Menu
7 smartphone trends to watch this year

7 smartphone trends to watch this year

Smartphones will play a bigger role in VR, entertainment and computing

Smartphones this year are poised to become more interactive, more fun and maybe a little bit smarter than you’d like them to be.

On the high end, smartphones will get into virtual reality, PC docking and 4K home entertainment. Low-cost phones will offer more bang for the buck with higher-resolution screens, better graphics and faster wireless communications.

Virtual and augmented reality

Smartphones can already be used to roam virtual worlds, such as with the Google Cardboard holder that enables stereoscopic viewing, or connected to a VR headset like Samsung's Gear VR. But the experience will get better this year with Lenovo and Google's Project Tango handset, which will provide a wealth of data on a user's location and objects in view, with information overlaid on the screen. Sensors will be able to measure distances and, like Microsoft's Kinect, track movement and gestures. By mapping surroundings, a smartphone will also be able to direct an employee to a specific meeting room. The companies see the Tango phone being used in engineering and medical applications. For fun, it will let you play augmented reality games with the physical world as the background. The Project Tango smartphone will ship by the middle of this year, and it'll be priced under $650. For developers, Intel will have a Tango-compatible smartphone with software development kits and a 3D camera for $399.

Faster wireless speeds

Maps and movies will load much faster as LTE and other wireless connections on smartphones reach higher speeds. Many top-line smartphones being announced at Mobile World Congress this month will be powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 chip, which as an LTE modem that can reach download speeds of 600Mbps (bits per second) and upload speeds of 150Mbps. For the first time, smartphones will support LTE-U, in which faster data transfers can take place over both licensed and unlicensed spectrum. The Snapdragon 820 also has WiGig technology, which can connect handsets wirelessly to monitors, peripherals and docks. Qualcomm says WiGig is up to three times faster than 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Not all processors will have these wireless features, particularly WiGig, so be sure to check phone specifications.

Cognitive computing

Qualcomm also wants to put machine learning in smartphones, which could help in image recognition and location-based applications. Qualcomm claims smartphones with the Snapdragon 820 can be trained to understand use patterns by analyzing and classifying sound, location, image and other data. The cognitive computing capabilities come from algorithms and circuitry from the company's Zeroth neural chip. Qualcomm showed IDG News Service a smartphone that immediately identified people and tagged their names after a picture was taken, much like tagging pictures in Facebook. In this case, the processing happened locally and didn't rely on remote deep-learning servers. Qualcomm claims it has about 30 applications in mind for this technology, though it might make some users nervous.

Faster graphics

Smartphones are central to home entertainment, and strong graphics are coming to handsets for virtual reality and 4K entertainment. Low-end handsets will support full high-definition video, while high-end devices will be equipped with even faster GPUs from Qualcomm and ARM. Don't expect to see smartphones with chips from Nvidia, which makes the best mobile GPUs but has exited the smartphone market. Smartphones don't have 4K screens yet, so you'll need to hook them up to 4K TVs for streaming video or gaming.

Better screens

Talking of displays, smartphone screens will be more vivid, with resolutions creeping above the 1440-by-2560 pixel displays in top-line handsets today. Analysts at Morgan Stanley also predict that foldable OLED screens will reach handsets in the next two years. At CES, LG showed a flexible OLED screen that could be rolled up.

USB Type-C and other hardware improvements

Both low-cost and high-end phones will migrate to versatile USB Type-C ports for charging. The new ports will also solve the problem of connecting smartphones to monitors and external storage devices. Samsung's pocket-sized SSD T3 drive, which can have as much as 2TB of storage, can be plugged directly into Android handsets.

Faster chips

As always, the new handsets will have faster and more energy-efficient chips. But a new twist in mobile processors is stacked transistors, which allow more features to be packed into smaller chips. This is a big chip-manufacturing advancement that will allow smartphones to do a lot more while preserving battery life. Some smartphones will also have low-power DDR4 memory, which boosts higher application performance through faster internal data transfers.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonesvirtual reality

Featured

Slideshows

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Show Comments