10 Essential Smartphone Features for 2011 Models

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10 Essential Smartphone Features for 2011 Models

by Don Reisinger

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A Big Display

If the past year in smartphones was marked by anything, it was undoubtedly larger screen sizes. The Motorola Droid X, for example, launched with a 4.3-inch display this year, causing some to wonder how much longer Apple will offer a 3.5-inch offering on its iPhone. In 2011, smartphones are going to need bigger displays to appeal to the greatest number of consumers.

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A Solid Touch Screen

The iPhone and several Android-based devices have ensured that a solid touch screen is an absolute necessity in todays mobile market. Realizing that, it would be nice to see every smartphone next year feature the kind of responsiveness that consumers have come to expect. More devices boasted those better displays this year, but in 2011 an effective touch screen is a must for every smartphone.

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The Right OS

There are still far too many smartphones in the wild running older versions of Android, simply because vendors havent been able to deliver their own versions of the new OS yet. Thats a problem. In 2011, manufacturers of Android-based devices better deliver the latest version of the operating system as soon as possible.

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Carrier Agnosticism

As Googles Android platform continues to gain popularity, the iPhones biggest negative factor, the fact that its available only to AT&T customers, will become even more an issue in 2011. Next year, vendors will be required to offer their smartphones on at least two carrier networks, but preferably most of them. Its the standard that all vendors, regardless of operating system, must remember.

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A Physical Keyboard for the Enterprise

The corporate world is a vastly different marketplace than the consumer space. Customers in that market are searching for different things than consumers. One of the main things enterprise customers look for is a physical keyboard. It simply delivers more employee productivity than virtual counterparts. That doesnt mean physical keyboards should be offered in every device, but they should continue to be bundled with corporate-focused devices.

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Bigger and Better App Stores

Apps have become central to the success or failure of mobile operating systems. Thats precisely why Apple and Google have invested so heavily there. But in 2011, every mobile OS maker will be expected to attract developers and offer as many third-party apps as possible. Its a matter of value. And consumers wont see value in mobile operating systems that lack a healthy supply of third-party apps.

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Before the iPhone boasted multitasking, some wondered how long it would take before Apple would finally offer it on its mobile software platform. Now that it is available in iOS, and Android users continue to enjoy multitasking, all devices in 2011 will be required to have that feature available on their software. Multitasking is an absolute necessity.

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Video Conferencing

When Apple offered the iPhone 4 earlier this year, the company also unveiled a new service, called FaceTime. It allows users to video chat with other iPhone 4 owners over WiFi. Its an experience that some folks have enjoyed, but many more will want to gain access to this feature in 2011. The devices that feature video chatting will go that much further in appealing to consumer desire.

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Better Antennas

After Apple launched its iPhone 4, it quickly became clear that there was a problem afoot. Users claimed that when they held the smartphone in a particular way saw their signal strength decline. The issue prompted Apple CEO Steve Jobs to hold a news conference and show why the iPhone 4 was one of many mobile devices that had the same problem. In 2011, it would be nice to see every smartphone provide a fix for that issue. Not only would it make consumers happy, but it would go a long way in proving that vendors really care about the usability issues affecting their customers today.

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4G Capability

This might be a tall order, since AT&T still hasnt ramped up its 4G network for commercial purposes, but it would be nice to see every smartphone launch next year with the ability to connect to a 4G network. There are some devices on store shelves now that do boast that ability, but theyre few and far between. Maybe a Verizon iPhone would jump start that 4G craze.

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