The last couple of months haven seen the launch of a clutch of new smartphones — and also new chipsets that aim to make the next generation of smartphones more powerful and simpler to recharge.
Competition between chip makers is increasing, with companies spurring each other to improve smartphone performance. Here are some of the components and technologies that will help make it happen:
Qualcomm's next-generation processors
The Snapdragon 820 will be the first processor to use Qualcomm's homegrown ARM-based Kryo architecture — and also the first to use the company's new Zeroth platform for adding machine learning capabilities. The company plans to make samples available to phone manufacturers in the second half of the year. Qualcomm will need to have the chips ready for mass production in the first half of 2016 to catch the next wave of high-end smartphone launches, or manufacturers may look elsewhere — as Samsung Electronics did this year, choosing to use one of its own Exynos processors for its Galaxy S6.
In February, the company also launched four new processors for mid-range smartphones, including the Snapdragon 620. This eight-core processor integrates LTE-Advanced and has enough power to shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second. The first devices containing it will go on sale during the second half of the year.
All this doesn't change the fact Qualcomm will still face stiff competition from companies such as MediaTek and Intel, which despite all its struggles in the mobile space doesn't seem ready to give up anytime soon. Also, if the Samsung's Galaxy S6 and S6 edge become big successes it might embolden the company to use its own Exynos processors in more products.
LG's Neo Edge screen technology
Smartphone vendors try to tempt us to upgrade with screen improvements. Typically, they target screen size and resolution, but these have reached a plateau, especially on high-end products, so display makers are turning their attention to other areas, including the size of the bezel.
At the end of last year LG Display said it had developed a 5.3-inch full HD panel for smartphones with the world's narrowest bezel at 0.7 millimeters — less than the thickness of a credit card. The development has been possible thanks to a technology LG calls Neo Edge, which uses an adhesive instead of double-sided tape to attach and completely seal the edges of the panel's circuit board and backlight unit.
Hopefully, the company will be able marry the technology higher resolution screens, as well. On screen sizes around 5.5 inches just a couple of millimeters can do a lot to improve handling. Even if it can't, the 5.3-inch screen could if combined with the Snapdragon 620 processor and Samsung's new 128GB storage module (see below) form the basis of a really competitive mid-range smartphone.
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