The mobile phone has become an integral part of most people’s daily lives, so it comes as no surprise that the future of these devices is often widely discussed.

Over the last decade, mobile phones have developed considerably with a number of integrations and improvements that were once considered to be impossible now widely available.

Because there is always the opportunity for major developments in the communications industry, what new technologies and materials could be on the horizon for the mobile phone industry?

History of mobile phonesNew designs on the horizon

With each new mobile phone development, communications have become better due to new software development and implementation.  Hardware is getting less expensive, and the phones themselves have become much more versatile.  So, what could possibly be next?  Could the future of mobile phones be … bendy?

According to many rumours in the technology world, the future of mobile phones may very well involve flexible screens.  These ideas are not pipe dreams – they have been fuelled by many gadget shows on which mobile devices and phones are demoed with paper-like, razor-thin, bendable features.  In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that the research and development teams at Nokia looked into developing a mobile phone made from a flexible polymer that would essentially allow the device to be morphed into a variety of shapes.  Other companies such as LG and Samsung have also toyed with similar design ideas and innovations.

Though bendy screens have existed for quite a while, and there are a number of prototypes out there, one of the biggest drawbacks may be that in order for the mobile phone to be as effective and functional as it is now, the rest of the device needs to be fairly stiff.  So, does that mean a bendable phone is not viable after all?

Very likely that is not the case at all; mobile phone manufacturers have not abandoned the idea of a bendable phone and have been making great strides with regards to the technology required to make the dream a reality.  Despite this, it would seem unlikely that a flexible mobile phone will be making its debut in 2013, although it could be brought to market sometime in the next few years.  However, that isn’t to say that there won’t be other innovations in mobile phones in the coming year that will make consumers squeal with delight.

Here is a look at some of the other retail-ready features consumers might expect from the industry this year – though some may just be rumours!

Built-in card readers

Sure, right now there are credit card reading accessories for mobile phones, but it is probably only a matter of time before many mobile phones have this feature built right into them.  Imagine the possibilities with card swiping and reading functionality available to everyone.

Internet everywhere

Today, there are many different Wi-Fi and 3G/4G usage plans that allow mobile phone users to access the internet from a variety of different locations, but in the near future there may actually be wireless access everywhere.  This might even include internet access on the tube as well.  However, there is reason to believe that this might not be a free feature, but may be similar to what the world knows as pay as you go SIM deals.

Currency

According to recent surveys, fewer and fewer people are actually carrying cash around with them.  These days, most consumers pay for their purchases using credit and/or debit cards, but could plastic be going the way of cash?  In the cashless future, the mobile phone may very well replace currency and plastic as the way to pay on the go.