As smartphones become more and more commonplace, it is becoming more and more difficult for manufacturers to differentiate these complicated and intricate pieces of personal technology. In many cases, these handsets use similar internal components such as the chipsets and memory modules, and in the world of photography, smartphone cameras are becoming better and better. Key differences can be down to aspects such as the size, form factor and software of the device. There are ways that individual manufacturers can tailor their devices by building a larger or smaller device, by using either different software or the user interface over an Android core, and of course when it comes to form factor, we have seen a number of Android-powered flip phones offered for sale over the last few years plus all sorts of difference size devices.
One area where several manufacturers have been investing and developing products is that of the foldable smartphone – taking the concept one step beyond the traditional, hinged flip phone. We have already seen some devices that are flexible – the LG G Flex family is one obvious candidate – plus devices that have a curved display, although this is not quite the same thing. In the market, we have rumors that Samsung is working on releasing the Galaxy X model next year, which will come with a bendable display. OPPO, the fourth largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, is alleged to have finished developing its own foldable smartphone. This particular device is phablet sized, but we have no word on when it might be released.
The other way to adjust a device form factor is to allow customers to modify the handset by adding or removing components. We've already seen this with the Google Project Ara modular device and of course LG's 2016 flagship smartphone, the G5. The concept is that customers can buy a device based on the exact components they need rather than having to compromise on one or more aspects. Google's delayed Project Ara could see customers swapping in the camera, battery and more, providing the ability to upgrade only some components during the lifetime of the device. Motorola are believed to be offering a new generation Moto X family of devices – starting in June – which will include the ability for customers to add separate modules to the core hardware platform.