Here are 10 things we expect from the smartphone industry throughout 2016

With a diverse and intriguing year 2015 now behind us, it's time to turn our attention to what fresh new stuff next year might bring in terms of mobile technology and industry changes!

Being the tease artists they are, smartphone manufacturers have been alluding towards, or flat out revealing their intentions to surprise us with forward-looking technology next year. Be it hint drops amidst dry lines of quarterly reports, leaked patent drawings, or educated analyst whims, putting together a list of expectations for an upcoming year hasn't been this fun in a long while!

Join us for a round of informed predictions and cross your fingers so that we may turn out to be wise, all-knowing mobile technology prophets!

Smartphone users will surpass 2 billion worldwide

According to research by eMarketer, the number of smartphone users worldwide will surpass 2 billion next year. With more than 1.9 billion people using smartphones by the end of 2015, the number is expected to climb to around 2.2 billion next year. Inexpensive Android (and possibly Windows) smartphones will continue piercing the market, getting more people online and challenging the smartphone, app-making, and mobile marketing industry to compete increasingly better as the potential for growth increases.

Foldable smartphones will be the industry's Transformers

When it comes to whacked-out smartphone designs, you can trust the South Korean greats — Samsung and LG — to knock it out of the park! While LG has dropped clues about foldable smartphones, over at Samsung's, we've got full-blown patent drawings and conceptual renders showing a smartphone unlike any other out there — one that literally folds into itself, thanks to a hinge mechanism. It's a natural progression from those flexible displays that devices such as the LG G Flex 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge have been flaunting throughout 2015. And truth be told, we can't wait to see what smartphone designers will come up with once their hands are untied by flexible OLED displays' acrobatic potential!

Struggling smartphone vendors will continue down the path of evanescence

IDC, the analyst house that tech-Nostradamus built, claims that over 2016 and the next four to five years, more than 30 percent of IT vendors "won't exist as we know them today.” That is, nearly one-third of the vendors fighting for a piece of the market today will be out of business, shrunken exponentially, or assimilated in mergers.

In our review of 2015's smartphone vendor performance revealed that, save for Apple, Samsung and a handful of Chinese OEMs, smartphone makers are barely breaking even, bleeding money, or largely unprofitable. LG, Sony, HTC, and BlackBerry, in particular, are in a difficult place right now. As analysts don't suggest a significant shift in power will take place over the next five years, we can see how said "underdog" companies' mobile businesses will continue to dwindle in 2016.

4K-resolution screens will turn flagship smartphone centerpieces

Hold up, 4K resolution screens are a reality already! The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is able to reproduce 4K-resolution content pixel for pixel, while staying locked into a reasonably sharp 1080p resolution for standard everyday usage. It's only natural for the competition to catch up to that when the time is right, and vendors can't afford to waste time in such a fast moving industry! Thus, we are quite likely to see the first 4K display handsets and tablets from the likes of Samsung, Xiaomi, LG (and other successful vendors whose supply chains run deep) pop up in 2016. Given that both the display technology and the processing muscle needed to drive said displays are already in their late stages of accomplishment, we expect a full-on 4K screen assault no later than the second half of next year.

What would that do for us, the noble tech enthusiasts and casual users? Well, in addition to experiencing 4K multimedia in all its millions of pixels, UHD screens will let VR headset owners immerse themselves in virtual worlds like they haven't done before. And that's all absolutely nice to have, assuming the necessary efficiency improvements are in place.

Iris scanning security will hyper-jump from sci-fi movies right into the consumer space

If you thought it's only pass codes, fingerprint scanning, and nothing else in store for the near future, you've got another thing coming! Biometrics is the new big thing in mobile security, and aside from most recent hi-end smartphones having fingerprint scanners popping up at all sorts of places, Microsoft is already giving iris pattern recognition a good push with the Windows Hello feature found in its new Lumia handsets!

