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What more do we want from our smartphones?

smartphone

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?

Comments
Member

I want a smartphone that only has to be charged once a week, like the simple Nokia phone I used for years. I’m quite happy with a thicker phone.

Alternatively I would be happy with a battery that could be swapped for a charged one. I could do this with my old Nokia.

Your choice, Apple.

Member

You might not have to wait too long for a longer lasting battery several types are being perfected including –organic also the intro above is prophetic a car manufacturer ,I think Volvo ,but will verify , has already tested a smartphone that unlocks the car and starts it up and in the US there is already a car that DRIVES itself by smartphone but it is still being made ready for public use.

Member

I have read about batteries of the future but it’s difficult to know if and when they will appear.

Judging by the number of people who play with their phone while driving, maybe driving by phone might be the diversion they need to encourage them to focus on driving. 🙁

Member

Good play on words -second paragraph. I get an American websites news on innovations from round the world by email I will check on more details once I get another one from them.

Member

Many innovations seem to start in the US and then we get them – good or bad. I’m more interested in longer life batteries. One of the problems with driving a car by phone is of course – what happens when the battery runs down? 🙂

Member

wavechange – pocket-lint.com/news/130380-future-batteries-coming-soon-charge-in-seconds-last-months— and its a UK site . One of the batteries is urine powered !

Member

I wonder how anyone found out that urine might be useful in battery technology, but I remain open minded. In the meantime I must charge my phone.

Member

If anybody noticed the Nissan Leaf had a crackable remote app. which allowed people half a world away to turn on your heating – not nice if you only have one battery. Nissan removed this app this week.

So whilst its lovely to nominate extended uses for your smart phone I suggest that manufacturers are not hack conscious – and even if they were hackers would no doubt crack it in time. Probably not reported much here was the judgement this week on a Turk who cracked the payment systems of the card issuers and orchestrated the scheme which allowed his confederates to withdraw $55m. This included $2.8m in New York City.

Member

We’re inexorably moving towards a future in which we will become not simply dependent upon but almost certainly biologically linked to our mobile devices. It’s the logical next step, really. All that fiddling around to see the screen when it could be projected onto your retinas and overlaid with your real-time experience will become a thing of the past, regarded as quaint and in the same way we look back at early TVs with only four or five channels.

We live in a time when we all need continuous social contact and when our tolerance for delay has become severely diminished. What we want, we want now, whether that be a simple chat with a friend or a product from an online retailer.

I suspect this current crop of mobile devices marks a zenith in the industry: sales of all mobile devices are falling and people are becoming satiated with the trick selection they can pull off. So far wearable tech hasn’t gained as much traction as it might, but I suspect that will change. The trick is twofold: make the tech truly unobtrusive whilst simultaneously creating better batteries or a power harvesting system that makes batteries redundant.

Google glass was a good first attempt, but the infrastructure needed to support the system didn’t exist. With ubiquitous strong 4G signals, exceptionally fast