Smartphones 2012: 10 Essential Features Most Models Will Have

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2012-05-07

Smartphones 2012: 10 Essential Features Most Models Will Have

The smartphone market is heating up in a big way, now that summer is on its way and every company, from Samsung to Motorola, is trying to attract consumers before Apple announces its new iPhone 5. Which models will prove popular with consumers, however, is unknown at this point other than the one with the Apple logo on it. But chances are that consumers won't be able to tell too much difference between the many handsets that are expected to launch.

Unfortunately, the mobile market is becoming commoditized very rapidly. Nearly everywhere one turns, they'll find devices from different vendors that come with the same features.

One might say that it's the vendors responding to the market's demands, while others might claim that it's cheaper to follow the crowd. In either case, every major vendor€”even Apple€”will offer smartphones this year that will have a tough time breaking new ground.

Read on to find out what key features are sure to be common in this year's smartphone models.

1. 4G LTE

It's no secret that 4G LTE is the future of mobile connectivity, but this year, vendors are ensuring that customers think it's the present. Every major smartphone either available now or launching soon€” including the Samsung Galaxy S III and, according to rumors, the iPhone 5€”boasts 4G LTE service. Without it, smartphones will fall behind.

2. 4-inch-or-larger displays

There was a time when 3-inch displays were the norm in the mobile marketplace. But now that companies like HTC, LG and Samsung are launching new products this year, they're all but requiring competitors to come up with 4-inch-or-larger options. Even Apple is expected to give its iPhone screen a boost.

3. The latest OS flavors

There is simply no excuse for companies€”especially those in the Android sector€”launching devices without the latest version of a respective operating system. In the Android market, devices running Ice Cream Sandwich must reign supreme. In the Windows Phone 7 space, Mango is a must-have. At least so far, all of the vendors are realizing that and delivering products that come with the latest OS flavors.

4. Where are all the physical keyboards?

Although Research In Motion is one of the few holdouts, the idea of launching a smartphone with a physical keyboard nowadays just doesn't appeal to many consumers. So, the vast majority of companies in 2012 are ditching any and all plans to offer a physical keyboard and opting instead for touch screens. It's a good move.

Quad-Core Processors Becoming the Gold Standard


5. Single-carrier support

Interestingly, Apple is one of the few companies nowadays that offers a single device on multiple carrier networks. The iPhone 4S is available to AT&T, Verizon and Sprint customers. However, the models of some of its chief competitors such as Samsung and Motorola are only offered on a single carrier. It's an ironic move, and something Apple is capitalizing on.

6. Cheaper prices

When the Nokia Lumia 900 launched for $99.99, it surprised many industry observers who thought that the device would come in at the iPhone 4S' $199 price tag. However, other prominent devices are also launching at rather low prices this year. The Samsung Focus 2 is on sale for just $50. At CTIA this week, a host of other prominent devices are expected to surface with similarly low price tags. It's an interesting shift.

7. Quad-core processors

When the Samsung Galaxy S III was unveiled on May 3, the handset maker said the device would ship with the quad-core Exynos processor. It's one of many devices that are expected to offer a quad-core processor this year. Whereas last year was the year of dual-core chips, this is the year of quad-core.

8. Near-field communication

With Google Wallet offering mobile payments, every Android-based device launching this year comes with the ability to make payments remotely. When Isis, a mobile-payment solution sponsored by wireless carriers, launches later this year, even more devices will support this service. There's even talk of Apple bringing NFC to the iPhone 5. Near-field communication is a hot feature this year.

9. Oddly, 32GB of storage

Interestingly, most of the big-time devices launching this year are shipping with 32GB of onboard storage. The Galaxy S III, for example, comes with that storage amount, and Apple is expected by some to ditch the 16GB option and start off its iPhone at 32GB. It appears storage requirements are on the rise, but are smartphone users actually running low on storage capacity?

10. Improved cameras

As digital cameras become more powerful, those built into smartphones do, as well. In fact, an increasing number of devices this year are launching with high-powered features, including 8 megapixels and an improved auto-focus lens, that make many folks think twice about snapping images on anything other than their smartphones. Improved cameras are becoming a key component in smartphones nowadays.

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