The technology to facilitate iris pattern scanning in consumer devices is no longer contained within the realm of science fiction, but is, in fact, very accessible thanks to the miniaturization of infra-red cameras and the advancements in mobile computing power. So we're keen on expecting iris recognition to become a staple of more hi-end smartphones' security package throughout 2016. Not that fingerprint scanning will become a thing of the past, but iris recognition has the potential to be just as convenient and secure. Great stuff!

Superfast charging will beat fast charging in the battery filling race

Some handsets out there already charge amazingly fast, but device makers seemingly won't stop improving the technology until li-ion batteries charge to full capacity faster than you can say "milliampere per hour".

Reportedly, Chinese top dog Huawei has developed a battery that charges up to ten times quicker than the regular batteries found in smartphones currently on the market. The 600mAh unit, which looks like a great fit for wearables, gets filled up to 68% in just two minutes, beating a normal battery that only musters up 2% for the same time.

Meanwhile, the average ~3000mAh unit powering most Android flagships will take about five minutes to get to 48% if it employed the same tech. So, with these developments in motion, we already feel entitled to some really fast charging smartphones throughout 2016!

Proactive and contextually aware mobile assistants will get even smarter... bordering on dangerous!

Once upon a time, mobile smartphone assistants used to answer to a bunch of straightforward voice commands and make your phone carry out simple, but welcome duties. Dial mom, launch email, open notes, et cetera. Today, though, the likes of Google Now, Apple's Siri, and Microsoft's Cortana have become sentient beings that readily serve you contextually relevant information when you need it most. Based on your data and device usage patterns, the mobile assistants collect and generate meaningful information, such as daily commuting routes, prompts to add events mentioned in conversations inside the scheduler, or invite all your friends to a gathering when you start texting — yep, cool stuff like that!

We expect Apple, Google, and Microsoft to keep extending the personal assistants' proactive functionality as their machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms become more refined, computing power increases exponentially, and users feed their systems more and more data to analyze and go over. Insert the proverbial "artificial intelligence will destroy us!" joke here, and let's move on to even better things!

Mobile payment systems will spread out, and most smartphone makers are probably making one each

Ever since Apple debuted its fingerprint-secured Apple Pay mobile transactions system, competitors from Android land have scrambled to catch up to it and present an alternative. Samsung (being Samsung) was the first to step forth and retaliate with its Samsung Pay service, available in South Korea and the United States. Then, Google went on to implement fingerprint security and mobile payments interfaces into Android Marshmallow, which has opened the gates to those eager to roll their own paying system. LG is the latest to foray into mobile financial ventures, launching LG Pay in partnership with select Korean credit card firms.

With mobile payments being so trendy in 2015, it's only natural to expect more manufacturers to jump on the wagon and introduce their own alternatives next year. After all, those fingerprint scanners need to be put to good use, right? And besides, the wireless billing industry is about to explode, fueled by the ubiquity of smartphones and the availability of quality components. The time seems just right for retailers to shut up and take money from our smartphones!

USB Type C could become commonplace, eventually rendering old USB standards obsolete

The latest USB Type C port has already started showing up on mobile devices, but we reckon this killer connectivity combo will become most popular next year, as the technology involved matures and becomes widespread. Featuring a port design that's been set in stone, and supporting wide data throughput, high charging currents, and almost every USB connection standard out there, the Type C port may eventually replace USB OTG, micro and mini-USB cables, and charging and display connection ports. Simply put, USB Type C is USB at its most advanced, and we'd love to have it on more devices next year.

Android will stay the most widespread mobile device and IoT platform

Is anyone worried about Android's position as the world's most popular operating system? If so, worry not! According to esteemed research firm IDC's projections, Android will hold onto its position for the next five years, at least, driven mainly by sales of Samsung products. Google's operating system is poised to retain its leadership, iOS is to gain more mobile operator partnerships, and the underdogs — Windows & BlackBerry — will undergo major changes in order to attract more customers. After all, there will be some 2.3 billion mobile phone subscribers in 2016, so there will be plenty of room for everyone to compete!

