The larger smartphone makers have largely ignored CES for the past few years. Instead of unveiling their latest flagship devices at the consumer technology industry’s largest trade show, Samsung, HTC, RIM and others have opted to either wait for Mobile World Congress in February or hold their own press events over the course of the year. What we were left with, then, were flagship devices from the manufacturers who’ve yet to make a splash on the North American market, whose devices will likely paint a picture of what lies ahead in the mobile industry for 2013.
All the major phone launches at CES had one thing in common: humongous, high-definition displays. Most smartphones came in at a once-unheard of 5″ and at an equally mesmerizing resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. Though this trend has been heralded by the likes of Samsung, with its 4.7 – 5.5″ line of 2012 Galaxy devices, we likely won’t see high-end smartphones launch anywhere south of 4.7″ in 2013 unless they have an Apple logo on the backside.
Unless consumers opt for devices like the 5.5″ Galaxy Note II or 6.1″ Huawei Ascend Mate, they’re not likely to notice the difference, however, as manufacturers have gotten better at reducing the amount of bezel on devices. The 5″ phones of 2013 will likely not feel significantly bigger than the 4.5 to 4.7″ devices of 2012, much to the delight of consumers worried about not being able to comfortably wield a 5″
“The best camera is the one that’s with you.” So says the iPhone photography book by Chase Jarvis, and so say the smartphone manufacturers in 2013. The ZTE Grand S, Sony Xperia Z, and Huawei Ascend D2 all had 13 megapixel rear cameras, signifying the fact that most manufacturers are taking smartphone cameras seriously. Of course, megapixels tell only a part of the smartphone picture quality story, and improved internal components coupled with the ability to take bigger pictures could come to smartphones in 2013. We’ll be keeping our eyes on what Samsung and HTC have up their sleeves for smartphone cameras at Mobile World Congress and beyond, though if CES is predictive we’ll likely see beefed up cameras that could mitigate the need to carry a point and shoot.
This should almost go without saying at this point, but your 2013 smartphone will have NFC. All the major manufacturers are touting NFC capabilities via connected devices, from Sony’s Personal Content Station to Samsung’s TecTiles, and beyond, NFC will play an important role in how we use our smartphones in 2013. Yes, even the 2013 iPhone will likely have NFC capabilities as the service becomes more and more widely used in consumer’s lives.
When it comes to accessories, NFC and Bluetooth-enabled watches, speakers, TVs and all kinds of other goodies will also be making their way into consumer households in 2013, many fueled simply by touching your phone to the device to get the party started. Smartwatches are the area of connected/wearable devices I’m most interested in, and there was certainly no shortage of news from this year’s show, and this will only grow in 2013.
Thanks to innovations in chipset technologies, quad-core processors will rule the roost in 2013. Again more of a continuation of a trend than a trendsetter itself, expect quad-core processors to be widely available in most consumer smartphones in 2013, even in many non-flagship models. With several new quad-core processors unveiled at this year’s show, the line between smartphone/tablet and computer processing capability is set to diminish even further.
Beyond quad-core, Samsung unveiled a new octa-core Exynos 5 processor at the show, which should find its way onto the upcoming Galaxy S IV superphone. Sure, we might not need eight core processors in a mobile device yet, but knowing your device will be able to handle anything you could possibly throw at it is certainly a welcome addition to a smartphone, and it could become a reality sooner (2013) than later. Regardless, quad-core is plenty zippy, and you’ll likely be blasted with a slew of quad-core devices this year.
All of the 2013 trends listed above will have a detrimental effect on your smartphone’s battery. Connected devices, super-mega processors, and high-definition screens require much more juice to run, and fortunately manufacturers are focusing on bigger, thinner batteries to provide the power you need in a smartphone while maintaining the svelte, attractive devices we love. Gone are the days where a smartphone releases with less than a 2,000 mAh battery, and 2,000 to 4,000 mAh (and higher) batteries will likely be powering your next smartphone.
This is certainly no surprise, obviously, but we are certainly thankful that battery technology progress is keeping up with improvements to screens, processors, cameras, and other developments in the mobile arena. The era of full-day or better battery life is upon us. Finally.
It’s an exciting time in mobile technology, and 2013 will be another banner year of progress in this arena. Consumers will be faced with bigger, more powerful smartphones with enough battery juice to last a full work day with moderate to heavy use. Further, we’ll have awesome new connected devices that make it easier for consumers to engage with their smart devices and better cameras to capture whatever is going on in their lives.
There will likely be even more developments as Mobile World Congress approaches, where most of the major manufacturers will be displaying their latest smartphones, tablets, and other devices. Stay tuned.
This article was written by Anthony Domanico
Anthony is the Editor in Chief of Techgress, and a big mobile and gaming geek. He's covered mobile technology for the better part of three years, and gets excited about shiny, new things. He currently uses an iPhone, iPad Mini, and Nexus 7, but Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry devices are never too far away.