What's next for the smartphone has become the world-renowned consumer device around the world for over ten years now?
While top executives such as Apple and Samsung reveal new features and improved performance, smartphone sales have flattened in most of the major markets, largely tired.
The next smartphone catalyst could be the potential of future 5G or 5th generation wireless networks, new design elements or advances in virtual and growing reality.
But some analysts claim that something completely different can replace the smartphone.
The current founder of the future, Amy Webb, in his annual report on technology trends, stated that 2018 "means the end of traditional smartphones" and sees a transition to a new era of computational and composite devices based on loud, gesture and touch.
"Switching from smartphones to smartphones and invisible connectors – Headsets with biometric sensors and speakers, rings and bracelets that recognize movement, intelligent glasses that store and display data, change forever in the physical world," Webb writes.
Other analysts say the smartphone will not disappear at any time soon, even if the market stops.
"The smartphone is not out but it may change its shape and shape," said analyst David McQueen of ABI Research's connected devices. "The smartphone market has its feet for many years."
McQueen said in a recent report that the mobile industry is evolving into devices with more urban, untouched experiences that aid in artificial intelligence, mixed reality, and gesture management. New devices can also see improved biometrics such as facial recognition and modification, such as folding displays.
ABI Research says that "Google and Amazon are driving innovation around smartphones and related ecosystems over the next five or six years," because of their strength in these new technologies.
Global smartphone sales are expected to fall by 0.7% in 2018 to 1,455 billion units, according to research firm IDC. IDC, however, sees that the overall smartphone market will slowly pick up and reach 1.646 billion units by 2022.
"We still believe that the smartphone market will have healthy growth in the coming years, even though finding and competing for these markets and segments is becoming more and more challenging," said IDC analyst Ryan Reith.
In the United States, 91% of adults under the age of 50 use a smartphone and 95% of teenagers can be accessed, according to the Pew Research Center.
At the end of 2010, around 465 million mobile subscribers, or 85 percent of the population, and over two-thirds of the devices' smart phones at the end of 2010, according to the GMSA of the Mobile Operators Association.
Bob O & Donnell, founder of Technalysis Research, said smartphone sales slowed down in the US and other advanced markets as a result of ending carrier subscription.
"As people pay for their phone full price, they will keep them longer," Donnell said.
Markets may gain momentum in 2019 from 5G and most likely the first devices with folding or bending screens according to Donnell.
"People have been talking for some time (folding screens) and I think we can finally see the first few next year," he said.
"It's interesting because it opens the possibility of a larger screen in a smaller device."
To get even 'smarter'
O & Donnell argues that consumers still prefer smartphones despite the arrival of new devices such as smart loudspeakers in Amazon and Google.
But he said the following innovations are likely to be devices that are even "smarter" than existing calls with built-in artificial intelligence.
"If you have AI chips embedded in your device, you can do a lot of things without having a network connection," O & Donnell said.
The analyst said competition in technology companies now focuses on smart digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri and others.
This is coming "a battle over power over platforms that could affect the smartphone market," says O & Donnell, who noted that some things may change if the dominant player comes to Amazon, making a selection of devices but not smartphones.
It is not clear what equipment consumers want, but that "at the end of the day it looks a lot like a smartphone".