Smartphones are getting kind of boring. It’s not that their utility is any less impressive than it ever has been. In fact, these can’t-live-without gadgets can achieve more than ever. It’s just that a kind of diminishing returns has been hanging over the industry for the past few major iterations, and it’s become increasingly difficult to differentiate between flagship devices.
The problem is that our smartphones work so well, they don’t really need to get better. Sure, low light photography can always be improved and having to plug your phone in every day or two got old a long time ago, but for the most part, smartphones are so optimized that new improvements are hardly felt on users.
Let’s take a look at some of the current and upcoming innovations meant to improve smartphones, and keep them from falling into the same sinking boat that laptops and tablets find themselves in.
LG took a different approach to its previous phones with the LG G5. It features the aluminum unibody design everyone seems to be going toward, but it’s the only major flagship device that keeps the replaceable battery other brands have done away with. The G5 has a detachable bottom section that pulls the battery out with it, allowing users to pop in a fresh one.
Two Cameras, Multiple Focal Lengths
The G5 also comes equipped with two rear-facing cameras. One is your standard 16mp snapper, with a somewhat more narrow than normal 35mm focal length equivalent. The secondary 8mp lens is where the magic happens, opening up the field-of-view to 135 degrees. That’s very, very wide—a great advantage for shooting landscapes or trying to capture cityscapes. This dual-lens design doesn’t fundamentally change the way we use our smartphones, but it does offer much more flexibility when snapping photos.
The Edge display is not entirely new, having been introduced on last year’s Galaxy S6, but this year’s S7 Edge utilizes those curves better than ever. The curved glass rolls off the phone on both sides like an infinite pool and is meant to display information and quick-links without getting too much in the way. Beyond some of the hit-or-miss features you can use with it, the display is a marvel to look at. The effect of the display can be described as “bubbling out” toward the user, and it gives the S7 a generous screen-to-body ratio.
In 2012, Samsung released the Galaxy Beam, a smartphone with a projector built in. It was kind of ugly, kind of awesome, and very short-lived (at least in the U.S.). But it was different, and it served a purpose. The company’s next outside-the-box innovation looks like it could be a foldable smartphone. ETNews reports that Samsung will be mass-producing foldable phones by the end of this year.
A foldable display is a whole different beast, one that might actually lift the tablet industry from its decline, and completely transform the devices that fill our pockets and purses. This might sound like just one of the endless rumors created before a major release, but the news has some weight behind it, including a patent application filed by Samsung that would facilitate this type of device.
3) Huawei’s Dual Camera