5 features we’d love to see on Android phones in 2013

December 17, 2012

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Android smartphones have been the cutting edge of mobile tech in the last couple of years. The top manufacturers have been quick to identify new trends and see the potential in new features. Because there’s so much competition in the Android market, finding a new USP to help the latest model stand out is a popular strategy. We’ve seen some firsts, such as 4G LTE phones and 3D support, and we’ve seen interesting features with potential, such as NFC and wireless charging. So, what features would we love to see on Android phones in 2013?

Flexible displays

How do we keep increasing the screen size of our smartphones without losing portability? The larger display is an obvious trend, but many people are put off by big, unwieldy devices that don’t fit comfortably in the pocket. A number of manufacturers, including Samsung, have been working on flexible display technology. If they can produce a device that actually folds up, so you have a smartphone-sized device that can fold out to tablet size, then who wouldn’t want one?

We wish this concept video from 2011 could be realized in 2013, but the reality of early flexible devices is likely to be more modest. We’re pretty confident we’ll see some flexible displays in 2013 and they’ll be the first step towards the kind of awesomeness in this video, but there are bound to be a few teething problems.

Better batteries

It’s not an exciting new development, but seriously, the mobile industry has got to do more to solve everyone’s major pain point with smartphones – the battery life. As we clamor for bigger screens and more features, we seem to be driving up the thirst for juice faster than battery technology is improving. No one wants to be told that they can expect their super-powered smartphone to last a full day as long as they don’t play games, make sure to turn off 4G, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, don’t stream movies, don’t use the GPS, basically don’t use the features that make it a great device in the first place!

Wireless charging is a handy convenience and we can see that rolling out more in the coming months. When airports and bars and other public places have wireless charging mats as standard (if that ever happens) then it could be really useful. Having a wireless charging mat at home versus a traditional charger is not going to solve the problem for most of us.

LG-Nexus-4-Wireless-Charging-Orb-01

We are also seeing devices with bigger batteries, but they do impact on the design. Batteries are still big, relatively speaking, when you think about the innards of a smartphone. We need smaller batteries capable of holding a bigger charger, but that’s clearly easier said than done.

We’ve also seen some flexible battery technology on the horizon. That could go hand in glove with the flexible displays we discussed above. It could also lead to wearable batteries. Would you potentially plug your smartphone into your jacket if it gave you all the juice you wanted? There are obviously other issues with that, but wearable tech is another exciting development on the horizon.

More antennas

When it comes to making and receiving phone calls a lot of manufacturers seem to have forgotten that a smartphone is actually a phone first. Some smartphones seem to suffer from poor signal strength and frequent dropped calls. It’s also not uncommon to be unable to browse the web while making a call unless you have cellular and Wi-Fi.

With multiple antennas you can boost the signal strength and reduce the energy required. The device can also shift between antennas to get the best signal, which could be affected by where you are and how you are holding your phone. The downside is that they take up space and so increase the overall size of the device.

Tougher phones

When you fall in love with a smartphone design the last thing you want to do is encase it. Do you not cringe every time you see a $600 smartphone in a $3 rubber case? Manufacturers fight to get those proportions down and make our smartphones as slim as possible. If you have to put a case on it then you lose the finished look and you add unwanted bulk. Let’s have more Android smartphones that are indestructible without cases and without adding hideous ruggedized bodies. We’ve already got Gorilla Glass 2 and Kevlar making regular appearances, how about throwing waterproofing into the mix?

motorola-defy-water-is-one-tough-phone

We want to be able to drop our phones into puddles and down stairs without scratches or cracks. The trick is to add that extra layer of durability without adding too much bulk and cost.

Better Wi-Fi

Thanks to many carriers looking to charge for data usage in a metered system our thirst for Wi-Fi is stronger than ever. Even most carriers advertising unlimited mobile data actually have limits, they may call it a “fair usage policy”, but honestly what’s the difference? If we could use Wi-Fi more often when we are out and about and get better Wi-Fi at home then that would be great.

The 802.11ac standard will allow much greater Wi-Fi speeds for multiple devices in the home. Streaming HD video could be a reality and you won’t need to worry about having a laptop, a smart TV, a PC, and a smartphone all digging in at once. The technology is already available for smartphones.

Facebook

Taking advantage of Wi-Fi hotspots when you are out and about at the moment is just not a good user experience so we’re also excited about Passpoint taking off. The idea is that you will automatically and securely connect to mobile Wi-Fi hotspots wherever they are available without the tedious search, selection, and password entry.

What’s your pick?

There are a few other features we’d love to see on Android phones in 2013, but these are the top picks. Which features would get your vote? What are you excited about in the coming year and what would entice you to upgrade?

