What’s next for smartphones?

We all know they’ll get smarter, but what new tricks can we expect to see find their way into the next generation of smartphone heroes?

Is your smartphone ringing? It might be Mensa calling – the next round of top-end handsets will bring this batch of tech tricks to the phone party. Far from being over, the smartphone war is just getting started…

Mobile wallets

There’s been a lot of talk about NFC payments using phones, but you’ve probably noticed that it hasn’t gained much traction. That’s all about to change. The introduction in iOS 6 and Windows Phone 8 (and, we’d assume, Android Jelly Bean and BlackBerry 10) of secure integrated loyalty schemes and a glut of NFC compatible hardware is finally going to shunt NFC into the unavoidable mainstream. You'll be able to leave your wallet at home, but it’s not all good news: expect Google and Facebook to pummel you with geo-aware advertising and deals.

Proper satnav

Android has had turn-by-turn directions and live traffic for over two years while Nokia’s been Sunday driving with Windows Phone since its Microsoft partnership began. Buckle up, though, because here comes Apple with its own maps and satnav driven by TomTom, and Windows Phone 8 is putting its foot on the navigational gas. The turbo on smartphone satnav is about to kick in, taking it from backseat driver to pole position. Couple that with more powerful GPS radios, add pre-downloaded maps and eBay will be flooded with standalone devices before you know it.

Voice control

At the vanguard of voice control are the iPhone 4S’s Siri (soon coming to iPad) and Samsung’s S Voice. Although they’re both little more than amusing diversions at the moment, both show potential to shave enough minutes off your smartphone day to free you up for some fun apps (see our best apps for Android and iPhone this week). We’re not convinced that talking to machines in public is ever going to be a good look, but we are convinced it’ll start happening more and more. Let’s face it, it can’t be worse than the Bluetooth headset ‘craze’ of 2007. Can it?

Mind reading

Everyone’s favourite tech freak-out – mind-reading robots – are now in our midst, and they’re not nearly as scary as we’d reckoned. The freshly released SwiftKey 3 will (with your permission) scuttle through your Facebook and Twitter feeds and plough your Gmail account, picking up tips on your writing style. Then it’ll second guess your next word as you type… with freakish accuracy. Brilliant, but now let the mind-reading tech floodgates open. What’s that SwiftKey? You think the next word should be ‘help’?


Yeah, we're calling it – the next generation of phones may actually get fatter. Or if not fatter, not thinner either. The iPhone 4S carried the same girth as its predecessor. Samsung’s Galaxy S3 actually put on weight (as did the iPad 3). Fact is, it’s no fun having a skinny phone when it runs out of juice. Motorola’s superthin RAZR took on some bulk for its Maxx endurance model, while Huawei’s Ascend P1 has just got a fatter edition with more battery life for the Chinese market. Begone waifs.

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