There’s no such thing as a future-proof smartphone. Last year, we witnessed some new next-generation technology infiltrate the market. From Apple’s 64-bit processor and a usable fingerprint sensor to LG and Samsung’s curved display phones, smartphone giants took some big leaps. We expect the coming year to be even more exciting and niche, high-end concepts becoming mainstream thanks to next-generation hardware components.
Here’s a look at the 9 components to look out for in 2014:
Samsung Isocell camera sensor
With smartphones replacing point and shoot cameras and adding more professional camera features, expect the megapixel race to take a backseat and the focus shifting to image quality.
In line with the trend, mobile giant Samsung announced a new advanced pixel technology for CMOS image sensors, known as ISOCELL. Samsung claims that the new technology substantially increases light sensitivity and effectively controls the absorption of electrons (almost by 30%), resulting in higher colour fidelity even in poor lighting conditions. In essence, the technology will help in improving the image quality and enhance the user experience. We expect to see this new technology in the company’s next flagships, the Galaxy S5 and the successor to the Galaxy Note.
MediaTek Octa Core
The year 2013 saw Samsung introduce its Octa processor that boasts of eight cores. This year, it is likely that these will go mainstream. Chinese chip giant MediaTek announced what it claims to be the ‘true’ octa-core processor.
The adjective is to emphasize on the part that all the eight cores in the processor are active simultaneously unlike Samsung’s Exynos Octa where only four cores work at a given time.
Known for selling low-cost chips, MediaTek will help Indian handset brands sell relatively cheaper smartphones that boast of high-end specifications reach the next level as premium brands up their game in 2014.
Huawei 64-bit processor
After transforming PCs, 64-bit computing is set to invade the smartphone segment. Apple introduced its own 64-bit processor with the iPhone 5S and device makers aren’t willing to stay behind. Huawei announced an unnamed 64-bit chip featuring a quad-core Cortex A-57, and quad-core Cortex A-53 processor.
The two set of processors will work in tandem to tackle light and heavy usage, depending upon the tasks. While it will take some time for 64-bit compatible software and apps to go mainstream, we expect device makers to announce newer devices with 64-bit chips this year.
STMicroelectronics' 9-axis movement and position sensor
We’re so used to our smartphones change the screen orientation when we rotate them or while playing games and titling them around, that we tend to ignore the fact that these capabilities are powered by different sensors. You’ll be happy to know that tech companies are also working on improving these.
STMicroelectronics announced a new 9-axis movement and position sensor, comprising a 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis gyroscope and a 3-axis magnetometer. The sensor will help in enhancing smartphone features like gesture controls, indoor navigation, and improved augmented reality applications. The sensor is much more compact and uses less power. While there’s no official word, we expect flagship smartphones of 2014 to feature it.
LG Display's 2560 by 1440 pixel screen
Big screens featuring full HD resolution have almost become standard for flagship smartphones. The coming year is expected to witness the launch of more curved screen smartphones and displays with a much higher resolution.
LG has developed a 5.5-inch screen with a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels or Quad HD and 538ppi pixel density, with four times as many pixels as on 720p screens. by 1440 pixel resolution. Smartphone displays will offer sharper text and crisper images, thus enhancing the user experience by leaps and bounds.
Samsung's 8GB LPDDR4 Mobile DRAM
Samsung has been on the forefront when it comes to pumping up hardware specifications. The company’s Galaxy Note 3 smartphone comes with 3GB of RAM and going by recent announcements, we can expect the next flagship phone from its stable to get a boost.
Samsung’s semiconductor unit announced a new chip that allows device makers to develop phones with up to 4GB of RAM. With more RAM, smartphones will get faster, applications will be more responsive and multitasking would improve, besides better gaming. Samsung also claims that power consumption will be less. The chip is expected to ship this year.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
Qualcomm dominates when it comes to processors that power flagship smartphones and the chipmaker aims to continue the trend with the announcement of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805.
Based on the Krait 450 quad-core CPU, capable of achieving clock speeds of up to 2.5GHz per core, the chip also includes the new Adreno 420 GPU. The GPU, as per the company, has up to 40% more graphics processing power than its predecessor to allow smartphones to run 4K resolution content.
It is being rumored that some versions of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Sony Xperia Z2 will be powered by the Snapdragon 805.
Nvidia's Tegra K1
Known for its graphics hardware, Nvidia has been trying to get recognition in the smartphone and tablet chip segment with its Tegra line-up. The company recently announced the Tegra K1 processor with 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Nvidia’s emphasis is on gaming performance.
The company claims that the processors can outperform the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, with Nvidia’s new graphics chip based on the Kepler architecture. Devices powered by the 32-bit version of the processor (ARM Cortex A15) are expected in the first half of the year, while the 64-bit processor-powered devices are expected in the second half of 2014.
LG Flexible battery
For flexible phones, not only do you need flexible displays, other components also need to sport that attribute. With its flexible smartphone, LG also announced that its LG Chem unit was successful in making a curved battery. The curved battery can power smartphones and even other smart devices, including wearables. LG Chem has even patented a "stack and folding" technology, to enable its batteries to run a flexible phone.
Flexible smartphones are hard to break and can incorporate new and innovative features that make use of the curved display.