Smartphones: technologies, features, design… What 2023 has in store for us

The article was updated on January 3, 2023 with our file dedicated to the iPhone 15 and its variations.

Fifteen years after the release of the first iPhone, manufacturers are marking time in the race for innovation. But, while 2023 will not be the beginning of a new era for smartphones, we can expect some features that will raise the bar for the supercomputers we have in our pockets.

Some of next year’s developments are long overdue, like the iPhone potentially switching to USB-C (partly because European regulators are forcing Apple to do so). Other models are expected to emphasize artificial intelligence to improve photography, better Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, and brighter screens.

That’s a little more exciting than the little innovations we have this year.

Sure, Apple introduced the Dynamic Island notch and a new satellite SOS feature for the iPhone 14. Samsung brought the S-Pen stylus to the Galaxy S22 Ultra. And the Nothing Phone 1 brought a breath of fresh air with its original illuminated signage. But apart from that, this year is not very rich in really interesting novelties.

The only major thing that has changed this year, I think, is the upgrades to the folding terminals
said Nabila Popal, director of research at IDC. He reckons most phones have seen only marginal improvements. A finding that contrasts sharply with the words of TM Roh, President of Samsung, according to whom the S22 series offers ” exceptional photo capabilities ”, and that of Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, who called the iPhone 14 range “ best iPhones we’ve ever made “.

Ultimately, the promise of a truly innovative smartphone may rest on technology that won’t be available for several years. One of the best examples came this year, when LG announced a flexible display. Motorola also showed off a prototype with a rollable display. It opens up great prospects for the future. But in the meantime, here’s what we can expect for smartphones in 2023.

Foldable smartphones are gaining momentum but remain elitist

This year’s Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 are updates from their predecessors. No price drop was seen, but they did benefit from S Pen functionality, better software usability, and improved hinges. We can expect the same next year with marginal updates but at a price level that will remain high.

According to Nabila Popal, this may be suitable for customers who buy the most expensive phones. Although they still represent only a small fraction of the 1.24 billion phones sold in 2022, foldable smartphones have seen sales double from last year, reaching 16 million units in 2022, and the number that it should continue to rise. Since the cheapest foldable phones, like the Samsung Z Flip 4, cost the same as an iPhone 14 Pro, it’s no surprise that high-end phone buyers are starting to turn to these alternatives.

A larger number of buyers are likely to be tempted if a manufacturer launches a more affordable model. We have no information on this matter but we know that the next Motorola Razr may have a lower price than its predecessors.

“Classic” smartphones in 2023

Apple will be forced to replace its Lightning ports with USB-C in 2024, and will do so next year with the iPhone 15. According to
Bloombergthe more expensive Pro Max model is expected to have more features and will be renamed the iPhone Ultra to distinguish it from its larger screen, and cheaper iPhone Plus counterpart.

Android smartphones will continue to improve slowly. According to
Universe of iceSamsung may switch to a 200 megapixel photo sensor in its next Galaxy S23 Ultra.

And while there aren’t many rumors about the Pixel 8 series yet, we can expect Google to find new ways to use its Tensor chips.

These improvements may seem minimal compared to last year’s models, but it should be noted that most consumers do not renew their smartphone every year but rather every two to three years. Because, when they buy a new mobile, the developments seem more meaningful to them.

Smartphones beyond 2023

Real technological evolutions for smartphones are probably a few years away. Until then, the next high-end Snapdragon chips are expected to improve privacy by hiding notifications when others are looking at your screen. Artificial Intelligence will continue to add filters and effects to all our photos and video chats. Google and Apple will further build augmented reality features into their respective navigation apps while making phones the centerpieces for tap purchases and remote unlocking of cars and smart homes.

Other foldable terminals will also see the light of day. Samsung has shown many designs at the Consumer Electronics Show over the years, some with triple screens and others with transparent panels. The 2023 edition of CES should be an opportunity to discover other concepts.

The future of phones may also depend on what they connect to: watches and smart homes, of course, but also augmented reality glasses. According to some rumors, a pair of Apple Glass may arrive in 2023. See you next year for new adventures on the planet Tech! article adapted by CNETFrance

Photo: Andrew Lanxon/CNET

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