For the first time in a while, we’ve started to see some hints of significant smartphone innovation just around the corner. For a while now — arguably since the initial reveal of the iPhone 7 lineup — Apple, Samsung, and their smaller competitors have mostly been making minor upgrades. That’s not to say the phones haven’t gotten better. Processing power has improved, screens and displays are better than ever, cameras and batteries have become incredibly impressive, and so on. But we haven’t seen much in the way of meaningful redesigns or massive new features in a while.
If that dam is in fact about to break, though, then what will the smartphones of the near future look like? Only the folks in charge at the world’s biggest tech companies could tell you with certainty. But we have some educated guesses.
When we mentioned above that we’d seen some hints of innovation, we were referring in part to Samsung’s latest designs for touchscreen flip phones and the like. Speaking more broadly, though, there are a lot of suggestions here and there around the web that phones will be adopting flexibility in various ways: stretchy screens, curved screens, foldable phones, and so on. These indeed appear to be the next significant design innovations that the tech giants might try, and we can’t wait to see how it’s done.
How the screens and phones themselves are built for these innovations will likely depend on which specific design attempt is made. It’s worth noting though that there are already ways to manage to produce some of the internal components of modern smartphones to handle flexibility. Uniquely, tech companies can now design versatile internal circuitry. In theory, at least, flex PCB designs that already exist can serve as more flexible options and will be adjustable, to a reasonable extent, in fitting these ambitious new devices.
The idea of hologram projection from smartphones is one that gets batted around quite often and seems to be a source of more uncertainty than some other concepts. Some suggest that at this point, it’s transparent tech companies aren’t prioritizing the idea; others will argue that the arrival of VR and AR has rendered the concept of smartphone holograms less exciting than it once was.
But the technology may still emerge. Reports last year indicated that a new ultrathin screen design might be the one to make it happen. Whether or not the big companies see a need to put the technology to use remains to be seen, but don’t discount the possibility that near-future smartphones will have hologram projection capabilities.
Compatibility With Glasses
Consumers have been waiting for concrete information about the next generation of smart glasses for quite some time now. We might not have anything specific just yet — but there are some recent reports regarding a smart glasses patent by Apple. It’s long been rumored that the company was attempting to turn smart glasses into its next primary product. And by the look of the patent — which mentions mixed reality, health features, and an ability to interact with the outside world — that rumor could prove to be accurate.
As for how this affects what smartphones will be like shortly, we can only assume that at least at first, smartphones will be compatible with any significant new smart glasses that come about. It seems likely, for instance, that these Apple glasses would work alongside apps downloaded on one’s iPhone, and so on.
As the last point, just for fun, it’s also likely that we’ll see more colors! For one thing, the phone providers (notably Apple) seem to have realized that this is a relatively easy way to drive up interest and create headlines and images that are widely shared. However, there have also been some subtle rumors about the potential use of LEDs or other technology to develop phones that can change color on demand. This is not a significant development in terms of functionality, clearly, but it could create quite a lot of buzz!