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5 areas where smartphones need improvement

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smartphone? battery life? iPhone? iOS? Android?

Smartphones have shown many improvements in the past year, but there are still a lot of capacities where they can improve onbattery life for one. Here are other areas where smartphones must do better this year.

1. Better battery life

Given how much we rely on smartphones to run our daily lives, every little bit of battery life helps. Unfortunately, improvements in battery life trail badly the overall technological leaps made by phone makers. While energy researchers toil away, it would behoove chip and screen makers to push power efficiency in their products over raw performance. (By the way, tablet makers, why don't we raise the bar here, too? I say 10in tablets need to deliver 12not 10hours of battery life.)

2. Paying for stuff

Apple Pay appears to have invigorated mobile payments since its October debut. iPhone users have adopted the technology quickly and raised the visibility of mobile payments for other consumers. Competing products Google Wallet and Softcard both reported surges in use after Apple Pay's debut. This is great news, but the industry needs to do better.

All three of these mobile payment services need to expand far beyond their current reach. Apple Pay, for example, is available at just 220,000 U.S. retail locations, leaving millions unable to process mobile payments. Retailers and banks need to step up. It wouldn't hurt to make sure this feature is available to all (or at least most of) postpaid smartphone accounts.

3. More resilience

Most phones break when dropped. Typically, the screen shatters on impact, resulting in a costly repair or replacement. Companies such as Corning are working on this. In fact, Corning recently showed off a new version of its Gorilla Glass product that is much less prone to breakage when dropped on concrete from waist height. I can't wait to see this technology reach phones.

5 areas the smartphones must improve on

It would be nice if more phones were waterproof, too. Sony (Xperia Z3) and Samsung (Galaxy S5) figured out how to make their phones waterproof without adding bulk and without compromising the design. Apple, LG, HTC and others need to add this feature pronto. Imagine a world in which your phone could survive a drop into a puddle on the street. That's the future, folks.

4. Better security

The latest versions of Google Android and Apple iOS offer built-in encryption. They also offer PINs, passwords, face locks, fingerprint locks and remote lock and wipe tools. These are all great, but phone makers and operating system providers need to go further, especially for business users. More need to follow in the footsteps of Blackphone, which offers end-to-end security for core communications apps, such as email and messaging.

5. Affordability

Smartphones are too expensive. The full retail price of many smartphones is $650 or more. A maxed out iPhone 6 Plus goes for nearly $1,000. Some smartphone vendors have figured out how to make quality products at somewhat lower price points (see Motorola). Although phone makers need to pay attention to their margins, surely they can conjure up high-end phones that don't break the bank for consumers and businesses alike. With any luck, 2015 will see 2014's best features trickle down from costly flagships to more affordable phones.

What would you like to see in 2015 smartphones? Weigh in with a comment.

- Eric Zeman
??Information Week

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