Smartphone sales are expected to continue to grow in 2011, and some of the improvements vendors are making to help convince consumers to pick up a new device include dual-core processors and better video capabilities.
The smartphone trends for 2011 will be detailed at the Consumers Electronics Show, which starts on January 6 in Las Vegas, and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. However, a number of rumored devices -- including Sony Ericsson's PlayStation phone and LTE-compatible smartphones from HTC and Motorola -- and already announced products are giving not-so-subtle hints at what's to come.
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Here are five hardware trends that are expected to make a mark in 2011.
In 2010, the introduction of smartphones with processors at 1GHz was one of the big stories, and the focus on processor advancements will continue in 2011, but with the introduction of dual-core processors.
In December, LG Electronics unveiled the Optimus 2X, a smartphone based on Android and Nvidia's dual-core Tegra2 processor. The move to two processor cores will offer users better video performance; faster, smoother web browsing and gameplay; as well as multitasking with virtually no screen lag, according to LG.
Besides Nvidia, Qualcomm, Samsung and Texas Instruments are also working on dual-core processors, so the move to dual-core is getting industry-wide backing.
The success of 3D in movie theaters is causing a ripple effect across the entire consumer electronics industry: TVs, game consoles, computers and smartphones are all being made 3D compatible. In Japan, Sharp has already announced two Android-based smartphones on which users will be able to play games and watch movies in 3D without the need of special glasses.
The jury is still out on whether 3D will be a success or not. 3D will be a major theme on mobile devices, but consumers are disappointed by the results so far, according to a report from CCS Insight predicting 2011 mobile trends.
Short-range wireless technology Near-Field Communications has been around for quite a while, but hasn't taken off on a wide scale. One of the reasons for that is a lack of compatible phones, but that looks set to change in 2011. Android 2.3, also known as Gingerbread, includes NFC technology. The Nexus S, made by Samsung, is the first Android-based smartphone with NFC, but it will not be the last.
The most talked-about application for NFC is payments, including ticketing. But the technology can be used for other things. Google is equipping businesses in Portland, Oregon with NFC-compatible window stickers, which allows users to touch their phones to the sticker and find out more about the business.