• Smartphone Evolution and Innovation

    Smartphone Evolution and Innovation

    We all have a smartphone, how did get here and where are they headed?

    The smartphone has been a driving point for technology innovation and imitation as the drive to have faster, more powerful handhelds continue to race onward.  The number of devices, activities, tools, and processes that have been absorbed into current generation smartphones is staggering.  Mobile devices were originally constrained by the networks they used which limited functionally by bottlenecking bandwidth.  Now, most devices have access to incredibly fast networks that are only going to be getting faster (more on that here).

    What technology has been replaced by or integrated into smartphones?

    We started our digging and found a handy list here but some items felt a bit so-so like business cards as even though you can easily exchange contact info, a physical card is still certainly beneficial for a business to stand out vs a contact you save in a phone and forget as soon as you are home.  So let’s look at some of the major items from this list that phones have replaced or integrated.

    The Camera

    Chase Jarvis could have been selling smartphones with this quote easily because more often than not the only camera we have on us is built into our beloved smartphone device.  Consumers often place a high priority in getting a phone with as high of a quality camera as possible because they want to be able to get the best images conveniently captured when random life moments call for it.  Phones are constrained by physical size requirements vs regular cameras that can have larger or full-size sensors for better capture in low lighting.


    Devices went through a trend where the consumers encouraged manufacturers to make them smaller and smaller and then everything flipped to where it was acceptable to have larger screens (as long as the device fit in a normal pocket and had reasonable battery life).

    Processor technology

    Has been getting faster and smaller even though compared to other forms of tech it doesn’t progress as fast or as often as other sectors of the tech industry.  Current gen tech is allowing higher end gaming to be performed on mobile devices with stable frame rates and decent graphics thanks to optimization across the board in the technology including batter capacity and performance.  Many new phones coming out are aimed at gaming, even Apple has had advertisements targeting the mobile gamer demographics.


    Batteries used to be a major issue for phones, many of us can remember when we used to have to keep a charger at work or school handy for when our smartphone would trickle too low from heavy normal usage.  Now it has become more standard for phones to last a whole day or multiple days with heavy usage wearing down the battery between bright displays to compete with sunlight and high-performance applications and games.  Sure there are mobile charging backup batteries and clip on backup batteries like the moto mods options but the technology for batteries is nearing where those external supplies aren’t needed outside of very heavy users.

    A powerful catalyst in the phone industry was when the original iPhone was released.  It caused the toggle in consumer mind-shift from looking at smartphones as a business tool to something everyday consumers would want to use and benefit from.  Android tagged behind but had an initial rough start until the platform had matured a bit.  It was a similar shift that happened to the gaming industry as it was a very small niche market that broke open to the mass market which spread the appeal and demand into new demographics.  Largely thanks to Apple, the smartphone was no longer just a gadget for serious business workers but the casual phone user as well.


    Where are we headed?

    Devices are less bound by technical limitations though they will always be present to various degrees.  Gaming on devices has spread and improved to where portable gaming dedicated devices like the 3ds or PlayStation portable are less beneficial vs phones able to do similar quality mobile gaming.

    The limitations of smartphones were previously due to battery capacity and hardware performance when the equipment was constrained to fit into the small form factor of phones.  Improvements in batteries were a huge part of the progression of the technology because they were smaller, lighter, had larger storage capacity yet charged faster as well. These allowed devices have larger screens that could be bright and clear to see.

    Devices now will soon have access to even greater speeds, processors, memory capacity and better displays with more options for cameras and sensors.  What technological changes are you looking most forward to in your device of the future?


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