What is influencing the future of smartphone design? Big names weigh in

It would appear that the future of smartphone and phablet design is going to be one of iteration, rather than innovation.

| Updated on: Feb 20 2015, 12:40 IST
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It would appear that the future of smartphone and phablet design is going to be one of iteration, rather than innovation.

According to LG, this lack of innovation isn't due to designers' lack of imagination, it's simply because the technology isn't yet readily available that would allow handsets to break the mold and be anything other than flat or almost flat oblong objects.

In comments made to Trusted Reviews, LG Director of Corporate Communications Ken Hong said: 'The design of phones is restricted by the technology of our component suppliers.'

As a result, Hong believes that handsets with a curved or flexible display will represent the height of innovation for the next several years, at least. 'I don't think we can do much with form factor beyond this at this moment,' he said.

Hong's sentiments are shared by Apple's design guru Sir Jonathan 'Jony' Ive. In an extensive profile by the New Yorker, Ive revealed that he first started trying to develop an iPhone with a larger screen back in 2010 based on the iPhone 4. However, he described the results as clunky and compelling due to the size of the handset's internal components.

And, even though he has now succeeded in designing a slimmer handset with a larger screen, the size and shape of internal components mean that he was unable to prevent the rear camera lens from protruding on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

But as well as highlighting his own approach to the design process, the article has created quite a stir, no more so than at Motorola.

Ive doesn't name names, but was almost certainly referring to Motorola's Moto Maker concept, which allows customers to create their own phone cases and wallpapers when he said: 'Their value proposition was 'Make it whatever you want. You can choose whatever color you want.' And I believe that's abdicating your responsibility as a designer.'

In response, Motorola's president Rick Osterloh told the BBC: 'Our belief is that the end user should be directly involved in the process of designing products. We're making the entire product line accessible. And frankly, we're taking a directly opposite approach to them Apple.'

Osterloh goes on to accuse Apple of charging 'outrageous' prices and says that his company is simply following a different, more inclusive philosophy. A great smartphone, and a great mobile internet experience, shouldn't be an expensive luxury. It should be a simple choice for everyone.'

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First Published Date: 20 Feb, 12:38 IST