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Smartphones are rapidly changing the world, bringing the once-humble mobile phone kicking and screaming into the 21st century. While feature phones (as the mobiles of old are now named) were great for opening up new lines of communication, smartphones go way beyond that. The simple connection to the Internet they offer means a wealth of new features and opportunities have been opened up to us as we go about our daily lives.

It’s not all positive, as smartphones can adversely affect the quality of face-to-face meetings, especially if one or more of the parties involved suffers from smartphone addiction Are You Addicted To Your Smartphone? Are You Addicted To Your Smartphone? At one time, landlines and payphones were all we had--and we survived just fine, thank you very much. But now, it’s almost laughable if you don’t own an iPhone or Android, and for some of... Read More . But for most of us a smartphone is a welcome addition to our collection of gadgets, and one which is capable of replacing several others.

The problem, and it’s a nice problem to have, is that smartphones have come of age of late, having improved by a huge margin over the last few years. So much so that it’s sometimes hard to determine how they can actually get any better What Features Will Future Mobile Phones Most Likely Have? [Geeks Weigh In] What Features Will Future Mobile Phones Most Likely Have? [Geeks Weigh In] If you could go back in time ten years and give yourself a sneak peek at the smartphone you own now, what would you think? Would you be amazed by the brilliant display? Would the... Read More . The recent incremental updates offered by Apple and others suggest that even the manufacturers have run out of ideas. Which is where you, the MakeUseOf readership, comes in.

This Week’s Question…

We want to know, Where Do Smartphones Go From Here? You can interpret this question in whichever way you see fit. You could, for example, express your views on which direction the industry will head. Or you could refer to specific manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC, or Nokia. Then there are the operating systems, the main three of which are iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Will one rise to the top? Or is there room for all three?

You could instead concentrate on features you’d like to see added to the hardware. Would you like to see screens grow or shrink in size? Are phablets going to be a trend or a mere blip? Is there a need for smartphones to get faster and more powerful or are the current beasts enough for the tasks we ask them to perform on a daily basis?


Would you like to see innovation in the space continue, or do you think it’s time we took stock and tried to focus on improving the user experience? In last week’s We Ask You several people mentioned an increased smartphone battery life as being their tech-related hope for 2013 What Are Your Tech-Related Hopes for 2013? [We Ask You] What Are Your Tech-Related Hopes for 2013? [We Ask You] The year that's just passed was an important one for technology, with new gadgets and services finding their way on to the market, bigger companies acquiring smaller companies, and innovations spilling out from the underground... Read More . Should improving battery life be the main focus of attention for the foreseeable future?

Having previously looked at mobile phones of the past What Is The Best Phone You Have Ever Owned, & Why? [You Tell Us] What Is The Best Phone You Have Ever Owned, & Why? [You Tell Us] Last week we turned MakeUseOf over to you in order to gauge opinion on a relevant topic. We asked you a question, and you answered in your droves. We have read and replied, cogitated and... Read More , it’s now time to look at those of the future.

Drawing Conclusions

All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told Us. One reader will be chosen for the coveted Comment Of The Week, getting their name up in lights, and the respect of other readers. What more motivation than that do you need to respond?

We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to necessitate a discussion. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to fellow MakeUseOf Readers. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

Image Credit: Jacob Botter

  1. Andrew
    January 15, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Unfortunately development of smart phones is run by the private sector - they want money not good hardware and software.
    Battery life: Its not going to get better - they like selling batteries + they like people wanting to spend more to get a phone with better 'running time'.
    The information and ability to choose an O/S for any particualr phone is largely discouraged by the industry. They will lock you in as much as they can to software like Apple itunes does.

    Price - smart phones must cost less than $100 to manufacture
    why do they sell for $1000

    I sure hope a counter open source market opens - phones with a hardware standard - so that you can pick from a number of o/s to put on.
    My answer to where to next - random circular moves making money.

