2014 smartphones: Where is the innovation?

2014 smartphones: Where is the innovation?

In case you missed out on the new smartphone announcements from big name phone makers last month, be rest assured that you're not missing out on anything big.

From Sony releasing the Xperia Z2 in just six short months after the Z1, to Samsung's lack of innovation with its fifth Galaxy S, to Nokia being late in the Android bandwagon, this year's Mobile World Congress 2014 (MWC 2014) in Barcelona was a letdown.

Sure, we get the usual incremental upgrades that would benefit users, but faster processors, bigger displays and better cameras aren't really anything to be too excited about. Especially since 2012, we have reached the point where smartphones are already good enough.

It seems these days all I'm hearing from new smartphone announcements are new processors that clock in at blazing speeds, bigger screens with higher resolution and camera improvements that take better image quality than preceding models.

But we've heard these countless times before in smartphone sales pitches and advertisements, and I assume that it's going to be repeated again in future updates.

How much more processing power do we need on our smartphone? Most iPhone 5s users do not actually take full advantage of the 64-bit architecture processor, especially when more time is spent chatting on Whatsapp groups and checking out Instagram feeds.

How much sharper should the texts, images and video displayed on our tiny screens need to be? A 720p smartphone display is more than enough to deliver the high definition (HD) experience on our mobile device, and you'd barely notice any significant gains beyond 1080p resolution.

And how badly do we want better quality images when our current phone cameras can already take decent shots? Check out your Instagram feeds and you'll notice how every photo you see are pretty decent shots, and they're all taken from your friends' phones.

Also, do we really need 4k video? Unless you've spent an arm and a leg on a 4K television this year, you won't have the means to enjoy watching your home videos in that resolution.

I'm not against these incremental upgrades; they're necessary to differentiate new smartphones from past models. But incremental upgrades alone just won't cut it.

It's time for something new. But let's put aside smartwatches and other kinds of wearable tech, because those are in a whole different category. There is still room for innovation in the smartphone.

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