Phone best yet to come
The latest smartphones will feature faster hardware and connections, writes Jennifer Dudley-nicholson
THE mobile phone is more popular than ever. Research unveiled at the world’s biggest phone conference last week revealed more than 6.6 billion mobile phone connections are now in operation and that number will reach 9.1 billion by 2015.
But the globe’s 3.6 billion phone subscribers could be using very different devices by then, with major overhauls planned for smartphones this year.
As revealed at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the future of smartphones includes faster handsets, speedier internet connections, bigger screens and headlinegrabbing features, including built-in projectors and 41-megapixel cameras. Foad Fadaghi predicts that many Australian phone buyers will opt for 4G handsets this year, even though only one carrier has launched the network so far.
‘‘ It’s a natural evolution,’’ he says. ‘‘ Consumers will seek out that functionality when picking out their next smartphone. It’s all part of people future-proofing their purchase for the life of a 24-month contract and there might be assumptions that networks will be rolled out further.’’
While Telstra’s 4G network covers only a 5km area around Australia’s capital cities, major airports and selected regional centres, Ovum senior analyst Nicole Mccormick says the company will continue to enjoy a first-mover advantage with customers for some time.
‘‘ In contrast, rival Optus will only switch on a limited LTE service in April 2012, while value-seeker operator Vodafone . . . has put LTE on the back-burner,’’ she says.
Telstra’s first LTE phone, the HTC Velocity 4G, has already become the company’s third best-selling consumer post-paid phone. It’s not just internet connections that will speed up this year: phone handsets are set to get a major speed boost.
Quad-core processors are being added to smartphones for the first time, giving each phone’s computer chip four individual ‘‘ cores’’ or brains to boost its processing power.
In practice, Fadaghi says, this could change the way people use their phones; allowing them to more capably stand-in for laptops and create videos or documents, for example.
‘‘ Quad-core phones will be attractive, particularly if you start seeing applications that make the most of those quad- Technology surge: mobile phones will have taken another quantum leap by 2015. core processors, like games or even video-editing,’’ he says.
‘‘ There’s a lot of potential there for making these devices content-creation devices as well as content-consumption devices.’’
Newly announced quadcore phones include the flagship One X handset from HTC, LG’S Optimus 4X HD, the ZTE Era phone, an unnamed but waterproof prototype from Fujitsu, and the Huawei Ascend D Quad.
Huawei device chairman Richard Yu says the company added more power as speed was at the top of consumers’ wish-lists.
‘‘ We’ve listened to people’s top demands from smartphones: speed, long battery life, high-quality visual and audio capabilities and a compact lightweight handset,’’ he says.
Big-name manufacturers including Sony, Nokia and Samsung have yet to join the trend, however. The world’s biggest phone show always attracts headlinegrabbing phones.
Nokia president Stephen Elop boasted the company is changing its ‘‘ clock speed’’ before unveiling the world’s first smartphone to feature a 41-megapixel camera.
The Nokia 808 Pureview also features a Carl Zeiss lens and new pixel technology for sharp images, although Ovum principal analyst Tony Cripps says its ‘‘ Symbian Belle operating system might detract from its appeal’’.
Samsung also revealed the Galaxy Beam, its second phone to feature a built-in projector, while companies including LG, Panasonic and Umeox launched super-sized smartphones with 5-inch screens.