The next generation of smartphones: what do you want to see?

17th April 2013

Here at 3Squared, we are always eagerly awaiting the release of the next must-have phone.  Apple’s strategy of seemingly random launches, without even staff and retailers knowing what new features it may have, creates huge amounts of attention and their power in the technology market suggest this approach works.

But regardless of what features it does have, there is always much debate in the office about what the manufacturer has missed off.  We decided to take a look at the features that we would like to see in the future, some of which may be just around the corner.

The iPhone is one of the most used cameras in the world, boasting an 8MP camera.  But with the rapid decrease in standalone digital camera sales, users are demanding more from their camera phones.  Rumours are circulating that the latest iPhone will have a 12MP camera as well as improved low-light photography, which has long been its Achilles heel.   With an increased emphasis on size and weight, an optical zoom may not be practical.  But if we really are to ditch the digital camera for good, manufacturers will have to think about seriously improving the quality and features of the built-in phone.

Prior to every Apple launch, the rumour of an image projector usually does the rounds.  Apple have patented the technology to project from an iOS device onto a wall, and the user will be able to zoom, share and manage other devices using hand gestures in front of the projector.  Would this be a useful tool, or another gimmick that has been patented to stop a rival from using the technology?

Some in the office would also like to see Apple take advantage of another of its patents – the wrap-around display.  This would allow for a much bigger viewing area as the screen wraps around the sides and possibly even the back of the device.   We are not sure how practical this would be, especially if you were to use the phone for a lot of typing or reading, but some at 3Squared would love to see how it would work.

With smartphones now carrying more potentially sensitive data, is a password enough to secure you phone?  What about biometric identification – the ability for your phone to recognise you via your fingerprints or iris scan.  With banking details, contacts, family photos and your calendar for the next year all potentially stored on your phone, a loss or theft could become extremely worrying.  A thief could steal your phone; but they can’t steal your fingerprints!

The ability to store and play music and video is no longer a new feature.  Yet most smartphones still have tiny speakers with the recognisably quiet, tinny sound.  We can store thousands of songs, yet we have generally poor quality speakers to listen to them.  The very size and nature of smartphones means it is hard to create good quality sound, although HTC seem to be giving it a go.

Given the huge amount of apps now available, smartphones are being taken and used everywhere, including outdoor sports, on the beach or even in the bath!  But one of the easiest ways to void a manufacturer warranty is to water damage the phone.  Sony have made their latest phone waterproof, although it cannot be used when wet and includes little fiddly flaps for the SIM card, power and audio sockets.  If a phone is to be used as a camera, GPS or run-tracker, then surely it needs to be waterproof?

There have been numerous cases in the media of children racking up huge bills whilst using their parent’s smartphone or tablet, by downloading games and ad-on features.  Add to that the ability to view images, videos and emails, as well as surf the web, and a smartphone in the hands of a young child could be very harmful.  What a about a ‘child-mode’ feature, which would allow the parent to block off all parts of the phone that they do not want them to access, leaving only suitable games, as well as blocking in-app purchases.  Similar to flight-mode, only password protected and allowing the users to customise what can and cannot be used.

So there is our list of what we would like to see on the next generation of smartphones. What is top of your wish list?  Get in touch; we would love to know your ideas!