Is 2016 The Year We’re Finally Getting Meaningful Smartphone Innovation?

If you look across the smartphone market today and try to summarize every device, you’ll come down to a good screen, good camera, and powerful specifications. Smartphones have been around for a while and at this point in the game, things are starting to become less and less exciting. Sure, there have been some significant releases, but things are pretty stagnant at this point. That said, things are finally starting to look up with the first few releases of the year.

So far in 2016 we’ve seen smartphones release that bring new and meaningful technology and it has been great to see. Here’s the highlights so far.

Samsung Galaxy S7: Water Resistance

While the Galaxy S7 might not be the most exciting device at first glance, it’s the details that the company gets right here. They’ve improved the camera, given the design a slight change to make it more ergonomic, fixed the battery (fingers crossed anyway), and even brought back microSD support. However the biggest and most meaningful change by far has been the addition of water resistance.
Of course water resistance is nothing particularly new in the smartphone market, as Sony and even Samsung themselves have offered the feature in the past, however with the S7 things are a little different. This time around, water resistance is something accessible by everyone, no upgrades, market limitations, or extra models necessary. Even better, no port covers either.



galaxys7_water

Nextbit Robin: Rethinking Storage

Storage is something we’ve all battled with on our smartphones for years. Regardless of how much is built into your device, it just doesn’t seem like enough. Rather than defaulting to the microSD card however, Nextbit had another idea with their Robin smartphone.
Relying on the cloud, the Robin automatically moves data that you aren’t using to private, secure cloud servers. Need to use that app? Just tap on it and it’ll download once again. This idea is, at least in my opinion, absolutely brilliant. It takes the forgetfulness of users like you and me out of the equation and makes running out of storage a thing of the past.

nextbitrobin_storage

LG G5: Modules

While everyone else is perfecting what’s built into your phone, locking you into those features that come out of the box, LG wanted to take the route of letting you do pretty much whatever you’d like. The new LG G5 is designed to be used with modules which, when added to the device, allow it to do more than it could before.
So far the company has announced 2 modules, the LG CAM Plus and the B&O Hi-FI module. These add extra camera controls, better audio capabilities, and even better battery life all with a quick swap. LG could and probably will expand on this as time goes on adding things like a front-facing speaker, wireless charging, an extended battery, or even a game controller. The potential is nearly limitless.

lgg5_modules

These are just three examples of what we’ve seen so far this year. Undoubtedly, there will be more big moves throughout the year. We’ve seen got releases such as the HTC 10, Moto X, and even the new Nexus devices later in the year, so there’s a lot to look forward to.

Some of the things I’d love to see this year would be further use of the USB C standard, better audio components, and of course better battery life. Let’s stop focusing on what we can do in the software and focus on what can be done in the hardware to make the device better for consumers. So far the improvements have been meaningful and useful, let’s not stop now.

  • Matt Anderson

    When you consider the cash cow iPhones have been for Apple, coupled with the static state of the Mac Pro since 2013…. Makes you wonder if the ride is over for Apple. I’ve seen more than 1 article stating that Smart phones are entering the same sort of state that tablets are in. They been very good for several years and people just don’t need a new one. I still use my Nexus 7 2012 tablet from time to time and don’t see the need to replace it…..