Smarter, stronger phones
Smartphone makers think they know what we want. Alex Kidman sees five trends that define the market this year
CAMERAS ARE KEY
There isn’t a premium handset on the market that doesn’t try to sell you on the concept that its camera is the latest and greatest.
Nokia still leads the pack in pure megapixel terms with the 41MP Lumia 1020 smartphone, although at its recent launch LG talked down the megapixel race.
According to LG’s mobile business director for Singapore David Yoh: “Consumers understand that higher megapixel count doesn’t contribute to good- quality pictures.”
Instead, LG is banking on a laser- guided focus system, while Samsung sells itself on phase detection focus for the same quick- focus ability. HTC uses two cameras to enable a variety of depth- of- field effects on the HTC One M8.
BIGGER, MORE DETAILED SCREENS
LG leads the smartphone screen race with the Quad- HD 5.5- inch display on the LG G3, which will be launched in Australia in August.
It remains to be seen how much of a battery hog its screen is, but the days when Apple could throw around terms such as “retina display” for its 326ppi iPhone and wow crowds are in the past.
Then again, the current rumour mill suggests we’ll see a larger- screened iPhone 6 this year.
TOUGHER, SMARTER SMARTPHONES
A decent number of the top- end smartphones of 2014 have some kind of “ruggedisation” features built in. For instance, both Sony’s Xperia Z2 and Samsung’s Galaxy S5 feature water and dustproof ratings.
This doesn’t mean you can treat them as indestructible, but they can survive a few more accidents. Many manufacturers are starting to offer improved locking, location and remote wipe functionality on their range of handsets.
Apparently we’re not good at locking down our devices – at the launch of the LG G3 in Singapore, an LG spokesman said about 62 per cent of users did not bother locking their smart devices with a code.
STYLE MATTERS – BUT IT’S FIXED
When you’re paying top dollar for a serious smartphone, you want something that looks good.
The top- end handsets are generally those with a metal finish, or at least plastic that looks like a metal finish.
If you look over this year’s smartphone crop, there’s a distinct feeling of deja vu. Corners are smoothed and smartphones are getting thinner every year, but every large firm has settled on their designs.
If you’re a fan it’s great, but if you’re after something genuinely different, it’s too bad.
GIMMICKS THAT DIFFERENTIATE
Most middle range, and some budget, handsets do a very good job. That only leaves style and some premium features for the high- end set to tout.
While these can be useful, there are many gimmicks on offer, whether it’s the heartbeat sensor in the Samsung Galaxy S5, the dot view or circle cases for the HTC One M8 and LG G3 respectively, or the fingerprint sensors on the S5 and iPhone 5s.