Its not often we're given a peek into the future with any reliability. Recently PhoneScoop interviewed Sprint regarding how they (Sprint) select and deploy new equipment. One of the most intriguing items in the article was Sprint's "Key Focal Areas For Roadmap Selection" chart. It is reproduced below.
You will note that the grid shows a short timeline of approximately 24 months (across the top) and, down the left margin, what we can expect to see for 1) Displays, 2) OS, 3) Cameras, and 4) Processors.
I am very impressed with the "Displays" section. Although we have yet to see it, supposedly Sprint is preparing to deploy one or more devices with color e-ink screens. In case you are not aware of the technology, e-ink was made popular in e-readers. The benefit of this technology is that it can be read in direct sunlight. (Perhaps you remember this commercial.) As a sample of one vendor's progress, watch this YouTube video on Fujitsu's latest technology in this field. Another benefit of this technology is that batteries can last up to a month before recharging. How does that compare with the smartphone you're now using?
The next major item in Sprint's timeline is Flexible Display technology. While their chart shows a scroll-like sheet coming out of pen-like tube, there are other ways of doing flexible displays.
The last mentioned was Tactile Screen. This is not something I'd heard about before seeing Sprint's chart. Here is one video demonstrating the technology. It is really exciting in that it could replace physical keyboards on phones and still give users that tactile feedback they want.
Regarding the rest of the progressions, I really wasn't that excited. You'd pretty much expect those things to take place. I have just two observations that may be notable: 1) Regarding OS, did you notice "Tizen"? It is an OS written completely in HTML5. Will that make customization even easier? Time will tell. 2) Regarding camera technology for phones. The chart shows that by the end of 2013 or possibly beginning of 2014 we will see 16 megapixel cameras. While some may drool over the idea, anyone who knows the technology will tell you that it is not necessarily a good thing. Instead of just introducing higher resolution images, it also introduces greater noise in the image. What would be more exciting is to see larger sensor chips, bubble lenses, and other advances that receive no attention from phone manufacturers.
Other news regarding e-ink manuafacturers
Mirasol (This last one is not e-ink. It is yet another new technology.)