Phones were boring in 2022. Here’s why they’ll be more interesting in 2023
Fifteen years after the release of the first iPhone, tech companies are in something of a turmoil. And who can blame them? It’s getting very difficult to animate a glass slab on top of a metal rectangle. While 2023 doesn’t look like it’s going to be a game changer, there are a few features we hope will nonetheless raise the bar for supercomputers in our pockets.
Some of next year’s phone advances are highly anticipated, like the iPhone possibly switching to USB-C chargers (in part because Apple is being bound by European regulators). Other devices are likely to improve the artificial intelligence software that makes your photos look better, the Wi-Fi and cellular radios that transmit them to the Internet, and the screen you view them on. That’s at least a little more exciting than the handful of innovations we got this year.
We’ve all grown accustomed to the tweaks and refinements companies make to phones to improve the speed of their processing chips, the quality of their cameras, and the beauty of their displays. Sure, Apple may have introduced notch-hiding Dynamic Island and a new satellite SOS feature to its $800 iPhone 14, promising peace of mind if you find yourself in an emergency without cell service. Samsung may have made its S-Pen stylus available to people willing to shell out $1,200 for it. S22 Ultra Phone. And the Nothing Phone 1 it may have improved the affordable 5G niche with an LED-illuminated design. But otherwise, there was little gain this year for exciting new phones.
“I think the only significant thing that changed this year was the updates to foldable devices,” said Nabila Popal, director of research at industry watcher IDC. Most phones saw only incremental improvements, Popal noted, an assessment in stark contrast to Samsung’s chairman. TM Roh said The company’s S22 series has “groundbreaking camera capabilities,” and Apple CEO Tim Cook calls the iPhone 14 lineup “the best iPhones we’ve ever made.”
Ultimately, the promise of a truly exciting new phone may hinge on technology that’s still years away. One of the best examples came this year when LG announced a stretchable screen, which raises the possibility that instead of carrying big, bulky phones everywhere, we can simply stretch out the smaller ones when we want more screen real estate. LG is not alone. Motorola showed a concept device with a rollable display earlier this year, which means we might get a new kind of flexible display in a portable form factor at some point.
But even if we don’t expect generational leaps in next year’s phones, here’s what will get better for these ubiquitous devices.
The folding ones arrive for the upper level
this year’s samsung Galaxy Z Foldable 4 Y Flip Z 4 they were incremental upgrades from their predecessors. Neither saw price drops, but they did get S Pen functionality, better software, and improved hinges, putting the missteps of Samsung’s early foldables even more in the rearview mirror. Next year, expect more of the same: the best foldables yet (with incremental updates), but still not in many buyers’ price ranges.
That may be fine for people buying more expensive phones, Popal said. While it is still only a portion of the 1.24 billion phones shipped in 2022, foldable devices saw sales double from last year, to 16 million devices in 2022, and that number is expected to keep rising. Given that cheaper foldables like the $999 Samsung Z Flip 4 are about the same price as an iPhone 14 Pro, it’s no surprise that more premium phone buyers are starting to trade in their flat phones for foldables.
They’re likely more eager to buy pricier phones with some of the best promotional deals we’ve seen from carriers in years, which are saving consumers up to $1,000 off list price as part of a multi-year service contract. That’s enough to get you a new Z Flip 4 basically free, or bring the price of a Z Fold 4 down to a manageable monthly bill.
Even more consumers are likely to switch if a new device challenges Samsung for the cheapest foldable title. TCL had shelved its almost ready for the market chicago project foldable because the company couldn’t get the price below $700, which would match the prices of its other phones. Although there are no rumors that a cheaper foldable is likely to arrive in 2023, we do know that the next Motorola Razr may have a lower price than its predecessors. The first foldable to drop below premium price could set the standard for future flexible-screen devices.
Read more: The foldables are still looking for a breakout moment. Samsung wants to change that
What’s next for flat phones
There are some predictions for the next year when it comes to traditional phones, but they don’t exactly imply generational changes.
Apple will be forced to switch its old Lightning ports to USB-C by 2024, and the company could do so this year. Rumors have suggested for years that Apple was going to make the switch, but now it has an EU-imposed deadline. Otherwise, in next year’s series, which is supposed to be called the iPhone 15 line, the company may pack its pricier Pro Max model with more features and rename it the iPhone Ultra to differentiate it from its iPhone Plus counterpart. more affordable big screen. according to Bloomberg.
Android phones will continue their slow march of improvement. Samsung’s focus on improving cameras could lead it to use a 200MP camera in its next S23 Ultra phone, according to Ice Universe leaker, ahead of the 108MP main camera on this year’s S22 Ultra. And while there haven’t been many rumors about the Pixel 8 series, we can expect Google to find new ways to use phones’ Tensor chipsets to perform feats that were previously impossible, like the Magic Eraser feature that removes unwanted stuff on the photos, which debuted on the Pixel 7 this year.
Read more: The most exciting new phones for 2023: iPhone 15, Galaxy S23 and more
These may seem like small improvements over last year’s phones, but it’s worth noting that most people don’t buy new phones every year. Thanks to carriers’ two- and three-year contracts and the rising cost of phones, consumers are taking so long to upgrade. By the time they shop around for a new device, enough time has passed for the advances to be noticeable.
Although only a few years apart, think about the jump from the dual rear cameras of the iPhone X to the triple shooters and square sides of the iPhone 12 Pro, and from that to the dynamic island with notch limitation and always-on display. of the iPhone 14 Pro, Popal said.
“[Phones] They’ve already come this far, and year after year we don’t really see that,” Popal said. The rapid pace of innovations in the early era of smartphones makes it seem like we’ve slowed down. “As an industry or as a consumer, we have spoiled ourselves.”
Phones beyond 2023
If we want real change in phones, we’ll have to wait for what happens beyond 2023. New technologies could change the way we interact with and use our phones.
That could take us into some truly new territory. Even science fiction hasn’t come up with many ideas beyond carrying in our pockets a rectangle full of technology that connects us to the world. Basically, we’ve got a Star Trek tricorder, a Star Wars portable datapad, and Her’s personal assistant in a headset, all wrapped up in one device.
Here, closer to our own century, some ideas are surfacing. the next cousin Qualcomm Snapdragon chips You can increase privacy by hiding notifications when your phone sees other people on your screen, while AI advances continue to add filters and effects to all of our photos and live video chats. Google and Apple are racing to add more augmented reality features into their navigation apps, as well as make phones the centerpiece for tap-to-pay purchase and remote unlocking of cars and smart homes. So expect mobile software to put more control of your digital life at your fingertips. And in the case of Apple, expect it to take advantage of Lidar to better map the real world, as CNET’s Lisa Eadicicco has done. reported.
Other foldables could also come in the future. Samsung has shown many different concepts at CES in years past, some with triptych screens and others with transparent panels. These are further along and likely won’t arrive next year, but at CES 2023 in January, we got a glimpse of more tantalizing concepts that give a glimpse of how wearables could expand their functionality.
Then again, maybe the future of phones lies in how they connect: smartwatches and smart homes, of course, but also AR glasses. Some rumors say that we will finally get our apple glasses in 2023, solidifying our phones as anchors for more dynamic technological ways of seeing the world. Other companies are preparing their own AR glasses by the time Apple normalizes the new technology.
As the famous Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo foretold, we could have all our iPhones replaced by AR glasses in a decade, so perhaps the days are numbered for phones to be the center of our mobile lives. Until then, we’ll keep tracking how they integrate with more and more of our daily experiences, one technological innovation at a time.