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Future Tech: 

Future smartphones: How smart will they get?

With the expected launch of Apple’s iPhone 6 just days away, the months of speculation that precedes each Apple conference will at last be put to bed. What will it look like? What will it do? And, after all the excitement settles down, will the company’s latest smartphone justify the no doubt hefty price tag?

Subtle upgrades made between each new smartphone can blur the progress we’ve made. Just a decade ago even the idea of an app was completely foreign – let alone today’s sophisticted tools that help us to learn, navigate, socialise and, errr, say Yo. Smartphones are no longer a status symbol flaunted by the wealthy, but more or less the lifeblood of our everyday existence – for better or worse.

So, with so much of our lives already running through the devices in our pockets, where can smartphones go from here? Here, we look at some the more exciting features that may just arrive sooner than you think.

Un-scratchable screens

iPhone 6 sapphire cystal

An artist rendering of the iPhone 6 and its sleek scratch-proof screen

One of the big rumours ahead of the iPhone 6 is that it will feature a virtually ‘un-scratchable’ sapphire screen. Excitement mounted when YouTube user Marques Brownlee claimed to have got hold of one of the screens ahead of release, subjecting it to a barrage of abuse which even included taking a knife to it – the screen emerged without a mark. If legitimate, though, the real test for Apple won’t be whether its screen can withstand scratches, but whether they can stop it from shattering on impact.

Security is evolving

smartphone security evolving

Passwords, gestures, biometric scans…but what comes next?

Biometric finger print scans have already been integrated in the latest iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphones – and that trend is only expected to continue. A Gartner report predicted that 30% of all companies will use biometrics on mobile devices by 2016.

As our devices become more and more secure, then, they may also be used to secure other aspects of our lives. Smartphones are already replacing the wallet with NFC and scannable bar codes, next they could replace your house and car keys. ShareKey is one such attempt to use NFC for unlocking doors, but how long before that functionality is built into every smartphone?

New shapes and alternative forms

LG flex smartphone

LG’s curved G Flex smartphone is just the beginning

LG surprised the tech world late last year when it unveiled the first curved smartphone, and signs suggest it won’t be the last of its kind. In fact, just this week Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note Edge – a 5.6″ smartphone with a display that slopes off at the side.

A slight curve doesn’t have to be where the experiment ends, though. How about a fully flexible, bendable and even foldable smartphone? It may be a while before the likes of Apple or Samsung take this technology mainstream, but other companies are attempting to get there first. One such company is Emopulse, whose curved smartphone concept that you can wear as a bangle created a buzz on Indiegogo before quietly disappearing when things got serious. We wonder why?

The internet will be insanely fast

5G smartphone

When 5G launches internet speeds will be 250 times faster

As we wrote not long ago in our full 5G report, mobile networks will soon raise the game for internet speed. Okay, soon is a matter of perspective – 5G is likely to see a mainstream launch in 2022 – but when it finally lands it promises to be 250 times (!) faster than 4G. That means full movie downloads in around 6 seconds.

Wireless charging

smartphone wireless charging

Charging cables will soon be extinct

As good as the current crop of smartphones are, if we have one complaint it’s that the battery life is, well, sort of pathetic. Constantly plugging in and out of a sockets is a pain, but will soon become a thing of the past once the wireless charging revolution takes hold.

Wireless power products were popular at January’s CES conference, and there are already over 60 phones that have QI wireless charging built-in. Once the technology launches for real, though, charging your smartphone will be as simple at popping it onto a QI charging surface – of which there will hopefully be plenty – and watching it regenerate.

Homepage photo: Kostenko Maxim / Shutterstock.com
Photo: Denys Prykhodov / Shutterstock.com

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