What's The Next Big Thing After The Smartphone?

For a change The Verge actually asks some interesting questions without most of the usual bloviating/pontification.

That being said, I think they and other blogs have jumped on the information that Alexa has been a HUGE investment, that dependent on the lens you use is either a huge loss or at least one that hasn’t really paid off yet.

Speaking purely from a technology standpoint, Alexa is a major achievement IMHO and people forget how crude the first versions were.

And from a business standpoint, much was said about Amazons core business model for over a decade too. And for that matter it took over two decades for the PC market to move from niche, to becoming a mainstream product category.

And thus I think they should temper their disdain for VR a bit since if anything, at this point, it’s still a poorly developed story of what it actually is, why you need/want it, and how it benefits you, something that PCs and smartphones faced as well, but obviously have overcome.

Everybody promised to disrupt the smartphone — and the smartphone outlasted them all - The Verge


We’ve gone smaller and smaller and smaller until it became bothersome. Then phones started to go bigger. So in my mind we’ll start to go smaller again when it becomes feasible.

I can see a smart watch combined with AR glasses when the wristband can become a battery and you can run the watch for days without charging. Voice commands will become the new input engine untill the AR glasses can read our minds.
Scary stuff.


Precisely what I was thinking. I didn’t read the article because it’s The Verge and they’ve used up their quota of my baited click for the year if not the decade. But wearables in various combinations with AR/VR glasses—or just the glasses with bone conduction stereo speakers*—seems a likely “next” after smartphones.

*I’m very satisfied with my Aeropex.


Not sure if I agree with the glasses watch combo, for two primary reasons. One is that it’s too many devices for most people. We here because of our appreciation for technology might be ok with it, but the average smartphone user won’t even if you make the argument that it’s only a one net device addition because they can lose the phone. It’s still too much “friction” as they say.

Secondly, I see a glimmer of a watch with perhaps something like a holographic display tech, though multiple orders of magnitude better than the best of today. Plus I just can’t see (pun intended) people wearing glasses all day, unless they don’t have any choice , like my son who has significant astigmatism that can’t be corrected any other way.

Not to mention, that Google Glasses may have poisoned that well permanently. I don’t think anyone wants to be a “glasshole”.

BTW @Dellaster I generally agree with you about the Verge, especially if it was Patel, but I’ve read other stuff of the author and while he certainly is opinionated, he’s usually not a “glasshole” about it.

PS; I would like to see smartphones start to get smaller again, for me the iPhone 4 was just about perfect in that regard.


I still have my OG iPhone SE in the cupboard and would swap to that size again in an instant if it had a modern premium camera (I’d settle for a single lens equivalent to the main one in my iPhone 13 at this point) and a good 5G radio+antenna. My SE’s reception is only LTE, which I could live with since I’m still not getting 5G anywhere I stay long, but its reception is the no-go element. It’s poor compared to my iPhone 13 Pro. I can’t go back to the weaker reception. :crying_cat_face:

Oh and back on topic, as I’ve related elsewhere I am very close to being able to get by with my Apple Watch and the Aeropex headset. The major obstacle is that my smartphone is my sole hotspot for all other devices. Though I could change to a dedicated hotspot subscription with my Netgear Nighthawk or a 5G upgraded version…

Also, of course, Apple doesn’t let you put the watch app on anything other than the iPhone smartphone. So that currently makes it impossible.

Combine into one some AR glasses with my bone conduction headset and it’s no extra devices. Eventually lose the watch and just have the glasses, which I wear anyway. One device.

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Whenever I try to go watch-only, something amazing happens and I want to take a picture of it… Otherwise I’m ready.

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I don’t think there’s going to be anything different from smartphones. I think it would be on various smartphone form factors, sizes, and features instead.

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My feelings exactly…

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I feel next step up from cell phone will be wearable.

I thought the smart watch would be it years back, but the problem with Smart watches is the smalls screen size impedes its use compared to a traditional smart phone.

Maybe a smart watch that could somehow extend its screen? Or some sort of Holographic technology of sorts with AR. And forget smart glasses, I’d rather see smart contact lenses.

In fictional terms, something akin to the Bracelets used in Black Panther/Wakanda Forever would be pretty sweet.

The closest I think we ever had to that was the Cicret Bracelet that never came out. (can’t believe that was 8 years ago)

This is what really caught my imagination back in the late 00s.


Still does, tbh. Nokia, along with Sony Ericsson were the kings of mobilephones back then.

When the iPhone came out, Ericsson’s engineers derided it as an “awful phone with terrible sound quality”. They never realised that it wasn’t a phone but a pocket computer.

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The first iPhone did have many shortcomings though, many worthy of derision.

