Tech transformers: 10 big innovations making our gadgets better

6. OnePlus One

OnePlusOne Hands On

OnePlus One packs a punch with its good performance and modest price

Fancy a top-end Android phone for £229 ($299, around $AU400)? Say hello to the OnePlus One, a genuinely disruptive new device that delivers big power for a little price. It's the first smartphone to officially run the CyanogenMod flavour of Android and our early verdict is overwhelmingly positive.

7. Amazon Prime Phone

Amazon Phone

Amazon are expanding again, this time it could be into the smartphone market

The much-rumoured Amazon phone is believed to have two unique features: Prime Data, which delivers Amazon-specific content without cutting into your data allowance, and a completely new kind of interface. Six cameras will track your face, changing the display so that it appears to be in 3D. If it's as good as it sounds, it could make other mobile UIs look hopelessly old-fashioned.

8. NSA-proof phones


Protect your data and your privacy with NSA-proof phones

With endless headlines about data breaches and snooping security forces, it's no wonder many people are interested in phones that don't track their every move and share data with all kinds of people. New devices such as the GSMK Cryptophone and the Blackphone offer a level of security you won't get from any Samsung, but that security comes at a price. How much are we willing to pay for privacy?

9. Amazing chargers

Samsung Galaxy S4 Battery

Charging your phone in an instant, or without any wires, would be a huge improvement to smartphone tech

Battery life remains the Achilles' Heel of mobile devices, and while battery tech is improving it's doing so very slowly. That might not be a problem if devices such as StoreDot's prototype can be shrunk down to reasonable sizes: its charger for the Galaxy S4 can fully charge the device in fewer than 30 seconds.

Increasingly ubiquitous wireless chargers could help too, especially if they're like the DCRS (Dipole Coil Resonant System) demonstrated in Korea this April. It can charge 40 smartphones simultaneously from a distance of 5 metres. Its creators believe that we will "eventually have many Wi-Power zones at such places as restaurants and streets."

10. Sapphire screens

Broken screen

It's used in high-end watches so scratch and shatter-resistant sapphire cyrstal screens can't be far off for high-end smartphones

Forget Gorilla Glass: sapphire crystal screens are more scratch-resistant and they're almost as hard as diamonds. Unfortunately sapphire is also rather expensive. If firms such as Apple - which has invested heavily in sapphire tech - can get the price down and solve the brightness and colour issues that currently affect sapphire screens, shatter-proof smartphones could soon be a reality.

  • Small innovations are important too - like the ones making changes to phone sensors.
Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.