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Summary:

In the two years since the term superphones first surfaced, we’ve seen a big change in the mobile handset landscape. Today’s phones are no less than technical marvels, but the future looks even brighter. What do you think superphones may look like in 2015?

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In September 2008, John SanGiovanni, co-founder of Zumobi came up with phrase “Superphone” and described what he thought were key ingredients of a superphone. In the two years since, many of the new Internet-centric phones have come closer or surpassed John’s ideal mix of features. Of course, the likes of Google have tried to jack the phrase superphone, positioning it as their work.

Back in 2008, John pointed out that from a hardware perspective, the superphones should have at least a 320-pixel display, hardware accelerated graphics, 3G connectivity and location-sensing technologies.  Today, all those features are standard.

So earlier today when we read this piece in Cellular News which cited Strategy Analytics’ claim that there will be 100 million superphones sold by 2015, I wondered what will be the superphone of tomorrow. Strategy Analytics says that superphone is a top-of-the-line smartphone with a super-sized display (over 4 inches) and a processor faster than 1 GHz.

I am not sure if that’s really the case. By 2012, folks like ARM are promising dual core processors running at 2.5 GHz. The evolution of displays as shown by the Retina Display means that the sheer size of the screen isn’t enough of a determinant. Instead, we should be looking at display size in combination with the screen resolution. Of course, we should expect these devices to support all sorts of major wireless networking standards, including whatever 4G technology takes hold. I’m betting these devices will have closer to a terabyte of memory inside and will also have the ability to interact with larger desktop and television displays.

But those are my ideas — what do you guys think is the “super phone” of tomorrow?

Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d): For Phones, the Future Is Multiple Cores

  1. How bout a camera cum projector at the back to project at 1080p onto a wall?
    Wireless data sharing/money transfer between 2 phones with a swipe gesture.
    Ruggedized unbreakable/unscratchable screens.
    Week long battery life.
    Free global calling :D
    Switch to go back and forth between e-ink and colored display
    Facial recognition based lock mechanism
    ……

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  2. mustafa al-niama Friday, September 10, 2010

    I think the “super phone” of future should incorporate:
    1. Nano technology as envisioned by Nokia,
    2. support for the White Space future wireless technology that enables the user to have free high speed internet connectivity for up to (100Mbps downstream and 50Mbps upstream),
    3. Built-in wall projectors,
    4. Built-in solar energy source,
    5. The phone works as a hot spot to boost the signal in the area where it is operating.

    ~Musti

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  3. There is no questions mobile gadgets will get faster and bigger capacity and so on., but what is the point since they don’t exist in a vacuum? What is the point of having a Ferrari stuck in traffic?

    The problems is that network operators can’t or are not going to be able to keep up with the pace of development of superphones in the short term. Innovation will hinge upon wireless broadband, market penetration and reasonable prices and that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

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  4. What? Google tried to jack Mr SanGiovanni’s phrase without giving him credit? That is bad web karma, Om.

    But on your point about future superphone features, this is something I”ve given a good deal of thought to. I think much will be driven by user demand and experience over the next few years:
    - better battery life
    - seamless transition from 3G/4G to WiFi, while always choosing the absolute lowest cost option per user specs
    - improved videocamera (though the Nokia N8 12mp is pretty damn impressive already)
    - ready-made NFC for mobile commerce, car keys, door keys
    - stronger security against malware, spam calls (spit), viruses, break-ins, etc.

    All for about $200, no contract required.

    Whoever gives us wireless power (over wifi, say, will be a billionaire)

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  5. Of course 4G, more memory and faster CPU, but the things I’d really like to see:
    * A decent camera, that’s at least as good as a low end compact camera.
    * A folding display that doubles the screen size when open. In other words, use it as a normal 4 inch phone most of the time, but open it up and you have a 7 inch tablet with much more space to do thing. That way, you don’t need to have both a phone and a tablet. Remember you saw this idea here first :-).
    * Support for full automatic backup for everything you have on your phone, so if you lose it or it gets damaged, you can just replace it with a new device and you’re ready to go.

