Call it a smartphone or napkin as the new generation smartphones would be pulled out of pocket and unfolded like a napkin into a tablet. Also, for instance, users would press their finger on the screen to unlock. Users would switch to the camera app, and a spider-like array of lenses shoot simultaneously to capture one giant photo.

Well to know more, the tech industry has been doubling down on software and artificial intelligence capabilities, and these hold huge potential. But still a lot of work needs to be done on improving phone hardware, too, and the prime reason why most people upgrade.

Longtime tech analyst and futurist Tim Bajarin, of Creative Strategies, tells me he’s also excited by what he sees coming. “When we turn the corner on the next decade, that is when we will start to see a revolution in everything from flexible displays to glasses,” he says.

So, now the search for new technologies is in China, where phone makers are more creative, among start-ups and at industry conferences where the likes of Samsung and Apple would find new components. So, now these ideas below might make the phone very interesting.

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Cameras spread out more lenses:

Now the big idea remains that cameras would have big-honking-lens. These would work by covering the back of the phone with a bunch of small lenses that would shoot simultaneously and then stitch it into one big photo.

Apple and Samsung phones have already witnessed these with two lenses on the back. The second one helps with zoom shots and measuring depth to create photos with artistically blurry backgrounds. In fact, the P21 Pro flagship from Huawei is the first to include three lenses, one color, one monochrome and one with 3x zoom.

A camera maker called Light has taken this idea to an extent. This is a working prototype phone with between 5 and 9 lenses – yes, 9 – on the back. It further added that the phone design is capable of capturing 64-megapixel shots, better low-light performance, and sophisticated depth effects.

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Fold up Screens:

After the flip phones, arrives the flip tablets. In fact at a display industry conference in May, where the story was about prototypes of screens that were flexible enough to roll and flap in the wind. One firm, called BOE, showed a gadget, dubbed as “phoneblet” with a 7.5-inch screen that folded, without seams, into a phone and back again without breaking.

How does that work? BOE added that it got rid of the traditional color filter and backlight, and replaced the rigid glass with plastic. Also, the bending doesn’t break the pixels because each one is so tiny.

Some analysts have considered that Samsung’s folding phone,  nicknamed the “Galaxy X” would start production in November, and would cost $1,850 which is roughly ₹1.27 lakhs when it would debut in 2019.

Batteries to charge over the thin air:

Battery life is definitely the biggest problem with today’s phones. Might sound a bit crazy, but researchers have figured out ways to beam low levels of power through the air. Like, Firms such as Energous and Ossia send power using radio frequencies, while rival Wi-Charge uses infrared light that’s closer to lasers.

Energous claimed that those might first get embedded into other gadgets, such as computers and speakers, so they could charge gadgets nearby. Wi-Charge added that it would be looking to go into light fixtures.

However, none of these are for India. It’s a fact that India has been already surrounded by energy from radio waves and the sun. Energous says it doesn’t expose bodies to more radiation than cell phones, and WiPower automatically cuts out if anything gets between its transmitter and receiver.

For the users, Energous added that hearing aids would be supporting the first version of its tech which is coming in a matter of weeks. It claimed that devices that charge over medium and larger distances are more likely by 2019 or 2020. Wi-Charge says it hopes to sign up gadget makers as soon as next spring.

smartphone-pliable

Transparent Glasses so users don’t have to look at the phones:

Glasses are the next big thing to really look up to. Start-up Magic Leap raised more than $2.3 billion which is around ₹15,800 crore to make a “lightweight, wearable computer” that looks like a pair of welding glasses. Apple, in fact, has also applied for patents for glasses tech, and CEO Tim Cook frequently talks up the potential of augmented reality, the technology that merges computer images with the real world.

Early AR glasses have already started emerging in. For instance, a start-up called DreamWorld offers a 90-degree field of view and responding to hand gestures. This weighs only about half a pound, that plugs into a phone that does the processing and holds the battery. Smart glasses are likely to require nearby phones until the parts shrink enough to let them replace phones entirely.

So, now, DreamWorlds’ DreamGlass is available now for $400 which is roughly ₹27,500. More consumer-friendly glasses don’t require wires or heavy gear and have become obsolete 5 years. Magic Leap has promised to ship a developer-focused version of its Magic Leap at some point this year.