With a massive take up of smartphones across the world, and prices coming down all the time to make them more affordable, it is fair to say that the day of the feature phone has passed. But what will the new dawn of smartphones really bring?
Smartphones are already multimedia powerhouses that can also be used for many of the functions we traditionally use a home computer for. It was easy to see improvements in these areas over the past few years, but now most smartphones fit this bill nicely, manufacturers need to go the extra mile to differentiate them from the competition.
As we have seen the first signs of with the Motorola Atrix, one avenue open for smartphones is accessories. As the connected home begins to become a reality, plugging your handset into a QWERTY keyboard or your television makes more and more sense. This may even extend to the likes of transport (a bike for exercise apps, your car for sat nav etc) and clothing (anything from a jacket to your glasses).
2) 4G and the cloud
While smartphones can play video and tunes, take snaps and vids and get online, they have been limited by the quality of 3G signals. As 4G begins to roll out from mobile broadband suppliers across the world, a whole new world is opening up for 4G smartphones. Fast cloud access and more generous data limits offer massive consumer potential, for everything from live streaming your video output to social network sites to playing complex real time games online on the move.
3) Form can be a factor
The current generation of smartphones, while elegant, are a pretty boring bunch of four-inch slabs. As hardware sizes continue to decrease and materials become more flexible, we can expect to see some welcome variety in how we view the shape of our smartphones. Even if it simple things like the return of the flip format, expect some innovation in the coming months.
4) More of everything
Of course, the usual advances will be made and have a pretty impressive effect. Expect 3D to become a regular part of devices (its part of the next Android OS, for example), alongside 16-megapixel cameras and affordable 64GB microSD cards. Dual-core 2MHz processors should be on the way to smartphones as early as 2012, if Samsung is to be believed, putting them in competition with a lot of PCs, let alone laptops. An ARM chip design is already on the table.
5) Visions of the future
At the more far-out end of the spectrum, this year’s eYeka Next Generation smartphone competition saw a round, screenless holographic projecting idea take top prize. Second was a handset made of organic light-emitting diodes that are flexible enough to transform between a pocket handset and a tablet sized device. And while these ideas may sound crazy and far fetched now, the way things are moving these really could be the concepts that mould a future generation of smartphones.