Remember when Steve Jobs stood on stage in January 2007, and out of his pocket pulled what commentators and geeks started half-jokingly referring to as the ‘Jesus-phone’? Its only a dozen years back, but since that iconic keynote, there’s been about a century’s worth of innovation by the standards of any other sector.
The original iPhone had no data access other than Wifi, would shoot terrible photos, sported a 480×320 pixel screen and as little as 4GB of storage. Specs that seem somehow closer to an Amstrad than today’s pocket supercomputers.
But as rapidly as this whirlwind decade that the iPhone kicked off started, might innovation be slowing more rapidly than some in the industry would care to admit? Apple, who’s iconic product (which provides 60% of its revenue) effectively made it the first company to be worth over $1 trillion has since missed sales projections and lost over 20% of its value in the face of investors’ concerns.
Is steam running out for the product category that HAS literally changed the world and penetrated more than a third of humanity’s pockets in the last decade? We’re certainly upgrading our phones less frequently, so what tricks and incentives have manufacturers up their sleeves to keep us investing in ever less astonishing new devices?
Here are a few of the sweeteners in the pipeline… and their desirability rating – indicating how powerful a pull on your pursestrings they’ll offer.
Rather than the iPhoneX’s unsightly ‘notch’ housing all the cameras and sensors that couldn’t work from under the screen, the latest displays now offer a small black spot to allow your selfie camera to peek through the screen instead. Although it means the front of your device is ever closer to 100% screen… we honestly couldn’t care… 1/5 (and only for vanity’s sake)
More megapixels and lenses
Xiomi will release a 48 Megapixel camera in a phone this year, and LG, not content with a 5 lens model, has filed a patent for a 16 lens model. The quandry this leaves us with is whether the human eye will even be able to detect such subtlety in our pictures. Again, this seems like a race with almost entirely diminished returns. 0/5 [it has to be noted though software is taking up the reigns with depth of field trickery that allows Smartphones to do things even the most expensive SLRs can’t]
If you’ve ever run out of juice after a few hours of heavy use (and don’t deny it, you have), then getting your device back in action fast is the priority. Unfortunately, Apple and Samsung have skewed towards slower charging Samsung Note batteries exploded and iPhones are deemed to just about get away with a heavy day’s use on one charge. Other manufacturers are moving the other way, but it’s likely to take completely new battery materials before the risk of degradation (or fire) is erradicated. Bring on the 5 min 100% charge we say, but that’s likely another decade away. Until then… 1/5
Apple’s FaceID, allowing your phone to unlock just by identifying the unique features of your face, is a technical marvel which Google and Samsung are catching up to replicate. Technically incredible, and testiment to phenomenal sensors and unfathomably fast data processing… when a fingerprint can still manage the same, we have to ask… Indispensible? Probably not. 1/5
This widely misunderstood next-generation networking standard will mean ever-faster downloads and access to large files – but as the screen in your hand can more than readily stream HD video… we wonder: what for? 2/5 (only because the tech is more interesting for all the other devices that AREN’T smartphones)
Really? Might this be the new 3D home TV? Super-hyped at the outset but soon realised to be a dud with an uncaring public. The last folding screen that really made it was the retractable projector screen… and there ain’t too many of those around outside of our attics… -1/5 (yes, it really IS that underwhelming)
So, we start to see the real issue here, manufacturers are looking for the next big thing, but after a decade of hyper-active innovation, the reasons to upgrade or stop fully appreciating the wonders we already possess are becoming fewer and further between…
We guess that leaves it up to the SOFTWARE!