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Smartphone trends for 2012

History will probably judge 2011 as the year of the smartphone. They have been around for a couple of years now but this year we saw them come to masses.

The technology became more commonplace, driving down prices. And tech companies saw what kind of profits Apple, Samsung and Blackberry were making, and fancied a piece of the action.

So where do we go in 2012? As smartphone popularity increases, tech companies are going to have to do more to get our attention.

This can only be a good thing, and we can expect a raft of new phones, new innovations and exciting new ideas in the smartphone world. Here is our pick of the top smartphone trends for next year.

4G broadband

We have one of the best and cheapest smartphone markets in Europe, and almost half of UK mobile phone owners are using a smartphone.

Despite this, Ofcom has said that we are way behind our rivals on the Continent when it comes to developing 4G connectivity.

The next generation of mobile technology has already launched in Sweden, the US and Japan. But Britain is still a way off from becoming a 4G nation. Ofcom has estimated that we should be seeing 4G over here by the end of 2012.

Near Field Communication

Smartphone companies are already starting to adopt Near Field Communication (NFC), with Acer now using the technology as standard.

So far, users have yet to fully embrace the technology that lets you pay for things simply by waving your phone in front of a sensor. But as more and more smartphones adopt NFC, the technology looks set for mainstream success next year.

Bendy phones

We’ve had better wireless connections, higher definition screens and so much memory we didn’t know what to do with it all.

But smartphone manufacturers are still struggling to fully address that age-old problem: what happens when you drop it on concrete, or knock a pint glass on to it? More often than not, it breaks. Or at the very least gets an annoying crack.

Samsung claims to have solved this problem with the Galaxy Skin. Rumoured to be released in spring next year, the Galaxy Skin is the world’s first truly bendable phone.

Using miniscule layers of graphene sandwiched together around a layer of liquid crystal, the screen can be bent and even rolled up. Samsung claim it can also be hit with a hammer without breaking. Sound like science-fiction? We are a little sceptical too, so watch this space!