Ever taken an Innovation 101 class? If so, it's more than likely that you've heard a teensy bit about one of the underlying theories of the field – diffusion. It's a theory that tries to not only explain how and why innovation spreads through the various fields of life, but also how fast.
As all non-quantifiable things, it's obviously hard to tell with too much of a certainty, but a pattern definitely emerges, should you decide to dig deep. We won't bore you with academic research, of course, but before you step right into our pick of the latest smartphone industry trends, a primer should set the mood of what to expect in our pick.
Consider the LED (Light-emitting diode). It was first conceived as early as the beginning of 20th century, entered commercialization during the Sixties, yet (depending on where you live) chances are that if you look around right now, more than half the light-sources around you won't be LED. Doesn't that strike you as a little bit odd? After all, LED lights have many times higher watt-to-lumens efficiency than, say, a fluorescent bulb, they lower your energy bill and therefore also reduce greenhouse emissions. They're not ubiquitous just yet, but they're definitely trending right now – a 100 years after their conception. It's needless to say that the entire smartphone industry is built and is being actively governed by these facts of life, and while the speed of diffusion is far more rapid now, it still took a long while for most the innovations below to become a trend.
Lesson's over, but the point is, our pick is targeting trends, meaning that these have already become/ or are on path to become the norm. We're shooting for concise, so, as always -- feel free to add your insights right below!
Top 12 latest smartphone industry trends
Top 12 latest smartphone industry trends
1. The days of a charge per day may be numbered!
Do a social experiment. Ask 5 to 10 people you know (that aren't totally hooked on smartphones) what are the top five factors they consider when buying into a new smartphone. You're likely to hear things like brand, design, size and processing power. We would venture a guess that not too many people mentioned battery.
Fortunately for everybody involved, users are considerably more demanding as to battery life nowadays, seeing as smartphones have become an increasingly important part of our daily routine. The trend is pushing manufacturers to actually view a bigger cell as a point of differentiation, a sales pitch, and it's not unheard of for people to refuse buying into a new phone based on the size of the cell. To that end, phones like the LG G2
, Motorola's RAZR MAXX line and others have shown the way for giant cells that are good to go for a day minimum, while also preserving the phone's good looks.
2. Smartphones finally outpaced feature phones
3. Value for money is going through the roof!
With phones like the Snapdragon 800-touting Nexus 5
, the recently announced budget Motorola Moto G
and the swarm of increasingly polished Chinese phones
, it's definitely feeling like we've entered the heydays of the smartphone era.
Never before could you afford as functional and powerful a smartphone than you can today, and it's become more and more common that the main trade-off is simply settling for a brand with a lesser status cache. This fact, of course, is one of the main drivers for the increasing ubiquity of smartphones.
4. Full-HD, 1080p screens and beyond
Full-HD screens are certainly not a novelty or anything, yet it wasn't until recently that they became the minimum threshold for a flagship. We expect the 1080p trend to start making its way towards the bottom, though it'll certainly be a while until entry-level devices sport one.
The HTC DROID DNA
, the first 1080p device, was released almost exactly a year ago, and even as we speak, the industry is making its first tentative strides towards even greater heights, with as pixel dense screens as ones with a 2560x1440 resolution.
5. Nearing edge-to-edge screens
Speaking of screens, it's worth noting that manufacturers such as Samsung (and its Note 3
) and LG (with the G2
) are making tremendous progress towards eliminating plastics from the face of the phone, giving way for even larger screens at the same dimensions.
It's now not uncommon to have a device as big as 5-inches (say, the Galaxy S4
) that is pocket-friendly.
6. Mini versions of flagships are running amok!
5-inches and pocket-friendly? What on earth are we smoking, right? It's a phone, after all, not a tablet, so anything above 4.5-inches is downright absurd.
There certainly are plenty of people that feel that way. Luckily for them, despite the predominance of large-screened Android flagships, manufacturers have definitely banked on the trend of creating smaller versions of their most prominent phones. Phones like the HTC One mini
, the Galaxy S3
mini, along with Sony's upcoming Z1s
are becoming a 'thing' that appears sure to stay.
7. Flexible screens are a go
This is arguably in the very early stages of roll-out, yet we already have two whole devices that feature a curvature or an actually flexible screen. There's even talk that Apple could go down that very path with a future iPhone, though these speculations are hardly deep-rooted in anything.
Regardless, this is one trend that we'd love to watch as it unravels, and pioneers like LG certainly appear to be on the right path.
8. 64-bit chipsets
Alright, alright. Technically, only Apple's iPhone 5s
features a 64-bit chipset, at least for now.
What's perhaps a tad more important, however, is the unmistakable clickety-clack noise one can almost hear whenever Samsung, Qualcomm or Intel speaks on the matter. Things are brewing boys, and 2014 could very well when 64-bit platforms explode.
9. Fingerprint scanners
Fingerprint scanners really aren't something new, as phones as far back as the Motorola ATRIX 4G
had one. Unfortunately for Motorola, the implementation was clunky as hell, so it never really went big.
But Apple's iPhone 5s
did. And then HTC followed with an admittedly inferior version, with the HTC One max
. Fingerprints are not reserved for just smartphones, with some tablets already employing one
, not to mention a whole army of speculation, claiming that a number of future phones will arrive touting one.
10. Dedicated co-processors
Dedicated co-processors appear well on path to adoption from more and more manufacturers.
It all really started with the Moto X
and Motorola's in-house X8 chipset (based on the Snapdragon S4 Pro) and its dedicated low-powered core chip that allows for the phone to have an always-on listening feature. Apple's M7 chip also falls into this category, though Cupertino is using that one for different things. With these in mind, we're definitely interested in seeing what other manufacturers can think up in this particular field.
11. Smart wearables
Despite the headway being made in the wearables industry, one has to face it -- these are still nothing without a smartphone, at least the popular ones.
Your fancy new smartwatch or Google Glass still needs to connect to your smartphone in order to be a fully functional perk, and it might be a while still until this changes and manufacturers are able to stuff all the essentials in a watch or whatever may come next.
12. Optically-stabilized image goodness
Remember the trudgy life before Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)? The slightest shake and your work turns into an instant mess.
If you ever felt like that's a real problem, then you should be feeling quite happy, as OIS is becoming more and more predominant, at least in the flagship range. As time goes by and parts costs go down, we truly hope that OIS will become a tad more common part of the package.