Smartphones have been developing at an incredible rate, with more features, power and uses than anyone would have guessed was possible a decade ago. But what are we expecting the smartphones of the future to be able to do, and what will they look like? Here's Carphone Warehouse's guide to the future of smartphones in 2013 and beyond.
We know smartphones right now are getting lighter, thinner, and growing larger screens, but the real development is going to be in flexible screens. Combined with a fully flexible body, this will allow future smartphones to be bent, folded and twisted in all manner of ways. How is that useful? Well it'll mean that the screens won't break when dropped, they'll be able to bend and absorb the shock. It also means you'll eventually be able to fold up phones and put them in your pocket. In fact, the pocket phone might soon be history. Flexible screens will mean you can wrap a phone round your wrist, attach it to a bag, or even wear it round your head!
Smartphones mounted in glasses.
One of the most well known examples of this is the Google Eyeglass. To boil it down, you'll soon be wearing a device on your head that covers one or both eyes with a tiny display. You'll be able to see through the display, so you can still walk around, but there will also be information in your vision, everything from the internet to maps. Controlling the device will be done mostly by voice commands. Of course, eventually the screen mounting will be available in standard glasses, and even in sunglasses, meaning brands like Oakley and Ray-Ban might be involved, if they want to be. What's the advantage? Well this will make the smartphone a truly hands free device, giving you information in a more accessible and more immediate way. Interestingly, Google Eyeglass will actually be available to buy from mid 2013.
Everyone loves their smartphone, and this is one of the reasons the current batteries don't seem to last long enough. We're on them all day playing games, taking photos, and even when they're in our pockets and we're not touching them they're syncing our email accounts. Yes they use a bit more power than our older phones, but we use smartphones far more. Companies like Motorola are making battery life longer by simply using very large batteries – and it works, its phones have the best battery lives going.
But in the not so distant future advanced battery technology will become available in mass produced smartphones. While the technology varies, it basically means that more energy can be stored in batteries that are physically the same size as existing batteries, allowing the smartphone to keep drawing power for much longer. It also enables batteries that can be recharged much faster, in some cases around 120 times faster. This means, theoretically at least, a battery that used to take two hours to charge would be fully charged in just one minute!
Search without search.
While the name is a little confusing and oxymoronic, search without search means a program that gives you information at the right time and about the right thing without you actually asking for it. Google Now is one of the best examples of this technology. It gives you information about, for example, the current traffic on your route to work a few minutes before you set off by learning your route and when you normally leave. Why search for the same thing every day when your smartphone can just search for you and tell you the result? In future, the search without search feature will be far more advanced and accurate, and will begin to learn many more of your preferences, like alerting you when friends are nearby, suggesting new TV programmes and albums based on your existing library, and much more.
Many more sensors.
Modern smartphones have a wide variety of sensors such as proximity, GPS, gyros and so on. But we'll be expecting smartphones in 2013 to start to sport even more sensors that will give them extra uses. Some of the sensors we're expecting on future smartphones include a carbon monoxide sensor to test the air quality in your home and alert you to dangerous levels, heart rate monitors for people with pre-existing conditions to ensure they get help quickly and infrared thermometers for reading temperatures of foods, drinks and anything else you don't want to touch.
If you're looking for the smartphones that are just around the corner, keep checking our Coming Soon page. This is where you'll see details of the newest phones, including their features and release dates.