 will hold some innovation for smartphone fans.

Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published on 27 December 2018.