It's time to cool the jets about graphene

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| February 15, 2014

The smartphone industry is no different than any other tech-related industry; improvements are just around the corner, and just when you think things couldn't possibly get any better they somehow manage to do just that. For smartphones, the evolution has been gradual these past 7 years. You'll usually get a better battery, a better display, more memory, a faster processor and the like with each passing year, but only minimally so. Nothing from year-to-year has been that drastic, and as far as we could tell the trend would continue just as it always has. That is, until graphene was invented.

Graphene was something that I was pretty jazzed about when I first heard about it last year. I first heard about it being used in flexible digital displays, which was rumored to be featured in devices either sometime last year or this year. Then we heard that it would make batteries last for days without needing a recharge - in a smartphone! Now that's something to write home about. However, just because the potential was there doesn't mean that it was going to happen anytime soon, which it wasn't. The potential for what graphene could do was really there, but actually being able to set the plan in motion really wasn't. It seemed like there was a lot of talk about graphene, a lot of "discoveries" being made about it, but after more than a few reports talking about all of the wonderful things graphene would be able to do for us I started to think that maybe we were getting ahead of ourselves a bit. Graphene now seems like an extremely overhyped material, and at this point I refuse to get any more excited about it until I start to see it in action.

It kind of reminds me of rumors that surrounded what we now know as the Motorola Moto X device. Before, it was known as Google's "X" phone. The X phone was supposed to be the phone to end all phones, going even deeper than what Nexus gave us. The X phone was not only supposed to have flagship specs, top-notch features and hell, it might as well have been able to cook and clean for you too as much as hype as that phone was getting, but it was also supposed to be unbelievably cheap. The Moto X was none of the above. It had good specs, a questionable "always on" feature, and the price certainly wasn't cheap. I pretty much hated the Moto X when it came out, but if you asked me about it now I would be able to tell you a different story. But I digress. My point is that hype can really bring the true nature of a product down. 

I have my doubts about graphene now. The newest report about graphene conducts that the material will be able to "carry information thousands of times faster", although the article's title fails to specify thousands of times faster than what, exactly, so realistically you could put anything there. But that's what I'm talking about; this new material is supposed to put technology on an entirely different level and we're just throwing terms out there to make it sound good, but I never once hear about when we will actually start to use it. 

Truthfully, I'm done drooling over it. Even the new articles don't have me phased anymore. It sounds like a great thing to have in technology, but at this point in time I feel like I'm ignoring any small victories and advancements currently being put in place by smartphones because I was so pumped about graphene and what it could do. "Oh, yeah, this battery is good but I'm sure graphene is going to make batteries even better." I'm hyping it up even in my head, and there's no reason for that. It's just going to make me less enthusiastic about what's actually being presented in front of me. Graphene is something to look forward to, but it's not something I should be basing my opinions off of before I actually get to see it. Plus, after thinking about it a little more and relating it to how I was feeling about phones after hearing hype after hype of the Moto X, I realized it's not a good idea to put so much pressure on graphene to solve all of technology's current shortcomings. After all, most of this stuff is still just in research.

What are your thoughts on graphene, readers? Do you think the material is overhyped, or do you think it's worth getting excited about at this point in time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Images via Kurzweilai, Allianz

Products mentioned