Fairfax Tech Talk Column

Fairfax Tech Talk Column

16.8.2019 Fairfax Tech Talk Column 159


Paraphrasing the former US Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, we are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist, using technologies that haven't been invented, in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet.

One of the greatest aspects of the launch of the iPhone on 29 June 2007 was that Apple was solving a problem that consumers across the world didn’t know existed. Here we are, only twelve years later, and smartphone market penetration sits at ninety per cent. How did we ever survive without being able to use a device in our pocket to scan documents or view the night sky or order food or transport?

The constant challenge for smartphone manufacturers across the world is to improve upon the concept or develop the next killer feature. This is a serious race. The worldwide market for smartphone sales is estimated to be worth US$570 billion this year.

The latest flagship from Samsung has just been released. The Note range - the 10, 10+ and 5G. Are we now at the stage where we are seeing evolution or revolution? Small incremental changes or giant leaps?

For a start, the Note is now available in two sizes – the 6.3” Note 10 and the larger 6.8” Note 10+ (and 5G). When you consider that there are Tablets on the market with a screen less than 8”, you can see just how large the phone has now become. The 6.8” screen has 3840 x 1440 pixels on display. For comparison, the first iPhone had a 3.5” display with 320 x 480 pixels.

Many consumers are interested in the camera (or more accurately cameras). The original iPhone had a 2MP (megapixel) camera and 4GB of memory. The Note 10+ has four cameras on the rear ranging from 12MP to 16MP and a 10MP camera on the front. Four cameras I hear you ask? 16MP ultra-wide; 12MP wide-angle; 12MP telephoto and DepthVision lens. Seems obvious I say with my tongue firmly in my cheek. When you consider it was 2002 when the Nokia 7650 was the first phone to feature a camera (at a massive 0.3MP), it seems incredible that we now have phones with five (or more) cameras. The Note 10+ puts the focus on video with a live bokeh effect and sophisticated video editing utilities built into the phone. And AR of course.

When it comes to sound, Samsung followed the Apple lead and removed the headphone jack with their research showing the majority of users are already using wireless audio. Samsung took an additional step though with Sound-on-Display technology. The entire screen now works as a front speaker which eliminates entirely the top speaker. On top of that, the fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone is beneath the display.

Apart from the evolutionary steps of a better S Pen with more features and the phone’s increased memory and improved battery life and charging times, the last step is the blurring of PC and phone. The latest Samsung allows you to run a virtual machine in a window when you plug your phone into your PC and you can also mirror your phone’s screen to your Windows PC. This may well be the first step in the elimination of a computer and people using their phone with a dock.

Although many of the features are incremental evolutionary changes, I still think we are seeing some revolution in this space but where will it all end?

Tell me the next killer feature you think we need in a phone (so I can quickly patent the idea) at ask@techtalk.digital.

Mathew Dickerson