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    • Smartphones have evolved tremendously over the past 10 years, and along the way new features which were once considered revolutionary have now become commonplace. In 2020 you can get a mid-range smartphone with features that were once considered "flagship" features just a few years ago. Having said that, let's take a look at some of my favourite smartphone innovations.

      Stereo speakers

      Stereo speakers are quite common nowadays, but there was a time when people had to rely on lifehacks to get better audio quality from their phones. HTC was probably the first to introduce not only stereo speakers, but front-facing stereo speakers on smartphones and it was amazing. Eventually the rest of the industry caught on and started doing the same. HTC may be struggling to survive in 2020, but the next time you're enjoying stereo sound on your smartphone, just remember that you probably have HTC to thank for that.

      Ultra-wide cameras

      Another example of a smartphone maker struggling today is LG. Though the company seems to be making some very interesting and well-reviewed phones as of late, a combination of poor global availability and lacklustre marketing seem to be hurting sales. LG has been known as one of the more innovative smartphone manufacturers over the years, even though sometimes these innovations don't always work out. One that has though is ultra-wide cameras. What was once considered a gimmick is now an indispensable part of every modern smartphone, so much so that it's omission leads to some intense criticism. I myself have enjoyed having an ultra-wide lens on my smartphone, and I thank LG for bringing this feature to the market.

      High refresh rate displays

      What was once considered a "gaming feature" has now been brought to the mainstream by companies like Samsung and OnePlus. High refresh rate displays make sense considering how much scrolling we do on our smartphones, browsing through social media or reading an article for example. The fluidity of a high refresh rate display is really pleasing on the eyes, and though it's not that widespread yet, I think this will be more common over the next year or so. We've already peaked when it comes to display resolution, so it makes sense that higher refresh rates is the next step in the evolution of smartphone displays.

      Fast charging

      There's been a long on-going discussion surrounding the methods of charging your smartphone. Is wired or wireless charging preferable? Wired charging nowadays is extremely fast while wireless charging still offers that convenient freedom of not needing to fiddle with wires, and though many phones offer both I'm much more thankful for fast charging. Time is precious and you can save a lot of time with a fast charging smartphone. Plugging in my phone isn't a hassle, and I'd gladly "put up with it" once a day if it means I can fully charge my phone in about 30-40 mins.

      Biometric security

      Remember the old days when you needed to key in a pin code or swipe a specific pattern to unlock your phone? I'm glad those days are behind us. Now you can unlock your phone with either your face or your fingerprint which is much easier. Biometric security can even be used to authenticate payments on your smartphone, which is an added bonus too. Considering how many times we unlock our smartphones a day, having such seamless and convenient methods to unlock them really is one of the most important innovations we've seen. Some people argue over which is better, facial recognition or fingerprint sensors, but I enjoy having both.

      Folding displays

      Lastly, possibly the biggest innovation yet to come to our smartphones, folding displays. This innovation is so new that only a few manufacturers have attempted it and it is still considered a niche feature. This feature is so new that many people are still debating if it'll actually become the future of smartphones or yet another experiment that will fail to gain traction. If you ask me, folding displays will be our future. Just think how much more useful smartphones will be if they could open up into a tablet-sized device? Or how much more convenient it'll be to store smartphones if they could be folded in half? Both of these options are possible now in 2020, and despite the expected teething issues, the future of the technology does look promising. Samsung took a gamble with the original Galaxy Note when everyone said it was "too big". Now all our phones are "big" and we can't imagine going back to 3.5" displays. I think folding phones could be the next "Galaxy Note", and I for one am excited for this next step in smartphone innovation.

      Those are my favourite smartphone innovations. There are many others that I didn't mention, like water resistance, the shift to USB-C ports, wireless charging, digital assistants, modular phones, and unique input methods like Apple's 3D Touch or Google's (and HTC's) Active Edge, but maybe those would make your list?

    • Re wide-angle lens: I have an iPhone 10 and decided unwisely to skip a gen because really, the 11’s most prominent feature is the wide-angle additional lens. I choose poorly and have cursed myself ever since. I need Apple to hurry with the 12, dammit!

      Re biometric security: for me, this is my biggest frustration with iPhone 10. They removed fingerprint security. I wear various glasses and hats and bicycle helmets and motorcycle helmets and now face masks and facial recognition HARDLY EVER WORKS. 🤬

      Re USB C: I wish my phone had it like my cameras and Apple laptop so I didn’t have to remember an additional cable everywhere I go. Okay, poor baby, I know. 🙂

      Yeah, folding display would be nice — like the satisfying flip of the old Motorola Razor. ❤️

    • Don't care for a fancy in-phone camera or speakers or high refresh rate. GPS + maps is probably the most valuable feature besides phone itself and a book reader. As long as the screen has enough brightness and resolution for me to read the news or an ebook, I am fine.

    • It will be interesting to see where the be "all things to all people" trend will take the smartphones. I like to concept of motomods on my Motorola Z3 I currently carry. The extra battery motomod lets me relax without worrying I'll ever run out in two days usage without a charger in sight. The projector is quite nice, to occasionally sit outside under the stars at night projecting it on a white bed sheet, admittedly rarely used but still cool.

      I'd like for them to have an HD Radio built in, like Zune used to have. And a pair of display wearable glasses. But I rarely use it to speak with anyone, I know, crazy. 🆘

    • You're not missing much with the wide angle lens on the iPhone 11. The image quality is quite bad, much lower quality compared to the main camera. The wide angle is barely usable in low light, I only use it once in a blue moon.

    • I didn’t know that. I googled quality for the iPhone wide and sure enough, the third party wide lens attachments do better. Thanks for the info; I’m gonna get one.

    • I had a Moto Z Play but I never really messed around with the Moto Mods. The controller sounded cool but by the time it came out it was years later IIRC, and there was the issue of cases with the other mods. The same thing happened with my Droid 4 which I loved as a phone and the concept of using it docked with a laptop-like device to use as a netbook since I had those for a long time but cost and time got in the way of that too.

      As for hardware features the biggest one I use would be the selfie cam. I don't use it much but when you want need it it's a lot easier than those mirror shots from back in the day.

      Fast charging has been amazing as well.

      Otherwise it's mostly software productivity improvements and the huge reduction in lag that have been big for my day to day use.

    • Speaking of fast charging, cases that charge your phone are super cool. Just slide it on and your phone charges while you are on the go. Those cases have made my life so much easier!