It’s been quite a while since we saw a dramatic change in smartphone design or function. While these devices have undeniably improved on a year-to-year basis, most of the specific improvements have been relatively incremental in nature. Lately though, there have been some subtle indications that this could be about to change.
One such rumor concerns a more dramatic redesign of the next iPhone. For several years now new iPhones have been released with only slight modifications in dimensions and screen size, but with the same general appearance. It’s expected that in 2020, Apple will unveil something that looks more original compared to what customers have come to expect. On a somewhat similar note, meanwhile, we have already seen some fairly radical redesigns out of Samsung. The Verge showed off folding and flipping designs late in 2019, and we’ve since come to see the devices unveiled.
If these are indeed indications that the smartphone market is finally ready for something of a shakeup, then it may be time to start considering what that could mean in terms of specific features and capabilities. So we made a list of a few things to watch for in the coming next generation of smartphones.
1. New Shapes & Physical Capabilities
To some extent we covered the idea of new shapes and physical capabilities above, regarding rumored changes to the iPhone and the foldable and flippable Samsung options. However, it’s expected that in the coming years smartphone providers may experiment even more with form and capability. For instance, we could also see innovations including curved, bendable, or even stretchable screens. None of these changes appear to be on the immediate horizon, but they’re all possibilities moving forward.
2. Improving Internal Processors
The internal circuit boards and processors in smartphones are updated fairly regularly. But as phones look to provide even greater functionality, particularly within innovative new physical designs, it’s likely that some awfully impressive new designs will come about in this category. Right now, the best PCB design software options described by Altium are already capable of facilitating a great deal of innovation and experimentation. PCBs can be designed in more complex and flexible ways than ever before, in order to meet the needs of modern technology. But the software for design existing is only part of the equation; the actual designs have to come next. Expect to hear about incredibly capable new circuit board and processor designs in the coming years, powering the best smartphones we’ll have ever seen.
3. More Gaming Accessories
Smartphone gaming has come a very long way in the past decade. Mobile game libraries now encompass every conceivable genre and numerous major franchises. And where the phones themselves are concerned, options from the gaming-specific Asus ROG Gaming Smartphone we reviewed to the iPhone 11 Pro are proving more and more impressive on this front. At the same time though, smartphones are also facing new competition from a growing trend toward Nintendo Switch-like handheld devices. As a result, we would expect to see an expanding market for phone-related gaming accessories in the coming years. As smartphone providers seek to maintain a place in the world of handheld gaming, in other words, compatibility with related controllers, attachments, headphones and the like will become significant.
4. Closed Edges
Lastly, it’s also very likely that the next generation of smartphones will come with closed edges — which is to say no charge ports, headphone jacks, or anything similar. In fact, buttons and bezels may disappear also. GiffGaff’s take on the future of smartphones points to developments like wireless charging and virtual buttons (not to mention face ID and fingerprint scanners) as innovations that will enable these changes, and when you consider smartphone evolution to this point it’s hard to deny where things are heading. In all likelihood, the smartphone market a few years from now will be stocked largely with wholly uniform physical devices, save for the tiny holes and indentations needed for speakers and microphones.