What Will Phones Look Like in Five Years' Time?

The mobile phone world changes fast. Not too long ago we were awed by the possibility of camera phones! So who knows where phones will be in 5 years’ time?! We take a look in to the future…

Foldable phones

Phones seem to keep getting bigger and bigger at the moment, with smartphone displays today averaging at over 5 inches.

Large phones with their large screens are great for watching videos, reading, playing games, viewing websites, but they bring with them the issue of being too big for your pocket.

To avoid a repeat of the early mobile phones which were so large you needed an additional bag to carry your phone around in, future phones need a way of having all the benefits a huge screen brings, but with the portability of the tiny Nokias of the noughties.

The 6.3 inch Samsung Galaxy Mega and the tiny Nokia 8210. 

The solution? Foldable phones!

Many concept phones have been designed involving the ability to fold or bend the handset, and with the recent releases of curved screened phones, most notably the LG G Flex 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, perhaps foldable phones are not far away.

If there is the technology to create a curved screen, there is also the potential for some of these concept phones to become more than just a concept.

The Kyocera folding concept phone (left) and Nokia 888 bendable concept phone

Customisable phones

Today’s smartphones are not designed to last and are not expected to be used for much longer than the average two year contract. 

But when a phone breaks, it is only really one thing that breaks. The rest of the phone would still be useable, it is just that the smashed screen or the worn out battery needs replacing.

Or when we upgrade our phone it is only really for one new feature that the latest phone has that our older model doesn’t have, such as people moving from the iPhone 5s to the 6 because of the larger screen.

So instead of shelling out loads for a new phone when most of your existing phone is fine, you could just upgrade the component you need. So if you decide you want a better camera, just take off the existing camera and add a larger one.

Rather than paying for a phone with numerous features, yet only using a few of them, you could pick and choose which features will make up your phone and only pay for and attach the ones you want.

A company Phonebloks had been working on a modular phone concept for some time but did not have the capacity to physically build it – until now.

Motorola recently announced that they are going to be working with Phonebloks on what they call Project Ara, to create the first completely customisable module phone. So perhaps phones of the future really will be build-your own!

Project Ara

Transparent phones

Many concepts for future phones are focused on transparency. The idea of a transparent phone is that it is easier for taking photographs, as the phone then becomes like a frame for the image, taking the photograph in ‘real view’. A transparent screen also will help with GPS and navigation features, as you can see through the directions to where you are going, the directions or map overlaying your real view.

However, a transparent phone will sacrifice the picture quality, not to mention the associated difficulty of reading something when the phone is in front of a patterned backdrop, or when the image on screen is the same colour as what it is in front of.

There is of course the risk that you will set your phone down somewhere and not be easily able to find it again as it will be pretty well camouflaged!

So far transparent phones have just been concepts such as the Glassy Glass concept phone:

However one company, Polytron have begun to try and bring these concepts to life.

As you can see below, the Polytron prototype suffers in that the battery and SIM are still obviously visible, although small.

However critics have noted that a battery of this small size would not actually be powerful enough to run a smartphone.

A transparent battery is yet to be made or designed, or a transparent SIM card, but we can only hope that these obstacles can be tackled so transparent phones can become a reality.

This prototype does not show any indication of what the display on this transparent phone would look like, and how effective it would be. In essence all this is, is a piece of glass with a battery and a SIM card in it, with no proof of it actually being able to work.

Despite all of the concepts and the plans for transparent phones in the future, there is still a long way to go before transparent phones are the norm.

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Written by Isabelle Barker

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