Even as of writing this, the mobile industry is massive and only getting bigger. Just a few years ago, I remember getting a heavily sought after phone, with its best feature being a colored display. In a very short amount of time, we have seen the technology world explode, where personal computing is not only a regular thing, but also something that it greatly immersive. With smart phones, tablets, and even smart wearable accessories.
So where is all of this headed?
A few days ago, I was taking with some friends and we each came up with some ideas on what we would like to see in future phones. We soon arrived at the conclusion that everyone has different need for their mobile device, and different expectations. The only thing we agreed upon is that the price of the devices should be more affordable.
I decided to think about where I think (and hope) the mobile industry is headed.
The first thing that most people look at when buying a phone is the price. In most cases consumers have a limit on how much they are willing to spend on a phone. As of writing this article, a 5” Samsung Galaxy S4, a high end smartphone, retails for $500.00+, whereas the 7” Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, a mid-range tablet, retails for $200+. That is approximately a $300 difference in price, for a smaller chipset and mobile networking capabilities. The S4 is much smaller than the Tab 3, while still having significantly more features, so maybe the price tag is reasonable. As the industry progresses, the cost of production will decrease. There are many open source operating systems out there, Android being the largest. These allow manufacturers to cost effectively make hardware and not have to pay for software licensing, which is a great benefit to the consumers. I also hope to see companies like Amazon, selling their device with 0 mark-up, at the cost of production. This gives the consumers a great device at an affordable price and allows everyone to have access to this technology. The companies can make back the money on accessories and software (app sales).
Next, I am jumping to Battery life. This is a subject that I have great interest in. I spend a large portion of my week days on my mobile devices. I expect 2000+ mAh Li-Ion batteries on future phones. As it is now, my main phone is a Samsung Galaxy Note II with a quite large 3100 mAh Li-Ion battery. It definitely packs a lot of power, but the Note 2, being the size that it is, consumes a great deal as well. I love phones that have removable battery. For me, it just makes sense. A phone with a removable battery has a greater lifespan, because the battery is one of the fastest deteriorating components in the modern phone. Many argue that a removable battery results in a weaker/cheaper feeling build quality, but I would happily forfeit build quality for functionality and lifetime. In addition, I am able to purchase multiple extra batteries for my phone and have them with me when my battery dies, so I can essentially last almost a week without needing to connect my phone to a charger. This comes in handy for long trips where access to charger may be limited, or even on daily life when you inadvertently drain your battery watching something or forget to charge the night before. A removable battery is what I will look for, and with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, it is apparent that you do not need to trade the premium feel for a removable battery.
Customizability is also a very important thing. Lately, everyone is making their operating systems more customizable, allowing the users to change things like wallpapers, all the way to core software/applications. Just a few years back, the only customizations that can be made is the username, the picture and the wall paper. Companies had their idea of what they want your interface to look like, and would make it in that way. “One size fits all”. Now, there is not only software customization but also hardware. Many companies offer many different varieties of device, one that would fit your needs, as well as multiple color schemes and accessories to make the device truly yours. I believe that this will only get better. Customizability is the new cool and companies will go to great lengths to allow you to customize your phone to match you.
Bigger is sometimes better… Mobile phones, from inception have been very large. Due to technological limitations, they had to be that size. As technology progressed, and advanced, chipsets became smaller and more compact and phones became very small. Now that mobile phones are used for more than telecommunications, the phones require larger screens, bigger batteries and stronger chipsets; thus bigger sizes. As these devices are used more as an alternative to personal computing; the screen real-estate must increase to account for it. I expect screen size to range around 4-6 inches. Any larger will reduce portability while smaller reduces screen real-estate, and usability.
The displays will primarily be IPS or AMOLED, with at least 720p and up-to 1080p (or higher). The AMOLED displays use less power, because it is not backlit, thinner in size; good contrast and are more suitable for smaller devices, while IPS has much nicer color reproduction, better viewing angle and sharper images, making it a great candidate for larger devices (with larger batteries). The Super* (AMOLED/IPS) versions and even future products promise each of these technologies to continue to get better, will less power consumed and better color reproduction, while being amazingly thin. All will have Gorilla Glass 3+ or similar screen protection to prevent damage on impact.
Under the Hood
This part is not really an area that I can easily predict, since devices compose of many internal parts. I will look at some of the main areas of similarity. The storage of the devices will be flash memory, 16GB+ internal, and possibly support Micro SD expandable memory. Most companies (like Google and Apple) are urging the transaction to Cloud storage, but I do not see devices solely depending on cloud storage for now. Cloud storage can be expensive, but even more expensive are the current data transfer charges by mobile carriers, as well as the unreliability of access in some locations (Rural areas and inside buildings/cities). In order for internal storage to be phased out, data costs must decrease; the coverage must be improved and must be something that is available to everyone (not the case, as of now). The phones will have some great quad core processors, like the Snapdragon, Tegra or Cortex chips, with great energy efficiency. I expect a standalone GPU chip in the future, instead of the integrated ones that are available now. In addition, a low power processor for idle calculations like movement and other data while the phone is asleep. This will greatly reduce CPU wakes and battery drain. These devices rely on RAM a lot, and will likely have plenty in the future. I expect 2GB RAM and up. All devices will have LTE or greater networking support to ensure great network speeds, and better data capabilities. They will support the latest WIFI (now N/AC), Bluetooth (now v4) and NFC. A loud speaker and headphone jacks are expected, but I look forward to louder and better quality speakers (like Beats on HTC phones), possibly front facing.
Sensors (Under the Hood cont.)
I expect to see some or all of these used:
- Proximity Sensors
Mobile photography has become a very popular thing and also a great convenience. Some high end phones can actually match the picture quality of some lower DSLRs. I expect great strides in the direction of mobile cameras. I expect 10+ MP Primary camera, with 1080p HD video recording. The Front-facing camera will be 2+ MP and be 720p+ video recording. On the software side, there will be great new features to make good use of the cameras and to ensure the perfect picture.
Wish list Features
These are features that I would like to see in future devices, which are currently uncommon:
- - Front facing loud speakers
- - Magnetic camera lenses
- - IR blaster
- - Wireless charger support
- - Built-in stylus
- - Modular design for hardware customization
In reality, the mobile industry is much more complex than just a few areas of interest. But my goal was to cover the main areas that general users consider when buying a device, and I think that I covered most of it. The mobile device market is very volatile and changes dramatically every 6 months, so there is very little that you can be sure about. But, we can all hope for more…
*** As I have emphasized at many points throughout this article, these are my opinions on the mobile industry. I will not take responsibility for what you do with this information. ***