Forget the boring smartphone

2013-12-04 13:20
Smartphones. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Smartphones. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - If you are tired of black box smartphones that are all beginning to look the same, regardless of brand, there's hope. Some companies are pushing the envelope with what you should expect from your next smartphone.

Imagine a phone that always keeps you in touch with your social networks; is always on, yet manages to not drain the battery.

The YotaPhone promises a new take on smartphones with dual 10.9cm screens. That's right, two touch screens - one in front and one back.

But the screens aren't just a gimmick: On the front, you get a traditional touch LCD, while the back screen is an EPD (Electronic paper display), or e-ink screen, similar to what is found on e-readers.

The benefit of the EPD is that notifications and messages can be displayed, but these will not drain the 1800mAh battery because the display consumes a fraction of the power that a tradition screen does.

The LTE-enabled smartphone goes on sale in Russia on Wednesday, and it's powered by Google's Android 4.2.2 operating system.

Turn around

Beneath the skin resides a healthy dual core 1.7GHz processor mated to 2GB of RAM. The device sports a 13 megapixel main camera and Yota Devices is a former unit of Russia's state-run defence corporation.

The phone was launched in Russia, so don't expect it to be coming to South Africa anytime soon.

In the mid 90s, LG introduced a swivel camera phone, but the idea didn't take off - until the Oppo N1.

The phablet phone (15cm display) sports a 13 megapixel rotating camera so you never have to settle for an inferior selfie. The flash also rotates with the camera so low-light images receive optimal lighting.

This device from the Chinese manufacturer is powered by a 1.7GHz quad core processor with 2GB of RAM.

So while incremental features like hand gestures and even a curved screen may entertain some, the smartphone horizon may be pushed further back with a range of disruptive devices.

While these smartphones may be some way off from coming to SA, a survey by research firm Gartner revealed that as features of the must-have devices increase, they will soon be able to predict what users want.

"If there is heavy traffic, it will wake you up early for a meeting with your boss, or simply send an apology if it is a meeting with your colleague. The smartphone will gather contextual information from its calendar, its sensors, the user's location and personal data," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

What cool features would you like to see on future smartphones? Send your comments to News24.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

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