Five technologies for smartphones of the future

WP columnist Joffrey Fowler attributes the long stagnation to smartphones becoming too similar to each other. The front of the iPhone 8 isn’t that different from the iPhone 6 that came out four years ago. In the United States, the duration of use of one device has crossed the two-year mark: on average, a new smartphone is bought here once every 26 months.

Fowler decided to look for promising technologies – and a new breath for the industry – in China. Local manufacturers and labs don’t hesitate to come up with interesting and slightly crazy ideas in the hope that industry leaders will take advantage of their approach and components.

The journalist makes a reservation: at this stage it is impossible to predict which of the proposed modifications will “shoot”. He tried to choose those that will make using the smartphone easier and more convenient, as well as expand its capabilities – primarily in terms of shooting and video playback.

Camera with nine lenses

You can take pictures with your phone as detailed as professional photos. True, this will require several times the number of lenses.

The flagship Huawei P21 Pro so far offers to do with three. But the camera maker with 16 Light lenses has already prepared a variant for mobile phones. The prototypes use five to nine lenses that are combined into one incredibly detailed photograph.

What’s the catch? A 16-lens camera costs $ 1950. Nevertheless, one of Light’s investors – Foxconn – intends to present a “multi-camera” smartphone by the end of this year.

Flexible displays

The size and resolution of the screen increases, as does the resolution of the video. 4K, 8K – where next? And, most importantly, how to fit this splendor into your pocket. BOE has already unveiled a prototype of a double-folding “phone tablet” – with a screen diagonal of 7.5 inches. They argue that flexibility does not harm the display.

Nevertheless, the idea has been hatched for about 10 years. Samsung showed its prototype of a bendable smartphone in 2013. But so far, no commercial smartphone bends. Recently, however, specialists have succeeded in creating a material that can replace the current fragile base of indium tin oxide with a flexible one based on silver honeycomb.

. And those that can be folded like a sheet of paper will have to wait five years.

Charging from a distance

Lithium-ion batteries are a weak point of modern smartphones, the manufacturers of which have to find a balance between the capacity and massiveness of the battery and the growing capabilities of other hardware.

Wireless charging, which would work over long distances, would make a big difference. And for the user, everything would look so that the smartphone in most cases recharges itself – in an apartment, office or shopping center.

There are promising technologies: Energies and Ossia offer the ability to send energy using radio waves, Wi-Charge competitors offer to use infrared radiation.

However, in order to charge your phone, you must be in a room filled with such emitters. And for quite a long time, since none of the options for the speed of filling the battery is even close to wired charging.

All three companies are exploring the possibility of adding their devices to more familiar gadgets – for example, smart speakers or lighting fixtures. Energies promises to release the first version in the coming weeks, Wi-Charge more likely next year.

Glasses instead of a phone

With the proliferation of augmented reality technologies and AR headsets, many players associate a new boom in the consumer electronics market.

Here you also have to decide on the standard. Fowler was impressed with the lightweight AR glasses from startup Dreamward. They weigh a little over 200 grams, but they need a wired connection to the smartphone to use its battery and processor.

Perhaps, despite the massiveness, a different approach will eventually win – independent headsets like Magic Leap One. The market potential in the eyes of IT companies is indicated by the fact that this startup raised more than $ 2.3 billion dollars even before showing the device to the published columnist Joffrey Fowler attributes the long stagnation to smartphones becoming too similar to each other. The front of the iPhone 8 isn’t that different from the iPhone 6 that came out four years ago. In the United States, the duration of use of one device has crossed the two-year mark: on average, a new smartphone is bought here once every 26 months.

Fowler decided to look for promising technologies – and a new breath for the industry – in China. Local manufacturers and labs don’t hesitate to come up with interesting and slightly crazy ideas in the hope that industry leaders will take advantage of their approach and components.

The journalist makes a reservation: at this stage it is impossible to predict which of the proposed modifications will “shoot”. He tried to choose those that will make using the smartphone easier and more convenient, as well as expand its capabilities – primarily in terms of shooting and video playback.

Under-surface fingerprint scanner

A convenient option for those who are against face recognition. And it allows you to increase the screen real estate by removing the bottom edge. There are several technologies to choose from. So, a scanner from Synaptic is able to read prints through the pixels that form the image on the screen. And Qualcomm, using ultrasound, can recognize the owner’s finger even through metal.