    • You are stupid
      February 6, 2013 at 5:50 am

      Wow, what an uninformed comment. Smartphones do NOT cost only $100 to build. Google it - iPhones cost several hundred dollars (forgot exact amount) to construct, as does any modern smartphone.
      I think you're missing the fact that it's not just materials that go into a product. Research departments, Engineering departments, and any other employees all have to be paid for their time to make that miracle of technology, which you take for granted, come to life.
      Perhaps one of the most important aspects of producing cutting-edge tech like this is cost of development as a whole. Cramming cpus, gpus, RAM, cameras, etc into tiny packages (and cooling it all) isn't easy. It takes extremely talented people to make the latest and greatest. They tend to charge for their efforts....

      Also, I don't think a single cell phone I've heard of has gone for $1000. The iPhone, known to be expensive, goes for ~ $700 (I believe) for the top model.
      In addition, the reason

      Learn something or get the hell off the internet.

    • You are stupid
      February 6, 2013 at 5:51 am

      * (fixed)

      ... the reason a product costs more in the store than what they produced it for is because companies need to make PROFIT. Why? To appease stockholders, to be able to live their own lives off their pay, and to make new products that you can stupidly complain about.

  2. ukdirector
    January 14, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    With Apple & Microsoft both looking to get every last drip of money they can out of there OS's with their App stores and patents, the people will eventually say no more and the majority will be found using Linux / Android because it will eventually win out with Smartphone's / Tablets / Desktop OS's!

  3. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    January 14, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Aside of being bulkier and stop being 'mobile'? Seriously, not much more or they should rebrand it into 'mini computer'. If you ask me how much a phone can be expanded, I'd say we've reached the limit. It's now so bloated and no longer just a phone. For better or worse, phablets would become increasingly common in the future. and with alternatives to charge on the go, you'll be carrying full-fledged computer in your pocket.
    Do we actually need it to be that fast? Do we actually need a machine capable of doing anything a laptop can do? I don't think so. Even if it's capable, many things are more comfortable done with bigger screen (and other environment factor). I think with the rising amount of apps available for phones of all OSes and platforms, I can already do anything I want my phone to do. We, the all-curious all-demanding humans decide to push it even further. Take a look around at app store of your favorite mobile OS. Some apps are so niche I can't believe someone actually made such things.
    Moving on to OS war, I think Android will catch on iOS soon. As 'innovative' Apple is said to be, as I pointed earlier, we're already scretching everything from a phone. In a long run Android's more open system would enable users personalize it to suit their needs and expanding the OS. With Ubuntu now trying to make an entrance to mobile OS ground, things are getting more interesting.
    Currently makers like Nokia, Samsung, and Apple are facing what game console makers used to face. It doesn't matter anymore who make the hardware. It's the software that counts. We used to be tied to manufacturers because they dictate every feature in the phone (back before smartphone and J2ME), but now we can choose what to use and install by ourselves. Perhaps, as unlikely it might sound, one day we would assemble our own phones just like we build our own PCs.

  4. Nick Patel
    January 10, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    We need to advance Battery Power, Micro processing and Nano Technology. After we expand on these 3 sectors we can also improve in many other places and areas of technology. Review Nokia's Morph Project,, This will show what we are/should be moving forward to achieve so we can advance so many other things.

  5. Scott Macmillan
    January 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    I'm just looking for faster speeds and don't require much else.

    • ReadandShare
      January 10, 2013 at 5:52 pm

      Not even fewer dropped calls? :)

      • Scott Macmillan
        January 11, 2013 at 12:24 am

        I don't really have any problem with dropped calls.My carrier is Rogers Cable and it works well for me.

  6. mmaduekwe stanley
    January 10, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I believe it will get smaller.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      January 14, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      Blackberry->iPhone->Samsung Galaxy Note
      Why do I believe it gets bigger?

  7. wolfe69
    January 10, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    I believe that once they figure out the battery life issue smartphones will replace computers. We are VERY close to that now. All the pieces are already there, they just need to put them together.

  8. Clint Norwood
    January 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    The next logical step would be using something like google glasses. You need more screen but no on wants to lug one around.

