Smartphones of the Future: How They Will Look, What They Will Do

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Powerful Chipsets

Snapdragon by Qualcomm
Last week, Qualcomm announced that it is planning to ship 2.5GHz quad-core smartphone processors as early as next year (though the company didn’t give specific dates). According to Qualcomm, these quad-core systems on a chip will feature Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and FM radio; support NFC and stereoscopic 3D video/photo (capture and playback); and support LTE networks. If we'll be seeing the first devices with these chipsets in just a year, how powerful will such phones be in five years?

Earlier this year, Nvidia shared its Tegra roadmap, indicating that its quad-core chips will be also be shipping in smartphones as early as the first part of 2012. Nicknamed "Kal-El," this system-on-a-chip is said to be five times faster than the Tegra 2 processor, which is used in many current top-of-the-line smartphones and tablets. Next in line is the "Wayne" series (yes, Nvidia has a superhero thing going on with its chips), which the company says will be 10 times faster than the Tegra 2, followed by the "Logan" (50 times faster!) and finally the "Stark" (75 times faster!). The Stark series is slated to be released in 2014, so you can expect to see smartphones become a lot more powerful in very little time.

Star Trek PADD
Unfortunately, the one technology that won't improve is battery life, at least according to Llamas. As processors grow more powerful and as more smartphones switch to LTE technology, your phone's battery life will continue to suffer. The good news is that portable charging products will improve, including cases with extra (and, we hope, longer-life) batteries.

Finally, expect more phone companies to make a bigger push toward going green--in everything from the technology inside the phones to the manufacturing process to the packaging. We've seen a few companies (most notably Samsung) take such steps already, but Llamas predicts that it will become an across-the-board practice for phone manufacturers.

We're just barely scratching the surface here by discussing only design and features. Networks, carriers, and operating systems will look completely different within five years. That's why I'll be following up with another article about the future of network technology. While we can't predict everything that will come, perhaps the best way to get a glimpse into the future of mobile technology is to watch and read science fiction (well, except maybe Futurama). Just look at the Personal Access Display Device, or PADD, from Star Trek, which is essentially a smartphone/tablet prototype! Also, keep your eye on developments coming out of both academic and corporate research labs (look for their blogs) to get a good idea of what awesome mobile technology could be coming down the pipeline.

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