Have mobile phones stopped evolving?

There is, if we’re honest, a bit of a problem with phones now. They’re all a little bit too good. Personally, sitting here, apart from making me a cup of tea or driving me to work, I can’t think of much else that I want my phone to do. It browses the web, it takes pictures, it guides me around, it keeps me hooked onto my social media accounts and even lets me record and watch my favourite TV shows. It’s my radio, my email inbox, my book, my diary, my alarm.

What else do we want phones to do?

In recent years I’ve sensed it. Perhaps it’s just me, but the changes in mobile handsets are now incremental. There’s no massive “leap” any more, not that I’ve seen. Every phone we see usually contains a big screen, a couple of cameras and a speaker. More manufacturers are now getting involved and the quality of handsets is getting better and better. Some manufacturers are trying to be innovative, bringing out waterproof handsets or really tough life-proof devices. Manufacturers are trying to stand out. They’re trying to be different. Eveyone has a slab-style phone now, so making one to be different to another is important.

Personally I loved the NEC Medias W because it was so different.

Yesterday we saw Oppo release a phone with a rotating camera. Now, it’s not actually a new thing. If there’s any of you out there who, like me, are old enough to remember the launch of 3G, you may remember those old chunky 3G video phones. Those phones had pretty terrible battery life but, at the time, those early 3G networks (Three) assumed that video calling was the future. Every phone had a video camera and it was important to face forward. Various ideas came forward, but long-time readers might remember one of these.

The first is the NEC E338, had a 176×220 pixel screen and a really low-quality rotating camera by todays’ standards…

Have mobile phones stopped evolving?

.. as did this, the Sony Ericsson V800. This had a similar spec screen but a whopping 1.3 megapixel camera which spun round too..

Have mobile phones stopped evolving?

Both of these phones are from 2004. Now, a mere 9 years later, we’ve got a 13 megapixel rotating camera on the new Oppo N1

Have mobile phones stopped evolving?

Personally, I think we have reached a bit of a plateau. Yes, screens will continue to get better, CPU’s and networks will get faster and cameras will get even clearer and cleverer (if that’s a word). The biggest change that I’d like to see would be in battery technology. It’s simply not good enough. Not on any handset I’ve ever used. Sure, if you turn Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS off then you can perhaps slowly sip a couple of days from a mobile battery, but use the phone as it was intended and you’ll be hunting for an electrical socket quickly.

When I first started this site I’d moved from a Nokia handset to an Orange SPV, and I couldn’t get over the fact that my screen had to turn off when I wasn’t using it. Now, over 11 years later, it’s software trickery and reinventions such as IR ports (anyone remember using those to transfer data back in the day) or these rotating cameras.

But I’d love to hear from you. What innovations would you like to see? What changes and new inventions would you like to see on your next mobile? Do you like the form factor? Are you happy with the touch-screen slabs we’re all carrying in our pockets?