I remember when I first saw a smartphone. The year was 2006, and I was a relatively normal elementary school kid who had just entered 6th grade. One of my classmates was bragging about her flashy new status symbol— a BlackBerry Pearl. She was talking about how she could access this website called ‘MySpace’ and how this phone could hold about two hundred (compressed) songs.
“God Christ! Two hundred songs on a phone? Unbelievable!” I thought. At this point in my life, I was still using CD players and I owned maybe four or five CDs. This idea of having hundreds of songs at my fingertips was beyond me— let alone also being able to access the Internet in the palm of my hand.
Fast forward ten years and such a thing barely barely warrants a “meh” from me. Two hundred songs? I have over a hundred playlists, and each one averages roughly double that. But that’s a sign of the times, isn’t it? The phone I have dates from 2013, so it’s still outdated, but it’s also an order of magnitude greater than that spoiled 6th grader’s “unbelievable” phone.
But it’s still a cheap phone, all things considering. Compared to the 6th grader’s, whose parents spent a pretty penny on it, I barely gave a crap when choosing this one out. It gets things done, so I don’t care too much. However, in the future, I plan to dig into my wallet to pay for quality.
What’s my ideal smartphone?
I want something that holds 512 GB of storage and has 4 GB of RAM. The iPhone 7s Plus sounds like it’ll come very close to my ideal, so that’s why I will probably buy one. However, I might also hold out until the iPhone 8s Plus. When that happens, I’ll keep it close for roughly 7 more iPhone iterations, until about 2026.
What do I expect there to be in 2026?
Let me start by saying I expect my current ‘high end’ to be the standard. If that, of course. It would be better if there were phones that could hold upwards of 3 TB and have 32 GB of RAM.
In fact, by 2026, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if phones could hold 64 to 128 TB. What’s the use of all this space? We always ask that question.
In 2026, it’ll be common for phones to do several things
- Holographic displays. iPhone 7 is allegedly going to achieve this this year. So holograms? A given for 2026 phones.
- Virtual reality. Again, there are already VR-capable phones on the market (Gear VR), but if we want phones that can withstand the power of higher-end VR systems (like the Rift or Vive), we’re going to need exponentially more powerful hardware.
- Cyberkinesis. Phones of the 2020s will be expected to have the ability to utilize texting via thinking software. I can only imagine the hardware necessary. Cyberkinesis will be highly important for several other features to work, I tell you.
- Virtual assistants. Artificial intelligences that help you out with your every day life. This, I bet will be largely left to the Cloud, except for a few programs. The AI VAs of 2026 will seem like actual AI, rather than the glorified chat bot answering machines that are today’s VAs, and will be capable of holding whole conversations and having personalities. Think of all the basic apps you currently have, such as reminders, news, weather, calendars, etc. AI VAs will replace all of them.
- Augmented reality. I largely doubt phones of the future will resemble the phones of today— much like the phones of today largely don’t resemble the phones of decades past. Phones will most likely transition into being terminals for augmented/hybrid reality glasses and contact lenses, rather than the multimedia machines they are today. This is actually more likely for the lenses than glasses, as some of today’s glasses (like the HoloLens) are entirely self-powered. AR glasses and lenses will benefit greatly from cyberkinesis technology.
- 5G and 6G capabilities. 5G is set to begin around 2020, and has already been teased in several East Asian cities. The same will be true in 2026, except one generation ahead. Standard phones will be based upon the 4G network (the “slow” option), while higher end phones will casually access 5G networks, and the highest end in the most futuristic cities will play with 6G features.
These are just some of the things I expect. Mainly the bigger things, of course. 6G phones will be the shiny new toys, and I can’t even begin to imagine what they’ll be like. I strongly doubt they’ll resemble phones as we know them to be. 6G networks, however, will be mandatory for the worlds of data we’ll be sending each other.