Smartphone life in 2011: The mobile year ahead
T3 looks at tomorrow's mobile tech today, with help from Qualcomm's Andrew Gilbert
Andrew Gilbert is executive VP and President of Qualcomm Europe. As such he’s playing a bigger part than most in driving the technology that makes our smartphones so smart. Here he gives us an insight into what your next smartphone will be like…
Mirasol display tech
Andrew Gilbert: People don’t want to talk on their phones anymore; they want to poke them, prod them, look at them. Doing that all the time is going to drain the power, so we at Qualcomm have invested in this new technology called Mirasol. It’s a reflective technology that uses reflected ambient light or sun light to brighten your phone’s screen, so drains around a tenth of the power of current screens.
I don’t care how bright the LCD screen on your phone is, it’s never going to compete with the sun, but Mirasol Display Tech – like a butterfly’s wings – produces vibrant colours in direct sunlight. It’s going to revolutionise your phone’s battery life because, if you’ve got a static screen on, it uses zero power.
T3 says: The elephant in the room with smartphones is that battery life just isn’t good enough. Anything that addresses that is A Good Thing. The Mirasol demo units we’ve seen thus far haven’t been as crisp or bright as LCD or AMOLED displays but for increasing longevity they can’t be beat. On business focused handsets where visual quality is less essential, they could be a godsend.
Andrew Gilbert: AR today knows where you are but it can’t yet handle exact image recognition. The new system that we’re developing will offer photo recognition and accurately map augmented reality to that image. It could help you overcome the language barrier in Japan – just hold your phone up to a street sign and it’ll place an English translation directly over the top. It needs a high level of image precision. A slightly incorrect image could result in an incorrect translation.
We’ve bought an Austrian company that’s the world leader in AR and have released the software development kit to developers.
T3 says: When T3 went to Qualcomm’s IQ 2010 event we saw one application that would allow users to fling photos wirelessly onto digital photo frames by matching them up on the camera’s screen. It’s inspiring, futuristic stuff, but the AR image mapping required will require a lot of processing power. See the boxout, right, for more on that.
Andrew Gilbert: I always have a few mobile phones I carry around with me, but at the moment I’m using an HTC Desire. I think it’s a really great device and I’m having difficulty finding fault with it.
T3 says: It's the T3 Gadget Awards 2010 phone of the year – good call, Andrew…
Smartphone features to look out for in 2011
Samsung dual core mobile processors
Samsung’s earmarked the first half of 2011 to release its first dual-core mobile. It will comprise twin 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 chips, allowing for smoother multitasking, increased speeds and better gaming and video, with one core handling processing and the other HD graphics. Nvidia’s Tegra 2 dual-core chips are also on the way, with similarly powerful specs. CES saw the introduction of two dual-core smartphones, the Motorola Atrix and the LG Optimus 2X.
Sharp 3D mobile screens
Sharp is the company behind the Nintendo 3DS’s specs-free 3D display, and it’s also leading the 3D charge on mobile phones, with its Galapagos 003SH and 005SH Android phones set for an imminent Japanese release. The displays’ 3D effect works by switching light between your left and right eye using an energised layer called a parallax barrier. As such, it only works when viewed front on from around 30cm away.
Panasonic Lumix camera tech
Keen to bring proper camera tech to mobiles, Panasonic’s gifted its still under-wraps mobile a proper optical zoom, Xenon flash and a 13.2-megapixel sensor. Also incoming is LG’s L-03C. This is more like a 3G phone strapped to the back of a traditional compact camera, with a 12-meg sensor and high quality Pentax lens. Both are likely to be available in Japan only for the foreseeable future.
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LTE 4G connectivity
Our networks are currently upgrading their services to be able to cope with LTE – Long Term Evolution – which is the UK’s chosen form of 4G connectivity. LTE makes possible mobile broadband speeds of up to 150Mbps. O2 teamed up with Chinese experts Huawei to become the first company to test 4G connectivity – in Slough of all places – and Vodafone’s 4G plans are also known to be well under way.
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