Style and appearance. One of the most observable changes is the look and feel of mobile phones. They have morphed from their original candy-bar form to the iconic flip phone, which enjoyed great popularity for a long time. Then the slide phone took its place, thanks to its modern design and convenient operation. Next was the touchscreen phone, the most widely available style in the current smartphone market.   

Smartphone innovation in the third decade of the 21st century

Size. Like computers, when mobile phones first came out, they were big and bulky; today they’re small and lightweight. The goal throughout their evolution was to meet the needs and expectations of users—to be more portable and user-friendly.

Function. Of course, mobile phones, starting way back with telephones, were invented for communication. In the past, phones played a single role: they allowed people to make calls. Thanks to the development of networks, technology, and social needs, phones today let users do much more—send and receive text messages and emails, take photos and videos, access the internet, listen to music, and play games, among many other functions. That’s not to mention artificial intelligence (AI) technology, steadily making its way into mobile phones and allowing for things like human-machine interaction—“Alexa, add milk and eggs to my shopping list.”   

Image/camera technology. The photography function is one of the most remarkable changes in modern smartphones. In the beginning, most smartphones had a single, rear-facing camera for photo shooting. Then the smartphone camera came of age: it moved to the screen display, facing the user, then adding video, high-definition, night-mode, and anti-shake technology. All these features together make the photography function the most valuable addition to the modern smartphone.

Smartphone innovation in the third decade of the 21st century

Stepping into 2020, here are six trends that users can expect to see in the latest generation of smartphones:

More screen. Most smartphone companies have introduced phones with full screens. There’s no denying that full screens have advantages—they give the smartphone an outstanding screen display and stunning visual effects. The full-screen design, to some extent, drives creative development in the smartphone industry.

One important feature of full-screen displays over the past few years is the notch—the black cutout, typically rectangular, at the top of the phone that houses sensors, speaker, and the phone’s front-facing camera. Two new designs attempting to maximize screen space—the water-drop notch and no-notch displays—will most likely be the dominant smartphone design in 2020. Compared with the more prominent monobrow notch, the water-drop notch display takes up less room and can have a screen-to-body ratio of 85%. The no-notch display is new to the market and has the highest screen-to-body ratio, in some phones thanks to a pop-up camera at the top of the phone.

Mobile photography. Super-high-definition cameras are a goal that smartphone companies will continue to chase after, as social media becomes an increasingly important part of modern life. People are spending more time on social media than ever before. Not only do they send and receive written messages through platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, they are also using smartphone cameras to capture and share important life moments, hence the demand for ever-higher photo quality.


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