Smartphone Predictions of 2014

It’s difficult not to wonder what 2014 will bring us in terms of new technology in the Smartphone world. With 2013 having brought us an enhanced camera phone experience we never thought possible (Nokia Lumia 2010); the smug feeling of unlocking our phones through touch alone (iPhone 5S) and the pleasure of meeting one of the most powerful processors in a handset yet (the HTC One’s Snapdragon 600), we can only dream of the wonderful possibilities that 2014’s new line of smartphone fads may bring us.




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Yet with some of the newer developments rumored to be in the pipeline by popular manufacturers, we can’t help but also feel a little sceptical as to the reality of some of their grand promises. Will 2014’s smartphones bring wonders…or blunders?

Curved Smartphones?

Samsung announced earlier this month that they will soon be releasing the Galaxy Round – the smartphone that has the ability to curve around its vertical axis. Not long afterwards, LG announced its own addition to the Curve concept – the G Flex, which (perhaps more dubiously) curves horizontally. They are built without the glass that normally sits behind the display for plastic substrates, allowing for a flexible body and less fragile display.

Whilst both innovations are sure to be exciting newcomers to the increasingly repetitive smartphone design world, one cannot help but wonder about the role that a bendy phone could possibly play in our lives. The Galaxy Round, on the one hand, at least has the ability to curve around the shape of your leg whilst sat in your jeans pocket, but what about the G Flex? This, meanwhile, is apparently intended to be a ‘good fit for the face’. But since when has this been a common request of smartphone users?

On the whole, it is likely that the new curved smartphones will simply act as a fashion statement rather than performing an extra function. However, it does set a foot in the right direction as far as an all-flexible smartphone is concerned, once the battery technology has been brought up to speed.

bendy-smartphone Image from thenews.com

Transparent Smartphones?

The transparent smartphone prototype by Polytron was indeed impressive, and although limitations of modern technology are still standing in the way, this certainly looks like a promising goal for the future. Through the strengthened smart-glass exterior, the phone’s internal items such as the SIM, SD card and microphone are fascinatingly visible.

Polytron has also mastered a truly magical screen using amazing liquid crystal molecules. When the phone is off, the screen appears opaque. But once turned on, the molecules line up to let incident light pass through and create a thoroughly transparent effect.

Like the curved phones, a transparent smartphone is probably more about design than purpose, but unlike the curved phones, this design is something we’ll all undoubtedly long for. It’s a shame that Polytron has already begun to forego some of its transparency in favour of hiding some key elements, such as the camera, using darker glass and opaque shading, and the question still stands of whether or not it will be possible to create a fully functioning device in this manner.

‘Build Your Own’ Smartphones?

Google-owned Motorola is looking to be the first manufacturer to nail down the concept of a ‘do it yourself’ smartphone building technology, having recently partnered with 3D printing company, 3D Systems, in order to make the project a reality. ‘Project Ara’, as the concept is named, is about enabling the development of fully customisable, modular smartphones out of interchangeable modules, giving customers entire control of the design process from beginning to end. As well as being able to design their own phone, they will also be able to use the 3D printing technology to upgrade its parts, such as RAM or a new camera, or simply alter its look.

With the development agreement being a multi-year contract, this intriguing innovation is not likely to be around in 2014. But you can be sure that the hype will be. Bear in mind, however, that the project is susceptible to quite a few big technological ‘ifs’, should it be truly successful. These include the boundaries of logic…and quite possibly, the basic rules of physics.

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                                                                                                                                      Image from techradar.com

SmartLockets?

We’ve seen the Google Glass, and we’ve suffered countless ongoing rumors about the Apple iWatch. So is it really hardly surprising that yet another variation of the wearable smartphone – namely the Google Locket – is on the cards?

Similar to Sony’s own attempt at a smartphone-integrated accessory – the Sony SmartWatch 1 and 2 – the Google Locket will be able to be used alone or in conjunction with your existing Google Nexus phone. Running on what will most certainly be the latest Android system, users will be able to use the locket to check notifications, emails, and have access to a large majority of apps available from the Google Play store (a large majority being, presumably, those which are realistically compatible). Unlike the Sony SmartWatch it can also be used for voice calls thanks to its discreet wireless earpiece and highly sensitive microphone, and rumors have hinted that it will even incorporate some of the more popular features of Google Glass, such as photo sharing, location compatibility, and voice commands for calling phone numbers and performing Google searches.

As an addition to one’s smartphone when it is otherwise unattainable (such as in a business meeting, or whilst driving) it’s a neat idea. But is a condensed accessory enough to replace our faithful palm-buddy? This remains to be seen…

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                                                                                                                                                                           Image from hardwaresphere.com