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Over the last two years, we have witnessed phenomenal growth in digital penetration and its crucial impact on our daily lives: Covid-19 induced physical limitations compelled smartphone innovations to meet consumer demand.

If change is the only constant, smartphones stand right on top of the evolution chain. We saw smartphone brands offer premium phones, affordable flagships, and mid-range devices with some high-end features and also an unprecedented push for 5G access, better cameras, slimmer designs, and contemporary ergonomics. With rising social media consumption, OTT consumption on the go, work and study from home, and the influence of content creators, the smartphone industry evolved 360 degrees to cater to the customers of the future.

Let’s look at some interesting trends that will likely dominate the smartphone industry in the coming times:

1. 5G – what’s next?

The noise around the 5G spectrum in India is all-time high, with customers and smartphone manufacturers eagerly waiting for the 5G experience. Basis the recent report by Research and Markets, India’s smartphone market size is expected to reach US$ 281 billion and grow with a CAGR of 10.5% by 2028. Moreover, for the first time, 5G enabled smartphone’s sales penetration touched 51% at the start of this year, surpassing the penetration of 4G smartphones as per Counterpoint report. 5G shipments grew >600% YoY and smartphone revenue in CY2021 touched $37Bn. With the increase in technological advancements in the past few years, we have seen an uptick in 5G adoption since 2021. And this is substantiated by the recently concluded MWC, where many players showcased their 5G capabilities and how they plan to harness the technology.

These reports suggest an upswing in the procurement of enabled devices to be future-ready. As download and upload speeds increase, expect smartphone manufacturers to leverage cloud storage, improve battery consumption and an upswing in mobile-friendly OTT content. It will change the whole network landscape and bring a shift from smart homes to smart cities and much more. Without a doubt, 5G will be the revolution that will trigger rapid changes across the spectrum.

2. Adaptable screens - BIGGER is better!

With smartphones becoming the primary devices for content consumption, the customers’ demand for bigger and better screens is rising. What was once considered a phablet, has become the new industry norm. Customers are looking for larger displays that are compact and follow an ergonomic design language. We will see a rise in foldable screens that provide the productivity of a tablet and the convenience of a phone.

3. Gaming smartphones becoming mainstream

According to a recent report by IBEF, gaming is a rapidly growing industry in India that has seen 40% growth in 2019- 2022. It led to generating US$ 1.5 billion in net revenue during that period and is expected to outclass US$ 5 billion by 2025. Moreover, the Indian gaming industry outshined the US market by exceeding a 300 million user base.

We are already seeing an exponential increase in the number of smartphones focused on performance as their core criteria. We already see brands targeting Gen-Z to showcase their high-performing features that are great for gaming (battery, storage, and charging), while delivering excellent optics. Building technologies to enhance the gaming experience will be one of the top trends that we can expect this year.

4. Bigger batteries supported by anywhere charging

Customers need a massive battery to support 5G enabled smartphones with bigger screens and high performance for smooth usage. However, with smartphones becoming a fashion accessory, manufacturers are constantly trying to invent means to increase battery size without making the phone look bulky.

Additionally, customers are looking for fast and safe charging options for their smartphones. To adhere to this need, many brands have released a lot of fast-charging features that can instantly charge the smartphone. Last year, OPPO introduced a new era of safer flash charging technology to help customers enjoy optimal battery life for a longer period. Wireless charging is also becoming a new trend as these chargers are very convenient for the customers as they are supremely easy to use and help charge smartphones faster. This will be one of the trends that we would expect to see more in the coming months.

5. Advancement in the camera segment

A remarkable spike in digital penetration, social media and influencers content has suddenly shifted all focus on the smartphone cameras. Excellent optics are the primary reason people prefer one smartphone over the other. And we expect the smartphone camera industry to take any one of the two paths. Path 1, the megapixel bandwagon. Path 2, associations on hardware and algorithms. The focus will be on both rear and front shooters, while we can expect innovations in domains such as stabilization, sensors, Ai, zoom and how the camera is concealed in the smartphone. Hence, if we have a one device-solution for every need, the camera naturally must be as powerful as possible.

6. Sustainable tech

Basis the recent report by Deloitte Global, smartphones will generate 146 million tons of CO2 in 2022, and while that’s less than 0.5% of global emissions, analysts believe it can be reduced. So now, many brands have started reusing and recycling the materials for their smartphones and making production more energy efficient. Moreover, brands are making smartphones stronger to limit the damage and reduce unintended replacement. Samsung started a new trend in 2020, to provide three years of OS updates and four years of security patches for their smartphones which was followed by other brands as well. This commitment of brands enables older smartphones to work well, processes flow better and consume less energy. Customers are also opting for refurbished smartphones over brand-new ones, leading to lesser e-waste and this trend of sustainable smartphones is likely going to upsurge in the coming years.

Today, brands increasingly depend on consistent, high-quality content to connect with their target audiences and educate them about their offering as content absorption on social media platforms has increased with time. We at Amazon India realized that customers are looking at us to help them make the right purchase decision. Continuing with our focus to simplify the shopping experience for customers, we started ‘Buying Guides on’ and soon built several avenues such as Amazon Mobile Insider – a section that is dedicated to content around mobile phones. We are also offering unboxing videos on the MiniTV and detailed page videos that highlight the key specs of the product in a simple form for customers. Additionally, we have observed that customers on are choosing more mid-range and premium smartphones with better build quality and specifications as they continue to spend more time on their smartphones (work from home, video calls, OTT content or playing online games). We have seen customers gravitate towards smartphones which are ideal for multitasking and can manage work, entertainment, and day-to-day use-cases as well.

However, the technology segment is something where everything is consistently evolving and improving every day. Let’s see what comes next on the innovation front in this sector. But regardless of what the trends would be in future, will always be the one-stop destination for customers for fulfilling all their smartphone needs.

This article first appeared in the Live Mint on 9 May, 2022