Future Tech 2013: Phones

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Spoiler alert: Your current, top-of-the-line smartphone will be quite outdated by this time next year. That’s not entirely a bad thing: Advances in mobile technologies come at an astonishing pace, and smartphones will continue to get smarter and better as time goes on. So while you may think your current phone has a lot of nifty features, your next smartphone will be capable of even more. But what kinds of improvements can we expect from smartphones in 2013? By looking at today's smartphones, we can get a sense of the kinds of features smartphone makers will focus on in the coming months. Here are some of them.

nokia lumia phone
Nokia Lumia 920 with Windows Phone 8.

Wireless charging:This isn’t anything new: For years now, you’ve been able to charge your smartphone wirelessly, thanks to battery cases and charging pads from companies such as Duracell and Energizer. Only recently, however, have we started to see smartphones with inductive charging coils built into the handset itself, obviating the need for special cases or battery packs in order to charge the phone wirelessly. You can recharge models such as the HTC Droid DNA and the Nokia Lumia 920 with any wireless charger that supports the Qi standard, and more Qi-compatible handsets are expected in coming months.

Quad-core becomes the norm: Phones with quad-core processors may be newcomers, but we expect that they will quickly become standard in 2013. These processors let you run more-advanced apps on your smartphone, and they are especially good for playing games with high-definition graphics. If you still use a phone that has a single-core processor, it may be time to consider upgrading to something with a little more oomph under the hood.

Bigger screens: The era of smartphones equipped with small screens is quickly coming to an end. Most of the phones released in 2012 had screens measuring 4.3 inches or greater, and that trend seems likely to continue in 2013. While having a large screen makes a phone difficult to use one-handed, the extra screen space does have some significant benefits: You can view more of your content without constantly having to zoom in and out, and typing on the onscreen keyboard is much more enjoyable, thanks to the buttons' being larger and easier to tap accurately.

droid dna phone
Many new phones will be compatible with wireless chargers, like the HTC Droid DNA.

NFC becomes big (again): Yes, it’s this old song and dance: Last year we predicted that near-field communication (NFC) would take off in 2012, and here we are a year later saying that it will surely happen in 2013. Most phones to­­day ship with an NFC chip, though many manufacturers, retailers, and customers don’t seem to know what to do with the technology. Both Google and Microsoft let you use NFC to make purchases with your phone, but most people are reluctant to give up their physical wallet for a digital one. Samsung’s recent ad campaigns showing people sharing media via NFC may help in demonstrating ways that the technology can be useful for things besides mobile payments, but broad ac­­ceptance of near-field communication won't happen until the public is ready.

This story, "Future Tech 2013: Phones" was originally published by TechHive.

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