Comments

  • SuyashSrijan

    Flexible displays? Nope. Samsung’s flexible OLED will enter mass production in late 2013 and we will probably see it in GS5. BUT, what’s the practical use of a flexible OLED display on a smartphone when the rest of the parts are solid? Better batteries? Yes, capacity increases each year. More antennas? Absolutely need it. Tougher phones? Dont need it, cases are there for a reason. Better WiFi? Yes, dual-MIMO antennas on a phone would be so awesome!

    • Saw

      That logic is flawed. Cases were created because phones are fragile. This means we wouldn’t need cases in the first place, if we would have more solid phones.

      The practical use of a flexible screen with rigid phone body is also … non-destructiveness. Yes, gorilla glass protects it, but if it would be flexible, it wouldn’t break on impact.

      • http://www.facebook.com/georgealexiouvalentey George Av

        the s2 is a tank!!! i never needed a case on that! even when it took a ride on the roof of a car at 20mph and fell of! only a little scratch on the corner

      • David Williamson

        I would agree on not using a bulky case, these phones are big enough on their own. But I use a silicone wrap on mine, I have issues with my grip. These wraps don’t add to the size of the phone, but in small drops it does help protect it. In my situation, the grips keep me (so far) from dropping the phone all the time. Would be nice if a rubberized edge was added to the sides for better grip. But that would lead to Apple suing Samsung again. Can’t believe that Apple didn’t sue Samsung for having batteries in the phone, I mean that was their idea wasn’t it LOL?

    • Michael

      I disagree with you on not needing tougher phones

      come on apple made the iphone 5 that is crazy strong

      if the iphone ios didn’t suck so bad i would buy the iphone 5

      i hate having to put a case on my gn2. It has a great design.

      Im amazed and jealous at time when i see people who use a

      caseless iphone5. It just not fare!

      • th3d

        Not using case on my GN2, ox =)its so solid, no problem. It been dropped on concrete already and no damage. Look at the youtube drop tests of GN2, its very strong. Not like ip5 that has scratches out of the box.

        Also look for GN2 teardown video, the socalled “plastic phone” has a magnesium bracket, and thats not just a small part, its the size of the phone itself. For the size the GN2 is amazingly solid, throw that case away and use it as it shoud used, its not gonna break.

    • Dulshan Kalpage

      All my years of smartphone usage I have always hated cases. I have never used a single one, neither have I damaged the 4 phones Ive used- a Moto Defy, Nexus S, Droid RAZR and Galaxy S3. The thing is; these phones are very durable by themselves, they dont even get scratched over years of use as long as you know how to take care of your phone. That said, I wouldnt mind a tougher phone without increase of bulk.

  • IncCo

    Better batteries !

  • http://www.facebook.com/georgealexiouvalentey George Av

    i don’t see what is wrong with wifi? i have a s3 and it has better wifi then my $100 lan card

  • Pedro Broggini

    Better batteries, for sure!

  • hjjj

    I want a tougher phone. One that I can use in the rain without worry

  • Pegasus195

    Better Application Softwares, like office, multimedia, and utilities. Google should make better applications for their devices than Apple!!!

  • http://twitter.com/petersodja Peter Sodja

    Batteries. If Motorola could do a 3ah battery, there is no reason other cant go to 4ah.

  • Reasonable

    -Most important battery which last 10 days without charging,Maybe solar charging/UV radiation charging to add to standard charging would do the trick.
    -Flexible/unbreakable screens which are scratch proof and safe to use as it is without protective covers
    -Smaller size of 3 Inch for telephony but foldable with Size to increase upto 7 inch once unfolded to use as a tablet.
    -Fully offline voice commands to call numbers in phonebook,browse,check things,set timers etc
    -Waterproof,heatproof, humidity proof
    - Speakers with excellent volume with sub woofer for Bass
    - Can throw music into any audio system and connect to any TV wirelessly. Something similar to sending music through FM trasmitter.

  • matoya

    I only have 2 wish:

    - SDCARD slot on Nexus device, and hopefully on ALL android device support up to 64GB SDXC.

    - USB-OTG on Nexus device, and ALL android device.

    .
    not much ask tho… or it is ? :)

  • Quryous

    .

    I want base line phones to START with 64GB of memory. I REALLY regret buying my Galaxy Note 2 with only 16GB.

    I’m on my second 64GB SD card, already, and I’ve only had it for 3 weeks.

    Oh, and 128GB cards would also be a god send.

    .

    • http://www.facebook.com/adam.eldin.7 Adam Eldin

      i want the n4 but I am already almost throught the 16 + 64 gigs on my Evo LTE…

  • http://www.facebook.com/unethical.hacker Adie Bhatt

    A standard Android installation ROM for all types of devices just like Windows. So that all Android devices are on the latest version as soon as it comes out. (We are ready to pay for it.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/florian.riepler Florian Riepler

      That will never happen, because Android is based on Linux.

