The 6 Potentially Huge Smartphone Trends of 2017
Every January, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) gives technology companies a chance to start the new year off with a bang, and CES 2017 is just around the corner. It's at this trade show that we get our first glimpse of what the new tech of the year might be and what we can expect from the major producers. For several years now, smartphones have been among the biggest stars of the show. What will be the major smartphone trends of 2017? When CES 2017 opens on January 5, we can expect to glimpse a variety of new developments in the smartphone arena. What might we see during the show?
Modular smartphones could offer new variety
Though not a new development per se, there could be a chance we'll see a trend towards more modular smartphone designs next year. With the success of the Moto Z and the rocky introduction of the LG G5, some major players continue to test the waters of modular design. As consumers look for more value in devices which increasingly handle more tasks than ever before, modularity could be one of the major smartphone trends of 2017. Whether we'll see any specific new designs in January remains to be seen at this point.
i-BLADES Smartcases transform the way we safeguard phones
Smartphones themselves aren't the only things going modular. At CES 2018, you can expect to see more innovation from the i-BLADES Smartcase. More than just a way to protect your phone from accidental drops and other damage, i-BLADES cases extend the functionality of your phone. The form that takes can vary ranging from a boost in battery life to environmental sensors. One might even extend the internal storage of the phone easily. The "Smartblades" which add this functionality to the case swap easily and quickly, providing a truly modular design. With so many people looking for extra usage time or new functions in their phones, this is a strong contender for trendsetter status.
New virtual reality options at CES 2018 are many
Clearly no fad, virtual reality continues to be a hot topic in many areas of consumer electronics. CES 2018 will see, for example, an expanded presence from PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift as their hardware roll out to launch. This new area of technology offers immense potential applications across many sectors; it's not just for video games. We may soon see exciting developments for VR in the health and business sectors.
While dedicated VR hardware like the Rift and the HTC Vive are still quite expensive, smartphone-based VR is much more attainable. In fact, several phones released in 2016 already package inexpensive VR headsets as an upgrade, like the Samsung Gear VR. Smartphone hardware provides robust options for developers, and Google Cardboard showed that an immersive VR experience is surprisingly easy to create. VR is definitely one of the top tech areas to keep an eye on regarding smartphone trends in 2017.
Will more companies transition to USB-C at CES 2018?
Apple made a big splash this year when it unveiled the iPhone 7 without a traditional headphone jack. Replaced by wireless headphones connecting via Bluetooth, Apple also used this as an opportunity to replace its proprietary Lightning port with USB-C. Smaller, easier to use, and highly versatile, USB-C saves space while adding functionality — and in a world where smartphones are always getting thinner, that's a big boost. Users of 3.5mm headphones need not be disappointed, though; there are already adapters available. As USB-C technology continues to mature, it seems likelier than not that more manufacturers will switch to this type of connection. Expect to see more phones equipped with USB-C at CES 2018.
Are flexible or folding smartphones coming?
The rumors have been swirling for what feels like forever, fueled in part by patent diagrams filed by Samsung. Will we finally see a flexible smartphone in 2017? Right now, it doesn't seem likely that one will make a surprise debut at CES 2017. However, that doesn't mean it's not a promising area of potential growth for smartphones. As mentioned, saving space is something phone designers continue to aim for with success. A folding phone could be a major game changer in the smartphone arena; this is one thing to continue monitoring.
Will CES 2017 see more widespread 4k screens?
Improvements to smartphone screens in recent years have put sharper, more vivid images right in our palms. With 4k HD technology just beginning to proliferate among TVs and computer monitors, smartphones are experimenting with this tech as well. Sony's Xperia Z5 Premium was the first to do it, though it wasn’t without issues; are other phones next in line to bring ultra-HD screens to the mainstream? The answer seems to be no. For now, it's difficult to take full advantage of such a high resolution. 4k remains an expensive technology, and streaming 4k content requires huge amounts of bandwidth at this time. The nature of 4k video also necessitates a much higher storage capacity, whether you want to create content or download it. While we may see more 4k screens at CES 2017, by and large, this is not yet a cost-effective upgrade.
Plenty of exciting phones on the horizon
Surveying the overall scene of the smartphone industry, it seems any major innovation is still beyond the horizon. While we will see some intriguing new ideas advancing smartphones in 2017, overall innovation continues to be low. For now, the focus remains on developing more in-home technologies, such as VR. However, the i-BLADES Smartcase is one of the most buzz-worthy products to appear at CES 2017 with its innovative approach to expanding functionality. Already chosen as a winner of the MEMS Showcase Award by those in the micro-sensor industry, its potential for rapidly bringing new IoT technologies to mobile users puts this product in a strong position. Whether it's sensing air quality or expanding usability, the Smartcase could be a true game changer.