About 10 years ago, no one could imagine how smartphones would evolve in a decade. However, smartphone technology has accelerated so much that early smartphones now seem primitive.
Modern smartphones are now the platform of choice when it comes to accessing information. Years ago, we used countless devices to check the weather, take photos, read emails or listen to music. However, today we find everything on our smartphone
Cell phones have become an extension of ourselves and have changed our lives forever. 80% of the world’s population owns a mobile phone and more than a billion of them are cleverPhone(s. We look at our phones an average of 150 times a day, and some people get extremely anxious if they forget to bring their phone with them.
Although the pace of development seems to have slowed recently, smartphones will continue to evolve. Some predict they will become like remote controls for our lives while others think they could disappear into wearable devices such as glasses or watches.
Screens should also become brighter and bend in different ways; the cameras will be so advanced they’ll threaten high-end SLRs, and the digital assistants inside will be even smarter.
But what could our phones really look like in the next 10 years? Here’s what we think will happen.
Wireless charging: say goodbye to wired chargers
Imagine you’ve run out of battery and don’t have a charger with you. This will no longer be a problem in a few years, as it is expected that the next smart devices can be charged wirelessly over the air. It won’t be like current wireless charging: radio waves could be used, which would also be better for the environment.
There are plenty of rumors that Elon Musk may be planning to launch a smartphone, dubbed the Tesla Model Pi. What little can be found online is mostly speculation, but paints a picture of a flagship device whose battery could be charged by solar energy.
Other, more predictable rumors say Musk intends the phone to have deep integration with Tesla vehicles, but it’s unclear when it might be released.
6G technology: Download movies in seconds
6G, as its name suggests, is the sixth generation of mobile connectivity. Although 5G is not yet available in all territories, Samsung – in collaboration with the University of California – is already testing the first versions of 6G modems. They could offer download speeds 50 times faster than 5G, which is already capable of multi-gigabit speeds.
6G is a considerable technical challenge, since it would require extending the spectrum to 3000 GHz (3THz – Terahertz), as well as building new antennas and other infrastructure.
Recently, a group of Chinese researchers succeeded in sending 1 TB of data in one second at a distance of 1 km. It’s about 8000 Mbps, or 8 Gbps. The Tsinghua School of Space Engineering in Beijing managed to simultaneously broadcast more than 10,000 high-definition videos. China therefore seems to be taking the lead in this type of technology: more than 40% of patents in this field come from this country.
However, what would the arrival of 6G mean in our lives from a practical point of view?
Much faster web browsing, even lower latency, the ability to download a movie in seconds, greater power efficiency, truly immersive augmented reality (including holographic communications and automated, interconnected artificial intelligence).
6G technology, which should be available in devices around 2030, would have the ability to connect to much more complex devices, such as self-driving cars, flying vehicles and drones, among others.
Will foldable phones become popular?
Foldable phones can change the way content is consumed. These devices can change size to perform a specific task. When unfolded, they can go from a small smartphone to a tablet-like device. Smartphones and tablets could therefore merge.
Once again, Samsung is leading the way with 9 out of 10 foldable phones sold so far bearing the company’s branding. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 was the favorite foldable with a 52% market share.
Other brands like Huawei, Honor, Oppo have also been working on developing their foldable phones for a long time, and rumors say that a foldable iPhone is not far away.
Currently, however, foldables are still too expensive to compete with “normal” smartphones and we’ll have to wait a few more years for foldable prices to come down. By 2030, foldable phones are expected to account for nearly 10% of all smartphone sales.
Smarter artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence will become even more powerful in the next 10 years and will play a very important role in our lives. If AI is already a key feature of current smartphones, in areas such as voice assistants, photography, augmented reality or real-time language translation, future devices will be even smarter.
The artificial intelligence of the future could make more complex and human-like decisions. It could be the center of a suite of smart devices such as entertainment, connected cars or home automation, capable of making restaurant reservations for you, recommending new experiences, reading kids a bedtime story, to manage your schedule and organize your purchases.
In the not too distant future, artificial intelligence might even understand our emotions. Huawei is already working on it. Your device could act as a psychologist: it will cheer you up if you’re feeling sad and give you advice if you’re feeling overwhelmed. He might even become your friend or confidant.
Holographic displays: no longer science fiction
Holograms have been a part of some sci-fi and futuristic fantasy films in recent years, including star wars, Blade Runner 2049, Me, Robot and Iron Man.
Smartphones in 2030 could have holographic display technologies that could render 3D images or videos that would float above the device and be viewed from any angle without the need to wear 3D glasses.
Smartphones without ports or buttons
Another trend in the coming years is to create mobile devices without ports or buttons, just screens. In fact, many smartphones today have already done away with the 3.5mm headphone jack and are promoting the use of Bluetooth instead.
The USB port of mobile devices should also disappear completely. Vivo and Meizu have already developed the first concepts including Vivo’s Apex 2019. Some laptop manufacturers are also exploring portless models. But once again, China is spearheading this approach.
What if the smartphone disappeared forever?
We cannot predict exactly what technological changes mobile devices will bring in the next ten years, but what we do know is that smartphones have become an essential part of our lives.
The big question, of course, is what technology will replace the smartphone? Bill Gates recently said electronic tattoos would be the new device to usher in the next generation of technology. Still to be developed, these would involve to printing microchips on a patch that sticks to your skin to monitor and collect personal information, such as medical or exercise data.
Currently, extensive studies are being carried out on possible electronic tattoos with the collaboration of companies such as Google or Chaotic Moon Studios, an American company that sees the potential of technology and invests in its development.
Elon Musk envisions a time when we will merge with machines, allowing us to switch bodies when ours no longer serves us well enough, or even transplant our memories in case our brains stop working properly. His argument is that if we don’t, artificial intelligence will render us useless.
Moreover, this technology is already developed in the universities of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Washington. Incredible, huh?
Many of these predictions are just that. By 2030, we may see very different technologies from what we envision today. If they do happen, are we prepared for them? That, of course, is a whole other topic.
This article originally appeared on PCWorld in Spanish. Translation by Jim Martin.