What's next: Smartphones in 2015

By Laura Close

As we've written in the May issue of Business Review Australia, two thirds of Australians owned a smartphone—two thirds. This pervasive mobile technology has proven itself a game changer again and again in personal communication, e-commerce, mobile marketing, and how we see the world in general.

It has created a culture hell bent on instant gratification and high performance expectations, so the industry— which was worth between $200 and $250 billion in 2014—is constantly churning out new and innovative technology to keep up with demand.

For something so small to have carved out such a big part of our lives is quite a feat. So as technology continues to evolve and the smartphone game gets more competitive, we have our finger on the pulse of this year’s hottest smartphone trends.

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Expected Trends

This Year Smartphones and other mobile devices allow us to “compute everywhere,” which is Forbes’ number one strategic technology trend for this year.

“As smart—phone technology advances, smart-phones will be used in new contexts and environments,” said Forbes’ contributor Peter High. “Along with wearables, smartphones will offer connected screens in the workplace and in public. User experience will be key.”

CES in January largely focused on the Internet of Things, another pervasive trend in 2015. Smartphones are a major player in this move towards convenience, and will allow third-party designers and coders to produce apps allowing you to control the devices in your home (from your lighting to your dishwasher and air condition) with a touch of a button on your smartphone.

We also wouldn’t be surprised if cell phone creators begin to incorporate this technology into the design of their phones in the next few years if the Internet of Things catches on as many hope it will. Wearables—a completely separate yet completely dependent technology—will also shape the smartphone market this year. Smartwatches will be the most talked about, especially with the launch of Apple’s Watch this month. And as wearables join the mobile technology queue, health applications will be upping their game. All of this is only made possible however, through smartphones. Many wearables—and especially the watches—require a smartphone as the operational hub, with the watch displaying information from the applications that are compatible with both.

RELATED TOPIC: Apple Vs. Samsung: Which Smartphone Dominates The Australian Market?

Smartphones too have connected you to something else: your wallet. Apple Pay started off strong with its launch at the end of last year, and is hoping to continue to attract big banks and big companies to allow customers to use the service. E-wallets will also connect to wearables, allowing people to pay for products and services with the touch of the wrist. Last on the long list of trends this year is a stronger phone. As screen size, internal computing and cameras on phones have gotten astronomically better, it seems like the screen hasn’t quite kept up. That’s about to change. Rumours have Apple’s 2015 iteration of the iPhone having “sapphire glass,” a widely awaited smartphone feature.

Phones to Look Forward To

These aren’t necessarily the Apple’s or the Samsung’s of the year, but they are pretty damn cool.

Saygus V2

C-level executives are always travelling—around the office, building, city and the world. So what if you could have a smartphone that had enough storage room to actually be useful for big file downloads and other things that laptops are traditionally used for? Enter the Saygus V2. The device offers a maximum of 320GB of storage (compared to the usual 8, 16, 32 or, if you’re lucky, 64GB of most phones) through two microSD card slots that support up to 128GB each. 

It’s also waterproof, lined with Kevlar and has a front fingerprint scanner, along with an impressive 21-megapixel back camera and a 13-megapixel front camera.

Lenovo Vibe X2

Pro Bigger screens have been the trend, as has the slimming down of devices. The Lenovo Vibe X2 Prop is a svelte 7mm thick, but not too light to seem fragile. The phone has sandwiched layers of aluminium that come in several colours, adding a unique option not seen on other smartphones available. Dual SIM cards complement dual 13-megapixel cameras (one on the front and one on the back). The industrial design is on par with many of the other phones on the market. Now that Lenovo has bought Motorola, it will be interesting to see how their future devices will be different.

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Kodak IM5

For anyone who hates smartphones but knows they need to carry one, this is your device. Bullitt, the maker of Caterpillar’s rugged smartphones, designed the Kodak IM5 for baby boomers, seniors and anyone else who wants a simplified smartphone that also has a focus on photography—a fact you probably could have guessed by the device’s name. 

There is a slideshow of images on the lock screen, a shortcut to print photos from the home screen, and a simple to use camera that lets you approve photos as you take them before they are stored on your phone. The home screen is incredibly simple, making this the perfect device for that no-frills CEO.

LG G Flex 2

As you can tell from the design, aesthetics are a big part of the LG G Flex 2. This iteration of the Flex phone has been brought down in screen size to be more manageable. There are no buttons on the sides or front to give it a sleeker look (the “home” button is on the back under the camera), and, oh yeah, the screen is curved.

For creative CEOs, the screen allows for media to be viewed in almost a comfortable size. There’s a dual-window function as well, letting you split your attention between two applications.

Tonino Lamborghini 88

Tauri If you have $6,000 and are looking for a way to get rid of it, this is definitely one of your options. The 88 Tauri has a five inch screen, with a decent back camera and an adequate front camera.

There are no cutting-edge specs, so it looks like you’ll mostly be paying for the name. But it would probably look good with the Lambo you have parked in your driveway. Maybe. 

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