The smartphone trends to watch out for at Mobile World Congress

A visitor walks past a board of the 2013 Mobile World congress on the second day of the congress in Barcelona on February 25, 2013. How will the event determine the features on your next smartphone? — AFP pic
A visitor walks past a board of the 2013 Mobile World congress on the second day of the congress in Barcelona on February 25, 2013. How will the event determine the features on your next smartphone? — AFP pic

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 17 — From smaller handsets with bigger screens to a greater focus on security, the world’s biggest single gathering of handset, mobile services and telecommunications companies, which kicks off in Barcelona on February 24, will cement the feature, specification and design trends for Android smartphones and phablets at least for the next 12 months.

Focus on fingerprints

Biometric identification is going to be one of the buzz phrases of this year’s event. Expect a host of new devices that use a secondary measure, such as voice print, iris or fingerprint scans for unlocking handsets or validating online purchases.

Apple got the ball rolling with the inclusion of its Touch ID fingerprint scanning feature on the latest iPhone, and Samsung is widely tipped to follow suit. The world’s leading Android phone maker will be unveiling its latest flagship device — the Galaxy SV — at the event and it is almost certainly going to have a fingerprint scanner as one of its key features.

LG has also confirmed that it is testing fingerprint recognition technology for integration in its next premium phone, however, it won’t be launched until this autumn. Likewise, HTC integrated a fingerprint sensor on the rear panel of its recently launched One Max phablet and any new phones it shows at the event are expected to boast enhanced security features too.

Biometric identification is set to become a huge selling point for all electronic devices. The fact is that the typical online consumer now has far too many password obligations to stay safe for much longer. Fingerprint or voice scanning offers a harder to hack, unnecessary to remember alternative to strings of random letters and numbers.

Screens will get bigger...

Last year, Sony made headlines when it unveiled a handset with a 5-inch full HD display. It was the first phonemaker to do so, but 24 hours later it had been joined by three other companies who had also unveiled similar products. Screen size is expected to be nudged up yet again this year to 5.2-inches to 5.5-inches and resolution will pass the HD mark and go beyond high definition.

...but phones will get smaller

However, in years past, phones with bigger screens were physically bigger too. This year will see new handsets that are actually the same size or smaller than the flagship devices they are replacing.

This is because companies are working on reducing or even losing the bezel -- the border around the screen. That is also why a number of phones will be shedding their physical buttons for on-screen buttons to free up even more space for housing the display.

4K and Pro shooting

Samsung and LG have already unveiled phablets capable of filming video in UHD resolution, and this trend is expected to hit its stride at MWC. In particular, Sony has already said that 2014 is the year that it will be focusing on turning consumers into 4K content creators.

But resolution is just the start, a host of better photography and video features for filtering, editing and creating are expected to make their debut at the event and in doing so will knock the final nails in the coffin of the standalone digital camera.

Watch this space

Wearable technology devices and in particular smartwatches will be big at this year’s event. Samsung has already confirmed that it is launching a new smartwatch, and a host of other similarly wearable devices are expected to make their debuts in Barcelona. According to the latest forecasts from Canalys, smartwatch shipments are expected to hit 45 million annually by 2017 and companies are lining up to join the market. — AFP-Relaxenws

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