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  6. I think the superphone of the future is one that acts more like a passport to you and how you live vs a app/feature rich device. Our kids will get bored cameras, screens, texts, etc over next 5 – 10 years.

    Before I give you my predictions on what a superphone will do, we must first ask what the network that will support a superphone will have to do.

    What we see today from a network standpoint is chump change to what the network will do tomorrow. Kiran listed Global calling as a cool feature…well in the future global calling, global data pulls, or matter a fact, anything done on your phone where data is pulled/pushed from the network will all cost the same, no matter where you are on the planet. If it’s unlimited here, it’ll be unlimited there. No more hiding your data connection when traveling overseas because you’re no longer in your home network or limiting texting because of the $.20 higher transmit costs. The superphone will not know different networks, or global “roaming” pricing plans; it’ll just know you have service and it needs to give it to you.

    Since the superphone will only be as good as the network its attached to and since we are already seeing FIOS bandwidth to the handsets (Boston VZ LTE Trial) forget things like you having to swipe your phone to pay for stuff. With GeoLocal and all the other intelligence in the network, a phone and the network will know where you are. Its only a matter of time before Google “streetviews” the interior of stores/buildings, which means as you near a register with your wares, your phone will know your there and will ask you if you want to purchase what’s in your hands. Heck it might already know what you want and you just walk by the store and it buys it for you so when you’re walking back past the store, all you have to do is go in and pick up your bag of wares.

    As your passport to the worls, the phone will act as your personal liaison with your environments. If you stop off at Starbuck’s at 8 am everyday for a cup o joe, then as you leave your house at 7:45AM, your phone will place your normal order before for you because it knows your on the way.

    Maybe even call or receive a call from your doctor because your walking slower than usual.

    Phones and networks…so cool.

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  7. A few things I’d expect in a “superphone”
    Facial recognition & fingerprint identification
    Non-touch gesture recognition
    Multi-day battery
    3D screen & 3D video recording capabilities
    Projector, possibly integrated with “sense” recognition of projected images (ie. Typing via a projected keyboard)
    File transfer via Drag-drop from mobile to mobile/desktop screen.
    I’d also like to see flexible (bendable) devices with flexible screens.
    “Green” design (Hydrogen powered, recyclable, etc)

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  8. wishlist for 2020.

    credit card sized
    solar powered+charged, no charge-by-wire
    seamless cache+storage for all my books, media, connections, apps,
    HD screen to replace paper & plastic docs (credit cards, drivers license, passport, IDs)
    wireless connection to displays (TV, other screens) and speakers
    biometric recognition for personalization
    shatterproof

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  9. A few coming features of Superphones:

    1. Better cameras. Moore’s Law makes it inevitable.

    2. Much greater integration with the Cloud. The phone will be a package of sensors and displays, and the processing will move up to servers in the Cloud. For example, 3 photo exposures needed for HDR will be sent up for processing.

    3. Much greater integration with the car. This is an untapped area (for the most part) and the auto manufacturers are waking up to the opportunity.

    4. Biometric access control.

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  10. I think about this all the time… next year’s superphone will look something like this:

    NFC or Bluetooth 4.0 for mobile transactions
    4.0″ – 4.5″ screen; we’ve hit the max here, however…
    250ppi+ displays… Apple set the bar, everyone will respond
    Dual-core 1.2GHz proc (1.5GHz not until LATE 2011/early 2012)
    8MP or higher camera (doubt they can get 10MP into a handset)
    2MP front-facing camera (needs to be small for throughput of voice calls and size constraints)
    Slightly bigger batteries (2k MAh anyone?)
    1080p video recording
    It will be touchscreen-only, and no thicker than the EVO
    16GB of internal memory… (no memristors until at least 2012)
    HDMI-out
    KICKSTAND (what a weird thing, but people love it)
    Extra mics for noise cancellation
    Swype!
    Gingerbread that will upgrade to Honeycomb

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