Has smartphone technology hit the wall?

Has smartphone technology hit the wall?

Summary: Rapid advancement as we've seen in smartphones leads us to expect such advances to continue, but I believe it is slowing down. I'm having a hard time trying to determine what the Next Big Thing in smartphones might be.


If you follow the smartphone world like I do, you have no doubt found the past 2-3 years to be exciting. Smartphones and the technology behind them have grown by leaps and bounds on both the hardware and software fronts. We've seen phones arrive that have full computing power coupled with gigabytes of storage for apps and media. We've seen smartphone software evolve at a rapid clip, bringing always-connected capabilities that were not possible just a short time ago. Rapid evolution as we've seen in smartphones conditions us to expect such advances to continue, but eventually it must slow down. I believe it might be doing so now, as I'm having a hard time trying to determine what the Next Big Thing in smartphones might be.

Don't misunderstand me, I still find smartphones to be wonderful gadgets. The HTC Thunderbolt I'm currently testing is a marvelous piece of technology in every way. But when I ignore the 4G connectivity which sets it apart from most of the phones on the market, I find it to be largely just another smartphone. It's faster than the rest, and it is wonderfully full-featured, but 4G capability aside it's really just another smartphone in a crowded playing field of good phones.

This has me wondering what might be the next big advancement in the smartphone space. The rapid evolution of Android has fueled the segment recently, but it seems to have slowed down with Google's focus on the Honeycomb tablet genre just coming into play. I don't really see anything pushing the limits on the smartphone front from Google with Android.

Apple will surely release the iPhone 5 or equivalent at some point this year, but there's not anything leaking out about something totally new to the genre coming with it. The folks in Cupertino always find a way to surprise us, but I can't imagine what they might bring to the smartphone that is truly innovative.

HP has already shown us what webOS 3.0 brings to the smartphone, and while I was impressed with the time I spent with the Pre 3 there wasn't anything truly new. It does have great synergy with the HP TouchPad, and that does excite me, but on the smartphone side of things it seems to be business as usual.

Perhaps we've hit the wall as far as smartphone technology advances is concerned. There doesn't seem to be anything coming in the near future that takes the genre to the next level. There are lots of cool phones coming, but they seem to be more of the same to me. I don't see the Next Big Thing, even in whispered rumors, and that leaves me wondering if it's coming any time soon.

What do you think will be the Next Big Thing in smartphones? Or do you believe smartphone technology has hit the wall? Sound off in the TalkBack.

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Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Smartphones

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  • RE: Has smartphone technology hit the wall?

    James, as we "old timers" have noted, battery technology is not keeping up with tech advancements. Thanks primarily to new chip sets, the netbook/laptop arena has been able to get better battery life - but not because of battery improvement.
    Cell phones/tablets are in the same area. Faster, brighter is great in cell phones, but there is a price to pay - battery life. I don't/will not buy an extended battery to be a "brick" add on just to get a full day of functionality out of my phone.
    Until battery advancements catch up to our new phone tech, we may be at a rest stop in cell phone progress.
    • RE: Has smartphone technology hit the wall?

      @willginn Not sure what you call a full day, but my Atrix will get > 16 hours and that is with everything on Bluetooth/GPS/WIFI
      • RE: Has smartphone technology hit the wall?


        I'm getting upwards of 36 hours out of my Atrix. Usage is always a consideration when it comes to battery life of course.
      • RE: Has smartphone technology hit the wall?

        I'm getting upwards of 36 hours out of my Atrix. Usage is always a consideration when it comes to battery life of course. <a href="http://www.riseuniversity.com/schools-majors/law-and-legal-studies/">Law and legal studies school</a>
  • RE: Has smartphone technology hit the wall?

    I think the future has to be full integration with the laptop/desktop/tablet. The Motorola Atrix is the first feeble attempt. I believe that a "dumb dock", weather its a laptop or tablet is the next step.
    • I agree, but

      @tgschmidt <br><br>given the MS dominance on the desktop and iOS/Android dominance in the smartphone/tablet market, I think that integration will unfortunately be a slow and painful process.<br><br>I agree with the author however. The "revolution" is coming to an end and commoditization has started. One day ALL phones will be "smart", it is just a question of how smart. The more you pay, the more you get, just like in the PC market, but all the HW will do essentially the same thing.
      • RE: Has smartphone technology hit the wall?

        @Economister The of cause is that there is a certain level where most people simply do not need any more PCs have past that stage, unless you do stuff like gaming and video editing or animations, most PCs are today are over powered for what they are use for. All that extra horse power is simply wasted in a lot of PCs.
    • RE: Has smartphone technology hit the wall?

