There are more smartphones on the market now than ever before, and the release of the latest iPhone only solidifies what everyone knows: we're obsessed with our phones. But while large companies improve their devices in increments, smaller brands have the ability to take risks and be truly innovative. Here's a look at some good ideas from smaller makers:
The Robin focuses on cloud storage.
The Robin utilizes the now-ubiquitous concept of cloud storage by syncing your information to a remote server instead of hardware within the phone. That eliminates the frustration of being on vacation and suddenly unable to take more pictures when you've run out of space on your phone. It also means that the likelihood of losing your data is lessened, as the Robin continuously saves it to the cloud. If your phone is away from a data signal and unable to sync, but you still need more storage, the phone will erase unnecessary programs to free up space. The programs are then easily reinstalled later. Cloud storage is a cheap solution to the problem of limited phone storage.
The NexPaq's modular case.
There's been a frenzy of activity around Project Ara, Google's modular smartphone, but the project keeps getting delayed, leaving other companies to take advantage of the modular craze. The first is Nexpaq, a modular case that adds technology to your existing smartphone and allows developers to innovate new components using the Nexpaq platform. This approach is smart: customers are not likely to abandon their iPhones any time soon, but they're certainly amenable to customizing them. The Nexpaq already has a breathalyzer, air quality analyzer, and extra storage, and many more modules are coming in the future.
The RePhone, the world's first open-source and modular phone.
The second approach is, of course, making the phone itself modular. The RePhone, by Seeed Studio, bills itself as the world's first open-source modular phone, but it's definitely for makers and not for consumers, which is not surprising given that Seeed Studios is a hardware innovation platform. The RePhone housing itself is made of kraft paper, so it's not meant to be especially durable, but it's a fun project. Where RePhone succeeds is making everything modular; anything can be swapped out, from the screen to the camera. It essentially kills the concept of obsolescence. It gives consumers real ownership of their devices, and that kind of freedom would be a welcome addition to the smartphone market.
The smartphone industry is saturated and competition is fierce. As the race becomes focused on faster processors and better cameras based on the same concepts, makers should be looking at ways to disrupt the market with truly innovative ideas and make consumers pay attention to something other than the latest iPhone.