Android to lead smartphone charge through 2016 - BeQuick
5 IT industry predictions for 2016 from Forrester and IDC - Forrester & IDC
2 Billion Consumers Worldwide to Get Smart(phones) by 2016 - eMarketer



1. Neros

Posts: 1016; Member since: Dec 19, 2014

So super charging will ruin your battery even more. Fast charging is nice, but we all know it leads to faster battery life degradation, and since we don't have removal batteries, this is a huge problem.

14. Imaxxacre

Posts: 75; Member since: Aug 23, 2009

Capitalism at work

18. RicheTheBuddha

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 28, 2015

The number of battery cycles will depend on how smart the phone makers are at heat dissipation. A phone that super charges but has a battery that craps out after a few months is not going to be popular in the long term. I probably won't be able to afford another smart phone for a year or two anyway-- so the one I eventually get will (hopefully) have the kinks worked out on this new tech. Not that I'm in any rush anyway. I really love my Samsung Galaxy s5 with its replaceable battery and MicroSD card slot. Too bad they removed those features in the newer phones.

2. hafini_27

Posts: 949; Member since: Oct 31, 2013

Longer battery. Does anyone care doing that?

8. drifter77

Posts: 401; Member since: Jun 12, 2015

That's exactly what OEM's should focus on.

3. runzlord

Posts: 245; Member since: Oct 13, 2013

You forgot to mention hybrids would take over the tablet market (of course excluding those cheap chinese "big phones")


Posts: 930; Member since: Feb 23, 2014

I'm pretty sure all the Android phones will now come with 3D touch.

19. combatmedic870

Posts: 984; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

Why... Long press does the exact same thing. An Android phone was the first to announce this feature btw.

5. clement_G

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 26, 2015

So nothing new under the sun?

6. Khyron

Posts: 397; Member since: Sep 28, 2015

What about you device dual- booting you fav OS Or mirrorring content to another devices like games can be played more easily on tvs

7. GreenMan

Posts: 2697; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

Seems like Smartphones are advancing on a "regular basis"... Good! But doesn't it sounds a little odd that our latest & greatest Smartphones have the same Lithium Ion battery tech you'd find inside an 'ancient' Nokia 3310???

9. drifter77

Posts: 401; Member since: Jun 12, 2015

1. Ground-breaking battery life 2. Zero heating for devices 3. Ability to cast screen on TV's and monitors instantly 4. Durable, unbreakable and water-proof 5. Reserve charging as a standard

10. thariq

Posts: 32; Member since: Jan 11, 2014

Probably only one smartphone is enough for life, if you add one more - Intel core i7 cpu.

12. drifter77

Posts: 401; Member since: Jun 12, 2015

5. *Reverse charging...

11. chenski

Posts: 768; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Soc go from nanometer to picometer?

13. Bukatorade

Posts: 31; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

I've never heard anyone say, "Man, I wish I could fold my phone like origami!" We want better battery life more than anything else. I buy LG phones and several swappable batteries because being plugged in sucks! Running out of juice sucks! Let's address this issue first.

15. apakalo1

Posts: 67; Member since: Nov 19, 2015

Battery technology is want we want. Either adding solar power to it or increase the mah

17. epdm2be

Posts: 822; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

OR downscale screens to increase stamina. It's no use to get QHD screens on a relatively small device like a phone. FHD is more than sufficient for a device that sits idle in your pocket most of its time. Or... the most obvious one on AMOLED equipped devices... use GODDAMN BLACK to shut off oncreen-pixels whenever possible!!! Yes, I'm looking at you "google"! Stop using that blinding white everywhere. Not only does it look disgusting it hurts eyes when in dark places and drains battery on my AMOLed equipped high-end smartphone! As for VR? WTH would I want VR on a +5" device which requires a ridiculous insertion like Google's cardboard or similar. I'd rather have VR on my +50" TV in my home, preferably without weird glasses if possible.

16. javy108

Posts: 1004; Member since: Jul 27, 2014

At least 3K mAh battery on devices and optimize the OS to really enjoy the battery.

20. Brewski

Posts: 691; Member since: Jun 05, 2012

Every phone I've had in the last 3 years has had 3,000 mAh. Show me 5,000 and I'll be impressed.

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