As technological evolution marches rapidly toward greater and greater advancements, sometimes we must take a step back before we can take two steps forward. With smartphones, the next evolution of wireless data connections, called LTE-Advanced, will likely cause such a contraction. As the general public continues to engorge itself on ever increasing amounts of digital data, the carriers continue to evolve technology to keep up with the growing capacity. The next step is LTE-Advanced, which promises to bring data speeds ranging in the 100-300Mbps range instead of our current 10-30Mbps (speaking of max peaks).
One of the prime components of LTE-Advanced is called carrier aggregation. This part of the technology allows multiple carriers to be combined into a single channel using several frequency bands. To make this happen, carriers will need to employ MIMO (multiple-in, multiple-out) antennas in devices that will use LTE-Advanced. This will cause two things to happen. One, smartphones will need to have much bigger batteries to accommodate the energy drain from this new technology. Two, our phones will necessarily get bigger at first to be able to fit both the larger battery and the extra antennas.
Of course, this isn't going to happen very soon. Right now there are only a few global companies testing the new technology; however, the carriers can't drag their feet on this either. Current industry predictions suggest that by 2016 mobile data demand will increase by 18-25 times what it currently is. This will dramatically strain the current LTE networks, most of which aren't even fully finished yet. Luckily, many of the major carriers world-wide like, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and China Mobile are each making plans for this eventuality. In the meantime, unless some dramatic breakthrough occurs in the development of both more powerful batteries and miniaturized antenna, we can expect our phones of the future to be massive in size and massive energy hogs (at least for a time).