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The future of smartphones

Aug 13, 2019

The Future of Smartphones

 

In just the last 10 years, we’ve seen incredible advancements in mobile phones. But do you ever wonder what your smartphone will look like in another ten years?

 

Our research takes a deep-dive into the latest tech advancements, and we’ve put together a guide surrounding what to expect from future smartphones. We’ve put together some of the most interesting things we’ll gain – and what we’ll lose.

 

What’s coming?

Tech is evolving at a rapid rate, and phone manufacturers are constantly creating newer, more impressive features for our smartphones. Here’s what we can expect to see on our handsets in the near (and distant) future.

 

5G

Of course, the first foreseeable shake up in the smartphone world is 5G. It’s the fifth generation of cellular mobile technology, which is what your phone uses to send and receive data, so you can use the internet, send messages and make calls. 5G is up to 20 times faster than the 4G LTE network currently available – to put that in perspective, it takes around half an hour to download a 3GB app currently, but with 5G, it would only take around 35 seconds to download. That’s fast.

 

Most handsets in circulation at the moment can only support a 4G network, and while many manufacturers are already announcing and releasing their 5G handsets in 2019, such as Samsung’s S10 5G and the LG V50 THINQ 5G, most of us haven’t upgraded to a 5G handset just yet.

 

However, it might be an idea to get your hands on a 5G handset soon – 5G has already been rolled out by EE in areas such as Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham, London and Manchester, and Vodafone have rolled out their 5G coverage in Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bolton, Bristol, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow, Lancaster, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newbury, Plymouth, Stoke-On-Trent and Wolverhampton.

 

Don’t see your area? Like most new cellular networks, it’s first being rolled out in the most densely populated areas in the UK, but it’s likely that most of the UK will have access to 5G by 2022.

 

Foldable phones

Many phone manufacturers are stepping into the future with foldable phones – which are essentially tablet-sized phones, but you can fold the whole structure over (including the screen!) to create an averaged size smartphone with a screen on both the front and back.

 

While the Royole FlexPai beat everyone to the mark in 2018 for the title of first commercially available folding smartphone, it was only released in China. Because of this, the idea didn’t pick up much global traction until Samsung revealed their folding phone, the Samsung Galaxy Fold, at the same time they unveiled the S10 in February 2019. It was set to be released in April, but its release was postponed due to a few issues with the screen. However, rumour has it, a fix has been found and the release will be back on track this year.

 

Other manufacturers have followed suit with this futuristic design. Huawei are set to release their 5G folding handset, the Huawei Mate X in September 2019, and Xiaomi have revealed their plans for their own folding phone on twitter. Motorola, LG and Oppo have also filed for patents for foldable phones – so if you’re looking for a tablet-phone hybrid, foldable phones are the one to watch.

 

Mind control

This one sounds very futuristic – but soon enough, you might be able to control your phone using just your mind!

 

Back in 2017, Facebook first announced their research lab, Building 8, was working on a computer-brain interface that would allow users to complete actions without picking up their smartphone. More recently though, plans to create a silent speech system were revealed, which would aim to allow users to type 100 words per minute – using only their brain.

 

While this kind of tech is already available and is used widely in medical settings for people suffering with impairments such as paralysis that affects their verbal speech, this usually involved implants within the brain. Facebook wants to make a non-invasive wearable piece of tech, that will let users type with their mind.

 

Facebook aren’t the only tech-giants thinking about mind-computer connections either. Elon Musk has just announced his own plans for some revolutionary brain implants.

 

Named Neuralink, the project is looking into brain implants that will telepathically control tech – similar to the previously mentioned silent speech implants - but they will cover a broader aspect of tech control. Essentially, you’ll be able to control every aspect of your phone or computer just as you would with your hands, but with your mind. Spooky!

 

Contactless charging

If you’re looking to gauge the future of smartphone technology, the world’s largest tech conference, CES, is always an excellent place to start. At the 2019 conference, a company called Energous announced an unheard-of technology that could soon be widely available in smartphones.

 

Energous announced a new battery charging technology called the WattUp Mid Field transmitter. It’s a power transmitter that’s able to charge your phone battery over the air. That’s right, this charger doesn’t need to plug into your device, or touch it for wireless charging. Simply plug the charger into the mains, and put your device within three feet of it, and the device will begin charging.

 

It’s not just for smartphones either – Energous said that the transmitter will work for all sorts of devices, like Bluetooth headphones, smart watches, tablets, portable speakers – just about anything with a battery. Now that’s convenient.

 

What’s leaving?

Of course, with all technological advancements, a previous one will become obsolete. Just like DVD killed video, smartphone advancements are always coming up with new exciting tech that renders something else incompatible – or useless. Here’s what you can expect to lose in the future.

 

Headphone jack

The death of the headphone jack is well underway. It was forfeited in the name of design, structure, durability, amongst other things. More and more phone manufacturers are creating new handsets that no longer have a 3.5mm headphone jack – but instead provide an adapter to be used in the charging port, or you can purchase Bluetooth headphones instead.

 

This is because, first and foremost, the headphone jack made it harder for devices to become water proof. It also stopped phones being able to be as thin, and simply, some manufacturers just thought the design of handsets looked better without.

 

Many phones still on the market do still have a headphone jack – but a large number of new phones being released don’t. It’s unlikely headphone jacks will be around on smartphones for much longer.

 

Colours

An odd one, but manufacturers are working towards selling phones that aren’t a set colour. They’re trying to develop technology that actually allows you to change the colour of your phone whenever you want.

 

The idea is, the back of a device would be made from a glass-like material that could absorb all the light, and with the help of LED’s, you would be able to change the colour of the phone back just by adjusting settings to what kind of light is let into the back. The finished result should look like the colour is completely painted on, just as phone backs look now.

 

Phones?

Technology fanatics and manufacturers alike are really interested in AR, VR and wearable tech. It’s possible in the future you may not even have a phone – all the technology will be there, but the actual handset won’t. In the future, we could have wearable glasses with overlays, or pods which provide holograms, or even brain transplants, such as the aforementioned Neuralink.

 

Concluding thoughts

 

It’s clear that there’s still so much to look forward to in terms of mobile phone technology. However, we have a long time to wait until most of this technology is this advanced enough for commercial use. So for now, if you’re looking for an upgrade, you can find a whole selection of the latest refurbished phones on our website – we stock all of the current favourites, such as the iPhone XR and the Samsung S10, so join the future and pick up your latest handset with us today at Envirofone.

 

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