The large, for the time, capacitive touchscreen was the only feature not worthy of it to be honest.

I can tell you with certainty that none of these goofy ideas will ever become mainstream. Still stand by my word that the smartphone is the final frontier at least for the foreseeable future. Kinda like there’s been no replacement for the car, rather improvements.


I think you are spot on old buddy. Only exception would be IF you get glasses with very light thin long lasting batteries wirelessly connected to an equally thin, light, long battery life watch as you “big display.”

What I really think will happen is better folding/rolling/scrolling screen smartphones to give you an occasional “tablet-like” experience when you need more than that small 6-7" screen. Who wouldn’t want a phone the size of a iPhone Pro that opened in some fashion to an 8" tablet.


That’s basically what I was thinking of in my previous post. I just included all the intermediate steps that early adopters & technology geeks will buy and nobody else. Eventually you’ll get to the point where it’s just a simple wearable that anybody would feel good wearing, like glasses, and it might take off among the normals.

Or not. It’s not like it’s a big deal one way or the other. There will probably be all kinds of options and most people will stay with their tried and true oldsmart phone while the outliers* will be doing all the weird stuff. We’ll see.

*Outliers and the next generations, who will roll their eyes at the now-older Millennials and make snide remarks about their old fashioned has-been natures. :smile_cat:

My bet is on this becoming mainstream before any smart glasses or other wearables. Heck, even smart watches gained acceptance not for smartphone functions, but mostly for the health and fitness functions.


Taking Pictures and Surfing the Web on a Cell phone probably seemed like a goofy ideas too 15 years ago. Refine a concept enough with enough time, it ain’t goofy anymore.

Something like that Cricket I think could really take off if done right. (just sad 8 years later and nothing ever came of it)


Hummm, Nokia and Sony Ericson had been focussing on cameras for quite a while by then.

And there were the Nokia Internet Tablets (N series) and Windows Mobile users certainly could do some browsing on their devices.

Opera Mobile released in 2000. On Windows Mobile in 2003, and on Symbian in 2005.

Now, if you mean in one device, sure, as I wouldn’t call the WAP experience on most devices ‘surfing the Web’. Though by 2008 there were the likes of the iPhone 3G and Nokia 5800 XpressMusic.

That said, I do remember using an N900 in 2010 and being able to check an email, check the location in a map app, message people about a change in location, check a website, and then take a photo all on one device, amazing some non-tech fiends I was with. Within about two years they wouldn’t have batted an eyelid at though (and I would be fighting IT to let me use my device on their network).

I often wonder what is next…

I’d say some seminal tech moments for me that I was super excited about:

  • HTC Touch Pro
  • Vivo Tab Note 8
  • Galaxy Note I
  • Fold 3

Right now, I don’t have anything on the radar where I’m thinking, “must have”

I’m currently implementing an industrial AR solution. The amount of effort to get worker adoption is substantial, that I have a difficult time envisioning how this is even possible for the average consumer. It would take a grand scale on the level of Apple to pull off, and even then, it strikes me as a solution looking for a problem.

And we’re a long ways off from a smartglasses hardware implementation for the public masses. The chief technical challenge is making a lens “unobtrusive” enough to not look like a dork or glasshole. And a lot of the feature asks are breaking the laws of conventional optical engineering. It will take some fundamental and game changing advances, like nano tech lens additive manufacturing to get there.

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All the speculation here is quite fascinating, so thanks all.

My brother, who works in the automotive industry, has another take on this, which is that typically prognostication (including my own at the beginning of the thread) relies to at least some degree on advancement or evolvement of existing paradigms, whereas the true "breakouts " often seem to come from left field.

His example was the rebirth/renewal of the Volkswagen Beetle. In that case , the story goes that VW wasn’t really behind it at the outset but was done originally as a “thank you” indulgence to the designers that had brought VW major hits, in the Golf and the Rabbit, and the original intent was just to show it as a concept at some trade shows and that would be as far as it went. But the response was so overwhelmingly positive they then scrambled to actually produce one for actual sale.

Bring it back to the topic directly, you could make an argument about the iPhone in a similar way. Nothing about the iPhone’s individual features were actually unique or “brand new” but what was the “secret sauce” so to speak was that to date no one had combined all of the elements into a single product.

That gets back to one of Steve Jobs most quoted (and some think arrogant) statements, that people really don’t know what they actually want, until you show it to them.

So with that rather long exposition, perhaps the next big thing is something that none of us are considering?

PS: I think that by far the most underappreciated aspect of the iPhone was IOS. Yes it was limited in functionality and initially had some in retrospect silly missing features (no copy and paste ?), but it was by far the most intuitive and accessible OS for new users released to date IMHO.

And you need to look no further than how quickly even small children can pick it up.