What's Next
for the Future of Mobile?

 

In the first of three articles exploring what's next for the future of mobile technology, journalist David Phelan gives us an exclusive look into what innovations he believes are not far off being a reality. Discover what amazing developments we can expect to see soon.

The future is always a mystery, a mix of expectations (TV screens as big and flat as living room walls!) and the things we hoped would materialise but haven't, like flying cars. Still waiting for those. And there are the complete surprises. Who knew, ten years ago, that our mobile phones would guide us with maps, show high-resolution video or introduce us to Candy Crush Saga and Snapchat?

Samsung Galaxy

So any future-gazing is uncertain, but there are clues. We're now using our mobiles for much more than just texts and calls. So we'll surely do more tomorrow than we do now. Faster connections will add versatility. Battery life will improve so watching a video won't deplete the phone in nothing flat. Faster processors will make our phones way more capable. And connectivity to the world around us will add brand-new features.

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Other battery prototypes that could become mainstream include transparent solar panel screens, and foldable, paper-thin cells which will make for thinner phones than ever.

Battery

Phone batteries are the most powerful they've been. If that doesn't always seem so, it's because we're using our phones so much more. But cell life will extend and, perhaps as soon as this year, fast-charging batteries will be widespread, so a 15-minute top-up can give us a day's charge. One day, this recharge time will drop to a minute or less. No worries if you forget to plug in overnight, then. Other battery prototypes that could become mainstream include transparent solar panel screens, and foldable, paper-thin cells which will make for thinner phones than ever.

Processor

Powerful processors mean we can do more stuff, more quickly. Newer phones team fast central processing units with increased active memory (RAM) for the most effect. And with graphics capabilities built in, cutting-edge processors make for amazing-looking games. They'll also allow for phone screens which are many times the resolution of current ones. And expect phones to become more secure, too, with powerful processors allowing fingerprint sensors and other biometrics to keep our phone data safe. All this processing power will lead to sophisticated visual searches using the camera, microphones that answer our questions before we directly ask the phone, and more.

Speed

High speed is the great enabler of services. Current 4G networks offer fast, reliable connections on our mobiles which often outstrip home broadband. And in South Korea, 5G tests could start in 2017! This will be faster still, making high-quality video calls, even in 3D, a possibility, and downloads of an entire HD movie in a second or two. With speeds like this, storage becomes unimportant - you'll stream everything. Before then, faster 4G speeds could mean that Instagram shots, say, are taken at super-high resolution and uploaded in full detail. Current speeds are bringing new applications to make the most of them, especially on phones which combine 4G and wi-fi signals for even faster connections.

Connectivity

In the coming months and years, we can expect a huge increase in the range of gizmos wirelessly connected to our phones, from lighting systems to activity monitors. We're already able to use smart watches like the Samsung Gear S as navigation systems: you don't even need to look at your phone to see which way to go. Some smartphones double as TV remote controls, or integrate with your home heating system so you can turn on the radiators while on the bus home. Soon, phones will talk directly to other machines so we can leave them to get on with the dull stuff while we do more interesting things.

With greater speed, widespread connectivity and powerful processors, mobiles will come up with more of the future we're waiting for. Now, about those flying cars…

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