      @tgschmidt <br>Far from full integration, I think the next thing in smart devices will be an 'end-run' around all of the existing stuff. With 2GHz processors round the corner, SSD storage getting cheaper, why will you need a desktop?<br>Because a desktop has a decent screen and a decent keyboard/mouse, and because of access to standard productivity (office) tools.<br>Incorporation of higher grade graphics processors in smart devices to drive bigger external displays is pretty much all that needs to happen to enable a dock to connect to a screen, keyboard and mouse. Meanwhile, productivity apps via the cloud develop apace.<br>Soon, who will need a desktop?
  • One imminent technology to consider: Near Field Communication

    Look for this technology to be incorporated in the iPhone 5 or 6. (I'm betting on 5)
    • But what would I use it for?


      I am not going to use my smart phone as a debit card. That scares the hell out of me.
      • RE: Has smartphone technology hit the wall?

        @Economister In some ways that is already happening - not a credit card per se but the Starbucks Mobile Card app allows one to use their smartphone (in my case my iPhone) as their Starbucks refillable gift card.

        The ONLY reason that I'm personally not that nervous about having my iPhone act as my refillable gift card is because I can remotely wipe it if it is ever stolen. Even having said that I think it will be a while after they have the tech in place to have one's smartphone act as a true credit or debit card that I will feel comfortable enough with it to utilize it.
  • Apple will tell us what the next big thing will be.

    An integrated hands free heardset maybe? A slide out keyboard? Bose speakers? Innovative ideas no one has done yet.
    Will Farrell
    • all of the above have happened.

      @Will Farrell

      Whatever apple will do will be evolutionary, not revolutionary.

      Motorola's dumb-dock system is the most revolutionary, and I expect we'll see improved efficiency of the software/chipsets, and more refinement of the docking systems... in due time.
  • RE: Has smartphone technology hit the wall?

    The iPhone didn't really bring anything new to the table. Prettier and bigger onscreen buttons, but it is the same old app based device we've basically had for a decade.

    HTC and others are advancing more, with their social integration. Yet even that is just the tip of the iceberg to come.

    The Next Big Thing will be the device as intelligent companion. It will learn what you like, and where you like to go, and can put searches and requests in that context, and even make reminders and suggestions on its own during the day.
    • and that will be when the self-conscious shall avoid.


      Things can be too smart for their own good, and I am not going to have a hijack-able device that knows all about me. I keep enough of my life compartmentalized, I'm not going to have everything linked up like that.
  • RE: Has smartphone technology hit the wall?

    The author's failure to mention WP7 the next big thing in smart phones clearly orchastrates his bias.

    And what a dump article....
    • WP7 is a &quot;me to&quot; joke

      The only thing that will keep above ground is it's adoption by Nokia, and Microsoft paying them billions to do so...
      • RE: Has smartphone technology hit the wall?

        @GoPower - And when Nokia starts shipping several tens of millions of well engineered WinPhone devices every year all around the globe, I think we'll see the tables turn somewhat.<br><br>Future smartphone innovations are not going to be born from hardware improvements. Most current Smartphones are plenty fast enough for most people's needs. Perhaps they could do with a little more storage and better battery life, but even the latter will get a better boost from improvements to OS and apps vs. hardware improvements.<br><br>Microsoft is planning a number of important improvements to these most important factors in Mango (due for release this fall). But it's the integration between Windows 8 on desktop/laptop, tablet/slate and phone that I am most interested in. 2012 is going to be a VERY interesting year!
    • RE: Has smartphone technology hit the wall?

      @owlnet No, his "failure" to mention WP7 is because WP7 is really not that innovative... the ONLY thing different about it from any of the Android or iOS smartphones is the Metro UI. But clearly you have different information so by all means please enlighten me as to what you can do on your WP7 that I'm not able to do on either my iPhone 4 or my Blackberry Curve. And what can your WP7 do that Android devices cannot? And please, none of this "WP7/Android/iOS/BB/whatever is better than Android/iOS/Blackberry/WP7/whatever" crap... all that does is make you look like a biased trolling steaming piece of turd...
  • RE: Has smartphone technology hit the wall?

    Apple is slowly fading away, thus the birth of this article.
    Apple is running out of ideas, while Microsoft is starting heat ip. I am looking forward with thee Kinect and WP7 and Windows 8. The technology is getting better. It's just that Apple cant keep up already since Android have beaten iOS. And the expectations on iOS is getting low rapidly.

    Goodbye Apple iOS.
    Hello Microsoft WP7 and Kinect and Windows 8.