Since smartphones were introduced in the 1990s, the technology has progressed at an astounding pace and transformed daily life in the process. Today, millions of people walk around with an all-in-one computer, communication device and personal assistant in their pocket.
From the early Nokia Communicator and Palm OS to the revolutionary first generation Apple iPhone, we’ve seen phones come a long way. Smartphones were distinguished from earlier feature phones with the inclusion of keyboards as well as digital assistant features. This included functionality for features like notepads, email and Internet browsing.
As mobile technology was changing our business and personal interactions, smartphone technology was also a catalyst for advancement in the technology industry as a whole. Let’s take a look at some of ways smartphones, and how we use them, are pushing things forward in the digital age.
Smartphone networks are now in their fourth generation, and we’ve seen major evolutions of cell phone technology during that time. Most of the work between smartphone evolutions has been aimed at getting higher data rates because people now use their phones for accessing the Internet and exchanging videos and pictures.
The computing capabilities of smartphones and shareability of data made faster networks essential. As we graduated from sending simple texts and pixelated photos over the 2G network to surfing the Web on 3G networks, it became possible for consumers to fully utilize the power of smartphones.
The latest in network innovation and speed is the LTE, or Long-Term Evolution network. LTE take up in the United States and globally has flourished since it was introduced in 2010. The organization OpenSignal, which tracks mobile usage in the U.S., found that around 50 percent of U.S. users are on LTE contracts.1
The progress in cellular networks has been a boon not only to smartphones, but also to mobile technology in general. As consumers adopt tablets, smart watches and other Internet of things devices, these turbo networks are supporting a tsunami of traffic, and providing a gateway to Internet access for people around the world.
Insurance for All
As manufacturers have packed more and more technology into smaller smartphones, the price has gone up as well. While hundreds of dollars still sounds like a lot to pay for a mobile phone, we all know that a phone is no longer just a phone. It is an always-connected pocket computer with cutting edge technology, a camera, music player and thousands of apps to manage any task.
With the increased value and necessity of mobile devices, consumers have felt a need to protect their investment with device protection plans. These plans offer customer insurance beyond the device warranty, covering hardware and software malfunctions as well as accidental damage and replacements for a lost or stolen device.
To date, protection plans have been widely adopted in the U.S. and Europe, and we’ve also seen growing adoption in emerging markets. But with the global rise in low-cost smartphones, it remains to be seen how customer behaviors will change and how insurance providers will adapt.
The increased computing power of smartphones has created a demand for stronger, longer-lasting batteries that can keep pace with users. Unfortunately, they can’t always keep up and we’ve almost all experienced the dreaded dead battery at an inopportune moment.
Thus far the power demands of feature-filled smartphones have outpaced the improvements in battery technology, but there have been signs of innovation on the battery-life horizon.
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are currently used in almost every smartphone. Over the last 20 years, researchers and manufactures have managed to squeeze more and more energy out of them. But to keep up with coming generations of smartphones, they are looking to new materials like silicone, sulfur and zinc.
Groups in the U.S., Europe and Asia have joined the race to revolutionize smartphone battery power. The radical technologies they are working on hold promise to transform energy storage for smartphones and for all consumer electronics applications.
The smartphone has evolved drastically in the past few decades, put it’s only the beginning for this young technology. In the coming years, sensor data combined with machines learning and virtual reality will usher in a new wave of engagement, convenience and utility.
We’ve seen hints at the future through apps that utilize smartphones’ accelerometers, gyroscopes, and NFC chips. All of these will present multiple new technological opportunities and create even more rapid and personal touch points for the customer experience.