War. What is it good for? Competition.
Smartphone companies have released their latest devices, all vying for a space in your pocket.
Smartphones bring together a plethora of engineering and design disciplines to create incredibly multifaceted devices that have no doubt changed the way humans interact with technology. And there seems to be no stopping the effect they have on consumers. We all want a new one, every year or two. And the competition usually sends engineers into all-out design frenzy to create new functionality they think will excite and buy-over the consumer.
Apple has released the specs of their latest smartphone, introducing a host of new engineered additions to the flagship device, the iPhone X. The phone has been released to coincide with the release of the first iPhone, exactly 10 years ago. The company also released an iPhone 7 successor, the iPhone 8, which has impressive augmented reality features.
Head of Apple, Tim Cook, said that the release of the $999 iPhone X would ‘set the path for technology for the next decade’. The phone boasts an extended battery life when compared to the iPhone 7. More interestingly, the phone utilizes a new phone unlocking method called ‘FaceID’. Meaning, its users can gain access to their phone, and confirm purchases using the smartphone’s facial recognition capabilities.
The company does this through specialized hardware built for a set of machine learning algorithms - it also works with their Truedepth camera system that can even see a face in the dark thanks to an infrared camera and dot projection technologies.
The Apple engineering teams worked tirelessly to protect FaceID from imposters, utilizing mathematical models that map the face of the phone owner. The company says that the odds of another human being unlocking your phone are 1 to 1,000,000.
One ‘feature’ that Apple announced had already been a feature of Samsung devices, but they are carrying it further – the new iPhone X is basically ‘all-screen’ from edge to edge, and from top to bottom.
Samsung, with their exploding Galaxy Note 7s in mind, came back swinging by bravely announcing a new line of Galaxy devices that were equipped with ‘Infinity Displays’. In retrospect, Samsung beat Apple to the punch with a larger screen surface.
The screens almost run the entire length of the phone, and they comb around the sides of the device - this was a main feature of their new Galaxy S8 and S8+ range.
But Samsung are venturing into even cooler territory. Reports suggest that, if all goes well, Samsung will launch a bendable smartphone in 2018. Bendable and wearable devices are the new in-thing for electronic and electrical engineering industries. Engineers have to adapt accordingly.
Samsung had already been alluding to eventual bendable devices in concept advertisements dating back to 2014. Other companies like Lenovo have also showed off concepts relating the future of the bendable device:
If the engineering limitations of bendable devices can be figured out in time they may be with us as soon as 2018, so says Koh Ding-jin, president of Samsung’s mobile business:
“As the head of the business, I can say our current goal is next year. When we can overcome some problems for sure, we will launch the product.”
The bendable smartphone may set an even greater precedent in the smartphone engineering industry and would be an even greater leap for technology than Apple’s iPhone X.
Further Chinese dominance and AI
Don’t discount the other Chinese heavyweights that have entered and set precedents in the game. Huawei has slowly risen to the top to become countries like Africa’s first choice when it comes to purchasing smartphones. They are the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, as of September 2017.
And they’re heavily investing into a Mobile AI that will allegedly dethrone Apple’s Siri. Apple’s machine-learning rhetoric with their iPhone X is paving the way for a much larger AI announcement, if recent reports are to be believed. Whoever engineers a functioning artificial intelligence, and port it into a smartphone, will win the smartphone game, predict analysts.
Google recently announced a partnership between them and Chinese company Xioami. They will enter 40 countries and then, along with Google, they will bring out an Android device that they hope will see consumer uptake.
The smartphone manufacturing game seems to bring together many engineering industries and pit them against each other to see who can design and develop the most desirable features for consumers. It is an exciting time for engineers with imagination and design capability.
“Design - 6.3’ Infinity Display | Samsung Galaxy Note8 – The Official Samsung Galaxy Site.” The Official Samsung Galaxy Site, www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/galaxy-note8/design/.
Lechman, Ashley. “Huawei Aiming for the Top Spot.” IOL Business Report, 2017, www.iol.co.za/business-report/huawei-aiming-for-the-top-spot-11017393.
McGoogan, Cara. “Apple Unveils IPhone 8 and £1,000 IPhone X with All-Screen Display and Wireless Charging .” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, Dec. 2017, www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/09/12/apple-iphone-8-iphone-x-launch-event-live-updates/.