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Larger Memories to Boost Smartphones

Gary Hilson, EE | Times

In all seriousness, it will probably take a while for 1TB smartphones to hit the market, and it will be high-end models first, such as Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S10. Instead, consumers will see the base model of most smartphones go up in capacity from 64GB to 128GB, said Gregory Wong, founder and principal analyst with Forward Insights.

“There's probably not going to be huge volume at one terabyte. But with smartphones, the feature set being similar on the high-end, there's not a big gap between them in terms of differentiation or in terms of features,” Wong said. “Capacity or storage is one way they could differentiate.”

The introduction of 1TB flash for smartphones is in sync with the 3D NAND roadmap, said Wong. The question is whether the market will move there as consumers typically buy according to price point. The popular iPhone’s lowest available capacity is 64GB — a far cry from 1TB. “The vast majority are still going to look at the price of the phone before they decide,” Wong said.

That being said, the iPhone’s lowest capacity used to be 32GB, he added. As NAND prices go down, smartphone makers can afford to add more storage and consumers will thus be moved up the capacity scale. The lowest capacity is now migrating to 128GB. “Manufacturers will try to move their lower-end phones up to the next step in capacity," Wong said.

And capacity is the selling point for consumers — they’re not likely to care about specifications such as whether a phone is UFS 2.1 or 3.0. Wong added that they do want to be able to store stuff quickly and will take note of visible delays within apps such as photography which put a lot of pressure on capacity thanks to 360-degree photos and the ability to automatically take multiple shots. Dual cameras and the potential for triple-lens cameras are putting pressure on both processing power and storage capacity. Another driver for capacity is the advent of 5G, which enables users to ingest more data more quickly — but only if they’re willing to pay for a pricey data plan.

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