Trends in Technology
Smartphones have come a long way in just a matter of 20 years. We’ve gone from small phones with antennae and polyphonic ringtones to large, almost bezel-less displays with high computing power and entertainment.
Looking at the past ten years, smartphones have both transformed and become widely available. The low-resolution screens with 3G connectivity now seem like relics. But what will the future hold for smartphones? Let’s go over some of the major trends for smartphones in the next ten years.
Stretch and Fold
Ever since foldable phones entered the public eye in 2019, we’ve seen devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Motorola Razr 2019. This trend of foldability is likely to continue in the next ten years.
But things aren’t all that simple; many users consider foldable smartphones a gimmick rather than a contender for their next phone purchase. This is because foldable smartphones (more like phablets) are both pricey,and lagging in software adaptability to form factor. Nevertheless, we are likely to see more affordable foldable phones that can shift the market.
In addition to foldability models, stretchable phones are likely to make a splash in future trends. Instead of folding the phone for more screen, stretching the display increases its size, like a hard variant of clay. Just pull the phone from two corners diagonally, and voila, you’ve got more screen space!
Work has already begun in the area of stretchable displays, but it will still take time before they hit the market. In fact, Samsung announced its prototype of a stretchable display in 2017. Notably, this display can be dented up to 12mm without damage. The display springs back to its original flat shape. Of course, this is a concept that shows possibility.
Stretchable displays can’t be of much significance without stretchable internal hardware. So, Michigan State University researchers are developing the first stretchable integrated circuit. In addition, they say that soon it will be possible to print displays stretched to larger sizes. This can be applicable to wearable tech and soft robotic applications.
Improvements with stretchy phones also include immersive gameplay and videos. The small form factor even offers carrying convenience by easily fitting in your pocket.
We’ve seen the craze that is bezel-less displays. And, it seems this trend isn’t going to end anytime soon. Instead, we’ll see continued progress toward a completely bezel-less display and, eventually, wraparound screens. This will occur in tandem with hidden cameras visible only when the front camera takes a picture or records/streams video.
This shift is likely to be accompanied by a transition toward a button-less phone. Within the next ten years, physical buttons will likely be removed all together. Instead, pressure detection, multi-touch, and micro-haptics will work together to deliver the same functionality without sacrificing any screen area.
Noticeably, we see transition from physical fingerprint sensors to in-display scanners like the face unlock feature. Nevertheless, more changes with newer technologies like Sensel’s multi-touch micro-haptics are on the horizon.
Such micro-haptic technology allows your fingers to feel the vibration and haptic feedback localized to the point of direct touch. These days, we can feel the entire phone vibrate from the haptic motor. A micro-haptic replacement saves battery and delivers a more immersive and realistic tactile feedback to your inputs. Furthermore, combining force touch allows thousands of levels of pressure sensitivity and range to make smartphones of the future truly tactile devices.
Voice control plays a major role towards the seamless trend. We’ve already seen voice assistants like Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa. In the years ahead, will see continued evolution of voice assistance improvements in speed, reliability, expansiveness, and functionality. The voice control feature will likely be another key feature of our smartphones in the next ten years.
Phones of the future may have the ability to change colors, perhaps according to the applied wallpaper. To get an idea, the OnePlus Concept One showcased this feature by tinting its back camera black to hide the cameras. Now imagine this function for your whole phone. With glassy material and a few internal LED lights could achieve all sorts of color changes.
Battery evolution will inevitably accompany wraparound screens and other energy-hogging features. This is where graphene comes in. This allotrope of carbon forms a single layer of atoms in a 2D hexagonal lattice. Moreover, graphene is extremely strong and is more efficient at conducting electricity than copper.
With increased battery research, graphine may replace our lithium-ion cell batteries. In addition, graphene batteries allow increased electrode density, faster cycle times, and longer charges. Furthermore, faster wireless charging and graphene batteries, smartphones may even lead to one week life on a few minute charge.
No More Ports
Ports take up a lot of space and restrict phone designs with the added susceptibility to water and dust. As such, phone designers have been working to reduce ports, and we’ve already seen it with the (sad) loss of the 3.5mm jack. These days, most phones have a single port for charging, etc. In the years ahead, we are likely to see a shift towards complete wireless.
This will, of course, be accompanied by faster wireless charging or even over-the-air charging after several years. This removes the inconvenience of carrying charging bricks or wires. Regardless of longer ranges, your phone would charge wireless.
Ultimately, the wide range of future smartphone trends is a welcome experience for all.
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