Getting Bigger

Phablets by Maria Elena

You have probably noticed that over the last few years mobile phones have been getting bigger, and tablets, such as the iPad have been getting smaller. Almost a convergence in terms of size between phones and tablets.

Doing some internet research for another article I found this comment I made on Brian Kelly’s blog post (from 2008) on what devices we would be using in 2013. My main comment was wondering if devices (such as phones) would get bigger!

James Clay said
7 February 2008 at 1:16 pm

I believe that the key difference will be is that the storage capabilities will become less important, as connectivity improves allowing easy access to information and content whenever and wherever you are.

I wonder if the devices will get bigger rather than smaller?

Think about phones, the Nokia N95 is a BIG phone compared to the compact small phones of a few years ago.

The iPod touch screen is so much bigger than the iPod video screen.

Bigger and thinner possibly?

Though for me the downside of all the functionality is battery life and I wonder if there will be minimal improvement in functionality, but a huge leap in the battery life as technology improves the power efficiency of the chips and memory.

As with all things rather than look five years in the future, look five years in the past.

In 2003 I had a phone which could play music, video, had an in-built radio, could surf the net (slowly on a GPRS) connection.

In 2008 I can do all those things but in higher quality and I know where I am (GPS).

In 2013…

I thought it would be interesting to see what said then and see how things have changed and also look forward a little more.

I said back then “I wonder if the devices will get bigger rather than smaller?” well in 2013 we saw the first large phones or phablets. The iPad mini had been released the year before and we had played around with the iPad since 2010, but now we wanted smaller tablets.

Now in 2015, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have been released by Apple and as with many Apple devices, and as I predicted, these are bigger and thinner than the phones we had in 2008.

Connectivity is much better with most new devices able to access 4G speeds, but not all of us can afford to be connected at those speeds.

These larger screens, more powerful connectivity have large power requirements compared to older devices. Back in 2008 I said

I wonder if there will be minimal improvement in functionality, but a huge leap in the battery life as technology improves the power efficiency of the chips and memory.

Manufacturers have improved battery life for their devices, still for most people there is a requirement to charge every day, but at least the battery does last most of the day. I remember having a Nokia N95 and too often the battery would only last half a day as I did use many of the different functions on the phone.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned in the first post was battery life, but I commented on in the following post.

Upon reflection I realised why I carry multiple devices around. The key reason is battery life.

If my phone has GPS, plays video and/or music, internet, acts as a 3G modem for my laptop, oh and makes phone calls; then even with a large battery I don’t expect it to last the day.

Spread the functionality over multiple devices and suddenly I can ensure that I can do all of the above, over catching the 6.30am train to London, all day in a meeting or a conference, and back again to reach home at 7.30pm.

I have multiple devices as a single device can not last for the time I need it.

The one change from 2008 that is much more apparent is the decline of the specialist device and the move to a multi-function device. No longer are we carrying pocket cameras, dedicated music players, video devices, e-book readers; our larger phones now do all that for us and then some…

So what will the device of 2020 look like?

Well that’s more difficult to predict, what do you think?

Image Credit: Maria Elena

One Reply to “Getting Bigger”

  1. Very impressed with your crystal ball 🙂

    My prediction : by 2020 we won’t think about carrying devices, they will be so integrated into our lives and the interfaces so taken for granted that smaller/bigger type issues wouldn’t occur to us. Probably wearable and so connected that actually little storage/processing needs to be carried with us, which combined with power improvements (organic batteries which charge in seconds rather than hours), will mean we just use things and forget about them the rest of the time. No more constantly scanning for somewhere to plug in and unconsciously rationing use. (nb I’m almost there now with the iPhone6+ – I get home each day without any charging with easily over 80% charge remaining despite using it a fair bit…ok, not watching hours of video but any and all casual access to info and apps etc – but the form factor isn’t without issues get – great screen, perfectly usable, just a little bit awkward in the pocket sometimes).

    I don’t think the iWatch is the answer – but it has started the thinking and working out how a truly integrated UI might work. Google glass is clearly not the answer (yet) but again showed how tech might interact with us in more direct ways. I’m thinking something which whispers answers to you without you even asking, nudges your wrist to prompt you to glance to bring your attention to something the AI has worked out you need to know, more direct device to device functions to support social and formal interactions.

    Flexible tech – no more ‘bend-gate’ – it really will be a feature rather than a fault 🙂

    Long shots – holographic displays so more info can be presented from a limited form factor. Mandated inter-operability between platforms (so no more bespoke protocols which only work with other users of the same make) – yeah right!

    Some worries – the Google ecosystem continuing to fragment into ever more versions in use until developers can’t cope – some major security issues arising and many people loosing faith in using mobile tech as a result. Hopefully the opposite happens and one or two strands of Android become so dominant that they drag people into an Apple like upgrade cycle (providing really well managed OS upgrades on the same platform).

    Then there’s the whole Internet of Things and how we’ll interact with just about everything differently potentially – possibly mediated through the mobile tech we have on/with us all the time – home lights which know where we are and don’t waste energy as just one thought – but beyond that, the mobile tech working to know our moods based on biometric info and then talking to the home to adapt our environment accordingly – less frivolously, providing health monitoring for the vulnerable.

    Education – I think the revolution to assuming people will be connected to the hive mind all the time might just be beginning to lead to the transformations in how we think about what it means to know something and how assessment needs to work we need. The idea of asking people to leave their tech at the door to go I for an exam might hopefully start to seem as ludicrous as asking them to submit hand written essays is now.

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