The weeks after CES are a strange amalgam of far-in-the-future prognosticating about the future of technology in its myriad form factors and the beginning of the year's less ambitious, commercially available products.
We look to the big launches of the year, like the LG G6 and Galaxy S8, to set the trends for the rest of the industry.
We've already seen one major phone launch in the HTC U Ultra, and while the gleaming, shimmering expanse of its "liquid surface" exterior is surely impressive, it's by no means original. From an industrial design perspective, the phone that impressed us most last year, the Xiaomi Mi Mix, isn't even coming to North America; and the niche technology integrations we saw at CES — the Spectrometer Smartphone, for example — feels like it's solving a problem no one really has.
Other launches, like the BlackBerry 'Mercury', are banking on nostalgia and the persistent human desire for something tactile in order to push interest in its hardware keyboard, but as good as the hardware feels, the market has largely moved on.
So many trends have come and gone throughout the years: hardware keyboards; 3D screens; 3D cameras; motion gesture gimmicks; basically the entire software experience on the Galaxy S4.
So we look to the big launches of the year, like the LG G6 and Galaxy S8, to set the trends for the rest of the industry. But while we have a sense of the what the phones will look like, the more interesting question is what they'll do — and do differently — to separate them from the previous generations. We saw hints of this trend with the Huawei Mate 9's subtle machine learning algorithms, which purport to optimize performance based on how one uses his or her phone, but it remains to be seen whether this kind of AI-driven customization is really what people want.
We know, because we've heard it repeated dozens of times, that the Galaxy S8 will come with an AI-based assistant called Bixby, obtained through the company's acquisition of Viv last year, but whether it can — or should — compete with Google Assistant is the big question.
So many trends have come and gone throughout the years since Android's release: hardware keyboards; 3D screens; 3D cameras; motion gesture gimmicks; basically the entire software experience on the Galaxy S4. We've reached a point, nearly ten years later, of a comfortable maturity. The mainstream is happy because their phones are basically reliable and do most of what they want.
People want flexible phones for some reason.
But others want more: they want thicker phones with larger batteries; better cameras with actual zooms; huge screens with no bezels; wireless charging that picks up signal from anywhere; speakers that don't sound like a tin can mess; and dozens of other things that probably shouldn't be shoehorned into a tiny computer that fits in your pocket. They want flexible phones for some reason.
So here's the question: What do you want your phone to do that it currently can't?
Let us know in the comments, and get a discussion going!
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