The perfect smartphone is a moving target that is different for everyone. In terms of raw specifications, each generation of new phones has surpassed its predecessor in computing power, memory, and display quality. But now, tech users and producers alike find ourselves at a near "tipping point" in terms of the power and features of our phone technology.
|Samsung Galaxy Note 2|
HTC's has in the works the Verizon version of the "J Butterfly" device (specs and info found here) which is truly cutting edge. Along these same lines, Samsung's announced recently (info found here) that 1080p resolution displays will be integrated into their phones by early 2013. Other phones already landing this year (like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2) bear within them quad-core processors and as much as 2GB of RAM. We have had LTE data speeds in mobile devices going back as far as early 2012. All of this tech advancement makes me wonder - where do we go from here? Or perhaps put another way: what will be the next big leap forward in smartphone innovation from major OEMs?
For a long time, there was very little need for major advancements in phone technology. Most users talked, send the occasional text message, and took a grainy photo from time to time. With the rise of the internet and mobile computing, end users wanted access to more features from their primary handheld device. And so computer-like processors found their way into phones, and the requisite RAM volumes as well. Storage memory had to increase as well, and as mobile apps like Twitter and Facebook and other social media became more popular as forms of communication, camera tech had to improve as well to allow mobile users to be able to share the world around them in real time. (This is also touched upon more in depth in my piece on software and the mobile revolution here.)
With more content moving to and from the cloud wirelessly, the demand for faster and faster connection speeds brought about first 3G, then 4G-LTE. As more mobile content was consumed on devices, the desire for larger and higher resolution screens was demanded. Bigger battery sizes have been included to allow for the increased power of all of these developments, all while enabling most vendors to keep the phone sizes thin and light. All of these have been achieved in a relatively short period of time, and mobile phone tech will be at a point in a few short months (early in 2013) where a user can purchase a phone with a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a large 5 inch 1080p display, with LTE speeds enabled and as much on board or SD card memory to handle as many apps as anyone would reasonably need.
|Samsung Galaxy Nexus|
So again my question is: where do we go from here? I for one can't think of a single innovation that would dramatically improve my personal experience with a phone. Other than ensuring that the battery life of these "superphones" is on par with what I'd expect from it (a full day of moderate to heavy usage, even with LTE enabled) I don't know what more I could ask for. Hex-core (6 cores) processors? What's the point? Is 4GB of RAM going to allow me to open an app faster or make a phone call quicker? LTE speeds are comparable or better than the current WiFi standard and streaming video or audio isn't a problem. The existing 720p displays on phones (such as my Galaxy Nexus) are terrific but are going to be eclipsed soon with these new HD 1080p displays.
Most phones available today and in the next 6 months already can do more than the average end user would ever need them to do. Pricing is really the only thing stopping every consumer in the world from having a phone that has as much computing power as a home computer from 3-4 years ago. Perhaps Samsung's flexible display tech or something only currently thought of in science fiction (3D holographic displays?) will be the next big breakthrough. To me, those kind of innovations are at least 4-5 years away. For now I guess, we as consumers should just sit back, relax, and enjoy the current pinnacle of mobile technology that's about to happen around us. It might be with us for a while.