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Poll 3 min read 7 comments

Poll: what does smartphone innovation mean to you?

Innovation is a buzz word often thrown around by both manufacturers and tech journalists, but what does it actually mean to consumers? Is it a slightly better camera or a minor performance improvement, or does it have to be groundbreaking and life-changing? Let's have a look at recent trends in the mobile industry and what they bring to the table.

When the first smartphones started coming out a decade ago, it was a tech revolution. Suddenly people had an Internet connection on the go, as well as a camera, a calculator and a gaming device in their pockets. In the following years 3G evolved to 4G and LTE, touch screens became extremely quick and responsive and smartphone cameras could rival or outperform non-professional digital cameras. Yet, in the past 2 years innovation seems to have slowed down and according to many, the improvements are either minor or inconsequential.

HTC Dream
HTC Dream - the first Android smartphone. / © HTC

Current innovation

So what are the current trends we're seeing from most manufacturers? In terms of innovation, biometric security on phones has seen the most development. We now have 3D facial recognition and iris scanning. The fingerprint sensors can be found inside the screen on more and more devices, as displays keep growing. Artificial intelligence is also seeing wider implementation, in the form not only of voice assistants, but for improving picture quality and battery life. We think all of these changes are significant and positive, but whether users agree is a matter of personal opinion.

Yet, as phones get thinner and screens get bigger, a lot of necessary and useful features are getting removed - the headphone jack is becoming a rare sight and so are microSD slots. Although USB-C headphones are more common because of this change, using them still means you cannot charge your phone and listen to music at the same time. We'd say that's a step backwards, not a step forward.

Design trends

Design innovation is also highly debated among users. Just the mention of notches sours some consumers' opinions of a new smartphone, while others don't really mind much. We are also already seeing workarounds in the form of slider phones, like the Honor Magic 2.

The inclusion of more and more camera sensors is also incredibly popular, but I think it's more of an attention-grabber than a particularly useful innovation.

flexpai 4
The new FlexPai foldable phone by Royole. / © Royole

 

Last but not least, we have to mention foldable phones - the first one, FlexPai made its debut this week. It's definitely something that we've not seen before (although rumors about flexible phones have been circulating for years) and it has the potential to transform the smartphone market. However, only time will tell if foldable phones will be ground-breaking or just another easily forgotten gimmick.

What do you think? Do any of the current developments and trends sound like innovation to you? What do you consider groundbreaking? Do things need to look like they came out of sci-fi movie to impress you? Let us know in our poll and in the comments below.

What does innovation mean to you?
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7 comments

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  • Innovation for me is delivering quality specs to a consumer at the most affordable price (I believe a $1,000 smartphone can be built and sold for under $400 and be profitable right now .... and should be profitable at $300 a year later! ).


  • In my opinion innovation is any progress that gives users a new or different way to use their device. Some are helpful and others not so much.


  • I see a few big things coming: 5G connectivity, augmented reality functionality, and dockability of powerful small brains into more capable hardware than they are alone e.g. automobiles, Internet of Things, (early days) Samsung's DeX concept for desktop replacement, or why couldn't a phone dock into a serious full frame large sensor camera, in a way that third-party app developers could lead control away from the OEM-blinkered (or intentionally sabotaged) monopoly of a single user interface. It's third party app development as much as anything the smartphone OEM's have done that is driving innovation and consumer interest.


  • One of the most dynamic areas is mobile phones, which is only possible due to the implementation of the latest technological innovations. And progress continues faster and faster!


  • Mark
    • Admin
    1 week ago Link to comment

    I do not think we have had any true innovation in smart phones for years. I do not see facial recognition, bezel less displays, premium materials( glass ), large pixel count, and more cameras as innovation. They are all old tech being reapplied. I just wish they would reinnovate the removable battery and head phone jack.


    • Totally agree Mark. Would even go so far as to say software needs some new innovation as well. Android is good, but there's so much more that they can do to make it fun to use, the icons and "desktop" screen should get some attention and menu's like the settings menu for example.

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