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Presenting: The Future Phone 2011

What we really want in our phones – and what we’re actually going to get. Rajiv Makhni goes on to explain the essentials that should be there in an ideal phone for us. Read on.

india Updated: Nov 27, 2010 20:56 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times

The keynote speech had been awful, the panel debate on stage was mind-numbingly boring and I still had another two hours before I could escape from this brutal torture. That’s when this silver-haired gentleman leaned sideways and asked, “So, what do you think is the future of mobile phones?” That’s it! A brain-paralysing debate and now, a cerebral assault in the form of a question. This ‘future of mobiles’ is a favourite topic for all those who are about to buy a new phone. As I started to mechanically rattle off some of the features he could expect shortly, I was about to get the shock of my life. He interrupted me midway and said – you’re wrong!

And he was right. His opinion was that most of us embedded deep within the world of technology have two problems. We are a bit euphoric and jaded – all at the same time. We tend to accept future technology as a given and yet we exaggerate timelines and take it for granted that it will come. There are more concepts and future technology demos lying in cyber dustbins than any other garbage dump.


So, what should we REALLY expect from our mobile phones in the year 2011? Away from exaggeration, geek dreams and techie desires, the three big ones we all expect will change our lives in 2011. Or will they?


What we want is a flexible, foldable, bendable screen. That is the revolution we are all waiting for. Most of the information and entertainment we consume is all made for a large screen and yet carrying one around is impossible. Imagine a mobile phone that has a four-inch screen which, when unfolded, becomes a 14-incher. Imagine how size and form factor will change. The shape and looks of anything, absolutely anything, is dictated by the fact that the screen is a static, hard piece of glass or plastic. In the future we may carry cylinders, flat slivers or even triangles that unfold into a gorgeous big screen.

What we’ll get is nothing like the above. Foldable, flexible screens have been in concept and proto-type mode for the last seven years. Next year will be no different. What we will get are phones with projectors. Small, slightly dark images that we can project onto a wall. For phone projectors with bright 50 inch HD screens, which you can use as an HD videoconference system on a hotel wall – that’s 2012.


Our need is a no brainer and yet also the one thing languishing for years. If processor, chip and screen technologies had moved at the same pace as battery technology, we would still be lugging around a monster 1 kg phone with a 1-inch screen.

In 2011, we need battery life to be seven days without a charge and charging to be wireless and in pocket. If the mobile is the god of all devices then can the battery play its divine part?

What we’ll end up with in 2011 is further disappointment. With the fact that all the new OSes are now multi-tasking, screen sizes are getting bigger, processors are as powerful as those in computers, there is an average of six radios and eight antennas in each phone and we are online all the time, expect to lose battery life next year – not gain any!

Data Speed

Aah, yes, 2011 and 3G is here. Two mbps speeds on the move! Even better WiMax, TD-LTE, HSDPA and other alphabet soup wireless broadband technologies are all round the corner. We can download movies and songs and transfer them between devices in seconds. All our work will be on the cloud, instantly shared and retrievable. No longer are we going to be tethered to an office or a home. Broadband on the move is here!

Wake up. You’re not going to get anything like that for a long time. For 3G to hit true momentum will take another six months, connections will be spotty, speeds will be throttled down and too many shared users will make sure that at times it’ll crawl. You’ll get better speeds – but by the time you get into real hi-speed broadband on the move, it’s going to be 2012.

There are many other things that we all want from our phones, and we want them from the next phone we buy. We want to customise our phone features, load any OS onto any phone we buy, get a camera and video that rivals a standalone, have apps stores that fulfil all needs, get thinner yet more robust phones, and we want them to be our credit card and bank, we want them to be traceable anywhere in the world when lost; the list goes on and on. The terrific part is that it’s going to happen, as the mobile phone is the most lucrative market of them all. Money being invested, R&D, extreme competition and a worldwide audience will ensure that no technology can move faster than mobiles. The only thing – you’re going to have a birthday or two in between before we all hit that sweet spot.

(Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3).

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First Published: Nov 27, 2010 19:13 IST