Gone are the days when a mobile phone just made calls and texts, our expectations of what a phone should do are getting higher. So you have to wonder, can they get any smarter?
For most of us a new phone is a biennial treat. Our contracts run out and we eagerly look to the must have new handsets and their must have new features.
It’s a situation I found myself in recently: out of contract, due an upgrade, but unable to decide on a new handset. I didn’t take the plunge until January because I was torn between the incredible phones on offer and the new ones on the horizon.
At the Mobile World Congress last week I saw first-hand some of the smartphones coming our way in 2016. Revelatory nuggets like the LG G5’s modular design that lets you slot useful accessories into the base, and the Galaxy S7’s display that conserves battery by showing you important alerts without the need to constantly take your phone off standby.
So it’s easy to play the waiting game, knowing that the next big handset is never more than a few months away. But these can leave an indecisive buyer like me frozen in a state of perpetual waiting.
A phone and so much more
In an attempt to reach a verdict on my recent upgrade, I listed the phones I was interested in and compared their features. Eventually my scientific approach found a winner and a Nexus 6P now sits neatly in my pocket.
Now, I chose my first phone, the Motorola C350, because of its colour screen and that I could download wallpapers to stamp my teenage individuality onto the tiny display. Other than that it made calls, sent texts and that was enough.
But my new nexus 6P can be unlocked with my fingerprint, control my speakers at home, and record 4K video as well as all the things we take for granted like watching YouTube and playing music. It’s equipped with everything I want and need, but I wonder what more it could do.
Don’t smartphones do enough already?
Despite the fact that the latest mobiles are more computer than phone, there’s a demand for them to do more.
A Carphone Warehouse survey on what features people wanted their next phone to have found that while most simply wanted better battery life, 10% also want their phone to be able to drive their car – I don’t like the sound of a two tonne remote-controlled Ford Mondeo, but it shows the scope of people’s expectations.
Slightly less outlandish is the desire for our phones to work better with other technology. Smart home gadgets are becoming commonplace: app-controlled wireless security cameras, thermostats and light bulbs are the tip of the iceberg and 70% of the people surveyed want their phones to control these smart devices seamlessly.
So it would seem that faster processors and higher resolution screens aren’t our only requirements. The current crop of smartphones are already lightning fast, with stunning displays, so manufacturers like Samsung and LG will need to rely more on unique features to grab our attention.
I wonder what features will be on my list in two years’ time, but I doubt I’ll want it to remotely control my car.
What would you like your phone to be able to do?