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The Evolution of Smartphones and Storage


Smartphones have undergone tremendous evolution –from the first mobile phones that almost looked and weighed like bricks and had awkward antennae jutting out to smartphones today with sleek, beautiful bodies and form factors. 

It is not just the form factor and the look and feel that has metamorphized; almost everything about this ubiquitous device has undergone a massive change. 

Today, flagship smartphones flaunt a foldable display, triple and quadruple cameras, 144Hz refresh rate, and are 5G enabled. Even mid- to entry-range smartphones come with a touchscreen, great battery life, and double to triple cameras. These smart devices have become more than just a tool to stay connected with others. They are enriching our lives and reshaping the world; after all, never before has any other device combined almost every element of mass media in history. 

Storage – the Unsung Innovation 

Network speed, pixel count, camera quality, and battery size are often considered the benchmarks for smartphone performance and quality. However, the storage that powers and impacts the form factor and speed of these devices is often ignored. This unsung innovation, storage, is essential in enabling mobile handset vendors to deliver the latest innovations. 

Now with growth of 5G enable smartphones, the volume of data generated from phones will also multiply, which will require bigger and faster storage solutions to capture data at the speed it is created and process it at the speed it is streamed or consumed. 

It is not just about the speed. Over time, smartphones have become THE device one turns to for work, entertainment, gaming, shopping, banking, video recording, and many other such needs. It has become a personal assistant. As a result, it must store a humongous amount of data reliably. Therefore, as mobile phones evolve, so must the storage.

Evolution of Mobile Storage 

More often than not, mobile storage is taken as a given. However, think for a minute about what will a smartphone be without storage. 

Just like smartphones, storage has also undergone impressive evolution. The first embedded storage solution was a mobile disk-on-chip (mDOC) that was created by Western Digital2.  Later in 2007, the first embedded storage standard, e.MMC, was put in place and coincided with the first smartphones as it offered higher speeds and capacities needed by the smartphones since these came loaded with more features.   

As smartphones rapidly evolved and became more powerful and feature-rich, they demanded more responsive and faster storage solutions. Add to this 4G which proved to be game-changing for smartphone use cases, and ushered Kenya into an app economy. 

A good network speed also gave the needed spur to gaming on mobile phones in the country. The gaming industry in Kenya is a young but growing sector that includes gaming, lotteries, sports betting and prize competitions. According to Statista, the revenue in the video games market is projected to reach US$66.40 million in 2023, with an annual growth rate of 10.92% from 2023 to 2027. Some of the factors that contribute to the growth of the gaming industry in Kenya are: 

  • The young population, which accounts for more than 60% of the total population
  • The rise of smartphones, which enable mobile gaming and online gambling
  • The popularity of esports celebrities, who influence and inspire young game

As a result, a storage solution that addresses the current requirement of a smartphone is needed. Western Digital recently announced iNAND® MC EU551, its second-generation UFS 3.1 storage solution for mobile phones. It addresses the requirements of the latest versions of today’s smartphones, such as mixed workloads, download speeds for rich media such as 8K, and faster application launch and upload speeds.

Consumers have taken the evolution in smartphones with tremendous relish and continue to look forward to what this intelligent device offers in the foreseeable future. With 5G becoming a reality, there is a potential for another evolution in smartphone usage, just like what happened during the 4G era. 

Irrespective of what changes we see in smartphones: storage will evolve and continue to play an important role in it.

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We cover Technology and Business trends in Kenya, East Africa and across the Globe. Send tips to editor@techtrendske.co.ke

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