I'm not sure whether telephones will be very different in 2020. Some already tried to create alternatives design such as the round phone the Runcible but will it actually lead to so different phones in such a few years? As far as I'm following a lecture in future studies, I'm not sure. Nowadays big mobile phone industries keep selling new phones that seems to be perfect lookalikes.

Yet over twenty years that can be different. Think about how different mobile phones might be between 2020 and 2040. Indeed, twenty years ago, I wasn't even born, but mobile phones were rare, smartphones didn't even exist. Twenty years is enough time over which technological breakthroughs might appear.

Starting from 2020, what may phones look like in 2040 in a world of scarcity, wearability and phone pollution aware politicians?

  • Maybe wearable phones such as watch phones might shaken people's curiosity and lead to further development?
  • However resources to build such phones might become scarcer and scarcer leading to restrain research and development in mobile phones?
  • Politicians may found that the number of phones are too numerous and represent a threat to the environment?

Therefore, starting from our phones what would communication look like given these constraints. You may divert a little from the constraints above, but still keep it realistic!

A perfect answer that would fit this question should be scientifically based and economically driven or sociologically explained. Feel free to give any technical details but feel like being at the top of the Futures studies department of any tech companies, from a start-up to a large company.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi Marine1. Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! I'm here to help. This is an interesting question, but it is too broad for our format as-is. Questions that could have multiple valid answers are generally not OK. Given your constraints, phones could look like darn near anything in the near future. The main thing you need to do to improve your question is to outline clear acceptance criteria (i.e., specify how you will decide which answer is best). If you can do that precisely enough, that will help a great deal. I'd also detail exactly what is "scarce", as that could matter very much. $\endgroup$ – type_outcast Oct 11 '16 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ Another thing to keep in mind is that you are asking about 2020, which is just over three years from now. In multi-million dollar electronics R&D projects like smartphones, the major manufacturers already know what their phones will look like and how they will function in three years. Their teams are already well on their way to developing them. So the answer might be, "ask Apple", although I doubt they're telling! :-) $\endgroup$ – type_outcast Oct 11 '16 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ Also consider that in 2020, a lot of people will probably still be using the same phones they have today, especially as it's now easier to get ones that aren't locked to particular carriers/contracts. I use one that's 4 or 5 years old, and would still be using my old Samsung T404g if AT&T hadn't decided to phase out 2g. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Oct 11 '16 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ I'd like to point out that I'm skeptical of the concept of wearability. It sounds great in theory sure, but frankly we can make wearable devices now and no one does, the last attempt, the iwatch and google glasses, got alot of buzz and then sort of died out. That's because wearable devices are not convenient devices. We need to interact with our devices in certain ways that are not as easy to do when were wearing them. Either you make the UI inconvenient, or the device too large to wear without it being awkward. Thus I don't see wearable devices ever being more then a curiosity. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Oct 11 '16 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf I don't believe this is likely, due to moore's law. The smart phone of 2020 is going to be significantly more powerful then todays phone. Apps & websites of the future will be written expecting that power. The result is old phones will lack the power to run newer apps/websites. Eventually anyone who uses the smartphone for more then a phone will cave in and pay 100 for a new phone rather then losing most of the smart phone functionality. Same reason many don't have 20 year old computers, only more so since smart phones are cheaper to replace, and easier to lose/break $\endgroup$ – dsollen Oct 11 '16 at 18:20

Smart phones are meant to fulfill certain needs. To that effect, through evolution, some of their features are seen in almost every model, while others have been discarded.

Before smart phones came around, a desired trait in cell phones was that they be as slim, and small as possible. Their size, weight, and area kept diminishing, until we eventually saw the advent of slider phones, etc.

However, as soon as the second generation of smart phones came around, we saw screen size growing, sometimes dramatically. Why? Because not all of us have toothpick-thin fingers, and we need to view, and manipulate information quickly.

Your complaint that too many of these phones look alike is actually a symptom of those useful features being preserved, and passed forward in the design process. And once you lock in certain features (such as a large, 1080p screen), you can only have so much variation on the theme ...

Things are unlikely to change dramatically - as far as hand-held smart phones are concerned - in the next 3 years, and perhaps not even in the next 10, simply because we've reached a very optimized template on which all of them are based.

Wearables, on the other hand, might evolve to the point where they will replace traditional, tablet like cell phones. However, it's going to take longer than 3 years for them to have a significant impact on the market.


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