      • Ahmed Kandeel

        What the? I don’t even…. Why on earth does Android being based on Linux preclude the ability to force a stock build on OEMs that is quick to update? The reason new versions of android take ages to percolate through to our devices is that the device manufacturer first has to modify it with all their bloatware and possibly driver modifications, then they have to test it. Afterwards they pass the build to the carrier who further test it and make additions/ modifications. All of which can take six months or more.

        • Nate Saunders

          No Base ROM could satisfy every user. Having a plethora of different Rom’s to choose from is part of the android experience. If you want standardized go buy an IPhone. If you are tired of the slow manufacturer update process and their bloatware then get root and install a custom rom.

          • Ahmed Kandeel

            What? How does that relate in any way to my post?

  • Kevin

    Android need a native ‘find my android’ which runs through google maps – yes there are apps out there, but it needs to be built in.

    Also needs ability to sync save games with different android devices so tablet>phone>tablet. And also to stream them to a TV with a single press. (miracast could solve this)

  • Alu Zeros

    More internal space options for nexus line, 32gb and 64gb variants. Better android headphone standards by allowing more than one physical button, and buttons can be active when phone is locked or inactive.

  • hoggleboggle

    waterproofing as standard – Panasonic and toshiba already have this feature, so there is no reason why others can’t introduce it. Improved receptions through better Antenna design would be great to. It will help reduce battery drain and improve data speeds. Add the option to safely kill all non-essential processes running and also better power management to reduce battery drain in standby. One of the biggest drain seems to be in maintaining the data connection even at peak signal strength when the screen is off. Switch your data connection off and you will find your average smartphone last for days.

  • kascollet

    A real high end SMALL phone, pleeeeeeaaaaaase !

  • BernD

    Dual wifi – to connect to things like allshare miracast devices and still use the wifi (assuming this isn’t possible already)

    Cheaper USB + HDMI hubs so phones can be docked and used as PC replacements

  • Jared Persinger

    My DROID razr maxx hd has such build quality that I don’t need a case and as for battery life… Well it is better than any other popular smartphone but it can always be better

  • Dze

    Battery life, all features useless without battery powering it and last but not least is better reception. In the end, the smartphone should be smarter phone connection than regular one.

  • rami

    I’m not sure…I mean I love Android (its a lot better than the iPhone I used to have) but the random spazzes are really annoying. Sometime my HTC just stops working right. But better battery life FOR SURE!

  • Most Wanted

    Want a superb battery for sure, thats the only huge pitfalls when comes to Android.
    And,

    Please make ROOTING AND ROM UPDATING easier than complicating it, some android users even dont know whats rooting and rom updating is, as per the analysis we saw from Google, 2.3 and 4.1 are topping, its bcz users are still sticking with the inbuilt custom roms, we are so looking towards android in future, so it will be extreme in future, so please educate users with some techs.

  • http://cobravision.wordpress.com/ Cobravision

    iTunes like backup and restore functionality. That’s literally the only thing iTunes is good for, but Google should make it work better and more reliably.

    All game progress should be kept in the cloud, either on the publisher’s servers or Google’s. I hate having losing my game saves when upgrade to a new device or have to factory reset.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000944723998 Craig Lawrence

    lower price

  • http://twitter.com/CarlosFrancoZ Carlos Franco Z.

    FLEXIBLE SCREEN + BATTERY LIFE + TOUGHER = Transformer Android Phone! Would be nice!

  • sjh

    Does no one use their phone outdoors besides me? Does no one else need to see the phone’s display to, say, answer the thing when it rings while you’re outside? How about that handy GPS? It must be just me. Modern cell phones were clearly not intended to be used under this condition.

  • th3d

    1. Better batteries
    2. FM Transmitter, my wreck of a Nokia N85 is still with me sometimes because of that.

  • Michael Tumulty

    100% waterproof please.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dcukic Domagoj Čukić

    bigger batteries and temperature sensor for surroundings. thats all

  • David Williamson

    I only have a couple of wishes:

    1: OLED screen would help outdoors viewing
    2: Higher capacity storage cards
    3: PICO projector to show off my movies and pictures
    4: Snap on battery pack for using said PICO
    5: Ability to delete/uninstall unwanted apps
    6: Rubber grip around edges for better grip
    7: Make all apps available for a move to storage card
    8: The ability to have separate screen savers for each screen
    …………(Just a little personalization wish)

    I know, I know, the list isn’t that big but I guess I have to stop somewhere. I would upgrade just for the PICO, only problem would be battery life. Don’t get me wrong here, I love my Galaxy 3S. I just think a little tweak here and there would make this the best phone. Wait, I think it already is the best phone. Good wish list you have Simon, I would be happy with all you ask for. Maybe if we’re both nice we both can get our wishes fulfilled.