I want truly innovative flagship phones in 2023

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

2022 has brought some great smartphones, but it’s hard to argue that this was a year of exciting, innovative devices.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra was a refined Galaxy S21 Ultra, which kept a very similar camera system, but only really added an S Pen slot. Meanwhile, the Pixel 7 range was actually the Pixel 6 2022 Edition, which offered a new processor and improved periscope camera, but otherwise played it pretty safe. Finally, Samsung’s latest foldables show that the product category is more viable and mature than ever before, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between this and last year’s models.

You could also make a strong argument that Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro models didn’t do much more than grab features that Android has had for years, with a 48MP main camera and a tweaked take on screen cutouts. Either way, it’s been a predictable 2022 for the most part.

While refinement makes fine handsets, innovation makes us want to upgrade.

There’s nothing wrong in itself with a secure approach in the smartphone space, as it usually leads to refined, polished devices. In fact, some of the best smartphones of all time were the product of iteration. These include the Samsung Galaxy S7 series, HTC One M8 and LG G4.

However, innovation is the lifeblood of the mobile space and gives us reasons to upgrade. So we really want to see more really innovative smartphones next year. But what does ‘truly innovative’ mean in this context? We’re talking about all new designs, features, or major revisions to existing formulas.

More innovation in 2023 please

Sony Xperia 1 IV camera case 2

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

We can think of a few innovations we’d like to see make their way to smartphones in 2023. In the foldable arena alone, we’d like to see Gorilla Glass for foldable screens or screens that actually feel like glass. After all, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Z fold 4 offer sturdy folding screens, but they still look and feel cheaper than conventional phones.

We’d also like to see dust-resistant foldable devices, but this seems to be a major hurdle for segment leader Samsung at the moment, let alone Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo. Completely removing the screen crease without sacrificing water resistance is another innovation we look forward to seeing in the future. We’ve seen some brands like Oppo and Honor do a great job of minimizing the crease and offering a slimmer hinge, but this often impacts the IP rating.

We really want foldable features to close the gap on conventional handsets.

There are plenty of innovations that we want to see on conventional smartphones as well, starting with camera-related features. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for the appearance of features like extended-range variable telephoto cameras. from Sony Xperia 1 IV offered a variable telephoto camera from ~3.5x to 5.2x. This is a relatively narrow zoom range, but offers plenty of flexibility for portraits and longer-distance shots. A future variable camera with a top of 8x or even 10x would help improve zoom quality immensely. We’d also like to see main and telephoto cameras combined into one variable module, meaning you’re not dependent on one camera for portraits and zoomed-in shots and another for group shots and landscapes.

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Other camera-related features we hope to see in 2023 include major stabilization improvements for photos and videos, and 200 MP cameras that don’t suck.

Honor 100W wireless charging 2

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

We can also think of some non-camera innovations we’d like to see on a 2023 flagship phone. An example is 3D face unlock below the screenmeaning you can finally have a truly secure face unlock with no screen cutout. Charging over the air is another technology that has been around for a long time and we are waiting for a commercial release. After all, why opt for traditional wireless charging when you can ditch that charging pad and go true wireless? We also saw a number of alternatives to glass backs in 2022 (such as the Realme GT 2 Pro‘s bio-polymer material), so we look forward to seeing more brands offer alternative materials next year.

It may not sound exciting, but batteries that last as long as promised updates will be essential going forward.

Finally, we’d like to see much improved battery degradation when using fast charging. This is especially important because people usually keep their phones for three or four years. We’ve already seen OEMs capitalize on this trend by offering offers extended update commitmentsso now it’s time for them to take it a step further by making sure the hardware itself can go the distance.

These are just some of the likely and not so likely innovations we can think of in the smartphone space for 2023 or beyond. We certainly won’t see them all next year, but even a few of these additions would brighten up the landscape.

The odds look good

Xiaomi 12S Ultra concept screenshot

2022 gives us hope that we will see at least a few innovative smartphones in 2023. The Sony Xperia 1 IV offered its aforementioned variable telephoto camera, the Oppo Find N presented a more pocket-friendly take on the Fold-style form factor, and the Xiaomi 12S Ultra brought along a giant one-inch camera sensor. We even saw one crazy Xiaomi concept which allows you to use your Leica camera lenses on a smartphone.

Do you think phones will need more innovation in 2023?

35 votes

Innovation is not impossible – you just need to know where to look for it. A few years back, the Oppo Find X3 Pro delivered a unique glass design, the Huawei P40 Pro Plus touted a 10x periscope lens for the first time, and the Microsoft Surface Duo offered a dual-screen foldable form factor. All this is taken for granted today.

Iteration is all well and good, but incremental upgrades are built on a foundation of innovation. So I’ve got my fingers crossed that next year we’ll see a phone or two that break the mold and deliver interesting features or designs.

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