Smartphone: Innovation has slowed but is yet to plateau

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BY ANTONY MUTUNGA

From 1973 when the first mobile phone was introduced to the world to now, mobile phones have seen a lot of transformation.

The first mobile phone to make a call weighed 1.1kg, had 30 minutes talk time and would take up to 10 hours to charge. Over the years however, this has changed. First, they became smaller. Then the time they could take to charge tremendously reduced.

Next was the Smartphone. This further improved the software and hardware of mobile phones turning them into mini computers that took only a short time to fully charge.

Smartphones have indeed seen a lot of innovation but it has reached a time when many believe that this innovation has plateaued. This can be credited to the fact that in recent years many mobile phone companies have only made minor upgrades to their mobile devices. For instance, some phones have only seen annual changes in terms of the size of their display screens, better cameras and software whereby the operating systems are upgraded.

With some of these changes making minimal differences, many are of the opinion that the innovation of the Smartphone has finally peaked. As a result, a number of people have stopped upgrading their phones whenever new ones are introduced to the market. This has seen mobile phone companies see a decline in their sales. Apple, the consumer electronics giant for instance saw a decline in its sales in February 2018, selling 77.3 million i-Phones as compared to the 78.3million in 20117.

The Smartphone still has much to offer in terms of innovation. It is the giants in the sector such as Apple and Samsung that have been mostly accused of making changes that only bring a minor difference that users end up not seeing the need to upgrade. However, these firms have also been working on innovations that will introduce something new to the public.

Samsung is an excellent example. The giant is working towards introducing a foldable phone dubbed Galaxy F to the market. The company is looking to be the first to introduce a foldable phone that is able to serve as both a tablet as well as a mid-sized phone when folded. This will be something new compared to the company’s last flagships, which did not impress as expected.

With most people focussing on the giants in the sector, the smaller players tend to be ignored despite producing innovative smartphones that change the way we interact with our devices. The giants have focused more on what most people are attracted to such as a better camera and thinner bezels as the smaller manufactures have, on the other hand, taken keen interest in enabling the user to interact with the devices more as well as protect their information.

Energizer mobile, for example, is coming up with a solution to one of the major problems that most phone users face – battery life. Normally phones do not hold charge for long due to their usage. People usually run a lot of applications at a go, which drains the phone’s battery fast. With most phones having battery capacities ranging between 2500mAh and 5500mAh, they are only able to hold charge for up to two days maximum without charging.

Energizer mobile is developing a mid-range Smartphone with a battery capacity of 16,000mAh that will be able to hold charge for a week. Instead of focussing on cameras and size, the phone has focussed on one of the features that most of the known phones have not been able to improve on over the years.

Apart from Energizer mobile, Wireless Mobi Solution rolled out a mid-range phone during the CES 2018, which is standard but has an innovation that makes it stand – an in-built projector. The phone, dubbed Moviphone, was the first of its kind, bringing something new to the table. Those with the phone will not have much need for a television, as they are able to project anything, from games to movies, through their phone.

Additionally, DarkMatter, an Abu Dhabi cyber security firm, also unveiled an android phone that brought something new during the 2018 Mobile World Congress. The phone, known as KATIM phone, is a device that runs on a hardened version of the android called KATIM OS. The OS runs a thorough check on the phone every time it is booted. If any form of modifications (hacking) is detected, it boots up and in the event of a security attack, the phone will wipe out all information before it is stolen. The KATIM also has an additional feature, Shield Mode, which ensures that any recording functions are shut off so that what you listened in on.

Smartphones still have so much to offer even if some argue that they have plateaued in recent years. The above smartphones show that different companies are looking at different ways to innovate their devices to better interact with the users. No one can deny it, the Smartphone innovation will at some point hit a snag, that time is however yet to be upon us as we still have so much to explore with the Smartphone.