    Another good feature would be a standardized docking interface so the phone would display on any monitor, projector or TV.

    Figure out how to have some kind of virtual keyboard and/or voice recognition that really works.

    The miniaturization of computer power and memory is coming along at a rapid pace so most of this is very doable in the very near future.

    • Dave Parrack
      January 14, 2013 at 12:01 am

      That's interesting. Effectively you think the smartphone form factor will give way to wearable computers capable of making calls?

      • Lisa Santika Onggrid
        January 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm

        I think so. How many people use their phone strictly to make calls nowadays?

  9. Chris Lucier
    January 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    With the rise of cloud computing and increasing wireless data speeds, you can expect devices to become smaller yet more functional. Augmented reality, paired with new hardware interfaces such as Google Glass, will push forward a new way to interact with data. Handheld devices will become a thing of the past. Voice and gesture controls will be the primary method of control for our future devices. And that is barely scratching the surface of things to come!

  10. Trevor Faulk
    January 10, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I would like to see more integration/compatibility features: integrate into a car dashboard, flexible add-on screen/monitor, micro-projector, etc. Of course, this issue will quickly go beyond just the smartphone desin: it will also require more "smart" and technologically advanced peripherals.

  11. ReadandShare
    January 10, 2013 at 6:05 am

    One day soon, we won't be calling them phones anymore -- simply because even today, making a phone call is just one of thousands of different functions.

    I see future hand-held computers with quantum leaps more computing power. If the screen is too small for easy viewing / touching / typing -- the hand-held computer will simply project the screen onto any large surface for easy view and touch.

    • Alexander
      January 10, 2013 at 7:42 am

      I agree. Phones are evolving at such a fast rate that you really can't call them phones anymore,

    • Dave Parrack
      January 14, 2013 at 12:00 am

      That's an interesting point. It would suggest the form factors of phones, tablets, and phablets will merge into one. How about laptops and desktops?

  12. Rajaa Chowdhury
    January 10, 2013 at 3:57 am

    Faster it will certainly become. Rumor has it that ZTE is already working on a 8 Core CPU for it's smartphone to be launched this year, however going by the love that USA has for Huawei and ZTE for other reasons :P, though it may not impact the biggest smartphone market, however I am pretty sure that the more mainstream smartphone players will follow suit pretty quick. Not to forget the discussions of bendable displays become mainstream day by day. However, a very interesting development is how Ubuntu has displayed with it's technology of turning a high-end android smartphone into a full fledged Ubuntu Desktop with it's rather radical Ubuntu for Android, and this done without touching the Android at all and going deep down into the Linux kernel and sharing of the kernel along-with Android. Pretty interesting thought of just buying a high end smartphone and also using it as my Desktop and only investing in one device rather than on two. You can see the demo of the concept here at

    • Dave Parrack
      January 13, 2013 at 11:59 pm

      Does it need to be faster? What do you find your smartphone struggling to do at the moment?

      • Rajaa Chowdhury
        January 15, 2013 at 2:30 am

        During the days of feature phones, with texting being a new feature over a land-phone, we thought wow, what more a phone can do. Capabilities increased, and smartphones became a way of life. It started continuously becoming faster, and as already demonstrated by Ubuntu in the link given above, can transform itself to a desktop too. These are not though process of future, but realities that exit today. More power and faster means better desktop experience, more graphic and CPU intensive games, and other opportunities which are endless. Similar in lines to like constant upgradation and adding of processing power to desktops, laptops and tablets. My ideal smartphone for the year end or early next year would be a 8 Core CPU with 16GB internal and 64GB external storage, Samsung Yuom bendable display and Ubuntu OS for smartphone so that I can simply dock it to transform to a desktop with all that raw processing power, whenever I need.

        • Rajaa Chowdhury
          January 15, 2013 at 2:42 am

          BTW, I personally do not use a very high end smartphone, just a entry level android smartphone so trying to do too many things simultaneously, starts making it lag.

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