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If you follow the smartphone market at all, you will have heard journalist complain: “Every smartphone looks alike. Where did the big product innovations disappear to?”.

If you follow the smartphone market at all, you will have heard journalist complain: “Every smartphone looks alike. Where did the big product innovations disappear to?”. The smartphone as we know it today has indeed become a grown-up product. A powerful jack-of-all-trades, always within reach. However, this does not mean that growth has stalled: monthly smartphone usage is still increasing. The largest growth can be seen in the elder age categories. All of us also do more and more mobile shopping. But not just mobile usage, also the technology behind smartphones is still evolving. Which trends can we expect in 2017?

1. The year of the USB-C cable.
At last, one cable for all our devices! USB-C will be omnipresent in 2017, with good reason. No more fiddling with cables to see how it fits. And one single cable which can be used both to transfer high wattages and to send audio and video. The high-end flagship smartphones of 2016, like the HTC 10 and Google Pixel, already have a USB-C port, but in 2017 we will likely see it appear on more basic devices as well. The disadvantage? It will take a while before all your other devices will be equipped with USB-C, so in the meanwhile you have to rely on adapters.

2. Charging, Bluetooth and surfing, as fast as possible
Good to go after only five hours of charging? This will become possible with the newest, fourth variant of Qualcomm Quick Charge. Downloading too will probably go faster. From the second half of 2017 onwards, the new LTE network technology will be able to take on speeds of up to 1 Gbps, which is almost twice as fast as today.
For ultrafast 5G-networks, we will have to exert patience for a few more years, even though Proximus is already experimenting with this. Bluetooth 5 will also arrive in 2017: twice as fast and a range that is four times as large, up to 400 meters! But expect these technologies in the high-end smartphones only.

3. More and more storage
We take more selfies and pictures and we shoot more videos than ever before. And preferably in high-resolution, of course. Have any of you tried to store fifteen minutes of 4K-video on their smartphone? That’s one hell of a file. Manufacturers like Seagate and SanDisk are experimenting with increasingly large flash memory, to process our data-explosion. This way, 1 TB SD-card prototypes have been presented, while the (theoretical) limit of several recent smartphones has been drawn at an enormous 2 TB capacity. And this sometimes even with budget models like the HTC Desire 628.

4. Even more smart-phone: augmented reality & artificial intelligence
Tango, one of Google’s new applications, puts a virtual layer on top of your screen. Augmented reality, in other words. Think of Pokemon Go, but with a lot more possibilities. This technology can determine its position and orientation within the physical space around you. But your smartphone is becoming even smarter than that. In 2017, machine learning renders the interaction with your device even more simple, and better. It learns how you use your smartphone and adapts itself to this. Applications which are already possible online (like recognizing images and sounds) will also become available offline. And this is only the beginning: in the long run, AI offers many more possibilities.

5. Virtual expansion
Whether we’re talking about a high-end smartphones like the high-performing HTC Vive or a mid-range device like Google Daydream, in 2017 virtual reality will continue to enter the Belgian living rooms. Smartphone processors and their graphical power will gain in strength. As a result, VR will be accessible to a much larger range of devices. We are, by the way, very curious as to how manufacturers and software developers will further develop the entire VR-ecosystem. Prepare yourself for a whole load of new products and concepts.

Which trend are you looking forward to?

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