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Best of 2017: Smartphone technologies that have crossed their prime

Every year, technology improves. And as a result, every year, old, antiquated technology must be replaced. We’ve made a list of the tech that’s on its way out this year.

best of 2017 mobile tower

Technology innovation has progressed so rapidly that products that are four or five years old are now obsolete. This is the reality of consumer technology – the old gives in to the new. Here’s a list of technologies and features in gadgets that are on their way out.

To be precise, not all technologies mentioned here are obsolete. This list just highlights a growing trend, when these technologies or features have just begun their descent from critical mass of adoption. If things continue the way they are currently going, they could very well be redundant around the same time next year. Newer technologies have already proven to be superior to these, and it’s only a matter of time before they’re widely adopted at the expense of the tech we’ve spoken about below.

The Micro-USB Port

Micro-USB has for long been the standard of choice on Android smartphones and other portable storage devices, thanks to its ability to allow both data transfers and power for charging. However, its greatest weakness is design, which is non-intuitive to say the least. With a non-symmetrical design, micro-USB must be plugged in the correct way, which can be frustrating for users who need to check the direction first. In contrast, the newer USB Type-C taking its place is capable of faster transfer and charging speeds.

With smartphones increasingly opting for the newer USB Type-C, the micro-USB standard is losing its importance. While budget Android smartphones still tend to go with micro-USB, mid-range and high-end devices are almost entirely on the newer standard. 2018 may see even the budget range make the switch, and it’s only a matter of time before the micro-USB port disappears from smartphones altogether.

IPS-LCD screens

By no means is the IPS panel as short-lived as micro-USB. Plenty of smartphones continue to use this display technology. However, flagship devices have for the last couple of years increasingly adopted the superior OLED technology for its better power consumption, improved contrast and black levels, and punchier colors. With Samsung and LG pioneering OLED screen tech and Sony joining in this year, more and more flagship devices, including the Apple iPhone X, are adopting the technology. Many affordable devices also now sport the technology.

However, plenty of manufacturers continue to favor IPS-LCD technology for its lower cost, higher peak brightness, ease of manufacturing and readily available supply. Although IPS-LCD screen may still be around even at the end of 2018, manufacturers seem to favor OLEDs.

16:9 aspect ratio on smartphones

Indeed, the biggest trend of the year has been the wide-screen aspect ratio on smartphones, usually 18:9. And in some cases such as Samsung, this could go up to 18.5:9. The Apple iPhone X has an aspect ration of 19.5:9. With many key flagship smartphones including the OnePlus 5T, Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 and LG V30+ using the wider aspect ratio, flagship devices have already started making the switch. This month, we also saw the most affordable device to sport an 18:9 screen, the Rs 6,999 InFocus Vision 3.

Many upcoming smartphones, including the much-anticipated Xiaomi Redmi Note 5, are expected to make the switch to the wider aspect ratio. As a result, the long-used 16:9 aspect ratio is also on its way out. While there will continue to be smartphones that sport the ordinary aspect ratio, the general trend means that by the end of 2018, we’re likely to see far more phones sporting 18:9 or higher aspect ratios than the 16:9 standard.

2G/EDGE Data Connectivity

Back in the days of the Blackberry and other semi-smart phones, EDGE connectivity was everything. The first step towards being able to connect to the internet on your mobile phone, EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) or GPRS made it possible to do more on your phone than just place calls or send SMS messages. EDGE helped connect to various services and mobile websites in the early days, including BBM and WhatsApp. While we do still occasionally see our smartphones latch onto 2G networks, the ‘E’ is today a dreaded symbol, indicative of connectivity that will either be too slow or not work at all.

With the rapid spread of 4G and the incredible growth of Reliance Jio, LTE (Long Term Evolution) connectivity is already available in large portions of the country, including areas that till a couple of years ago had either 2G or no connectivity at all. Reliance Jio’s onslaught on the market has also led existing operators such as Airtel, Vodafone and Idea to upgrade their networks, and most areas now have 3G connectivity at the very least, if not LTE. From once being a happy sign of connectivity, EDGE is now well on its way to extinction.

  • Published Date: December 20, 2017 3:37 PM IST